1: Format your manuscript. The first thing we editors do when we get your manuscript is put it into standard formatting: double-spaced, twelve-point, Times New Roman font. This doesn't take us long to do, admittedly, but think about it like this. What's more preferable to you, having to take a new suit or dress in for tailoring, or finding one that fits perfectly right off the rack?
2: Never use more than one space. Ever. Yes, you may have learned to hit the space key twice before beginning a new sentence, but we're sorry to tell you that rule left the building long ago. So, as a nice, general guideline, don't ever use more than one space—not between sentences, not after a colon, not between words.
3: Spell out all numbers less than 101. You see what we did there? We didn't spell out 101, because it's, well, not less than 101. Though the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) of course makes it more complicated than this, implementing this as a blanket rule will make it much easier for the editor to determine what needs to be numerical and what needs to be spelled out according to CMS guidelines. Number rules are complicated, but it's better for your manuscript to begin with a certain level of consistency so that the editor can best help to boost your manuscript to a publishable standard.
4: Use serial commas. This particular rule is being debated right now, in case you're not up to date on your grammar news: in a chain of terms, should there be serial commas (this, that, and the other) or not (this, that and the other)? But for us here at Brown, the answer is still clear: yes, there should be. Brown, in accordance with professional industry standards, goes by the CMS for editing and design guidelines, and one thing CMS still strongly recommends is the use of serial commas.
5: NEVER use all capital letters for emphasis. (See, it just looks like you're yelling.) If you wish to add emphasis, put your word or phrase in italics. It carries the same effect, but keeps the prose at the formal level required for mainstream print success. Obviously, certain things like acronyms should still be in all caps, but if you're trying to indicate that something is VERY IMPORTANT, you may as well put it into italics, because we'll change it anyway when we get it.
None of these are things that we can't do. None of these are things that we won't still look for, because you would be surprised how many little things can be missed. This is our job, and we'll give your manuscript the same careful, personal attention to detail that we give all of our manuscripts.
However, when the author takes the time to give their manuscript some preliminary editorial lovin', that allows us to get that much more deeply entrenched in your text. If we aren't constantly having to delete all caps, we can remain deeply and personally involved in the message of your book and ensuring that it is conveyed to its fullest potential.
What questions would you love to have answered by our editorial department?