The Chicago Manual of Style, AKA How to Make Me Love You
Some of you may not know this, but I got my start in publishing working in editorial. I’ve done everything from concept creation to proofreading, and therefore, I have a lot of editor pet peeves that, frankly, take over every aspect of my life.
Many agents have also worked/still work as an editor, which means I am not alone in my grammarian enthusiasms.
So, here’s a little tip to make us extra-excited about your manuscript and query letter:
Follow Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) guidelines.
You see, as editors, many of us are programmed to notice grammatical and stylistic errors, and they can distract us from the content. A manuscript that follows CMS guidelines stands out because we see it as less work, and as chronic over-workers, we LOVE that.
So banish any double spaces between sentences.
Add that glorious Oxford comma in.
And please, for the love of Grammarly, make sure everything is consistent.
If you’re not familiar with the CMS, the Purdue Owl is a great introduction. And if you’re extra-awesome, think about buying a copy of the book, or getting a membership to the CMS. It costs money, but you can share a membership and login with friends. Trust me. The search function is awesome, and is lots of fun to poke around.
Once you are really familiar with the CMS, it’ll become second nature. Your agent will appreciate it, your editor will love it, and you’ll thank yourself, because you’ll see a lot less of those red lines during those edits.