What the Editor Wants
Check Imprints for Content Guidelines
Dahlia: Romance: Romantic Suspense, Gothic Suspense,
Regency, Single Title Contemporary
Stargazer: Fantasy: Paranormal, High Adventure Fantasy,
Urban Fantasy, Steampunk
Thistle: Middle School, Young Adult, New Adult
Déjà Vu: Republication from all genres
- doc(x) format, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt font
- Submit Query, Synopsis, first three chapters.
- Use Our Submission Form
Tell-Tale Publishing Group Style Sheet
Since our goal is to produce the most error free and professionally copy-edited books possible, you can help us out by following common punctuation rules and general grammatical conventions in your manuscripts.
The following list details what we feel are the most important—and often most misused—grammar and punctuation conventions. Once you’ve signed a contract with us, please immediately update your manuscript to meet these basic styles. Industry-standard for copyediting is The Chicago Manual of Style. If you don’t want to spend the $50 to buy one, consult their website. Or, feel free to ask us for help.
Laurie C. Kuna, Copy Editor
- Don’t use them in fiction. While they’re perfectly fine for academic writing, the purpose of narrative is to pull readers in and keep their attention throughout the story. Semi-colons cause readers to mentally put the brakes on, and that's not something an author wants readers to do.
- Industry standards are leaning toward using only three dots for ellipses. In addition to using three dots, put a space in front of the first and the last dot, and a space in between each.
- "It could've been a good thing . . . ” His voice trailed off.
3. Em dash, En dash, hyphens
- The longest dash, the em dash, is the main one used in dialogue and narration.
- Don’t use the shorter en dash.
- Use a hyphen to link two words to form constructions like compound adjectives.
- Quite often em dashes can be formed by using two hyphens followed by another word or by hitting the Return key. Also, they can be inserted by choosing INSERT on the toolbar and selecting SYMBOL. Once you get to the page of symbols, it’s merely a matter of finding the correct punctuation mark. Many symbols will identify which marks they are, so be sure to look for the em dash and hyphen if you're using the INSERT SYMBOL function.
- Don't use spaces on either side of an em dash. (See examples below)
- “What the—” she nearly swore when she stubbed her toe against the church pew, but caught herself before
- Examples of hyphen use:
- Race cars burn high-octane fuel.
4. Use "try to" not "try and"
- Attempt and try are synonymous. In your writing, do you ever use a configuration like this: "I'm going to attempt and teach you how to do this.” Of course you don't. You would use "I'm going to attempt to teach you how to do this." Please don't use “try and” in narrative. If you want your characters to say it, that’s not a problem.
5. Contractions in front of words
- Dialect speaks to characterization, so either internal dialogue or spoken dialogue are used for this. For instance, speakers of certain British dialects drop the initial “h” so they’ll say ’orses for horses. You must have a contraction to replace the missing letter. Be sure your system uses a contraction symbol instead of a single quote. You may have to install the contraction manually. (Go to Insert in the Tool Bar, select Symbol, then scroll through until you find Right Single Quotation (’) Contraction symbols curve the opposite way from a left single quote mark.
6. Commas in a series
- While commas can drive people crazy, our bottom line is this: Make sure your sentences make sense. Also, consistency is important in regard to commas in a series. There is no need to use a comma in front of the word and which precedes the last item in a list.
- Not: She bought apples, oranges, mangoes, and bananas.
- Again, however, make sure things are clear. Here’s an example of when NOT using a comma in front of the “and” could be confusing: Three famous pairs are Bonnie and Clyde, Batman and Robin and Tracy and Hepburn. There should be a comma after Robin to avoid confusion.
7. Commas between independent clauses
- Commas are always needed between two independent clauses.
- The ant flew off the branch, but the roach stayed on the ground.
- We expect you to italicize the following:
- TV shows
- Magazines, and newspapers
- Quotes from song lyrics and quotes from literature.
- Internal dialogue (thoughts). Example: Where am I? she asked
- Sound effects. Example: A loud bang preceded a rapid series of
- Latin scientific terms are italicized.
- Foreign words not in common use. So “Bonjour!” is in italics, but “mesa” is not.
- (Just capitalize brand names such as Coke, Ford, Midas or Charmin)
9. Writing numbers
- Spell out numbers up to ninety-nine. After that, use numerals unless you’re quoting a simple, round figure.
10. Widow/Orphan function
- This is what keeps text together so that if a paragraph starts at the bottom of one page and carries to the next, its sentences are either split evenly or the entire paragraph is carried over to the next page.
- We consider this to be a business function, so please remove it from you document settings before you start a new project. (You can tell if W/O is still on if you see larger than normal margins at the bottoms of pages.) Go to FORMAT – PARAGRAPH - LINE AND PAGE BREAKS -PAGINATION the first item below “pagination” should be Widow/orphan control. UNCHECK it, and select OK.