How Words Get Good (Hardback)

The Story of Making a Book

Rebecca Lee

A behind-the-scenes tour for booklovers everywhere

'Inject this straight into my veins!' Lucy Mangan
'Engaging, informative, and fascinating!' David Bellos, author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear?

Once upon a time, a writer had an idea. They wrote it down. But what happened next?

Join Rebecca Lee, professional word-improver, as she embarks on the fascinating journey to find out how a book gets from author's brain to finished copy. She'll learn the dark arts of ghostwriters, uncover the hidden beauty of typesetting and find out which words end up in books (and why). And along the way, her quest will be punctuated by a litany of little-known considerations that make a big impact: ellipses, indexes, hyphens, esoteric grammar and juicy errata slips. Whoops.

From foot-and-note disease to the town of Index, Missouri - turn the page to discover how books get made and words get good.

Or, at least, better.

Publication date: 17/03/2022

£14.99

ISBN: 9781788166379

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Arts, Language & Literature

How Words Get Good (Ebook)

The Story of Making a Book

Rebecca Lee

Preorder from

A behind-the-scenes tour for booklovers everywhere

'Inject this straight into my veins!' Lucy Mangan
'Engaging, informative, and fascinating!' David Bellos, author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear?

Once upon a time, a writer had an idea. They wrote it down. But what happened next?

Join Rebecca Lee, professional word-improver, as she embarks on the fascinating journey to find out how a book gets from author's brain to finished copy. She'll learn the dark arts of ghostwriters, uncover the hidden beauty of typesetting and find out which words end up in books (and why). And along the way, her quest will be punctuated by a litany of little-known considerations that make a big impact: ellipses, indexes, hyphens, esoteric grammar and juicy errata slips. Whoops.

From foot-and-note disease to the town of Index, Missouri - turn the page to discover how books get made and words get good.

Or, at least, better.

Publication date: 17/03/2022

£12.99

ISBN: 9781782837596

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B096N2HJ1V

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Arts, Language & Literature

Reviews for How Words Get Good

'Engaging, informative, and fascinating! Rebecca Lee's book is a whole education, drawn from her long experience of making books better.'

David Bellos, author Is That a Fish in Your Ear?

'Inject this straight into my veins!'

Lucy Mangan 

'A revelatory account of how books get made, and a delightful hymn to human collaboration. No really: you'll be entertained on every page!'

Rebecca Gowers, author of 'Horrible Words: A Guide to the Misuse of English' 

'Bibliophiles will really enjoy this ... Rebecca Lee takes you on a journey - a book's journey - and there's never a dull moment. She moves skilfully back and forth between fascinating book-making history to delightful modern-day anecdotes from both her own experience and other experts in the book-publishing profession.'

Hana Videen, author of 'The Wordhord: Daily Life in Old English' 

'A bibliophile's paradise, a trove of inside stories and fascinating facts. The journey made by words, from the mind of an author to the printed page, is surprisingly complex and often hilarious, and Rebecca Lee is the perfect guide.'

Henry Eliot, author of The Penguin Classics Book 

'Everything you could want to know, and a whole lot more you didn't even know you wanted, about the history and process of writing. Fascinating stories, secrets and nuggets of advice from inside the belly of the publishing beast. You'll finish this book wanting to get started on your own, and knowing exactly how to go about it.'

Edward Brooke-Hitching, author The Madman's Library

'A book full of good words about how words get good. Drawing on wide reading and long experience, Rebecca Lee shines a light on the talented people who work behind the scenes to bring the best possible version of a book to its readers. Revealing, readable and fun.'

Tom Mole, author The Secret Lives of Books

'Beautifully written, unbelievably well informed and utterly fascinating - I adored it.'

Shaun Bythell, author The Diary of a Bookseller

Rebecca Lee

Rebecca Lee

Rebecca Lee is an editorial manager at Penguin Random House. She's spent twenty years managing hundreds of high-profile books from delivery of manuscript to finished copies, signing off millions of words as fit to go to print with only the occasional regret.