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Writing and Publishing

Find and Follow a Writer’s Style Guide

The Elements of Style is an excellent writing resource. Start with it. Then build on that foundation. 

For a comprehensive reference on punctuation and formatting, there are several notable resources. Unfortunately, none of them are in complete agreement, with obvious conflicts. Each guide has its advocates. And many have specific applications. 

While some people know the major style guides and their differences, I struggle to comprehend one. I selected The Chicago Manual of Style because it best addresses the various types of writing I do. I use it as my go-to reference. I also ask my editors to follow it. It comes in book form and is also online at www.chicagomanualofstyle.org

In addition to The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), other style guides include:

  • AP (Associated Press)
  • MLA (Modern Language Association)
  • Turabian, often used for academic work

Special application style guides include:

  • APA (American Psychological Association)
  • AMA, the American Medical Association
  • NLM, the National Library of Medicine
  • CSE, the Council of Science Editors Manual
  • ACS, the American Chemical Society
  • ASA, the American Sociological Association
  • The Bluebook, for the legal profession

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

How to Find an Editor for Your Writing

To find an editor, your best option is to go with a freelancer. There are many qualified professionals available to edit your work. Here are some ways to find them:

Search Online

You can do an online search for editors and wade through the responses. This method is time-consuming.

Ask Other Writers

A better idea is to ask others in the writing community for recommendations. This approach will give you a vetted editor.

But many authors are reluctant to share the names of their publishing team for fear these independent contractors will become too busy with new business to continue to work for that author.

Editor Groups

Another good source is editor associations and groups. They can connect you with a good editor. Sometimes they’ll give you a list, and other times a real person will provide the names of editors who best meet your criteria. 

Networking

Find an editor through networking. I’ve made many great contacts at writers’ conferences.

Online Resources

Finally, consider online resources.

  • I’ve used Reedsy to find relevant writing professionals.
  • I’ve also used Fiverr to locate freelancers.
  • Another option is Upwork (the merger of Elance and oDesk). I’ve not used them recently, but I did use eLance several years ago with good results.
  • And though I’ve never used it for this purpose, don’t dismiss LinkedIn.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

8 Tips to Improve as a Writer

Here are the actions I pursue to improve as a writer: 

  1. Write regularly.
  2. Read a lot (I struggle the most with this tip).
  3. Study writing.
  4. Listen to writers and publishing podcasts. 
  5. Follow writing blogs.
  6. Participate in writers’ groups.
  7. Attend writing conferences.
  8. But the most important tip is to write.

These tips helped my writing improve. May they do the same for you.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Writers Need to Find Time to Read

Finding time to read, however, is a constant struggle. As with making time to write, we need to make time to read.

For me, the decision often comes down to watching TV or reading. Sometimes TV wins and other times reading wins. Often, the choice I make hinges on how good the book is versus how much a show or movie calls me.

I strive to keep my TV watch list short and my book list interesting. I also give myself the freedom to stop reading any book that bores me or turns me off. If I didn’t allow myself this option, the TV would grab my attention most of the time.

The point is, we all have some degree of discretionary time, whether it’s TV, movies, social media, going out, leisure activities, or even a nap. We can choose to do these alternate pursuits or to read. For me, I’ve cut back on TV to read more—and I’m glad I did.

However, some writers, including myself, feel that watching TV and, even more so, movies helps us learn about plot, character development, and good (or bad) storytelling.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

The Benefits of Using Dictation Software to Write

I’m a huge fan of dictation and use it for all my writing, not only my first draft but even as I edit. Using dictation, I can write about two thousand words an hour—compared to about five hundred words typing. My dictated words come out in pretty good shape, about 90 percent of the way there. 

Although some people claim five thousand words an hour from dictation, I’m not one of them. Yes, I talk fast and could dictate ten to fifteen thousand words per hour, but those words would require so much editing to make them worthless. Therefore, I slow down, think about what I want to say, and say it. I’m pleased with the results and the speed.

I pursued dictation for two reasons. One was to write faster. The other was to protect my aching wrists. Despite doing the recommended exercises and taking frequent breaks, my wrist often throbbed after writing several hours a day, day after day.

Thanks to dictation, my wrists don’t hurt anymore, but now I need to protect my voice. Drink lots of water when dictating. Avoid carbonated beverages, milk, and coffee.

By the way, I’m a poor candidate for dictation. First, you should dictate in complete sentences, but I don’t. Most of the time, I don’t know how a sentence will end when I frame the beginning in my mind. Therefore, my dictation gushes out as a disjointed hodgepodge of sentence fragments and phrases. 

Second, I don’t enunciate well. And I often pronounce the same word in two ways. This trait makes it hard for the dictation software and requires a critical eye to catch errors, which are sometimes comical, albeit infuriating. As a result, my dictated work needs a bit more editing. Though my overall production speed using dictation isn’t four times faster, it’s certainly more than three times as much.

For full disclosure, using dictation has had unexpected side effects. It has resulted in a slowdown of my typing speed and has been a further hit to my spelling challenges. Still, dictation stands as a more-than-equitable trade-off, more than tripling my production speed, while avoiding carpal tunnel surgery.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.