Working on a military sci-fi thriller but never served in the military in any capacity? Or perhaps you’re writing a nonfiction book regarding WWII but have little to no idea how to address officers? You’re not alone!
Authors should approach military ranks (fictious or not) in the same way they do titles like president, director, chairman. When immediately preceding a personal name, titles are capitalized.
President Joe Biden
Queen Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
But if a title is not present before an individual’s name, it is never capitalized. Consider the examples below:
Joe Biden became president of the United States in 2021.
The longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch is Elizabeth Alexandra, queen of the United Kingdom.
Justin Trudeau is a Canadian political who was elected prime minister in 2015.
Naruhito is the 126th emperor of Japan.
The exact same rules apply to military ranks.
Captain John Smith
General Rob Stark
First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye
In formal prose and other generic text, titles are lowercased. Thus:
The captain appeared gloomy, sullen.
Ashton looked at the general, his mouth agape at the man’s decision.
“Where are you going?” asked the first lieutenant.
You’re ready to have your manuscript edited so you visit a prospective editor who asks, “I can’t provide an estimate without knowing what service you’re looking for. What type of editing are you looking for?”
“Uh… the normal kind…” you reply, bewildered. Was there more than one kind?
“Well, do you need your book to just be proofread, or do you want it copyedited?”
You stare at your computer screen, sucking on your lip in thought. If only you knew what the difference was!
Let’s pretend your manuscript is a microscope slide. Holding it in your hands (or viewing it on your own) you find minor mistakes, but overall, it looks pretty straightforward. Concerned you’re missing something though, you hand it off to a scientist (an editor) who takes the slide and slips it under a microscope.
Without zooming in on it, the scientist sees it has some issues. It’s got some typos, tense mistakes, inconsistencies in names – you know, basic stuff. This is proofreading.
But you’re curious now because those are things that you missed. What else did your eyes skim over? You want the scientist to really examine it, to copyedit it. The scientist fine-tunes the microscope, setting the objective lens and adjusting the illuminator. Now they can discern the flaws of the manuscript. These include problems with syntax and semantics, illogical content, poorly formed paragraphs, and style. They can see all the typos and misspelled words too, but now that they’ve really zoomed in, they can gain a better understanding of what needs to be done. This is basic copyediting.
Deciding that perhaps you missed quite a few things, you decide to ask the scientist to go all out – examine the manuscript to learn all its dirty little secrets. The scientist agrees and moves your manuscript to a powerful electron microscope. They adjust it and then peer through the eye piece. Not only can they see – and subsequently address – all that they’ve found thus far, but they can now perceive discrepancies in plot and character development. They can now discern weak scenes, dialogue that sticks out or doesn’t make sense, and rearrange pieces of your book to streamline its flow. This is developmental copyediting.
Now, go forth, Author, and find an editor!
Do I Need An ISBN?
The International Standard Book Number, more commonly known as an ISBN, is a numeric commercial book identifier unique to each book. Originally ten numbers long (prior to 2007), ISBNs are now comprised of 13 numbers.
While paperback and hardback books require ISBNs, ebooks do not as the primary purpose of the number is to identify the book in a commercial system. Ebooks are not commercial or physical items and are not tracked in the same manner. Therefore, authors usually only need one ISBN for the purpose of self-publishing.
How you attain that ISBN is up to you.
Option #1: Amazon KDP
Amazon KDP offers free ISBNs to all authors, no matter the subject matter or genre. The advantage of this is that authors do not have to spend hundreds of dollars purchasing ISBNs, nor do they have to go through Bowker’s tedious registration process. It is quick and easy to use. If you are going to promote your book(s) by linking it to the Amazon page, then this is a wise choice. This selection does not alter your ability to sell your books at brick-and-mortar establishments as all of Amazon KDP is a print-on-demand platform.
Conversely, the use of an Amazon KDP ISBN ties your book to the digital platform. Therefore, if you were looking to publish on IngramSpark or Lulu as well, you would be unable to since the ISBN belongs to Amazon.
Option #2: Bowker
The United States ISBN Agency is called Bowker. An ISBN ensures your book’s information will be stored in the Books in Print database. Once you set up an account with Bowker, your ISBNs will be added to your account to recognize you as the publisher of the book titles.
As of June 2021, Bowker charges the following:
ISBNs never expire. If at first you choose Amazon KDP’s free ISBN and then decide you wish to publish using a purchased ISBN, the correction can be made in your manuscript and on your author dashboard with Amazon KDP.
If you are looking to exclusively use Amazon KDP to sell your books, then you do not need to purchase BARCODES. Even if you purchase an ISBN from Bowker and publish using KDP, you do not need to purchase a barcode.
However, if you are taking your book to small printer or looking to submit it to another digital platform, then you will need both an ISBN and a BARCODE. As of June 2021, Bowker sells barcodes for $25. A barcode-ISBN combination is also being sold for $150.
Amazon KDP ISBN Bowker ISBN Bowker Barcodes
Owner/Editor of Emerging Ink Solutions, avid YA/NA author, adamant supporter of the Oxford Comma, anime and music enthusiast.