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Books for Writers: "The Chicago Manual of Style"

"The Chicago Manual of Style," now in its 15th edition, is the style bible for anyone in the book industry who works with the nitty-gritty of the words on the page: copy editors, proofreaders, indexers, book designers, etc. And it should be a part of any author�s reference library.

It�s not a thin, prettily designed book of common grammar mistakes that�s marketed to the average writer. (See "Eats, Shoots and Leaves.") It�s not a book you�ll read cover to cover--it�s interesting to us word geeks to read sections here and there, but mostly you�ll look up grammar or style issues as they come up. It�s a no-nonsense, no-frills compendium of everything under the sun related to putting a book together, from the distinction between �that� and �which� to the physical process of typesetting and printing a book�both of which you should know about, whether you�re working with a publishing house or you�re self-publishing.

In fact, if you�re self-publishing, you have no excuse for not investing in the "Chicago Manual." Other media (newspapers, magazines, etc.) use other style guides, but "Chicago" is used almost without exception by book publishers. So if you�re your own book publisher, you need it. Different self-publishing or print-on-demand companies offer varying degrees of copyediting or design help, but often you simply set up your book as a PDF file to be printed as is. So why not make it look as much like a �real� book as possible?

"Chicago" takes you through the whole process: writing tips and grammar rules, page design and layout (have you ever noticed that new chapters almost always begin without a paragraph indent?), printing and binding. You can�t justify being without it, so don�t even try. And it might even give you a few ideas for book industry jobs to help pay the bills: ever thought of taking a class on book indexing?

In short, everyone in book publishing uses "Chicago," so if you want to know what those in-the-know know, you should be familiar with it, too.

Submitted by:

Lisa Silverman

Lisa Silverman is a freelance book editor and works in the copyediting department at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, one of New York's most prestigious literary publishing houses. She has also worked as a ghostwriter and a literary agent representing both book authors and screenwriters. She founded http://www.BeYourOwnEditor.com in order to provide writers with free advice on both writing and the publishing business.


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