Category Archives: Editing and Proofreading

Ash Borodin Discusses the Writing and Editing Process

I want to thank Ash Borodin and his editor, Elisa, for providing this unique guest post about the writing and editing processes for the PPG Publisher’s Blog. I smiled all the way through the below dialog and found myself nodding “yes” through much of it.

The creative process of writing a book takes on many different forms, as Ash discusses below, and the editing/ghostwriting processes require much patience and collaboration between two willing participants…

Ash Borodin on The Editing/Writing Process


My name’s Ash and my debut novel is called The Jealous Flock. It’s about the parallel lives of unique individuals struggling to define their values and identity in relation to the major culture clash(es) the world is experiencing right now.

My name’s Elisa and I edited the Jealous Flock

Ash: Everything I do is experimental, including this interview (which we are collaborating on live through Google Docs). I can imagine I’m an editor’s worst nightmare…

Elisa: Yes, you can say that again.

Ash: Can you elaborate on that… On second thought, actually don’t. Well, give us a rough idea of one of the challenges.

Elisa: Well for starters, having the chapters written in no particular order, so I couldn’t really make sense of the story. And using speech to text didn’t always give the words you intended, so I had to guess what they might be.

Ash: Ah, yes, I’d forgotten about that. I think I had this general master plan in my head for what the final book should be but I had no idea how to weave it all together. So initially it was more just a bunch of short stories. And then I gradually wrote some bridging stories to connect the others and from there more changes had to be made. It really was a mess. I still think it was a pretty good mess, from my point of view, it was like a band improvising, each person takes a solo and the others fit in and react.

Elisa: I also found it strange to read when it was initially in present tense, and I told you it sounded like a play.

Ash: Well, in a sense it was. And when you said that, I thought – alright I’ll make it a play then. But that was more stubbornness than resolve on my part. I think it could easily be adapted to work as a screenplay and that’s something I keep in the back of my mind if the opportunity ever arises.

Elisa: I think it might lack the beautiful descriptions you have put into the writing though, and perhaps make it more bland.

Ash: Yeah, and in part it was vanity that spurred me on to rewrite the whole thing in past tense. I didn’t want to lose my poetic vision, my voice. But finding some way between the two extremes was a real challenge for me as a writer, this being my debut novel especially. Because I wrote a lot of it live – I method acted the lines through a voice-recorder – it had that zeal, the immediacy you only get from the spoken word and some of the intimacy of conversation. To then put that into past tense, well it felt like prostitution of my passion at first. I was really adverse to it.

Now I tell people the importance of having an active reader (or an editor, really) from the beginning. Because writing is one thing, but storytelling is really a higher level of writing and that involves connecting, relating to your audience.

Elisa: Yes, it is, but it’s a hell of a difficult thing to try and convince an author that he needs to make a change like this. Authors really don’t like criticism of any kind.

Ash Borodin

Ash: Not naming any names, of course….

Elisa: None at all. And by the way, just so people know, I’m editing your writing as we speak. That’s why there are no spelling mistakes.

Ash: Ha! What people don’t know is that you just wrote ‘smelling mistakes’ and I saw it!

Elisa: Yes, okay, you caught me, but I did fix it immediately.

Ash: I think if we were to work on a book again it would be much easier this time because we’ve both mellowed a lot. For those who came in late, Elisa and I are married. And in the 3 years since we wrote the book we’ve been through a lot personally and as a couple, and I think though we blow up at times under great stress, we are generally able to plan ahead for stress and compartmentalise it a lot better.

Elisa: Sometime a good yelling match is exactly what you need to release it all.

Ash: I know, yesterday’s was great. We called each other unprintable names. A good time was had by all…

Elisa: So, back to editing… another thing that was difficult to get a handle on was that each character used first person, which was really confusing during the editing.

Ash: I think I would do that differently now, but surprisingly no-one’s complained about it yet. Yet….

Elisa: I think it actually works… now.  Now that we have each character’s name in the title of each chapter (thanks to me).

Ash: Yeah that was a necessary evil I was forced to accept as well. I was trying to be so clever in my writing that the reader would intuitively know who the character speaking was – that this was now their perspective. But it was too high a bar for me and maybe an unnecessary bar at that.

Elisa: You can’t expect the reader to do too much work themselves.

Ash: Well that was probably the final thing I relented on. I wanted it to be more work than it eventually was – for the reader. I wanted them to really pay attention like one would with a textbook or work of philosophy. But in the end the need to relate overcame the desire to be very serious.

Ash Borodin’s book is available here:

© Ash Borodin 2017

All guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here:

Learning How To Write with Michael LaRocca

Learning How To Write with Michael LaRocca of

As a student of Spanish, my goal was to think in Spanish. Skip the word-by-word translation so I’d have the necessary speed to speak and listen. I know words in Spanish that I’d be hard pressed to translate. Usually profanity, I confess. Chingow!

For years my students here in China have studied grammar, and know it better than you or I. They read. They write. But speaking involves moving faster than that. In conversation, we don’t have time to write it first and make sure it’s all grammatically flawless, then read it aloud, perhaps after a bit of rehearsal.

So, I try to give them a chance to practice putting words together on the fly, rules be damned. The rules they’ve internalized will kick in and keep them comprehensible, which will build their confidence in their ability to keep creating conversation that way.

Learning How To Write

This is not unlike what we go through as authors. First we study rulebooks, perhaps take some classes, and conclude just about everything we’re is doing is wrong. So many rules to memorize. We might dread sitting down to write with all those constraints.

But really, it’s not about memorizing rules at all. It’s about internalizing the rules, following them (or not if you prefer) without being consciously aware of what they are. They’re there, but in the background.

The story’s what matters. You’re supposed to be having fun, not “working.” At least not during the creation phase.

We don’t always take the time to say, “I’ve written ten active sentences in a row so maybe I’ll whip in a passive one now” or “I need a beat for every X lines of dialogue.” I published four novels and edited dozens more before I learned what a beat was. (It’s a pause so the reader can catch his/her breath.)

And, of course, since it is writing and not speaking, we can always go back and revise later. Then rely on editors to catch what we missed, or at least make us wonder why we wrote it this way instead of that way.

Some authors aren’t even consciously aware of “the rules.” They’ve never taken a class, never read a book about writing. They’re simply avid readers who one day decided to write. But they’ve internalized the rules. It comes from reading.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you want to write, you must read. If you don’t like reading, maybe writing isn’t for you. It’s not about writing because you want to say, “I am a writer.” It’s about writing because you enjoy writing.

And, it’s really nice when you’ve been writing for a long time to go back and read a book about how to write. You might find one or two things to tweak in your technique, as opposed to a daunting laundry list of flaws. It’s much easier to internalize one or two new rules than 50 or 100.


I’ve been paid to edit since 1991 and still love it, which has made people question my sanity, but they were doing that before I started editing. I got serious about my writing in 1978. Although I’ve retired more times than Brett Favre, I’m writing my 19th book. Learn more about me at

© Michael LaRocca 2019

PPG Canadian Editorial Style Guide

The PPG Canadian Editorial Style Guide was created as a starting point for our editors. It is used for all PPG authors who haven’t requested another specific editorial style guide for their books.

PPG Canadian Editorial Style Guide

Obviously, English is far from being a simple, straightforward language. There are many different editorial style guides associated with the English language, depending on which country an editor is representing: United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. We all have different ways of spelling and punctuating the English language, so we each use different editorial style guides when editing books.

This is why PPG creates a customized editorial style sheet for all our authors—to ensure consistency in editing for each and every one of their books. The styles are driven, first and foremost, by the author’s preference (if any) as to which primary guide he or she wishes to use (e.g., The Oxford Style Manual for British authors, The Chicago Manual of Style for American authors, a special blend of the two for Canadian authors as shown below). From there, the customized editorial style sheet is created by a book project’s primary editor, and everyone else follows that editor’s lead for every single book published by that author going forward.

PPG Canadian Editorial Style Guide

Spelling and Spelling References


Use behaviour and behavioural, not behavior and behavioral

Use clamour, not clamor; but write clamorous, not clamourous

Use colour (and colourful); not color or colorful


Er and ‘er: Use the word “er” to denote a speech filler, but use ‘er to denote an informal contraction of “her”: e.g., Oh, er, bring the truck ‘round to the gas pump and fill ‘er up.




Use favour (and favourite), not favor or favorite

Use flavour (and flavouring) not flavor or flavoring

Use humour, not humor; but  write humorous, not humourous


Use labour, not labor; but write laborious, not labourious

Use metre, not meter





Use savour, not savor

Use TV, not T.V. (plural is TVs)




English Spelling/Translations

Generally, Canadian spelling uses “our” for words such as labour, humour, etc, but there are a few exceptions: sailor, tailor. Also, some “our” words drop the “u” when a suffix such as “ious” is added: e.g., laborious, not labourious


Words such as “center” and “meter” use “re” in Canadian spelling: e.g., centre, metre

Grammar and Punctuation

Style Guide(s) Used

Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) 16th Edition


Oxford Guide to Writing English: The Canadian Handbook


“Numbers in Fiction” The Editor’s Blog (Beth Hill, January 25, 2013)


Abbreviations and Acronyms

As per The Editor’s Blog, avoid using abbreviations for units of measure and rates of speed (especially for dialogue within the story), if possible. See blog post for examples.


For acronyms, spell out the words (or meaning of the acronym) in full the first time an acronym is used.


Capitalize names and do not place quotation marks around the names of other animals: e.g., write Lucky, not “Lucky”.


Capitalize brand names and manufacturers.

Dates and Time

As per The Editor’s Blog, avoid using ordinal numbers (e.g., 1st, 30th) for dates that include the month or month and year.


Ex. Write first of June, not June 1st or 1st of June. (Also avoid using superscripts with ordinal numbers in dates; e.g., write 25th, not 25th.)

Dictionary Used

Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Current English


Design (Info re layout, font, margins, trim size, etc.) Italics (as per CMOS)

Use italics to denote unfamiliar foreign words or phrases (or foreign sounding words and phrases; e.g., Genus Humanitas or Genius Humanitas); rather than italics and quotation marks.


Italics (or boldface type) can also be used (sparingly) to show emphasis.


As per the PPG Style Guide, spell out numbers from zero to nine, and write the numerals for anything greater than nine (e.g., 10 not ten).


Exceptions:  Write the numbers as words when writing dialogue. (Source: “Numbers in Fiction”, The Editor’s Blog)



Quotation Marks

Quotation marks may be used to signal that a word is being used in an unusual way or to denote sarcasm or irony. (Note: The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) discourages frequent use of quotation marks for this purpose. Where quotations are used to introduce an unusual phrase or jargon, CMOS recommends dropping the quotation marks for subsequent uses of the same word or phrase.)


Use quotation marks around a word or term when you are referring to it as a word.


As per The Editor’s Blog, write out the words for symbols: e.g., use dollar, not $, percent, not %; degrees not °, etc., especially for dialogue.

URLs (as per PPG Style Guide)

Write urls in lowercase letters

Related reading: PPG Work-Made-for-Hire Vendor Agreement

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Why Do All Authors Need Editors and Proofreaders?

Why do all authors need editors and proofreaders? Because each of these professionals plays a different (and essential) role in polishing your book for publication.

Why do all authors need editors and proofreaders?

Traditional Forms of Editing

Traditional literary publishers put each and every manuscript through a thorough and professional process of substantive/stylistic editing, copy editing, and then proofreading to ensure a polished and saleable result. There are several pairs of eyes on every raw manuscript and galley proof all the way through the process to ensure that 99 percent of every last error is caught and corrected before it goes to print.

Below is a brief description of what each of those editing processes looks like. Independent authors should have your manuscripts copy edited in the very least.

Copy Editing

A copy editor will thoroughly review your manuscript in Microsoft Word format and correct any issues with spelling, grammar, and punctuation throughout. He or she will also make helpful suggestions regarding word choice and sentence structure, using the “Western-based” English editorial style guide of your choice. The edited version will be returned to you for final approval before moving onto the next publishing stage.

Stylistic Editing

Sometimes, you want a little more than a copy edit. A stylistic edit will cover all the points of a copy edit, plus it will eliminate jargon and redundancies, clarify meaning, and ensure that the writing matches the intended audience. Stylistic edits are negotiated with you all along the way using the English editorial style guide of your choice. The edited version will be returned to you for final approval before moving onto the next publishing stage.

Substantive/Structural Editing

Do you want the help of a professional editor to improve the overall structure of your manuscript? A substantive edit will cover all the points of a stylistic edit, plus it will clarify and reorganize your story for you. These changes are negotiated with you all along the way using the English editorial style guide of your choice. The edited version will be returned to you for final approval before moving onto the next publishing stage.

Professional Proofreading

Where an editor’s job is to review and improve an author’s raw manuscript, and the graphic designer’s job is to arrange that raw edited text into a professional and appealing layout, a professional proofreader provides yet another set of eyes to ensure all the components fit together properly and the book is ready for public viewing and printing. The proofreader’s job is to complete the following nine-point check for you:

Interior Check

  • The front matter (such as the table of contents) is accurate and correct.
  • The back matter (such as the index) is accurate and correct.
  • Headers and footers are accurate and correct.
  • Bad breaks, widows, and orphans are eliminated.
  • Text is kerned to flow smoothly throughout.
  • Margins and trim size all measure properly.
  • Spelling and punctuation is correct.

Cover Check

  • Spacing, bleeds, and trim size all measure properly.
  • Spelling and punctuation is correct.

As shown in the above list, a professional proofreader is someone who is knowledgeable/experienced with both basic language editing (spelling and punctuation) as well as the technical aspects of book design (kerning, bleeds, trim size, et cetera). If the proofreader finds any issues in the layout, he or she will indicate these. And the graphic designer will make those corrections with your approval.

Why Do All Authors Need Editors and Proofreaders?

In the traditional publishing sector, you will have very little to no say in the design and polishing of your book. Once they buy the rights to your manuscript from you, they own it. They have all the say in every aspect of the project.

That said, in both the independent and hybrid book publishing business models, you can accept and decline each change as you see fit. And I’m willing to bet you’ll accept 95% of these professionals’ changes—if not more. You’ll be amazed by what their eyes will find that you were unable to see after viewing your own book cover and interior several times over. I’m certain you’ll be grateful that you invested in this type of support.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Project Timeline Template for Book Publishers

Every book is a little bit different. But this project timeline template will help you guesstimate how much time it will take to publish your book. It is essentially the same process for all books: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, et cetera. But some books will require all the below steps (e.g., non-fiction books require indexing) while others won’t.

Project Timeline Template for Book Publishers (Project Management)

Traditional Project Timeline Template for Book Publishers

Below is the approximate amount of time it takes to publish a paperback book the traditional way. For a 30,000-word non-fiction book, you can expect the entire process to take around four months. If your book is twice as large (e.g., 60,000+ words), then expect to double the amount of time it will take each person to complete his or her duties within the project. Plus, you can add up to another four weeks if you plan to print any books once the publishing process itself is complete.

Title of the Book: Sample Non-Fiction Book
Author Name(s): Jane Doe
Genre: non-fiction
Format: paperback
Trim Size: 6″ x 9″
Word Count: 30,000
Picture Count: up to 10 interior graphics automatically included in each graphic design package
Colour or B/W Interior: b/w
PPG Publishing Services (Project Manager)
Copy editor
Fact checker
Graphic designer
Order Vendor/Author(s) Project Duties Deadline
1 Author Order publishing package (prepay) June 26, 2017
2 Author Digitally sign publishing agreement and submit to PPG June 26, 2017
3 Author Send Production Questionnaire to PPG June 26, 2017
4 Author Submit manuscript and interior graphics to PPG June 26, 2017
5 Author Submit cover text and graphics to PPG June 26, 2017
6 PPG Order ISBN & barcode June 26, 2017
7 PPG Submit contracts to PPG vendors June 26, 2017
8 ALL Vendors All vendors return signed contracts and initial invoices June 26, 2017
9 PPG 50% deposits sent to vendors June 27, 2017
10 PPG Send manuscript to copy editor June 28, 2017
11 Editor Copy editing July 11, 2017
12 Editor Return copy edited manuscript to PPG July 12, 2017
13 PPG Review and send copy edited manuscript to author for approval July 12, 2017
14 Author Finish reviewing copy edited manuscript July 18, 2017
15 Author Return reviewed/approved copy edited manuscript to PPG July 19, 2017
16 PPG Send ISBN and barcode to graphic designer for cover July 20, 2017
17 PPG Send graphics and copy edited manuscript to designer July 20, 2017
18 Designer Complete and send two sample cover/interior designs to PPG July 22, 2017
19 PPG Review and send the two sample cover/interior designs to author July 23, 2017
20 Author Choose one cover design and one interior design and let PPG know July 25, 2017
21 PPG Let designer know author’s choice of cover/interior design July 25, 2017
22 Designer Design cover and interior of book August 7, 2017
23 Designer Send first round .PDF proofs of cover and interior to PPG August 8, 2017
24 PPG Check over first round .PDF proofs and then send to author August 8, 2017
25 Author Complete first proofing round August 14, 2017
26 Author Send changes (if applicable) back to PPG August 15, 2017
27 PPG Check author’s comments and send first round changes back to designer August 15, 2017
28 Designer Complete changes and send next .PDF proofs to PPG August 22, 2017
29 PPG Check over .PDF proofs and then send to author August 22, 2017
30 Author Complete second proofing round August 28, 2017
31 Author Send changes (if applicable) or approval back to PPG August 29, 2017
32 PPG Check author’s comments and send second round changes/approval back to designer August 29, 2017
33 Designer Complete changes and send next .PDF proof to PPG September 4, 2017
34 PPG Check over .PDF proofs and then send back to author for approval September 4, 2017
35 Author Review and send approval back to PPG September 5, 2017
36 PPG Send approved .PDF interior to Indexer September 5, 2017
37 Indexer Complete index of the interior September 18, 2017
38 Indexer Send index in Word.doc format back to PPG September 19, 2017
39 PPG Review and forward index to designer to insertion into the .PDF September 19, 2017
40 Designer Insert index into .PDF September 20, 2017
41 Designer Return print-ready .PDF of interior and .jpeg of cover to PPG September 20, 2017
42 PPG Submit print-ready files to printer and order hard copy proof September 21, 2017
43 PPG Order hard copy proof for proofreader (Can take up to two weeks to receive this from the printer.) October 5, 2017
44 PPG Send suggested retail price to author for approval October 5, 2017
45 Author Reply to PPG with chosen retail price for book. October 6, 2017
46 Proofreader Complete professional proofread of hard copy proof October 18, 2017
47 Proofreader Return proofread hard copy proof to PPG October 19, 2017
48 PPG If more changes, submit to designer to complete changes and mail hard copy proof to author October 19, 2017
49 Designer Complete proofreader changes and submit updated .PDF proof to PPG October 23, 2017
50 PPG Review and send .PDF to author for review along with hard copy proof October 23, 2017
51 Author Compare hard proof to new .PDF proof and send final sign-off to PPG October 25, 2017
52 PPG Request all final-approved working and finished files back from designer October 26, 2017
53 Designer Send all final working and finished files back to PPG October 27, 2017
54 PPG Send author all final working and finished files October 27, 2017
55 PPG Submit final files to printer/online distributor(s) October 27, 2017
56 PPG Organize one book signing event at a local book store for author October 27, 2017
57 Author Print books (Depending on how many copies are being printed, this can take up to four weeks.) November 17, 2017
58 Author Submit book copies to Legal Deposit at Library and Archives Canada October 27, 2017
59 PPG Update PPG Facebook page October 27, 2017
60 PPG Update PPG blog October 27, 2017

Project Timeline Template for “Rapid Release” Publishing

In 2018, I discussed the many merits of “rapid release” publishing (e.g., releasing a new book every six weeks). Obviously, the above traditional project timeline template won’t work for independent authors who wish to self-publish an SEO-friendly book series like that. They will require a different approach as outlined in this mini ebook series. But for those of you who wish to produce only one book at a time the traditional way, you can use the above template as your guide.

Does “rapid release” publishing appeal to you more than the traditional publishing process does? If yes, here are 7 Tips to Help You Write a Book FAST!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.