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about writing

What makes a good manuscript?

How are writing, producing and selling fiction and non-fiction different?

What’s happening on the SA writing scene?

What do you think? We’ll ask the pros, take a look at some techniques, and bring the news and views!


Find an editor!

The Professional Editor’s Group (PEG) has a great database of quality editors.

Check it out here: 2010 PEG DIRECTORY


Why use an editor?

The Professional Editor’s Group (PEG) sum it up well. We’ve copied this from their site – you can find out more here.


Editing is not just about correct spelling and acceptable grammar. It is about:

  • choosing the words and phrases appropriate to your readers
  • communicating effectively the right message to your audience.

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant”
(Confucius 551-479 BC)

Copy-editors can help to improve the way you communicate, whether you are a large corporation, a small business, a website developer, a government department, an NPO/NGO, a university or school, an advertising agency, an aspiring writer or a student working on a thesis.

Publishers have long understood the need for copy-editors’ services. Here are four good reasons:


Mistakes and inconsistency can be costly. A copy-editor helps you get it right first time, on time and within budget.

Clear Communications

If your communications are unclear, you risk confusing your audience. A copy-editor makes your written communications clear, concise and correct.


Misspellings and clumsy grammar are not good for your image. A copy-editor makes you look good, find the right tone and choose the appropriate words.


Copy-editors work on all kinds of project: best-selling books, brochures, corporate reports, magazines, newsletters, personal résumés, press releases, proposals, reports, text-books, theses, training materials, Web pages.


Self-publishing SA adds:

On the point of versatility … each of the project types mentioned above require a certain kind of edit. Perhaps you can create a good, error-free CV, but do you know the Harvard method of referencing for a thesis? Do you understand heading levels and how they can add meaning to a textbook? Editing is a specialised profession, and even within editing, there are specialised projects.

  • Tip: When chosing an editor, try to establish that he or she has experience in your type of project.


How to Write: Tips from Niq Mhlongo

We found this on BookSA here.

# Always write for yourself. Don’t listen to your publisher telling you to write for a particular audience.

# Delete every game on your PC or laptop before you get addicted.

# Write to express and not to impress. My first manuscript had absurd words such as inter alia, comprehend, and bourgeoisie. Maybe it’s because of the law thing that I was doing at that time, but now that I look at it I feel embarrassed.

# Avoid talking about your next project with your drinking buddies. South Africans always think that all writers are celebrities and millionaires.

# Do not try to write like your favorite author. Every writer has his or her own voice.

# The best way of not losing your work is to E-mail it to yourself every time you write something.

# Avoid people who want to give you their manuscripts to read and comment because this might distract you from your own project. Always refer them to your publisher.

# Keep your day job. Writing only makes you poorer.

# If you write in first person, people might call you by your main character’s name even at international writer conferences.

# If publishers reject your work, curse them in your heart and aim for self-publishing.

Niq Mhlongo is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, Dog Eat Dog – which, in Spanish translation, won the Mar des Lettras prize – and After Tears, both published by Kwela, an imprint of the NB group.


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