AUTHOR GUIDE

The complete details of our publishing process can be found in this guide. The full text is available here. You can browse the chapters and sections using the menu on your right (or below, for mobile devices).

PREPARING YOUR MANUSCRIPT

In this section:

Spelling

House style

Parts

Headings

Other textual features

Prelims

End-matter

Footnotes

References

Index

Indexing by yourself

Links to book retail sites

Testimonials

Spelling

Because we publish in both markets, UK or US/International spelling is the single main issue in styling.

In the UK readers are more used to American spelling, and it is not an issue of the same importance in reverse, though some reviewers complain about it. Most books sold in “Commonwealth” countries like South Africa or Australia have American spelling. So we prefer American spelling overall (and quite apart from the question of sales it’s closer to 17th-century English than modern UK spelling is); e.g. use "ize" rather than "ise" where possible i.e. "recognize" and "realize," but "advertise." Also:

Acknowledgments, aging, analyze, behavior, center, defense, emphasize, fulfill, insure, neighbor, baptize, baptized, baptism, favor, judgment, leveled, no one, practice, program, recognize, rumor, savior, splendor, traveler, worshiper, worshiped etc.

The issue, of course, is broader than just spelling. It extends to punctuation, words ("kerb" or "curb," "bonnet" or "hood"—hundreds of them), idioms, abbreviations, etc. Invest in an American dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

When we use American spelling we also adopt their grammar, which most noticeably crops up in whether quotation marks come inside a full stop or outside it. UK books tend to use single inverted commas, US use double, but this has been changing in recent years, with the big sellers in the UK increasingly coming out with double inverted commas. So we tend to use that as our house style, but will follow author usage i.e. if you have single inverted commas throughout, we will not change them. But whether you choose US or UK spelling, please be consistent, and say in the Author Stylesheet box which you want to follow.

There are exceptions to this though. If your market is mainly in the UK, use UK spelling. If it is written in a poetic style, or if language generally is a key issue, and we’re looking for a discerning readership rather than the mass market, keep with what you feel most comfortable with. Accept that many American readers will see mistakes. If you’re an expert in matters of spelling, and want to keep primarily to English, one useful compromise is to use “old American” spellings derived from Old English, e.g. skeptical, organized. Please bear in mind that there is often no one single correct way to spell a word. For instance, "yogurt" outstrips "yoghurt" on Google by three to two, with "yogurt" being the norm in the USA, "yoghurt" more common in the UK though both are used, and both used in Canada, along with "yogourt."

If you are a Canadian author—more complicated still. Spelling here is often closer to UK English than US English, e.g. "colour" rather than "color." We leave it to your judgment.

House style

There is an Appendix on more detailed questions of House Style. Don’t get over-concerned about details of styling till you’re happy with the overall manuscript. When you feel the manuscript is as good as you’re going to get it, go through it looking at questions of style.

There is no industry-wide standard on how publishers treat manuscripts. Some will take your manuscript pretty much as you give it to them. Others will edit it to a strict house style. Publishers are not as rigid about styling as newspapers, because different books are not read through consecutively by the same readers. We are less rigid than the average academic publisher. It depends on the type of book. Language and style change, and there are some books where exclamation marks and colloquialisms are appropriate because they reflect the personality of the author, others where they are not.

  • Our copyeditors work from the guidelines set out below. Please check that you are happy with them. For instance they may change UK spelling to US/International spelling if you do not say in the Default Stylesheet box that you prefer to stick with UK spelling. We cannot change it back again at our cost if you have not made an alternative preference clear.
  • The main reason why we don’t have a strict house style is that our sales are international, and what reads correctly in North America is different to the UK, different to Australia, etc. There is no real consistency of usage in every detail across the English-language world, much less so than, for example, in French. Broadly, the two main types of English are referred to by most as “US English” or “International English,” and “British English.” It’s quite hard to get a manuscript that is completely one or the other, and on software the resulting text might be described as “multiple languages.”
  • As a general rule we will follow your conventions, so long as they are consistent. Our feeling is that it’s best to stick with your style, and confine copyediting to ironing out clear grammatical mistakes and making it consistent. The greatest, most creative works in the English language would never have survived copyediting (and didn’t get any).
  • The main point about styling is to be consistent within a particular book. Consistency, clarity and common usage are the watchwords that every publisher uses. It’s important to get these details right, or the book will be seen as sloppy, and that will reflect on the content. There’s a balance though to be struck; fine to spend days on it, but not months, or we’ll never get the book out. And it’s unlikely that any reader is going to put the book down because they disagree with the use of a comma rather than a semi-colon. If you are ever in doubt, just simplify, use shorter sentences.
  • In the text never assume that the copyeditor or designer will understand what you want unless you spell it out clearly. Do not for instance put in double spaces between paragraphs where the subject changes (they create too many problems, particularly at the top and bottom of pages, and are too easily seen as errors.) Either change the text to avoid the need for them, or put in asterisks, or a subheading.

Parts

  • If you have Parts, number them I, II, III, IV and refer to them in the text as Part I, Part II, etc. Part titles normally stand on their own on a new right-hand page, with the next (left-hand) page blank and the following chapter starting on a new right-hand page.
  • Chapters should be numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 and referred to in the text as Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc. Chapter titles should not be too long, certainly below 50 characters (letters plus spaces etc.) so that they can be repeated at the top of each right-hand page as headlines. Chapter titles are best in capitals (i.e. the first letter of each word capitalized). If you want upper and lower case, their use should be consistent with the same words in the main text.
  • It does not matter if chapter headings have already been used as titles for articles.
  • New chapters start at the top of the next page. If they are short and there are lots of them, as in daily readings, and the length of the book is an issue, they will run on. If that is a problem, make a note on the Stylesheet.
  • For non-fiction, it is almost always preferable to have chapter titles. For fiction, its more usual not to. If you do not have chapter titles, skip the Contents page, and make a note to that effect in the Author Stylesheet box.

Headings

  • Insert a blank line before headings and subheadings.
  • Ensure that the headings within a chapter are consistent and logically ranked.
  • Do not use more than three levels of heading (the chapter title does not count). Preferably, do not use more than one. Indicate their relative importance by using consistent fonts and/or type sizes for each level of heading and provide an explanatory key on the first page. Table headings and figure captions should not have full stops. Subheadings are best in bold, and smaller subheadings within a section, in italic.

Other textual features

  • Type in numbered lists, rather than using automated lists.
  • If you want to use other ways of presenting information, such as boxes or tinted panels (tinted by typesetter), mark the first page with the relevant passages. Type “zzz” before and after the relevant text. Similarly type in “zzz” to mark where you want illustrations to appear, as in: zzz Fig 3.

Prelims

The preliminary pages (or “prelims”) are the opening pages of the book and include endorsements, the title page, previous titles, contents page, contributors list, preface, acknowledgements, and foreword. You do not have to have all of these, but please always provide a contents page for non-fiction and, most importantly, for all books, any previous titles (title and ISBN). If you already have a book(s) published with us, leave a note for the designer to update the prelims on your previous title(s) to include the current one.

Prelims are traditionally numbered in roman figures in the proofs, which allows for last-minute changes without disturbing the pagination of the main text (Arabic numerals starting with 1 begin at the Introduction—if there is one—or Chapter 1 onwards). We put a page number on the dedication page, but not on the title page, contents page etc. It's a design choice, the designer we use thinks it looks better. It is not necessary to number these pages. This is how your prelims will look in the designed book, although if you have endorsements these will occupy page i and ii (see below), and the other pages will thus move forward (no need to worry about left/right-hand pages or numbering in your MS):

  • Half-title (p.i): always a right-hand page and carries the title.
  • Half-title verso (p.ii): a left-hand page which may list other books you have written, others in the series, or be left blank. Feel free to add other books whether we are the publisher or not.
  • Title page (p.iii): a right-hand page that carries the full title and any subtitle, the name(s) of the author(s) and the company logo.
  • Title page verso (p.iv): this left-hand page will be completed by us to fulfill standard legal and bibliographical requirements and includes details of the copyright holders. We also include here details of distributors around the world for ease of ordering by individuals or shops who happen to come across the book and are not familiar with the publisher.
  • Dedication or epigraph (p.v): used for a dedication if wanted, or contents. Sometimes the dedication may be placed on p.iv if we are short of space.
  • Contents pages generally begin on a right-hand page and should include: foreword (with the name of the writer), preface and introduction (if any), the part titles (if any) and chapter titles of the text, together with subheadings (A headings) within each chapter; end-matter titles including the Index. Check that the chapter titles match those in the text. 
  • Preface: Written by the author to explain the purpose of the book and its target audience. It’s a chance for you to communicate directly with the reader, establish a relationship with him/her. It usually ends with your name or initials. Personal thanks are generally included at the end of the preface.
  • Foreword: usually written by a renowned expert in the subject at the invitation of the author.
  • Acknowledgements: can be listed separately or included in the preface. It is not necessary to ask permission from people to acknowledge them. Acknowledgements for borrowed illustrations and tables should be included in the captions. For fiction and certainly for children's/YA it's better to have Acknowledegements at the back of the book so that there's less to scroll through on Amazon "Look Inside" at the start.
  • List of abbreviations or acronyms.
  • Any general maps relevant to the whole book.
  • Introduction: This may form part of the prelims or be included in the text, depending on length. Broadly speaking, if it’s short and by its nature stands outside the text it should be in the preliminary pages; if it is long it may be better treated as an introductory chapter to the text and numbered accordingly.

It’s increasingly common for the first page or two of a book to be used for endorsements and/or reviews, as these will show up first on Amazon "Look Inside". This is a question of judgment. It doesn’t look good having too many pages of praise by people the reader hasn’t heard of before you get to the start of the book, and it’s possible to “oversell,” but short summary statements from reputable sources are helpful. They should be laid out like this:

An important and fascinating book about the origin, history and impending demise of the ego – humanity's collective dysfunction. The Fall is highly readable and enlightening, as the author's acute mind is at all times imbued with the higher faculty of spiritual awareness.

Eckharte Tolle, bestselling author of The Power of Now and A New Earth: Awakening to your Life's Purpose

 

End-matter

Most copyediting queries are on the end-matter. This might comprise:

  • An Author Biography.
  • Previous titles: As well as having them mentioned in the prelims, you may also wish to add a more extended look at your previous titles to the end-matter with accompanying description and blurbs.
  • Note to reader: An increasing number of authors do want direct contact with readers, and put their website and maybe email address in the prelims or end-matter of the book. You may want to consider this. There are disadvantages – there can be no responses, which might be discouraging; there might be too many, which can get tedious; they might be aggressive, which can be upsetting. But in general it helps to create a community of readers. 
  • Don't mention specific sites, as Apple will reject any book that references a competing site such as Amazon.
  • Example:

From the Author: Thank you for purchasing TITLE. My sincere hope is that you derived as much from reading this book as I have in creating it. If you have a few moments, please feel free to add your review of the book at your favorite online site for feedback. Also, if you would like to connect with other books that I have coming in the near future, please visit my website for news on upcoming works, recent blog posts and to sign up for my newsletter: http://www.AUTHOR.com. Sincerely, AUTHOR

  • Appendices.
  • Notes/References (comprises works mentioned in the text).
  • Further reading (suggestions for texts that will provide additional information).
  • Bibliography (texts consulted by author, maybe organized by chapter).
  • Glossary.
  • Index.

In that order. End-matter headings should be included in the contents.

We include some copy about the imprint at the back of the book. Also, some wording along the lines of:

If you have enjoyed this book, why not tell other readers by posting a review on your preferred booksite. Recent bestsellers from IMPRINT are:

LIST OF BESTSELLING TITLES IN YOUR IMPRINT

Find more titles and sign up to our readers’ newsletter at CLUSTER  WEBPAGE. Follow us on Facebook at CLUSTER FACEBOOK LINK and Twitter at CLUSTER TWITTER LINK. Most titles are published in paperback and as an e-book. Paperbacks are available in physical bookshops. Both print and ebook editions are available online. Readers of ebooks can click on the live links in the titles to order.

In the ebook this end-matter also includes live links to bestselling titles, our website and social media. Now that readers can connect so easily online, most expect to comment and follow links.

Every year we review this end-matter and update which titles are listed. We tend to focus on the strong sellers. We can not change the selection for different books, or get into discussions about which titles should be selected. It doesn't imply that you are personally endorsing these titles (though they will be from within the same imprint), just that the publisher is promoting them. 

END MATTER FOR STOP PRESS MURDER BY PETER BARTRAM, ROUNDFIRE BOOKS

Footnotes

Many books do not need footnotes, but if it is a reference-style work it always helps to cite your sources, particularly for reviewers. They often come to snap judgments on books on the basis of the range of reference used. Give credit where it is due.

  • Footnotes at the bottom of the page do not work in ebooks – pages show differently on different ereaders, and if you increase the font size for ease of reading they are no longer at the bottom of the page. Linking notes is too expensive to do. So if the manuscript comes with footnotes at the bottom of the page, we will ask you to resend it with the footnotes at the end of the chapter.
  • The position of footnotes in the text is indicated by footnote indicators, superior numbers running serially throughout each chapter. Present them in the numerical “Vancouver” style. Please don’t use roman numerals. They have to be changed individually, and it takes too long.
  • Do not use your word processor’s footnote or endnote feature. It does not translate footnotes or endnotes correctly when we feed the Word document through the setting process. If you send in a manuscript that has used this facility we will have to return it to you for amendment. If you want to use endnotes you must enter them manually. You must enter each endnote number in the text in superscript to make it the right size. Superscript is on the Word formatting toolbar, it is a button that has x2 on it. To superscript just highlight the item and click on the button, and type the endnotes in manually at the end of the chapter or the end of the book, in the same size type as the rest of the text.
  • Check that there are no omissions and that the number of notes in each chapter corresponds with the number of notes in the notes section.
  • If you have used automated footnotes or endnotes, here is how to strip them and add manually:
  1. Copy and paste all endnotes (in order) to a new document. They will all come out numbered 1, so renumber them manually in the new document.
  2. Go through the automated superscript numbers in the text one by one. Delete the automated superscript number (this will automatically delete the corresponding endnote) and replace it manually in superscript (press CTRL+SHIFT+= to superscript the number). Important note: Once you’ve deleted an automated superscript number the next automated number will become 1, so keep track of where you are.
  3. Copy and paste the list of notes from the new document back into the manuscript (at the end), and label them Endnotes.

References

Add them in a list at the back of the manuscript under "References."

  • Please cross-check that all the references cited in the text are included in the list (and vice versa), and that the name(s) and date match (if using the author and year system).
  • Please include the publisher and place of publication for book references, and the volume and page numbers for journals. Most manuscript queries arise from missing or inaccurate information presented in references.
  • For more detailed information, and on how to quote internet sources, read the OU Harvard Guide to Quoting References. 

 

Index

We are not an academic publisher bringing out scholarly works. For popular books indices are not necessary. Sometimes where they might be helpful they are not worth the time and cost. Reviewers who complain about the lack of an index in a book are usually not familiar with publishing economics.

Also, ebooks are increasingly making indices irrelevant. Rapidly moving to over 50% of sales, we have to take out the index in a print book for the ebook edition – different ereaders, choosing different font sizes, all changes the pagination. Linking the index is expensive. Indices automatically put a title into the category of a "complex" conversion, and we will need to agree a separate invoice to you for this, a cost of £0.80/$1.20 per page. More in the section on Ebooks in Chapter 8.

For these reasons, we avoid indices where we can. If you really want one, we require you to provide it. Instructions on how to do that yourself are below. If you want to use a professional freelance indexer, you can find one via the Society of Indexers (UK) or the American Society for Indexing.

Indexing by yourself

  • Pull out words to be indexed as you do your final edit, and add them to the back of the manuscript. It can help in finding them later if the manuscript pages are added, but of course the page numbers in the proofs will be different. Important words can generally be picked out on a single reading.
  • Put a note in the Production Workflow notes that you would like to do an index. We will send you the final proofs, separately. Then go to the final proofs, go to the “edit” menu, then “search”. The relevant words will be highlighted on the file, and you can find the proof page numbers.
  • A “Select Index” of a couple of pages may be a good compromise, avoiding the need to put down everything.
  • Computer software like Adobe Reader “Search” can easily produce a list of words used in the text (a concordance), but this is only a word list with no structure: it does not include concepts implied in the text, and it does not link related terms. The problem with a computer-generated index is that it can be so inadequate or misleading that it is worse than having no index at all.
  • Word processors or page-layout software can be used to produce an index, but not automatically. The process known as embedded indexing makes the preparation of an index easier; it is where suitable index entries are inserted at the appropriate points in the file and the index is then generated from these when the document is complete.
  • If you wish to provide a full index, minor topics can be included in the more general ones with a “see” reference to the indexed term. This can be done as the index progresses, or a fuller index can be condensed in this way at a later stage.
  • Do not put long strings of page numbers in an index. Entries should be broken down into subentries so that different aspects of the topic within an entry can be selected, thus giving more targeted information.
  • Use single spacing, with each entry beginning on a new line. Use a comma to separate each entry from the first page number.
  • The final page numbers can be added when the proofs are received. This has to be done manually.

Important note: if you are doing an index, you will be adding the page numbers when you get the final PDF of the book from the designer. When you view a PDF there is an option to display pages of the document, either:

  • Numbered 1 onwards in Arabic, regardless of whether or not there are pages numbered in roman as well, or
  • Exactly as numbered, e.g. i, ii for prelims; 1, 2, for main text.

Go for the second option, as otherwise all the page numbers will be out by the number of the prelims.

Alternatively, accept that, increasingly, most of your books will be bought digitally, where there will be no index, and the above amounts to an unsustainable effort in time and cost. 

Links to book retail sites

Do not include them. If the front-matter or end-matter contains a link to a website that references books for sale other than through Apple, the book is rejected. So if there is a link to an author's Amazon page, it will be rejected. If there is a link to a webpage that appears to sell books, even if not Amazon, it will be rejected. 

Testimonials

We get a lot of these, so many that we don't keep track of them...but here are a couple of recent ones.....

And just to let you know that the books have arrived safely and in the most trouble-free manner. I am delighted with the look and the feel of them. I think the cover designer has done a magnificent job, as has everyone else connected with this project. I read the whole book through last night and was positively excited by what I read! The only minor flaws I detected were the repetition of the word 'that' at the end of line 14 on page 38 and my irritatingly unnecessary and gramatically faulty writing of the words 'far more' at the end of the last line on page 63. Otherwise it is all perfect - well, pretty close to that! I shall save the world yet, I tell you!!! Please forward this e to John Hunt, Trevor Greenfield and Denise Smith, and have a good day and a wonderful weekend. Regards, Richard.

Richard Oxtoby Trouble with Christianity (on receipt of books)

Could I just say how impressed I am by John Hunt Publishing. The cover of the book is brilliant and the speed of the publishing process puts other companies to shameDavid Sunderland - These Chivalrous Brothers

I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to Dominic, Maria, Catherine, and the rest of the staff and management of Roundfire Books for everything they've done to make my new novel Fragile Brilliance become a published book. Everyone involved was so supportive of the book/manuscript from the beginning and I appreciated it so much. Everyone has treated me so well and treated me like a real author, which is something that really makes me feel special. I could not be more pleased with how the book looks and how it was marketed and distributed. My entire experience with you all has just been awesome!  Eliot Parker - Fragile Brilliance

More endorsements under the imprints, on the website, as in http://www.zero-books.net/author-endorsements.html.

©2016 John Hunt Publishing Ltd.