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Great Editing Is Great Marketing

Your First Marketing Offense: Write and Edit Great Query Letters

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Quick! It's an adjective. "Grammar" or "Grammatical.?"


When I was doing the final edit for the second edition of my The Frugal Editor (the e-book), I received some input suggesting I should use the adjective grammatical rather than the noun grammar when it was being used as an adjective. Makes sense.
 
Nevertheless, I decided to check with my grammar guru June Casagrande without telling her my preference for grammar. (I liked it better because it sounded less forced). Here’s what she said:

Just my opinion: ‘grammatical mistakes’ seems to call more attention to itself than ‘grammar mistakes.’ And because ‘grammar mistakes’ is no more vulnerable to criticism than ‘paint store’ or ‘vacation day,’ I think ‘grammar mistakes’ would be my preference.”
 
This little anecdote illustrates how flexible our language is. It also illustrates the difference between grammar rules and style choices. I think it should also serve as a warning that we should be very careful when we criticize someone else’s editing choices. This difference between grammar rules and editing and style choices is one of the rarely discussed things that my The Frugal Editor helps you with.
 
You may want to learn more about June--maybe even buy some of her books along with mine so you won't have to pay for shipping on Amazon. She is the author of the brand new Best Punctuation Book. Period.


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year's Help and Gift for Supporters


This little excerpt is from the second edition of The Frugal Editor now available as an e-book on Kindle. If you already have the paperback book or the old e-book version, let me know and I’ll send you an e-copy when in return for a little review (but only if you love it) on Amazon, B&N, or your blog or newsletter. It's a lovely way to begin the New Year by networking and passing it forward.  Here’s the tip:

"In On Writing Stephen King tells us that a dialogue tag can dictate the use of punctuation in the dialogue itself. For instance, if the tag uses a form of the word ask, avoid using a question mark at the end of what the character said (that part within the quotation marks.) That makes sense. We’re trying to avoid being redundant. Here are examples of ways to avoid question mark redundancy:  

·        Example: He asked, “How old are you.” (Note the period after the question.)

·       Example: He said, “How old are you?” (Note the tag uses the word said, not asked.)

·     Example:    “How old are you?” (No tags at all.)
 
The new edition of The Frugal Editor is expanded and the resources are updated. Further, the e-book was first published in the early days of Kindle. This new format is much easier to read. And I do want my former readers to benefit from it. We're on the honor system. You have the first edition in paperback or digital form, you tell me. I'll send you the new one--no questions asked. 


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Politically Correct Doesn't Always Work

Though I talk about the niceties of being poetically correct in the 2nd edition of The Frugal Editor (to be issued first for Kindle in mid-January), there are times when we carry it too far--sometimes to the weakening of the English language.  What will we use to replace the word foreigner, as an example.  Read on!


We writers need to be aware of PC trends so we can make conscious choices and avoid faux pas whenever possible. And there are lots of PC-isms we out there we need to know. But frankly, I think getting too PC (politically correct) can interfere with clear, concise English.

 

Here's an example of  what I consider just too, too PC: An academic at one of the universities that uses my husband's reference book, What Foreigners Need to Know About America From A to Z (http://amzn.to/ForeignersAmericaUS) objected to the word "Foreigners" in the title. My husband was aware of that difficulty when he chose that title. Some consider it pejorative. The thing is, there is not really a perfect substitute in the English language. "Aliens" calls up an image quite different (Martians, anyone?) than "Foreigners." These academics who used to call their students from other countries "foreign students" now call them "international students," but that term wasn't quite right for this book. Some people this book is written for may be emigrants. Second-generation citizens. Tourists. People who aren't Americans who conduct business with Americans both in the US and in their own countries. And on and on. Though not a perfect term, "foreigners" was the most inclusive word he could find.

 

Often attitudes about words tell more about the person who objects to them. When did it get to be a bad thing to be a "foreigner?" In America, even Native Americans were once from somewhere else. Or, more importantly, when are we going to get over the idea that being a foreigner is a bad thing.

 

Now the LA Times reports that the respected AP (Associated Press) has decided to discourage its reporters and editors from using the word "illegal immigrant." Some find the term offensive. The Times reports, "They prefer 'undocumented' arguing that 'illegal' is dehumanizing and lumps border crossers with serious criminals."

 

The venerable AP stylebook warns against the term, though they, too, couldn't find a suitable substitute for all cases. Instead they suggest a kind of "working around it" approach—which may be an adequate alternative in the body of a written piece but may be tough when coming up with a title or headline.

 

There are all kinds of phrases and words that we should be leery of. We know—instinctively or because we writers need to keep up on such things—most of them. But sometimes the style suggestions are just plain mealy mouthed. Meaning that they are diluting our language without offering anything that works as well.

Decisions. Decisions. Just remember. "Undocumented" isn't going to work. Some people have documents, just not the right ones.

But the part of all this—the part that I love—is the idea a senior manager at Associated Press put forth: "It's lazy to label people. It's better to describe them."

I have to agree with that. I was labeled all my life and hate putting labels on people. It's a little like putting them in a box, locking it, and throwing away the key.

 

Just so you know, LA Times and The New York Times will soon be weighing in on the "illegal" and "undocumented" issue. Can't wait to see what they come up with.

 

Note: In the 1970s, the LA Times style book preferred "illegal alien." Times do change…gradually. Thank goodness, mostly for the better. I'm going to accumulate style choices, possibly for a new book. If you have ideas for me, please let me know at HoJoNews@aol.com


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

On Editing: Wordiness Producers

I have to post these things for my dear Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor Blog when I think of them--which is usually while I'm editing. Here are a couple of phrases that contribute to wordiness.

 
“I find” and “taken the time to” aren’t awful phrases but they contribute to wordiness. They can usually be deleted from copy without losing meaning and what you say without them will be more direct, more forceful, more memorable and, well . . . cleaner.




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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A New Kink for Better, More Natural Dialogue


The LA Times reports that researchers have found that when we say “Huh?” we do just what people in every language in the world do. Their “huh?” may not sound exactly like our odd little grunt, but similar. They're all  single syllables with a vowel sound and they often have a glottal stop. They call such utterances the “glue that holds a broken conversation together.” I thought you should know about it, because it is so pervasive, yet we rarely see it in dialogue.
Wouldn’t using it here and there make dialogue seem more natural—or at least serve a useful (and natural) purpose when a character doesn’t get it?
And wouldn't using it judiciously in our dialogue help our writing be more universally appreciated or understood. There are lots of English and Second Language readers out there.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Edit/Format Idea for Overcrowded Docs


Borrowing Green Formatting from the Greats . . . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Subscribers to this editing blog probably know how I feel about learning from the greats—in this case the Smithsonian magazine. You may also have figured out that I’m a greenie.


So, ta da! Introducing the paragraph icon. You know, the one that looks like a backward “P” with two heavy lines on the right. But instead of using it as an invisible formatting tool, Smithsonian can see its beauty and makes it a space-saving design element on the opening pages of their feature articles. That means the page has less white space (which costs money in print magazines), but it also may mean a little more space for nifty illustrations.

Smithsonian designers/formatters just stick one of these symbols into the copy anywhere there would normally be a new paragraph or the start of a new block of dialogue. That saves them lines between paragraphs and indent and end of paragraph space. 
 
 To make it ever-so-clear that this is intentional, they make the symbols a nice dark gray—a slight departure from the black used in their fonts. Here is information from Word how to make the paragraph symbol—one that can be seen—in your copy. http://www.ehow.com/how_6951039_insert-paragraph-sign-word-document.html.
 
I think this design element would be especially useful for authors’ sell sheets where every fraction of an inch counts. To make your paragraph icons gray, click on your Font Color icon in the ribbon in your Word program.

 

CHJ
 
PS: Subscribe to my free SharingwithWriters newsletter for more articles and tips like this and get a free e-copy of my Great Little Last-Minute Edits. Find subscription windows on the upper right corner of almost every page of my Web site http://howtodoitfrugally.com.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review of Book for the Wiriters/Editors on Your List

 
The holidays are upon us and I thought I'd share a new review for my little engine that could, The Frugal Editor : Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your new bestseller, because it isn't too late to order it sent from Amazon to your favorite editor.  And it's a gift that will keep on giving.

 
 
By Helen Dunn Frame
 
When Carolyn Howard-Johnson offered me the opportunity to own The Frugal Editor, I was deep into resurrecting an incomplete mystery manuscript that definitely would require editing. Having begun my writing and editing career in what some would characterize as “the old days,” I am always open to reading articles or books that might inform me about the latest trends or refresh my stuffed memory regarding grammar and punctuation.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson deserves commendation for taking the time to explain much about the editing process, especially in this self-publishing era. Her goal is to help authors to obtain a finished product worthy of Simon and Schuster. The book guides readers through the changes evolving in the English language that has no governing academy regulating it.

When I learned to touch typing, for example, our teachers emphasized putting two spaces between sentences. Computers have changed the rule to one space. This habit is ingrained so deeply that now I have to make a conscious effort to strike the space bar only once or to use the wonders of Word to correct those that Gremlins (or Poltergeists) sneak into the piece.

If you are just beginning to create articles, stories, or books, you will find The Frugal Editor a great tool. As a veteran to the craft, you may stir up a memory of something you had stored in the file cabinet of your mind. If somehow the book fails to benefit you, pass it on to that budding writer who will be ever grateful. I, for one, am delighted to have it in my e-book library. For more books and poetry check out The Frugal Book Promoter: http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo and the website: http://www.HowToDoItFrugally.com

 ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Helen Dunn Frame
Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida (Second Edition); Greek Ghosts Website:
www.helendunnframe.com

 
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Most Essential Help You Can Get for Your Career


If you’re about ready to publish your book, check to be sure your frontmatter, backmatter, index, and style choices are similar to what the big publishers would do. It’s easy. Just use Chicago Manual of Style. (You really need to have one to refer to all the time for all kinds of things like when to use the relative pronoun “that” and when not to, anyway!). You have to pay for it to use it online (they know what they have!), so why not buy your copy so you have it on hand even after your yearly subscription runs out!

Here’s a starter tip: If you write fiction, you do not have a Table of Contents. If you write nonfiction, you do. But you don’t call it a Table of Contents. You call it Contents. Think about the redundancy in the former term.

This book is more essential than my The Frugal Editor or my The Frugal Book Promoter, though the three of them will give you about everything you need to assure a successful book.
 
The above is a tip from my SharingwithWriters newsletter. Coming up in the next issue: A tip on free resources for art for your bookcover--real art. Great art! Subscribe and get a freebie, too, at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. You'll find a subscription form on ever page in the upper right corner.  



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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New Passive Voice Pet Peeve

I rarely watch TV but it seems when I do I hear something that is so grammatically ugly (or disingenuous) that I get ticked. This time I just had to tell you about it:

A little backstory first. I am re-editing and expanding the second book in my HowToDoItFrugally series (The Frugal Editor, Second Edition) and was just working on a segment about the passive voice, so I was primed for this experience.

So, this is what happened. I'm watching a pharmaceutical ad--and actually listening to--the voiceover that give all the possible side affects (usually in drone they hope no one will listen to!). These disclaimers that pharmaceuticals are required to run often use the passive voice but this one used a passive phrase I don't think I had heard before (or had not heard because they were doing such a good job of keeping me from noticing).

Anyway, it said "Occasionally things like, xxxx, xxxx, xxxx, and death can happen."

Excu-u-u-se me?  Can happen?  What a way to obscure and transfer responsibility.! Turn this around to make an active sentence and what they are really saying is: "Occasionally the drug causes death!"

Of course, passive voice isn't always a bad thing. In fact, in The Frugal Editor I show authors how to use it characterization of, say, politicians.  Do you think I should go back and make that "politicians and copywriters for pharmaceutical companies?"    
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  Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bet Your Fourth Grade Teacher Didn't Warn You About This Word Tripper!

I know, I'm grammar nutty. I collect these word trippers and will soon have a new booklet out to follow  Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips . It will be sort of a volume two, though it is hard to call these handly little carry-with-me booklets (also available as e-books) volumes. I just found this one!  It's a rough draft for the booklet, so do let me know if you have edits or suggestions for it!



interment / internment / intern or internship  Interment is what our western culture does to dead bodies. It specifically refers to burial but is often used to denote the entire burial process. Friends and family may be invited to the interment.

 
Internment is a the acting of detaining. Japanese-American citizens and immigrants were interred in several places during World War II including the Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California and a camp just north of the Mohave desert in California.

 
Grammarist.com warns us against confusing either of these words with the word intern or internship which is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable and, as you know “is a student undergoing practical training.”

 
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-: