How Words Get Good (Hardback)

The Story of Making a Book

Rebecca Lee

A behind-the-scenes tour for booklovers everywhere

'A masterpiece' - Daily Mail

'A fascinating and funny look at what really goes into the making of a book' Sunday Times

'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

A behind-the-scenes tour for booklovers everywhere

'A masterpiece' - Daily Mail

'A fascinating and funny look at what really goes into the making of a book' Sunday Times

'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

How Words Get Good (Paperback)

The Story of Making a Book

Rebecca Lee

Catnip for booklovers - a funny, warm and fascinating insight into the world of making books, by an expert

'Any bibliophile will find many enjoyable nuggets in this compendium of book chat' Stephen Poole, Guardian

'An engaging little eye-opener about the publishing business, full of tasty nuggets about books, writers and their editors' Sunday Times

'Enjoyable ... engaging ... insightful' Independent

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

Join Rebecca Lee, professional text-improver, as she embarks on a fascinating journey to find out how words get from an author's brain to finished, printed books. She'll reveal the dark arts of ghostwriters, explore the secret world of literary agents and uncover the hidden beauty of typesetting. Along the way, her quest will be punctuated by a litany of little-known (but often controversial) considerations that make a big impact: ellipses, indexes, hyphens, esoteric points of grammar and juicy post-publication corrections. After all, the best stories happen when it all goes wrong.

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: 06/04/2023

£10.99

ISBN: 9781788166386

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Arts, Language & Literature

Reviews for How Words Get Good

'A fascinating and funny look at what really goes into the making of a book'

 Sunday Times

'A masterpiece'

 Daily Mail

'Inject this straight into my veins!'

Lucy Mangan 

'Engaging, informative, and fascinating!'

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

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

Shaun Bythell, author The Diary of a Bookseller

'Chock-full of the kind of anecdotes that are catnip for booklovers'

 Financial Times

'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

'Any bibliophile will find many enjoyable nuggets in this compendium of book chat'

Stephen Poole Guardian

'

An engaging little eye-opener about the publishing business, full of tasty nuggets about books, writers and their editors

'

 Sunday Times

'Many enjoyable digressions ... An engaging guide to the behind-the-scenes work involved in getting a book published ... Insightful'

 Independent

'From ghost writers to grammar, from translation to typesetting, she proves a lively and engaging guide to the long process of making a book, tracing its history from the ancient world to the modern day. ... A funny and illuminating peek into publishing below stairs.'

 Mail on Sunday

'Excellent and much-needed ..... I am not sure I have ever read anything as good on the process of getting a book into print. ... A straightforward masterpiece.'

 Daily Mail

'A very amiable, freely digressive omniumgatherum of book-related bits and pieces ... Interesting and unexpected'

Sam Leith Times Literary Supplement

'Cheerful, clearheaded'

 Buzz magazine

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.