Self Editing: Ten Books That Will Make You An Expert Editor At Home.

5 11 2012

A successful writer is also a successful editor. Here are ten books that will help shape any manuscript into an artfully crafted book or article.

1. Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition.

Every craft has a bible and the Chicago Manual of Style is ours. It states the standard guidelines that professional book publishers abide by and is what the editorial staff of any publisher is going to use to clean up your manuscript. It is also dead useful. It is divided into three parts: the publishing process; style and usage; documentation. It is a helpful guide in explaining how to create front matter, why some numbers are written out, and how to make sure every reference is correctly cited. You can sign up for a 30 day free trial online, buy an online subscription or buy a print copy here:

2. Associated Press Stylebook, 2012

The journalist’s Bible. The 2012 edition provides fundamental guidelines on spelling, grammar, punctuation and usage, with new chapters on fashion and broadcast terms and an expanded social media chapter, in addition to chapters on food, social media, business, sports and media law. The 2012 Stylebook includes more than 270 new or revised entries since 2011. You can buy a print copy or an online subscription here:

3. The Christian Writers Manual of Style: Updated and Expanded Edition by Robert Hudson

The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style is an essential tool not only for writers of religious materials, but for their editors, proofreaders, designers, copywriters, production managers, and even marketers.It  includes points of grammar, punctuation, usage, book production and design, and written style that are often overlooked in other manuals. It focuses on information relating to the unique needs and demands of religious publications, such as discussions on how to correctly quote the Bible, how to capitalize and use common religious terms, and how to abbreviate the books of the Bible and other religious words. Also included are rarely found items such as: an author’s guide to obtaining permissions. This edition has been completely updated since the 1988 edition and contains more than twice as much information as the previous edition. This is the most detailed and comprehensive guide of its kind.

4. Self Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King

This book is not for the faint of heart, (you’ve been warned) if you are serious about the craft of editing pick up this book and several pens in multiple colors. This book will teach you step by step how to analyze every aspect of your writing like an editor. It has chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, usually drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited. You might not like the look of your manuscript after using this book but the helpful techniques can prevent the same mistakes from reoccurring.

5. The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice From Chicago by Carol Saller

This volume is humorous and instructive. Written by a veteran copy editor at The University of Chicago Press, Saller explains what rules are essential to maintain a good readable book and what rules can be bent. It provides a lighthearted way for remembering what rules to keep and what rules to break.

6. New Hart’s Rules: The Handbook of Style for Writers and Editors adapted by R.M. Ritter

Twenty chapters give information on all aspects of writing and of preparing copy for publication, whether in print or electronically. New Hart’s Rules covers a broad range of topics including publishing terms, layout and headings,how to present numbers and dates, how to treat illustrations, hyphenation, punctuation, UK and US usage, bibliographies and notes, and indexing. The chapters have been compiled by a team of experts and consultants, and the book draws on the unrivalled expertise of Oxford’s Reference Department. It is also endorsed by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.The text is designed and organized for maximum accessibility with clearly displayed examples throughout. Authoritative and comprehensive, New Hart’s Rules is the essential desk guide for all writers and editors.

7. A Good Dictionary

Every writer and editor needs at least one good dictionary. Most have a favorite and few others to supplement their chosen dictionary. Since there are quite a few to choose from I suggest spending an hour comparing dictionaries and picking the right one for you. I like the New Oxford American Dictionary which is the the Americanized version of the Oxford English Dictionary because I work primarily with American authors. Other editors prefer Merriam Webster, or the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. Pick whichever book (or combination of books) work for you.

8. The Copy Editor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communication by Amy Einsohn

The Copyeditor’s Handbook is a lively, practical manual for newcomers to publishing and for experienced editors who want to fine-tune their skills or broaden their understanding of the craft. The exercises are accompanied by answer keys and detailed line-by-line explanations.

9. Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers by Scott Norton

This handbook provides an approach to developmental editing that is logical, collaborative, humorous, and realistic. Norton starts with the core tasks of shaping the proposal, finding the hook, and building the narrative or argument, and then turns to the hard work of executing the plan and establishing a style.The book also gives advice on how to adapt sophisticated fiction techniques (such as point of view, suspense, plotting, character, and setting) to nonfiction writing. Developmental Editing equips authors with the concrete tools they need to reach their audiences.

10. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph Williams

This is the editorial equivalent to Strunk and White. This book provides quick and dirty tips on getting a polished style and eloquent prose. It is small, light, and perfect for looking up a question about style without having to lug out a gigantic reference book. It is perfect for desks and offices.




One response

5 12 2012
Tom Slaiter

Thanks for the book list, I’ll check them out when I have some time spare, appreciate the help 🙂

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