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Every Writer Needs This One Document
Episode 1219th April 2022 • Writing Break • America's Editor
00:00:00 00:11:20

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In this episode, we'll catch up on publishing news, continue our global independent bookstore visits, and learn how publishers keep an author's writing style consistent and how you can do the same.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

“Prelude (Entering The Thickspace)” by Humans Win

“Hip Hop Beat Gushito” by Gushito

“The Tune of Nature” by Gushito


Rosemi Mederos:

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

With a fun and challenging project behind me and one ahead of me, I am snuggled into the perfect spot for a writing break. I am so glad you are here with me. Some of you let me know that you enjoyed last week’s clip show; thank you for that. This week, we have a lot of publishing news to catch up on, we’re continuing our global independent bookstore visits, and I’m reviewing the difference between a manual of style, publishing house style guidelines, and style sheets.

But first, let’s head to Taiwan. Taiwan is a special place for me. It is where my wonderful sister-in-law is from, and I had a memorable time when I was there. It pleases me to know that there are people in Taiwan taking writing breaks with me.

The bookstore we’re visiting today has a restaurant, so let’s head there first for refreshments and to discuss some publishing industry news.

Today we are at Escents Bookcase in Taipei, Taiwan, a bookstore and restaurant with a focus on organic and sustainable living. The books sold here center around nature and the environment. The restaurant has a tranquil garden with a mango tree and a swing. Isn’t it just perfect?

I’m going to get a cup of tea. You go ahead and get whatever you want, and I’ll meet you at a corner table for some publishing industry news.

First up, a quick update on fantasy author Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter campaign. You might remember this story from a few episodes back, episode 8, I think. Well, his campaign closed at $41.7 million, with more than 181,000 backers. It is the highest funded campaign in Kickstarter history.

Once again, authors are calling for Amazon’s ebook and audiobook returns window to be shortened. As you might know, Amazon has a lenient refund and returns policy for audiobooks and ebooks, and there are some readers who take advantage of this. Depending on how an author account is set up on Amazon, a return could end up costing an author money. It’s not a victimless crime. Authors and author organizations have tried in the past to stop this, and hope springs eternal because here they are trying it again.

The latest online petition asking Amazon to change its returns policy has over 43,000 signatures. The Authors Guild has confirmed that they have offered several solutions to Amazon, including limiting returns to two days or not allowing returns if more than 20 percent of the book has been read.

Check the show notes of this episode for a link to the petition.

PEN America reported a large spike in book bans. There are two kinds of people who push for book bans: (1) people who take advantage of Amazon’s book returns policy and steal from authors; and (2) people who don’t read. The problem goes deeper than people wanting to embrace an Orwellian society and police your thoughts, like that’s not bad enough. The greater horror is the lack of process and procedure for removing these books.

Congress, heaven help us, recently held a 3-hour congressional hearing regarding the increase in book bans in schools and the danger these bans mean for the protection of the First Amendment.

I encourage you to think of a list of banned books as a reading list someone has lovingly crafted just for you and your family. Just really get into these books, you know?

And finally, a couple of book trends.

ovels and comics were sold in:

Links to these articles can be found in the show notes of this episode and on

Now, let’s take a stroll around the garden and use the aforementioned swing as today’s Overthinking Couch.

I’ve been overthinking about the writing advice that says you should write what you know. This might be a helpful guideline for many writers, but what if you’re writing something like historical fiction or sci-fi? Does it matter that you didn’t live during World War II or haven’t been to outerspace? Of course not. So, if “write what you know” is out, is there something that can replace it?

How about, “write what you’re willing to find out.” If you only want to write tales that take place in your hometown with characters based on people you know, then that is what you should write. If you’re interested in writing about a time you didn’t live through, a place you’ve never lived in, or a world that only exists in your imagination, then do that. Every book requires research, some just require more than others. Even if you’re writing about emotions and life situations you’ve never felt, you’re going to have to do some interviewing or even inner research to do it right. As long as you’re willing to put in the work to do your manuscript and your readers justice, go ahead and write what you’re willing to find out.

in Washington, DC. Founded in:

Check the show notes for this episode for a link to their submission guidelines.

The next and final segment of this episode is all about style.

In publishing, we have manuals of style, house style, and style sheets. What is the difference between them, and why should you care?

A style manual contains all of the standards for writing, formatting, and designing your document as decided by an organization. For example, The Chicago Manual of Style is compiled by The University of Chicago, and APA Style is compiled by the American Psychological Association. These manuals tackle everything from whether or not to use a series comma to how to capitalize your title. To make your life easier, I recommend picking one style manual to follow for all of your books.

wn house style guidelines. In:

When I edit for publishing houses and there is a discrepancy between the style manual they follow and their house style guidelines, just like in casinos, the house always wins.

Then we have style sheets, which are guidelines specific for a particular work. Publishing houses that follow a manual of style and have their own house style guidelines will still provide me with a style sheet for each book I work on. So, yes, that means I’m referring to all three documents while editing.

A style sheet keeps track of character names, unique spelling, and author preferences. Style sheets are important documents, and next week I’ll explain why you should keep a style sheet, whether you are traditionally published or self-published.

Until then, The Muse will bestow unto you a week’s worth of good writing days every time you tell someone about this show. And as always, 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

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 or contact us at




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