When to Approach the Publisher
The authors should approach a publisher only, when the script is “final”: yes “final”. How will one know that the script is “final?” Well, when you read it several times, after long intervals, and find “no urge for addition, deletion or replacement of any part”. To reach this stage you must read, amend, add, delete, replace and edit as long as you have; even the slightest urge for any of these acts. If you deem appropriate, you may send the script to a few select friends who are your confidant and have better, or at least similar; understanding of the subject. Incorporate their views (or discard altogether) in the script and then keep on editing until the urge to add, delete, replace or amend is not over completely.
Why so ? Because writing is only half of the work rest half is getting it published. The latter part is done by the publisher/editor. Publishing is, most of it, linear work; where unless one step is completed the next step cannot be started. Publishing is a specialized, high skilled professional work that involves several steps. It involves, broadly, ten steps:
- Assessment of readiness for publishing the script
- understanding the expectations of the author, carrying out gap analysis and seeking material from the author to fulfill the gaps
- Sequencing the chapters, preliminary setting and editing,
- Seeking proof from the author by presenting a hard copy after editing(in MS Word)
- Incorporating changes indicated by the author and proof reading
- Finalizing, in consultation with the author, book layout (size), type of book (hard bound or paperback) and then proceed to page setting (page maker/pdf)
- Seeking approval by presenting a hard copy (second time, this time in real book size pdf format, as done during page setting) to the author (finalizing the script and other specifications)
- Incorporating changes, if any, and final proof reading.
- Finalizing cover design, obtaining ISBN and incorporating at appropriate place in the book
- Sending for printing
If these steps are followed, the average size book can easily be produced within a month. However, usually it takes two months to produce a quality book. If quality of script is very good (which can be done by incorporating recommendations here), the time line can be reduced to a month or even less. Since, the process is linear, as the stages advance; incorporating changes (additions, deletions, replacements, corrigendum etc) becomes proportionately and progressively difficult.
What authors can do before going to the publisher?
The authors must have everything that they intend to include in the book, before approaching the publishers. Once script is submitted, they should, ideally, not send addenda or corrigenda. If anything left out must be included, deleted or corrected during first proof: when the edited script (in MS Words format) comes back to the author for perusal and approval.
While finalizing script of a book, many authors; inadvertently, leave a lot to be corrected by the editor, which otherwise they themselves could do. Following are the common mistakes that authors commit in their book script:
To follow spoken English is not always appropriate in written English. So what you speak is not necessarily a good English to write. In spoken English, invariably, the syntax is not perfect but in written-it has to be. In spoken (running English) many people miss out on verb and pronoun but in written English it doesn’t work. Missing out on any “parts of speech” is unacceptable in written work.
Once an episode or a talk is completed in the page, one should change the paragraph. Slight change in scenario, plot, idea, thoughts etc. necessitates to begin with a new paragraph. Long paragraphs, unless compelling, should be avoided.
This is the biggest gray area. Some authors are obsessed with one punctuation mark and forget to use a few others. Some overuse comma (,) and exclamation marks (!) and don’t use colon (:) and semi-colon (;) at all as if these punctuation marks don’t exist. Even question marks (?) are notused where direct questions are asked. Overuse of comma (,) is also a common error. A few have misconception that by placing commas, one can keep on adding as many sentences (clauses) as one wants, resulting into confusion of verb.Following are recommended with regard to punctuation marks:
Use it only for-listings, direct speeches, to separate clauses, to mark off certain parts of a sentence and with “however.” After “however” comma needs to be placed to convey a contrary situation, view etc. Comma is used, usually, immediately after: so, consequently, subsequently, nevertheless, however etc if the sentence begins with these words.
In listing several things, several names etc it should be used after every object in the list except the last. Before last object “and” should be used to complete the listing. Like_-“Neera, Radha, Reshma and Saloni studied in the same school”
Semi Colon (;)
Semi colon is used to separate bigger grouping/listings (than one separated by comma). For example-
Ramesh, Suresh and Mohan; Ragini, Mohini and Rohini; uncle, aunty and mom; sat in the same bus.
Colon is a very powerful punctuation mark. It is used, invariably, at two places: as counter balance to two equally powerful sentences and as symbol of continuation of long descriptions or list. A colon is frequently used to join two independent clauses, or a group of words that contains a subject and a verb, and can stand on its own as a complete sentence.The difference between colon and semi colon can easily be understood by understanding the nature of second part of the two sentences being joined. Unless the second independent clause explains the first, a semicolon is sufficient to join two closely related independent clauses. For example (right use of semi-colon), Lincoln was first elected to the Presidency in 1860; Kennedy was first elected in 1960. On the other hand (right use of colon) “Lincoln was first elected to the Presidency in 1860: he had own his first election ever in his life”. (Please note the use of colon here. Colon (:) is used here because the second sentence is enhancement of first, both have equal value and are independent and complete in themselves).
Joining two independent and/or complete Sentences
Two independent and complete sentences shouldn’t be joined unless compelled by certain peculiar reasons. Scholarship and learned-ship of the author lies in writing small and comprehensible sentences and not in long and incomprehensible sentences. Long sentences, separated by comma, if not framed properly; may create confusion of verb: a very common error committed by authors.
Use of symbols
Symbols should be avoided in textual writings unless there is no alternative available. So, writing‘Rs’ or ‘₹’ for “rupees”, ampersand (&) for “and” and likewise are not the right norms. Ampersand (&) in place of “and” is completely “no” in textual writings. It (&) is easy to type in comparison to ‘and” and saves two punches. Hence, many writers find the easy way. Butthat doesn’t mean that we can use it in textual writings. It “can be” used in headings, headlines, hoardings, signage, billboard etc but not in texts.
Many miss out at spacing. Spacing has the potential of creating havoc with the intended meaning. In the sentence “your pen is good” if one misses out the single space between “pen” and “is” it can create not only misunderstanding but disaster too.
It is important to note that there should be no space left between the punctuation marks and the preceding word, but one space between punctuation mark and the next word.
Upper and Lower case (Capital and small)
Proper noun, names, words from other languages, every word beginning after a full stop are capitalized. Writing full word or sentence in “CAPITALS” is considered like shouting on top of the voice. Hence, these should be used accordingly.