How you could save money on your editor fees

saving you editing cash

What would you say if, right now, I could tell you how to save probably a few hundred quid off your editing fees?

At least.

Not bad eh?

And it’s dead easy.

And you’d look ultra professional.

And it would help YOU.

And your editor would love you for it.




Still interested?

Now it may sound really nerdy, but if you’re prepared to put in an hour or two it really will save you money.

It’s called …

*drum roll*

An editorial style guide.


Boom, wow, comic


Ok, ok, I know. Style guide, blah, blah. Spell things the same, blah, blah.

But seriously … aren’t a couple of hours of your time worth it?

If I have to sort it out for you, I AM going to charge you. You know this. And I’m not cheap.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily take your cash, but I would rather earn my money by doing my job and not being a human spell checker.

That’s not what editors do.

Well it is, but only because we have to sort it all out before we get down to the actual editing … and I KNOW there will be some folk out there who disagree with me … but I’m a nice person, I want to save you cash so you can spend it on your business, or your book, or someone else’s book, or your favourite beer or wine or gin.


lime and soda


If you’re interested in saving yourself some hard-earned cash read on – I’m going to show you what to do. If you don’t want to save your cash email me and we can talk about your project anyway.

Right, the nitty gritty …

Get the writing implement of choice and jot down a few things. Keep it simple, this isn’t a mighty tome, it’s intended to set out the basics to give you something to build on.

pad and pen

Who are you?

Yes really, you need to know who you are to be able to communicate effectively with your audience.

Are you a company, a group of authors coming together to write a book or a paper, or are you an author who wants to get your story out there?

If you’re a company do you have set logos that need to be used?

If you’re a group is there already a set of rules you need to adhere to?


The audience

It’s good to get an overview of the readership and your intentions.

Who are you writing for? Is it a general readership, or industry professionals or somewhere in between? Your writing will need to reflect this – too general for a professional readership and they might not take you seriously – too professional for a general readership and you may lose them along the way.

What is your tone of voice?  Are you going for formal or informal? Do you want to be seen as an educator or one of the gang?


who is your audience?


Now you have the two global questions answered it’s time to get down to it. This is the meat of your guide, it won’t take long but it means that everyone works together to write the same way. If you’re on your own, it means you won’t forget what you’re doing. Your style guide should be a simple document that you can easily refer to, and that you can add to if needed.

If you want a guide for reference Butcher’s Copy-editing or the Chicago Manual of Style is worth buying, but a simple, well thought-out style guide is really what you need, so unless you’re going to need to write a lot of style guides they probably aren’t worth forking out for.


Back to the writing … use these headings to create consistency in your writing. Make your decisions and write them under each heading:



British English or American English (or another language)?

Which dictionary will you use? Dictionaries vary in their treatment of spelling, so it’s best to pick one and stick with it. Good examples are Oxford dictionaries or Collins for British spelling and Merriam Webster for the US.



Will you use   -ise or –ize spellings? (e.g. standardise or standardize)

Will you co-operate or cooperate?

Are you being focused or focussed?

Also it’s good to note if you’re going to be informal or if you are going to formal



Are you going to have full stops, or not. And if you use full stops are you going to have spaces? For example – BBC, B.B.C or B. B. C. 

questions, questions 


There are some words where hyphenation is a style choice. If you know you’re going to be up against some of these it’s wise to note down how you want to treat them all under this heading – then when you come across them you know what to do. Add to the list as you go along.

Then there are the ones that you always get wrong or have to look up – add them too. It’ll save you time, seriously!



As with hyphenation, caps can be a minefield. Note down how you want them treated (and how they are supposed to be treated) so you can refer back to your style choices.


Quote marks    

In the UK we usually use single quotation marks, with double quotation marks if they fall within a quote, e.g.  ‘When he said “I don’t like Marvel films” I knew right then I had to leave.’

But in the US it’s convention to use double quotation marks, with single within, so: “When she said ‘Marvel films are the best’ I had to wonder what I saw in her.”



This will depend on whether you want British or American variations, but even then you have a choice:

British – 30th June 1930, 30th June 1930, 30 June 1930, 30/06/1930

American – June 30th 1930, June 30th 1930, June 30 1930, 06/30/1930




You need to keep these consistent throughout your documents. How about 1 pm, 1pm, 1 p.m. or 13:00, or 13.00?

And remember no a.m. or p.m. when you are using the 24-hour time designation – its 13:00, not 13:00 p.m.



Are you going to spell out to nine then have numerals from 10 onwards, spell to ten then 11 onwards, or ninety-nine then 100?

How about commas for large numbers? Are you going to have 1,000, or 1000.


Currency and weights/measures

Will you have spaces, no spaces or non-breaking spaces,  e.g 1000 km, 1000km, 1000 km (you can’t see it, but there’s a non-breaking space there, so it’s best to spell it out!)



Will you use Hobbs’s or Hobbs’. There are ‘rules’ so it’s best to look these up before taking a hard stance on this.

The Rules


Will your dash be a spaced en rule (erm – what?) , an unspaced em rule (erm—what?) or something else, such as spaced double hyphens (erm – – what?)?


Headings and subheadings       

If you’re having headings and subheadings take a decision now to avoid confusion later.

Are all words going to be capitalised (The Ultimate Guide To My Life’s Work), or only nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs (The Ultimate Guide to my Life’s Work), or are you going to go for sentence case (The ultimate guide to my life’s work)? Or are you going to have all caps (and no lowercase letters) in one heading and something different for the others?

You can mix it up any way you like, as long as each type of heading is treated the same, but noting things here will help you remain consistent.



Note here any formatting issues you want to remember, for example, do you want to set out long quotations in justified block form, in a smaller font or in italics, or in a mixture?



Do you use references or a bibliography? How about footnotes? Where do you want them to appear, at the end of the page, the chapter or at the end of the document?

If you have this figured out at the start it will make it easier later, but do think this through really carefully. Changing it later can be a pain in the posterior. Seriously.


thinking businessman



Still don’t know why you’re doing this?

A style guide:

  • creates consistency
  • makes sure everyone is doing, and remembers to do, the same thing
  • gives your company, group or yourself an individual voice
  • makes multi-authored texts easier to write
  • helps you remember what you decided to do
  • helps your editor or proofreader understand where you’re coming from


So, do you think it’s worth it?

saving you money

What I’ve set out above, in this quick style guide, isn’t a definitive list. Add to it. Leave things out. It’s your call.

Creating a style guide for your business, your authorial colleagues or yourself might not even take an hour – it doesn’t need to be complicated.

But it’s a powerful little thing.

Use it and it could save you cash, and your sanity.


Respect Your Colleagues



A quick message today.

Let’s just say I have work to do and a massive assignment due in for my OU course.

Or rather I have a humongous reference section for my OU course that needs my attention (don’t you just love references?)


This is not a snarky post.

Nor a self-righteous one.

It’s just one that has been nestling in my brain for a while and now is as good a time as any to post it.

thoughtful editor

When you work as a professional, whether that be in the publishing industry, the service industry or any other industry, you should respect your colleagues, your service providers and your customers.


Here respect doesn’t mean admiring your peers or their achievements (although it’s always nice to have someone to respect in this way), it simply means having due regard for their feelings, their rights, and their standing as a professional.

That means treat them as you would expect to be treated.

It’s not that hard.


Respect means:

  • Not making jokes, or flippant or negative remarks at the expense of others.
  • Not calling them out in public for misspelled words in social media posts.
  • Not being snarky in private either.
  • Not demeaning their abilities or working practices.
  • Not using social media to put down other professionals.
  • Being mindful of how your actions and words affect others.
  • Understanding that we are all different and work in different ways.
  • Showing compassion and understanding.
  • Accepting that we are all different, with different backgrounds and experiences.

File 01-06-2018, 14 15 17

In a nutshell respect means treating colleagues, clients and other professionals in a way that you would wish to be treated.

Treat someone well and they’ll happily work with you, for you or buy from you. Relationships can be built and formed that can last a lifetime. Even respectful short term transactions can mean a lot.

Treating someone with disdain, casual flippancy or feeling you are better than them is disrespectful, rude and wrong.

It’s not old-fashioned, weak or pathetic to treat someone with respect.

And in business it makes good sense to be respectful. Sometimes you don’t really know just who you are dealing with.











Things I wish I’d known when I started freelancing

freelancer in pyjamas

Freelancing is tough, fun, energising, soul destroying, confidence building, the best thing in the world and the worst thing in the world.

You find things out about yourself that you never would if you worked for a company, in an office, day in, day out. Like how much you rely on someone else to take turns making the coffee, or how much of your life was spent sneaking time out to watch YouTube. Of course I never did that. Ever.

But there are things I wish I’d known before I started freelancing …

  • You will be working a whole lot more than when you were in employment. You have to do it all – the fabulous stuff as well as the boring stuff. People tell you this, but you never quite believe them. Believe them. It’s the truth.
  • You need to set yourself a budget. Everything costs when you set up a business. Sure, you can do it bit by bit, but there will be unexpected costs. Budget my friend, budget.
  • The digital nomad life isn’t for everyone. Even just nipping out to Starbucks to do your thing and look like one of those glamorous freelancers doesn’t always work. If you have kids, dogs or friends you can basically forget it. If you like to talk to random strangers you meet, you can forget it too. Working in a coffee shop is 10% work, 90% distraction.

    hipster working in a coffee shop

  • The thing you thought you were good at may not actually be what you are good at after all. You need to be prepared to take stock and re-evaluate every now and then. Don’t be afraid to move the goal posts, go in a different direction … or … heaven forbid … go back to the cushy pay cheque and the 9–5.
  • You need to be hard sometimes. Just because you’re a freelance doesn’t mean that ‘free’ should be a thing. Stop with the freebies.
  • You need to be ultra-flexible. Sometimes you will give freebies because it makes sense to you, or you’ll take on a job with weird timing, because it’ll give you a connection in the right industry. That job for the random stranger you met in the supermarket might just be the opening you need to a whole new world of work. Take up mental yoga as a hobby.
    mental yoga
  • It is possible to sit in your garden and get work done. You can be one of those people, feet up on the sofa working on your laptop.
  • It is possible to take days off when you fancy (yes, it is), but you have to make up for it somehow if you’re going to keep on earning. Take the day off to go scuba diving in the local boating pond or climb trees looking for the rare purple-tailed squirrelbird if you want to, but work at the weekend when your mates want you down the pub.
  • Find your tribe. Once you do your working life will be so much happier. Even if that tribe is the local clown-appreciation group who meet every seventh Saturday in the local Wetherspoons.

    clown appreciation society

  • Find your rhythm. Work when it’s best for you. Sure, fit your meetings to your requirements, but if you work better between 9pm and 3am, do your thing. No one has to know.
  • You can drink as much coffee as you like, but it’s not necessarily a good thing. I had to ration myself after my caffeination hit eight mugs of double-strength black coffee a day (true, that).
  • Don’t be afraid to be yourself. People like people not robots (unless you’re a robot nerd). When I dyed my hair green I thought it would end me. Instead it became a ‘thing’ and people remember me for being the slightly off-centre green-haired editorial type with a liking for black coffee and gin.

    gin, rock rose gin, rock rose, spirits, alcohol

  • You control your work. If you don’t want to work with someone you don’t have to. Period. No excuses. Just don’t take on that work.
  • Freelancing is work on your terms. No one is going to tell you what to do. You’re the one who makes or breaks it.
  • Freelancing is the best thing in the world, if you allow it to be.