Style Guides: Literature's Cartography
Self-publication is no simple task. Working as your own publishing house (writer, marketer, designer, typesetter, formatter, etc.) can be an absolute nightmare when you're holding your first completed manuscript and have no idea what to do with it next. While it's important to outsource some aspects of the process (editing, cover design, and formatting come to mind), as an author, you've probably had to learn and complete the majority of the process yourself, whether it's doing or hiring.
When it comes to editing, most traditional publishing houses defer to The Chicago Manual of Style. With most of my education stemming from this classic guide's usage, I also default to its recommendations when revising (why else would I have a 1,144 page book taking up half my desk to use as a reference?).
However, it's important to note that your editor's job is to make your manuscript consistent throughout, not uniform to every other published novel. Though I will use a standardized guide for typical grammar or formatting issues (and a giant copy of Merriam-Webster's Dictionary for spelling), there's always room for variance and personal preference.
Since most authors I work with have series and I want to stay consistent with these variances, I'm planning to begin working up a style guide for each novel and/or series. This will include preferred grammar and spelling, capitalization variances, definitions, pronunciations if applicable, etc. It will be considered a glossary of sorts, an ultimate handbook for your soon-to-be published work. It will be available to you upon request when the novel edit is completed, and can be used for future works, for your personal reference, for proofreaders or formatters--the sky is the limit!
Style guides are common practice for editors with traditional publishing houses, and though I've always kept them (in informal formats, typically notebooks), in the spirit of better organization and offering additional services, this is going to be added to the "usual drill" for projects.
If you're curious about what these guides may look like, or you're interested in sending me preferences for your own at the beginning of a project, feel free to send me an email and we can chat about it further.
Cheers to all, and Happy October! 🎃