Author Guidelines—In the Trenches Titles
Our goal with these guidelines for authors and editors of the In the Trenches series is to give you clear guidance on how to write your manuscript so that it meets our requirements.
Writing is hard work! We’ve done our best to make these guidelines simple and straightforward, but in case you have questions along the way that are not addressed here, your editor will be happy to answer them as well as provide feedback as you progress in writing your manuscript.
Jump down to:
Books in the In the Trenches series are intended to be complete introductory guides to just about any topic of interest to busy nonprofit-sector practitioners—much more than just a basic overview. They are authoritative and cover what a beginner should know to get started and rapidly progress in the subject. In the Trenches books will even attract those who already have a grounding in the subject but want a refresher or reinforcement of what they’ve already learned.
Start with the Fundamentals and Go from There
In the Trenches titles are easy to read. No matter how challenging or complex the subject, they communicate clearly and the reader will easily be able to find the information that’s needed.
Besides being written to be read from beginning to end, In the Trenches titles are also reference books. It should be easy for a reader to pick and choose the chapters and sections of particular interest. The book should be written with the fundamentals at the beginning, then progress to more complex aspects, or at least nonfundamental aspects, in successive chapters.
Chapters Should Stand on Their Own
Each chapter should stand pretty much on its own, without repeating what’s already been said in a prior chapter. Avoid mere redundancy—though, if done sparingly, it can be helpful to repeat a concept or information from a prior chapter if it adds to the later chapter. Better still, provide a cross-reference to a prior chapter or to a discussion that’s coming up later in the book.
Remember, You Are the Authority
If you have been chosen to write a book in the In the Trenches series, it is because you are a recognized authority on the subject matter. You are the authority for the book. If you find yourself citing or quoting other authorities with any frequency, you are probably straying from the basic posture of you as the authority.
In the Trenches books have a distinctive voice. The following guidelines should help you write with the series voice.
Write Conversationally. When you speak across the fence with your neighbor, you do so with simple, straightforward sentences. Even sentence fragments sometimes. That’s how you should write your manuscript—as if you’re speaking conversationally with a friend. If you find that you’re writing long, complex sentences, you’re probably straying from the voice of the In the Trenches series. Break them up into simpler sentences—but not so simple as to insult your reader. Also, remember that In the Trenches titles are not written for an academic audience but for a general audience. Please do not use footnotes or endnotes, or lapse into “academic-speak.”
How to Not Write Conversationally
We once received a manuscript with this gem of a sentence:
To deal with this dilemma, I find the best surrogate for empirical measurement is the collective assessment of expert opinion.
Huh? While it is probably fine in academic writing, it’s not exactly conversational! This could be written conversationally any number of ways. Here’s a possibility:
If I can’t research it myself, I can instead consider what the experts are saying and see if they’re in agreement.
We find that authors who are regular bloggers have the easiest time of writing in the informal first-person, upbeat style that is common to all In the Trenches titles. If you are having trouble writing in this informal style, consider starting a blog. Not only is it great practice, but many authors find that the discipline of writing a blog is very much like the discipline of writing a manuscript. An added bonus is that your blog posts can sometimes be incorporated into your manuscript with some tweaking and polishing.
Writing conversationally makes even a complex subject easier to understand. The great thing about an informal writing voice is that you really don’t have to learn it; it’s how we speak in everyday life!
To Contract or Not to Contract? That’s the Question. It’s okay to use contractions. ‘Nuff said!
Three’s a Crowd. Write in the First and Second Person. As with everyday conversation, write in the first person. Refer to yourself as “I” and collectively to yourself and the reader as “we.” It’s okay to refer to the reader in the second person as “you.” Avoid writing in the third person. Save that for academic writing and love triangles. In this guide, we use “we” in the sense of “we, the editors” of CharityChannel Press. We are writing in the plural first person. If you are coauthoring an In the Trenches book, you will probably want to use “we” in the same way.
Oh, You Charmer, You! In the Trenches books are fun and upbeat. Besides a light, informal approach, the use of charm and wit can make your writing shine. As with good seasoning, though, use it sparingly and to taste; overuse can get in the way and detract from readability.
Use of Humor. Use of humor in the form of dry wit is a great way to stay in the voice of the In the Trenches series. If it comes up naturally, use it. But don’t force it. When using humor, keep this in mind: You’re writing for a large, diverse audience. Keep it clean and nonracy.
By “humor,” we mean humor that is consistent with the fun, upbeat voice that is required for all In the Trenches titles. Avoid other forms of “humor,” such as gallows humor, humor that demeans individuals or groups, or humor that is in any way hurtful or negative or could lead to angry readers storming the publisher’s offices.
Slingin’ Slang. Slang is okay if it would ordinarily come up in conversation. It’s more than okay if it’s used in the subject area you are writing about. Careful though; slang for the sake of slang should be avoided, as it just comes across as forced and phony.
Define Important Terms and Concepts
Think back to when you knew little or nothing about the subject you are writing about. Even basic terms and concepts were unfamiliar, right? Now that you are a seasoned expert, don’t assume the reader is familiar with them. Define terms and concepts as you go. If a term is an especially important term, consider defining it in a Definition sidebar. We discuss sidebars below.
Use Examples, Stories, and Anecdotes
Examples, stories, and anecdotes are a great way to make sure the reader will grasp the point.
Good Grammar Still Applies
Keeping things conversational and loose doesn’t mean that anything goes. The rules of good grammar still apply.
The Chicago Manual of Style
In matters of style, look first to these Author Guidelines. If the Author Guidelines don’t cover a question, look next to The Chicago Manual of Style. Besides the book version, there is an online version at chicagomanualofstyle.org. Tip: There is a thirty-day free trial available for the online version.
In most cases, we follow Chicago style. However, there are a few exceptions:
Exceptions/Additions to Chicago Style
We know from experience that many authors and editors are more familiar with AP style than with The Chicago Manual of Style. If this describes you, we’ve identified the things that are most commonly seen in manuscripts:
Notable Differences Between AP and Chicago Style
If you’re familiar with AP style but not Chicago style, here is a cheat sheet, of sorts, covering some of the more common differences:
Masculine and Feminine Pronouns
Although it’s covered in The Chicago Manual of Style, there is one area that commonly confronts authors and vexes the editors who love them: use of masculine and feminine pronouns. Should you use he, him, and his; she, her, and hers; he or she, s/he, or alternate from he to she and back to he? With a large and diverse reading audience, any choice is likely to upset someone or at least distract some readers. Please follow the recommendation of The Chicago Manual of Style and The Elements of Style to “write around” (our words) the problem rather than plow straight into it and only end up irritating some of your readers. The sidebar gives helpful tips on getting this right:
He, Him, and His; She, Her, and Hers; He or She; S/he?
From experience, we know that authors often struggle with a decision on pronouns such as his and her. Should you use he, him, and his; she, her, and hers; he or she; s/he?
When referring to an actual male or female in the text, it’s okay to use he or she, as fits the gender of the person.
But what about the generic use of such pronouns? That’s where it’s tough. Because this comes up so frequently, please follow the advice of The Chicago Manual of Style in this regard:
5.221 Maintaining credibility
Discussions of bias-free language—language that is neither sexist nor suggestive of other conscious or subconscious prejudices—have a way of descending quickly into politics. But there is a way to avoid the political quagmire: if we focus solely on maintaining credibility with a wide readership, the argument for eliminating bias from published works becomes much simpler. Biased language that is not central to the meaning of a work distracts, and in their eyes the work is less credible. Few texts warrant the deliberate display of linguistic biases. Nor is it ideal, however, to call attention to the supposed absence of linguistic biases, since this will also distract readers and weaken credibility.
5.222 Gender bias
Consider the issue of gender-neutral language. On the one hand, it is unacceptable to a great many reasonable readers to use the generic masculine pronoun (he in reference to no one in particular). On the other hand, it is unacceptable to a great many readers (often different readers) either to resort to nontraditional gimmicks to avoid the generic masculine (by using he/she or s/he, for example) or to use they as a kind of singular pronoun. Either way, credibility is lost with some readers.
What is wanted, in short, is a kind of invisible gender neutrality. There are many ways to achieve such language, but it takes thought and often some hard work. Consider these strategies to “write around” the problem by avoiding awkward overuse of he or she or an unintentional emphasis on the masculine.
Use the plural rather than the singular:
The conscientious editor must address his authors’ concerns.
Conscientious editors must address their authors’ concerns.
Eliminate the pronoun altogether:
The conscientious editor must address his authors’ concerns.
The conscientious editor must address authors’ concerns.
Use the second person rather than the third person (our favorite for In the Trenches books):
The conscientious editor must address his authors’ concerns.
As a conscientious editor, you must address your authors’ concerns.
In the Trenches titles are highly stylized. Your manuscript should be formatted and organized to make it easy for us to typeset your book using our design elements. Here’s how:
The Manuscript File
The manuscript should be in one MS Word file with .doc or .docx file extension. If you are unable to submit a .doc or .docx file, you may provide an .rtf file. The file name should follow this convention:
|ITT-MANU-[Author Last Name]-[Author First Initial]-[Abbreviated Title]-[Manuscript Draft Version].doc (or .docx)
The Manuscript Document Format
In this section we provide the details of how to format your MS Word document.
Here’s a Manuscript Template to Get You Started
To give you a head start, we’ve created a bare-bones manuscript template file. (Don’t forget to change the file name as explained above.) Download it here.
Font and Size. Set up your MS Word document with Georgia 12-point font and with one-inch margins top, bottom, left, and right.
Spacing of Lines and Paragraphs. Set line spacing for multiple at 1.15, and set paragraph spacing at 0 pt before and 12 pt after. Do not select the box that says “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style.” Do not add a second return between paragraphs.
Alignment. Everything in your manuscript, including text heads and subheads, paragraphs, sidebars, and all other elements, is to be flush left. Do not center or right-justify anything.
Periods. Use only one space, not two, after a period and before the next sentence.
Bulleted List Formatting. The sidebar below illustrates the technique to be used for bulleted (unordered) list formatting. Do not use MS Word’s bulleting function.
Page Headers. Do not use page headers.
Pagination. Include automatic page numbers in the lower right of your manuscript, in the footer section. Do not include any other text in the footer.
Emphasis. Use italics when adding emphasis. Avoid using other methods, such as underlining, bold, capital letters, or all caps, for emphasis. Formatting other than plain text and the use of italics for emphasis will likely be removed in typesetting.
URLs. We know it’s inevitable that you will be tempted to toss in the occasional website URL. If you must, please do so sparingly, since nothing makes a book appear to be outdated faster than a no-longer-valid URL. If that happens, we might have no choice but to call on you to write a new edition just to make sure the book is current. Not good, right?
Please keep these requirements in mind:
- Wherever Possible, Avoid Deep Linking. The best way to ensure that a URL remains valid is to cite the website’s home page, where the reader can then find the resource, rather than deep-link to a page that might be moved or deleted after your book goes to print. In other words, it is much safer to link to example.com than deep-link to http://example.com/path/page.
- Avoid “http://” Unless Deep Linking. Did you notice with “example.com” that we omitted the “http://” part? That’s the style for a website’s home page. However, for a deep-linked URL, such as http://example.com/path/page, the style is to include the “http://” portion.
- Omit the “www” Unless the Site Doesn’t Respond Without It. When typing the URL, omit the “www” from the address, then test it to make sure that the website responds. If, and only if, the website doesn’t respond unless you include the “www,” include the www. For example, you would cite Google this way: google.com. When testing just “google.com” with a browser, the Google website responds just fine (it resolves to http://www.google.com).
- Italicize URLs. Whenever citing a website, the URL is italicized.
- Avoid a Trailing Slash. Do not include a trailing slash in a URL. So “example.com” is okay, but “example.com/” is not.
If requested, your editor will provide you with detailed image submission guidelines based on the images you intend to include. Generally speaking, though, the following will apply to images:
Mode. Images for the book should be high-resolution grayscale. Do not submit color figures unless cleared with your editor first.
Size. Pixel-based Images should be 300 dpi or higher, sized to fit within a book page as appropriate. Vector-based images may be any size, as they can be scaled in layout without loss of quality.
File Types. Acceptable file types are .jpg, .gif, .tif, .png, .pdf, .psd, .ai, and .svg. If you have a file type other than these, please check with your editor before submitting. Note: For illustrations (as opposed to photographs), if available, native vector graphics files, such as .ai or .svg, are best, as they can be scaled in layout without loss of quality.
File-Naming Convention. Please name each image file according to this convention:
|[Author Last Name]-[image number].[file suffix]
How to Designate Images in Manuscript. Do not embed images in the manuscript. Rather, insert placeholder text where the image is to be placed and upload the image file separately to Teamwork. Here is how to create the placeholder:
Here is the placeholder syntax:
*** INSERT IMAGE ***
Type: [Type of figure, such as “Photograph” or “Illustration”]
File name: [File name]
*** END ***
Here is an example:
*** INSERT IMAGE ***
File name: Greenhoe-01.tif
*** END ***
Here is another example:
*** INSERT IMAGE ***
File name: Lysakowski-12.ai
*** END ***
Sometimes during the writing or editing process, an image will be deleted, causing a gap in the numbering. That’s perfectly okay. Leave the numbering of the remaining images as is rather than renumbering them. Likewise, if you add an image, just name it with the next available number, even if image designations in the manuscript are out of order.
Chapter and Word Count
Your manuscript should be of such length, including words and images, as will result in a published book with the agreed-upon number of pages. It should have the number of chapters agreed upon with the publisher. Chapters should be of approximately uniform length.
Word-Count Ranges: Books
|Book Format||Published Pages||Manuscript Words||Chapters||Parts|
|6″ x 9″||100||18,000||6 to 8||None|
|6″ x 9″||200||36,000||12 to 16||None|
|6″ x 9″||300||54,000||18 to 24||2 or 3|
|6″ x 9″||400||72,000||24 to 32||2 to 4|
|6″ x 9″||500||90,000||30 to 40||2 to 6|
Word-Count Ranges: Manuals and Workbooks
|Manual or Workbook Format||Published Pages||Manuscript Words||Chapters||Parts|
|8.5″ x 11″||50||20,000||6 to 9||None|
|8.5″ x 11″||99||39,500||6 to 11||None|
Images take up space, of course. The chart assumes an average of two or three graphics, such as photos or illustrations, per chapter. If you anticipate using more than this assumed number, please contact your editor to discuss an adjusted target word count.
Before we get to the Introduction, which is the beginning of the substantive part of your book, we first have the “front matter”—a horrible-sounding term that simply means the material that appears in a book before the main text. It includes, in the following order:
Title page. In your manuscript, provide your book’s working title at the top of the first page, and below that, the name of the author (or authors, if applicable). The rest of the page is blank.
Copyright and other legal information. Start a new page and label it “Legal Page.” Otherwise, leave it blank.
About the Author. The next page is the “About the Author” page, consisting of the author’s biography of 140 to 220 words. This is an easy-reading, conversational biography about you, the author. It should include credentials relevant to the subject you are covering as well as any relevant previous writing accomplishments (books, magazines, newspapers, professional journals, trade publications, etc.).
Please also provide a short version for the back cover, between 355 and 375 characters, including spaces.
Dedication. A sentence or two, usually. Here’s a chance to dedicate your book to a special person or persons.
Author’s Acknowledgments. A chance for you to thank anyone who has contributed to your manuscript. Keep it to 280 to 320 words.
Table of Contents. Your manuscript should contain a simple table of contents. It should contain the part numbers and titles, as well as the chapter numbers and titles. Do not include page numbers. Be sure to update the table of contents any time you add, delete, or move a part or chapter, or if you change a chapter title.
Summary of Chapters. This is essentially an expanded table of contents that includes a brief one or two sentence summary of each part as well as each chapter. Do not include page numbers. Be sure to update the “Summary of Chapters” any time you add, delete, or move a part or chapter, or if you change a chapter title.
Foreword. A foreword of 600 to 750 words is written by an acknowledged expert in the field who has read your manuscript and is pleased to recommend it to others.
In the final published book, the Introduction is the start of the main text. In fact, the book’s page numbering will shift from Roman numerals to Arabic numerals, starting with “Page 1.” Cool, huh? (By the way, let us worry about the book’s page numbering. All you need to do is paginate the manuscript in the footer starting with Arabic numeral 1 on the title page.)
Introduction. The introduction, which is typically the length of a chapter, introduces the reader to the topic and structure of the book. In many ways, it is truly the first chapter of your book, although it precedes Chapter One.
Besides introducing the reader generally to the topic of the book, the Introduction should summarize what’s covered in each part. It should also explain the type of content of each sidebar type that you have used in your manuscript.
Parts. Your manuscript should be divided into four to six parts. Start each part on a new page. Tip: To start a new page, avoid simply hitting the enter key to eventually get to a new page. Instead, type <ctrl><enter> for a PC or <shift><fn><return> for a Mac to force a page break in Word.
The part number and title, in title case, should appear at the opening of each part. Each part number and corresponding title has its own line, with one line space between. Keep part titles fairly short, and make them simple and clear. Provide one brief paragraph describing what will be discussed in the collection of chapters comprising the part. In the sidebar, we show an example.
|[a] Part 1
[b] What Is Fundraising and Why Is It Important to Nonprofits?
There are many words used to describe the process of obtaining charitable contributions—philanthropy, development, advancement, fundraising, fund development, and more. In this section, we will look at the whole concept and the process of fundraising and why it is important to nonprofit organizations, most of which could not survive without fundraising! We will talk about the diversity of the nonprofit sector and who is involved in the process of fundraising and why.
Chapters. Because the chapters contain a number of elements, we discuss them separately, starting with “What Your Chapters Should Include,” below.
Appendixes. In the back of the book, you may include additional reference material for readers. For most topics, it will be appropriate to include:
Important additional resources, organizations, support groups, websites, and so on.
Appendix C, etc.
Other appendixes of your choice, such as codes of ethics, charts, graphs, etc.
Please limit your appendix material to no more than 5 percent of the total manuscript.
Index. Once the book’s interior galley is otherwise complete, we will schedule an online session with you where you will share a screen with a layout editor who will be working with you to create the index. Using a specialized software program, you and the editor will identify the terms to be included in the index. It takes about one and a half hours, and is as close to painless as humanly possible. Promise!
What Your Chapters Should Include
Chapters are where all the action takes place. Here we walk you through the elements that every chapter should contain.
Start Each Chapter on a New Page. To make it easier for your editor to spot the start of a new chapter, start each chapter on a new page. Tip: To start a new page, avoid simply hitting the enter key to eventually get to a new page. Instead, type <ctrl><enter> for a PC or <shift><fn><return> for a Mac to force a page break in Word.
Chapter Number and Title. Place the chapter number and title, in title case, at the beginning of each chapter. Each chapter number and corresponding title has its own line. Have one line space between them. Avoid lengthy or unclear chapter titles. Make them as descriptive of the chapter content as possible.
In the sidebar, you will see at the beginning of the chapter number a bracketed “[a]” and at the beginning of the title a bracketed “[b].” These are how you indicate the a-head and b-head. What we mean by “head” is that it is a type of heading. An a-head is always the chapter number. A b-head is always the chapter title.
How to Format Chapter Number and Title
At the start of each chapter, provide the chapter number and title in this format:
[a] Chapter One
[b] Fundraising, Development, Philanthropy—What’s In a Name?
You guessed it: There are c-heads, d-heads, e-heads, and f-heads too. They are utilized in the body of the chapter text, which we discuss below. For now, just know that you need to always use the a-head and b-head tags, respectively, for the chapter number and title. Simple!
In This Chapter. Each chapter starts with a preview list, in sentence case, called “In This Chapter.” The heading “In This Chapter” is a c-head, by the way.
Provide four bulleted list items, with each item being no longer than sixty-five characters, including spaces.
How to Type an “In This Chapter” List
Following the chapter number and title (see discussion and sidebar above), the next thing to type is the “In This Chapter” section. Here is a sample:
[c] In This Chapter…
[lb] What is fundraising?
Note: The “[lb]” tag means “list bullet.” That’s “l” for list, and “b” for bullet. (We get that question a lot.)
Alternatively, if you wish, you may instead provide three bulleted items, where at least one of the bulleted items contains more than 65 and fewer than 130 characters, including spaces. The sidebar illustrates this option:
Example of an “In This Chapter” List with Three Items
Since at least one of the bulleted items is between 65 and 130 characters (including spaces), three bulleted items, rather than four, are used:
[c] In This Chapter…
[lb] The planning cabinet periodically reviews effectiveness of activities
[lb] The cabinet reports on progress of the plan
[lb] The board should use the strategic plan as a basis for board meeting agendas
The reason for the strict rule for the “In This Chapter” section is that the first page of each chapter is highly stylized, and this will ensure that everything fits correctly. Note that whether the bulleted items are full sentences or fragments, no closing punctuation is used (except for question marks or exclamation points). Also note that this is the same style for bullets on the front cover.
Introductory Paragraph(s). The next step is to introduce the reader to the chapter in one to three introductory paragraphs. Tell the reader what will be discussed and what the reader will take away from the chapter after reading it. Alert the reader to anything particularly special about chapter content.
Because the first page of each In the Trenches book is highly stylized, you may not have a first paragraph with fewer than forty or more than ninety words.
Breaking Up Text After the First Two Hundred or So Words. Before we dive into elements that should be used to break up long blocks of text, please note that no such element should be employed in the first two hundred words or so of a chapter. Doing so interferes with the highly stylized first page of each chapter.
Once past the first page in a chapter, please avoid long blocks of unbroken text. The rule of thumb is to never have more than six or seven paragraphs without something to break them up, such as a head, subhead, sidebar, table, bulleted list, numbered list, check-box list, or a figure. Let’s look at each of these elements:
Heads and Subheads. Heads and subheads are headings within a chapter, and they are written in title case. They help break up blocks of text, and they enable the reader to anticipate where the discussion is heading. Heads are designated by typing the head type as a bracketed letter with a space before the text of the head. After typing a head, drop down one line before starting the text below it. See the example in the sidebar “How to Format Heads and Subheads” below.
How to Format Heads and Subheads
Using heads in the text helps the reader anticipate where you’re going and makes it easy to locate the information when the reader is consulting your book as a reference. Here’s an example of how to format a c-head followed by a d-head:
[c] Breaking up Text
Before we dive into elements that should be used to break up long blocks of text, please note that no such element should be employed in the first two hundred words or so of a chapter. Doing so interferes with the highly stylized first page of each chapter, and there needs to be some text on the second page before employing an element to break up text.
Once past the first two hundred words in a chapter, please avoid long blocks of unbroken text. The rule of thumb is to never have more than six or seven paragraphs without something to break them up, such as a head, subhead, sidebar, table, bulleted list, numbered list, check-box list, or figure.
[d] Heads and Subheads
Heads and subheads are headings within a chapter and are written in headline case. They help break up blocks of text and enable the reader to anticipate where the discussion is heading. Heads are designated by typing the head type as a parenthetical letter with no space before the head. When typing a head, drop down one line before starting the text below it.
C-heads are guideposts to each main point of the chapter. If needed, you can subdivide c-heads into d-heads, d-heads into e-heads, and e-heads into f-heads.
Please keep d-heads, e-heads, and f-heads particularly brief—about thirty to fifty characters, including spaces. See the sidebar above for an example of how to format heads and subheads. Note that there is a space after the head designation (the part in the brackets).
Sidebars. A sidebar is a feature that is contained in a box adjacent to the text.
To begin a sidebar, type:
|***BEGIN SIDEBAR – Stories from the Real World***|
where the phrase “Stories from the Real World” designates, of course, a “Stories from the Real World” sidebar.
And so on. Then drop down a line and type the heading for the sidebar (it’s a c-head, by the way); then drop down another line and type the text of the sidebar. At the end, drop down a line and close the sidebar with an uppercase
The following example shows how a sidebar should appear in your manuscript:
|***BEGIN SIDEBAR – Stories from the Real World***
[c] Getting It Wrong Is Costly!
One of the organizations I supported as a member has always approached me by direct mail. When I achieved ACFRE status, I sent the organization a change of name to read, “Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE.” However, when adding the ACFRE designation, it apparently thought “ACFRE” was part of my last name and changed my last name to “Lysakowskiacfre.” This took up so much space that my first name became “Da.” So I am now “Da Lysakowskiacfre” to this agency. Guess what? I haven’t sent it any money since it started addressing me incorrectly! If the agency had a volunteer committee reviewing its mailing list, perhaps someone would have spotted this error and corrected it, thus retaining me as a donor.
There are eleven standard sidebar types to choose from:
Definitions: You use terms, jargon, slang, or other language specific to the subject area. Italicize it in the text, then define it. If it’s particularly critical to the subject, consider also providing an expanded explanation in a Definition sidebar.
Example: Sometimes you just have to show the reader an example, right?
Food for Thought: Sometimes there is something that challenges old ways of thinking.
Important! Draws attention to something that is essential to know.
Observation: Sometimes there is an interesting point you want to make that is worth calling attention to.
Practical Tips: Do you have interesting or helpful information that doesn’t really belong in the flow of the text? Do you have a helpful tip worth calling attention to?
Principle: When there is a principle to impart, it’s a great opportunity to focus on it.
Quotes: These provide advice or an insight from an outside authority. However, as noted above, you as the author are the authority of the book. If you do feel the need to use quotes, please do so sparingly.
Stories from the Real World: The use of real-world examples is one of the most effective and entertaining ways you can reinforce the point you are making.
To-Do Lists: Creating a bulleted to-do list is a great way to guide the reader into putting things into action.
Watch Out! Perhaps the most compelling sidebar, it is the literary equivalent of shouting “Look out!” to someone about to walk in front of a train. Warnings should be written to prevent someone from having an unexpected and damaging result, such as an injury, loss of a project, a financial loss, or some other unwanted result.
Sometimes a standard sidebar type doesn’t quite describe the content of a sidebar. If you would like us to consider creating a special sidebar type for your book, please discuss your idea with your editor.
As you write, please follow these sidebar guidelines:
- Sidebars typically key off of the discussion adjacent to them and often paraphrase the discussion. Make sure that the sidebar is adding something new and not just duplicating what was already said in the adjacent discussion.
- As long as it makes sense, include at least one sidebar for every two pages of your manuscript.
- Avoid back-to-back sidebars. Allow at least five or six text paragraphs between them.
- Avoid placing a sidebar at or near the end of the chapter. Try to have a few paragraphs between the last sidebar of the chapter and the “To Recap” section.
- Generally, sidebars should not be fewer than 25 words or more than 385 words (525 words for a workbook), including the heading. A sidebar of up to approximately 175 words (235 words for a workbook) will be formatted as a normal sidebar. A sidebar of approximately 385 (or 525) words will be formatted as a full-page sidebar. A sidebar with a word count of between 175 and 385 (or 235 and 525) may be formatted as a full-page sidebar but take only the full width, not the full length, of the page.
Tables. Tables can be very useful and are commonly included in In the Trenches books.
But tables are a particular challenge when typesetting books. In almost every case, a table has to be recreated by the typesetter. The easiest way for you to create a table is to use the table-creation feature in Word and simply place the table in the manuscript in its correct place. We will then recreate the table for the book, based on your table.
When providing a table, bear in mind the page size of your book, either 6 x 9″ or 8.5″ x 11″. (If you aren’t sure, check with your editor.) Your table must fit within the page without exceeding the white space that typically surrounds the text. This usually means that you should minimize the number of columns in a table, especially if they are relatively wide columns. Note, too, that a table can be rotated ninety degrees counterclockwise if it occupies a full page of the book. If that is the case, be sure to minimize the number of rows wherever feasible to ensure that the table will fit the page of the book.
Numbered, Bulleted, and Check-Box Lists. Numbered, bulleted, and check-box lists are useful tools for showing information that is related. They can also help the reader find the information when using your book as a reference.
When using a list, introduce the list with a brief discussion about the list. Avoid simply creating a list without any kind of an explanation leading up to it. A list is best introduced by a complete grammatical sentence, followed by a colon.
When creating a list, do not use the numbering or bullets feature of your word processing program. Instead, for ordered lists, type the code [#], then a space, then the sentence. Lists are always flush left, never indented.
Numbered lists, more formally called ordered lists, are used when there is a specific order to be followed, or if there is a defined number of things to list. Here is how to type them in the manuscript:
Example of an Ordered List:
[#] Another item
[#] Yet another item
Bulleted lists, formally called unordered lists, are best when the information follows no particular order. For unordered lists, designate bullets with the code [lb] before each item in the list. Sometimes you need to have a “list within a list,” with a set of second-level bullets under a first-level bullet. Designate a second-level bullet with the code [lb2] before each item in the list within a list. Bullets should be flush left, with a single space after the code:
Example of a Bulleted List:
[lb] Another item
[lb] Yet another item, with second-level items below it:
[lb2] Second-level item
[lb2] Another second-level item
Finally, for a check-box list, use [cb] to designate the check box (that’s “c” for check and “b” for box). Use a check-box list when listing steps to be completed and checked off as they are. Here is how to type them in your manuscript:
Example of a check-box list:
[cb] Another item
[cb] Yet another item
Images. Images can be black-and-white photos or graphics. They also include charts, forms, and tables. As the author, you are responsible for submitting print-quality images that do not require further manipulation, though in some cases we can create (or recreate) them for you. Be sure to discuss your needs in this regard with your editor.
See below, “Submitting Your Manuscript,” for more information about submitting images.
“To Recap” Section. Each chapter ends with “To Recap.” This is your opportunity to reinforce the main four to six points your reader should know after reading the chapter. Each point should be bulleted and written as a full sentence. (By the way, “To Recap” is a c-head.)
Comments for Your Editor(s). Use Word’s “Comments” feature for questions or discussions with your editor(s) regarding the text or other contents in your manuscript.
Layout Instructions. Occasionally, it’s helpful to provide guidance or instructions to your layout editor. The following example shows how those comments should appear in your manuscript:
|***BEGIN LAYOUT COMMENTS***
If possible, I would like the following checklist to fit all on one page.
***END LAYOUT COMMENTS***
There are no shortcuts to excellence. Each manuscript will typically have no fewer than four experienced editors responsible for ensuring that it is in all respects up to the standards of excellence that the reader will come to expect from a book in the In the Trenches series.
An excellent manuscript starts with the author. To be accepted to write a manuscript, authors will have provided evidence of their ability to write in an accessible style.
But even a strong, experienced writer can use feedback along the way. In fact, it’s not unusual for editors to request that an author share the first two or more chapters, just to make sure that things are on the right track and to make any course corrections before the manuscript is completed. Editors, too, are always happy to answer questions about style and format. The important thing to remember is that your editor is an important resource as you write your manuscript.
Editorial Process and Timeline
When you agree to write a book for us, you undertake to organize and prepare a substantial deliverable—your manuscript—on or before the deadline. You will be expected to turn in all of the materials in the correct format and style by your agreement deadline.
As you might imagine, there are many variables that will impact the timeline from proposal to published book. The most significant time variable is the writing of the manuscript itself. If you encounter roadblocks to completing your manuscript on time, please notify your editor immediately.
Once a manuscript is submitted for editing, it can take anywhere from three to six months or more before publication, depending on the quality of your manuscript and the number of other manuscripts in the works.
The Teamwork system has a tab called Milestones, which show you the projected completion dates of each of major milestones along the way to publication. Just be sure to take projected milestones with a grain of salt; they’re only projections, not guarantees.
We strongly recommend against planning events, such as launch parties and marketing, around projected publishing dates. The publishing date, at the end of a very long road of writing, editing, and layout, can—and often does—change. Putting pressure on your editorial team to “hurry up” to meet some kind of an external deadline is never appropriate. Your editors are focused on only one thing: producing an excellent book. And that can take time.
Once submitted, the editors will be responsible for carefully reading and judiciously editing your manuscript. They are collectively responsible to:
- ensure that the material presents the book’s subject matter in a way that the average reader will achieve a solid beginner’s grounding in the subject;
- ensure that the manuscript is organized and structured according to the applicable Author Guidelines;
- ensure that the manuscript is written in a fun, upbeat, first-person style, and that the sidebars and figures enhance and complement the main text;
- ensure that transitions and segues are smooth and make sense for the material;
- ensure the accuracy of information through the editor’s own resources as well as by inviting appropriate subject-matter experts to review the manuscript for comment and suggestion;
- as necessary, work with you and other editors to edit the manuscript to make additions, deletions, and elaborations;
- screen author-submitted photos, graphics, charts, and tables to ensure that they are of publishable quality and conform to the Author Guidelines; and
- ensure that the proper third-party release forms are received.
The acquisitions editor is your point of contact up to the time that you are formally accepted as an author. This editor is the person who evaluates your proposal, assesses your expertise in the subject and your ability to write in our particular style, and decides whether or not to recommend your proposal for acceptance by the publisher. The acquisitions editor is also the person who answers your questions about the publisher, the In the Trenches series, the editorial process, the writing style, and so on. Once you sign on as an author, the acquisitions editor will stand by throughout the writing and editing stages but will take a back-seat role to the comprehensive editor.
The comprehensive editor becomes your primary point of contact once the writing starts and will generally be assigned to you in the first few weeks following your coming aboard as an author. This critical editor, responsible for ensuring that your manuscript is 100 percent ready for layout and publication, will be with you from the start of the writing process all the way through layout. To make sure that you are getting started on the right foot, we recommend that you have a telephone call or GoToMeeting session with your comprehensive editor before getting started. There is plenty to discuss!
One important thing that you will be asked to do is submit at least two sample chapters (any two) within a few weeks of getting started. In fact, a default due date is assigned to you in Teamwork; find it in the Tasks tab. This early review gives your comprehensive editor the chance to make certain that you are on the right track in terms of style and formatting.
As the name suggests, your comprehensive editor will be looking at everything. Do the chapter topics make sense, and are they in the best order? Is the writing in the conversational first- and second-person tone called for in the style guidelines? Are you following The Chicago Manual of Style? Are you formatting things correctly?
Although your comprehensive editor can and will do all of these things, there is a limit to what even a comprehensive editor will do. If your editor believes that more professional editing is needed to make sure that your manuscript is publishable, you may be advised to secure the services of a writing coach or ghost writer, or perhaps to team up, as coauthors, with other experts on your topic.
Once you and your comprehensive editor are in agreement with the edits, the manuscript is assigned to a copy editor. This editor, who typically has had no prior involvement with the manuscript, brings one more set of fresh eyes to the editing process. Any edits in this final stage of manuscript editing are provided to your comprehensive editor, who then shares them with you for review.
Once you and your comprehensive editor are in agreement with the final edits, your comprehensive editor will work with you to have your manuscript read by at least two of your peers who are experts in the subject of the book. Based on their feedback, additional edits may be made by you or your comprehensive editor, provided they do not change more than 5 percent of the manuscript (unless your comprehensive editor preapproves such changes). The peer readers might also be invited to write a promotional blurb for the book.
Identify Peers to Read Your Manuscript
In the Trenches books are always reviewed by at least two subject-matter experts. Please submit to us, as early on as possible, the names and background information on two or more experts you plan to have review your edited, locked-down manuscript.
Preparation of Galleys
Once all edits are made and you approve of the manuscript as edited, your comprehensive editor “locks down” the manuscript, meaning that no further changes will be made to it. It will then be sent to layout. In this phase, galleys for the book interior as well as for the cover are created. Galleys, which ultimately go to the printer, show exactly what the book will look like once published.
Galleys are created in stages, with each stage coming closer and closer to the final book’s layout. While your editors will review all galleys, you will be asked to review galleys at certain key phases of galley production. Please pay attention to what is being asked of you; if the layout editor wants you to read for content but not spacing or other formatting, please provide just the requested feedback.
In one of the last stages, when the interior galley is in all other respects ready for publication, you and an editor will hold an online meeting, typically via GoToMeeting in order to employ screen sharing, to collaboratively create the index. Through the use of specialized software utilized for this purpose, the index-creation process is not only painless, but it’s actually fun as well because we all know that when we’re preparing the index, the book is very close to going to the printer.
From Galleys to Printed Book
Once the cover and interior galleys are complete, you and your three editors receive them for a final reading. This is typically the last time that the future book will be read before the galleys are locked down and sent to the printer. Once submitted to the printer, your book will typically be ready for sale in one to two weeks.