Sunday, 18 March 2018

Tips and suggestions for preparing your manuscript

At Sunpenny, we believe in publishing high quality books with a difference. However, much of the quality comes first from the author. Our job is to do the copy editing, and work with the author on possible improvements. Then of course, we have to check and proofread the manuscript with our experienced eagle eyes, and fine-tooth combs.

A sunpenny novel of note
 But what can the author do to make sure his or her book is as good as it can be before submission to us? There are so many points to watch out for it can be mind boggling. Quite apart from planning your plot, giving your characters personalities and writing dialogue that is consistent with those characters, there are numerous other factors to consider, so here are just a few we think are important. 

One of our delightful
children's books
1. If you are writing fiction with more than one point of view (POV), then make sure you don't 'head hop' mid paragraph or even mid-section. It's always safest to maintain one POV per section or chapter; it's very confusing for the reader to keep switching and it's just not good practice to do so.

2. Check your facts. If your fiction refers to historical events or even recent times, make sure you've done your homework. For example, don't have people watching a TV show that wasn't running at the time. There's always someone out there who knows and will pick you up on it. Added to that, if you're describing a real life place or town, make sure your descriptions are accurate. If you get them wrong, someone will notice that you haven't done your research properly.

3. As far as your plot goes, check your continuity and make sure you don't have characters suddenly doing things they've never done before, or that you've given no suggestion of in previous chapters. Your heroine can't suddenly develop a passion for animals half way through the story if there's been no indication of her fondness for furries before. Every action needs to be logical and believable so if you haven’t prepared the ground for what your characters do, you'll lose credibility with your readers. As a film-maker once told me, every action needs to be properly set up or it will flop.

4. Assuming your book has been accepted based on the first few chapters, complete your draft, and then put it aside before you check it through for grammar and spelling. Do your best to send the best you can do! Editors and proofreaders are human and can get both distracted and irritated if the author hasn't done any spelling or grammar checks and the book is littered with errors. There will always be some; never doubt that. We never see all our own mistakes and you will be amazed at how many you miss. However, it's your job first to get it as good as you possibly can before delivering it to your editor.
Jo Holloway, managing editor
Sunpenny's managing editor is Jo Holloway, who has a lifetime of experience in script writing and editing. Hers are the eagle eyes that check every line of your manuscript and her advice to new authors has been invaluable over the years.

Sunpenny staff and authors at the London Book Fair 2016
We hope these tips are useful to all the authors among our readers. Happy writing, everyone, and remember, more of the time and work goes into editing than it ever does in the creation of a good story!