Episode 13

Why Every Writer Needs a Style Sheet

This episode features a lot of happy publishing news, a trip to the Land Down Under, and information about style sheets and the people who love them.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

"Warm Honey" by Jon Presstone

"Le Passage" by Enzo Orefice

"Hair and make up" by C.J. Harris

"Walking Through Downtown" by Humans Win

Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

Back for more? Excellent. This episode features a lot of happy publishing news, a trip to the Land Down Under, and information about style sheets and the people who love them.

The Writing Break cafe is open, so let’s grab a table and I’ll fill you in on some publishing news.

The New York Public Library ended its late-fee policy last October. The result? A huge increase in book and media returns and an increase in library engagement. Many returns included notes of apology and gratitude. Aww. More than 21,000 overdue or lost items made their way back home. Some books had been gone so long they were no longer in the library’s database.

Bloomberg reports that young readers are reviving chain bookstores. Millennials are feeling nostalgic about big box bookstores, and Gen Z is staging a lot of their BookTok videos at said bookstores.

Speaking of big box bookstores, Barnes & Noble, announced the launch of B&N Audiobooks. And they’re offering one month free when you sign up. The new service is an Audible competitor with a catalog of more than 300,000 titles and a $14.99 per month subscription service. Customers can also buy books individually and without a subscription.

And speaking of Audible, they recently changed their catalog labeling. Books included in your membership no longer have an orange label that says included. Instead, books that aren’t included in your membership now say one credit. There’s no news link to that, that’s just the Muse letting you know.

Yale University Press has launched a new series called Ancient Lives. This series will focus on biographies of “thinkers, writers, kings, queens, conquerors, and politicians—both the well known and the lesser known—from all parts of the ancient world.”

HarperCollins has launched a new imprint called Harper Select, which is a division of HarperCollins Focus. Harper Select, will publish memoir and narrative nonfiction.

Sidenote: I let you know about these new imprints so that you and/or your agent know when there is a new space in which to shop your book around.

Many of you are self-published authors, which I support and admire. However, if you’re seeking traditional publishing, here is some good news. Publishers Marketplace reports that there was a 9 percent increase in deal volume last year. The number of six-figure deals is down, but the overall number of deals this year is 3 percent higher than this time last year, with adult fiction sales seeing the largest increase.

Links to all but one of these news bits can be found in the show notes of this episode and on writingbreak.com.

Before we head out to the bookstore and get into today’s writing tip, let’s rest a moment on the official Writing Break Overthinking Couch.

Today we’re overthinking about something a listener wrote to me about. Robert from Aruba writes: “I used to overthink about where to write. I felt like I had to sit at a particular table at a coffee shop to write my book. Then I realized that even though the space didn’t feel perfect, it made more sense to just sit and write wherever I was instead of hauling my idea to a particular place.”

Thanks for sharing, Robert. I think that having your own writing space is a lovely thing that can improve productivity, but you never know when inspiration will hit, and you can’t be too precious about it or you might miss out on some good writing. Plus, you can always travel to just the right spot when it’s time to edit the manuscript.

And now, grab your stuff, we’re taking a trip to an independent bookstore.

was established in the early:

Paperback Bookshop is the kind of shop with so many books that the books aren’t just neatly lined up vertically but also horizontally, and sometimes books are stacked horizontally on top of the vertical ones. Mmmm, that’s a bookstore right there.

Now that we’re here, let’s check out an independent author.

Today we’re looking at Recipe for a Healthy Brain by Dr. Roy Hardman and Dr. Melissa Formica. The book summary says that Recipe for a Healthy Brain “discusses the many myths associated with cognitive loss in humans and offers realistic and research outcomes on how to deal with an aging brain and how to possibly avoid dementia.”

I want you to read this book and many like these so that you can keep writing productively for years to come. This book releases May 26th, but it is available for pre-order. Check the show notes for the pre-order link.

Now, let’s take a stroll around the streets of Melbourne as we discuss style sheets.

In last week’s episode, episode 12, I reviewed the difference between style manuals, publishing house style guides, and style sheets. Check out that episode if you missed it or need a review. I know it’s been a busy week for you.

In this episode, we’re talking about why you need a style sheet. The main reason you need a style sheet is for your own sanity. Details about your characters go on the style sheet, including character names, personality traits, appearance, and magical powers, if applicable. Setting and location information is also added to the style sheet. You could also put down the answers to any grammatical questions you have while writing so that you don’t have to look them up again. This is also the place to note any spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary unique to the manuscript.

Once you get a stylesheet going, you can either continue to add to it throughout your writing career or create different documents for each manuscript or series. A style sheet is also a useful document to hand off to your editor, your proofreader, your agent, and your publisher. Your editor should keep their own style sheet for their own reference, but you’re significantly helping yourself if you have a style sheet ready to pass on to your publishing team. This way, they know not to make any changes you specifically don’t want, and they can reference the characters and make sure that everything listed on the style sheet aligns with the manuscript.

Nonfiction editors, you need a style sheet as well. Next week, if my schedule allows, I’ll have fiction and nonfiction style sheet templates available for you to download.

Until then, subscribe, rate, and share, and remember, you deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at podcast@writingbreak.com.

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at podcast@writingbreak.com.

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Rosemi Mederos


Rosemi is the founder of America's Editor, a book editing company.