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Great Editing Is Great Marketing

Your First Marketing Offense: Write and Edit Great Query Letters

Monday, July 6, 2015

The "Do" Word: English's Strangest Quirk

So What Exactly Is A Dummy Operator?
 
I am an avid reader of June Casagrande’s syndicated column A Word Please” in my local newspaper, but I was especially taken with  her column on what I call thedo conundrum” because its a little oddity that native speakers dont think about, are hardly aware of. So naturally I rushed over to the online post and left a comment. I thought youd like an example of how you might do this to broaden the exposure of your book. The secrets arent secret. Use an anecdote or resource that will add something to the conversation andwhen allowedlink back to your book that, of course, will be related somehow to the topic of the blog or article you are commenting on.
 
In spite of all my advanced grammar classes, I had never heard about (or even considered) the "do" in English until I began to study Spanish using Michel Thomas's CD course. As an aside, he explained that using "do" to ask questions is a new quirk in the English language and cites the King James version of the Bible as an example of the way the language sounded without it. By the way, I've tried other courses and nothing even touches Michel's for accent reduction, understanding, and speedy learning!

But back to the "do" conundrum. You can see from this little history of my exposure of "do" in English that I appreciate more than ever June Casagrandes column "AWord Please." Sometimes it is a refresher, but often it offers up information that is new--even for those of us who consider ourselves experts. And THAT is a lesson or two all its own. That is, the English language is so complex that we can never know it all, a lesson to keep reading columns (and books!) like that expand our knowledge. But knowing about the “dummy operator is the kind of thing that makes grammar fun!
 
By the way, "do" does some other odd things in the English language, but we'll save that for another day, another post. We don't need to expose too much of our quirkiness at one time.


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults, and speaks on issues of writing and publishing. Find her at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. Find the second edition of her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor: Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your bestseller. (HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for Writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers 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 SharingingwithWriters 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, May 28, 2015

William Zinnsser: The Nonfiction Writers' Mentor, Everywriters' Example


“Few people realize how badly they write.”

This is a quote selected by the LA Times for William Zinsser’s obituary. It is jarring enough to make writers sit up straight and listen to the wisdom this author shared in his On Writing, a mustread that I recommend in The Frugal Editor. He truly was a mentor and model for writers. But one of his most valuable lessons is something he didn’t preach but modeled for us. The author of his obituary, Elaine Woo, captured that lesson with, “
. . . he never portrayed himself as infallible.” How could he? He knew how much work and how long it took him to know what he knew and—based on that—knew how much he still might know given the time.

I like the way Woo worded this. She didn’t use the word “humble.” Zinsser knew he had something to offer other writers so if he had been a “humble” person he might not have passed along his store of knowledge to us. If we pattern our own careers on his—use his service and advocacy as a guide—we, too, may leave something behind when we go. We, too, if given the time (Zinsser was 92) have many years to contribute and build. It is not a race, but a gift. A gift more precious for being wrapped in knowing we are not infallible regardless of our achievements.

May we all use whatever time we have left sharing and perfecting that rare skill of knowing we are not infallible
 
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults, and speaks on issues of writing and publishing. Find her at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. Find the second edition of her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor: Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your bestseller. (HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for Writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers 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 SharingingwithWriters 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, April 15, 2015

The Trick To English Is Asking When You Don't Know

Every once in a while I run a column or feature from my SharingwithWriters newsletter on this blog. I thought this one from my regular "Q&A a la Ann Landers" column important because there is a special place in my heart for immigrants who must adapt to our English language with its expansive vocabulary (with words borrowed from everywhere! (-: ) and its idioms (the American-as-apple-pie ones and the borrowed ones).  This question came from our chiropractor, American born, second-generation Chinese, who--like umpteenth-generation Americans--has figured out that there is no way anyone can know everything there is to know about English. Ha!  But it applies to editing, too, so here goes!

Q&A A LA ANN LANDERS

QUESTION:

As you know, I am writing a book to use as a credibility booster and educational tool for my patients. I have an question and thought I'd run it by you.  I looked up definitions of the words ad hoc and venality I found in this article and tried to use them myself.  I put them together and thought I knew what it meant in a phrase, but I guess I'm still confused. What does it mean when it is written as no ad hoc venality?  I don't know why I am so confused with this, and just have a strong urge to know. Thanks and talk soon!

In peace,
XX, D.C.

ANSWER:

Pei, I could put on my teaching hat and applaud you for enlarging your vocabulary, but I’m putting on my editor’s hat instead. Big new words (Latin ones even!) are great. They increase our understanding when we read and thus our understanding of the world. But when we’re writing clarity should always take precedence.

By the way, this is a common problem among Chinese and Korean students I tutor. They want to do the best they can, even to appear smart (maybe brilliant). It's better to just be clear. If you are confused, you can imagine how confused others would be to read no ad hoc venality even in context. Use a thesaurus online or in your library at home to find synonyms for these words.

Hope that helps.  What do you think the percentage of American population knows the word venality?   I'd say maybe 20%.  And  if those, how many do you think sense the religious overtones of the word?  I'd say maybe 2%.  (-: There are probably 50 words that mean venality or close to it—and will easily be understood my most of your readers. Choose the one most close to what you are trying to say.

As for ad hoc, it's Latin and often used by lawyers. You know how people hate legal tracts!  Here's what dictionary.com (my favorite for easy explanations) says:  

1. adverb

for the special purpose or end presently under consideration:

a committee formed ad hoc to deal with the issue.

 
2. adjective

 
concerned or dealing with a specific subject, purpose, or end:

The ad hoc committee disbanded after making its final report.

 
So why not just deal specifically with venality (or whatever word you choose in its stead) and, if you need something in place of ad hoc, go for a plain, old Germanic word—the language English is derived from. Or at least a commonly understood one like temporary.

 
PS:  You can subscribe to my free SharingwithWriters newsletter so you don't miss a single column or resource on editing and the craft of writing at http://howtodoitfrugally.com.  There is a subscription window in the upper right corner of almost every page.  You can also read back issues at http://howtodoitfrugally.com/newsletter_copies.htm.  

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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 AYovoid 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, April 4, 2015

Karen Cioffi Gives the Lowdown on Editing Terms


Karen Cioffi is helping me celebrate the release of the second edition of The Frugal Editor as a paperback with this article clarifying the different terms the publishing industry uses for the different levels of editing. I offer something similar in the first chapter of The Frugal Editor, too, but I like the way Karen stresses the importance of editing material other than a book because that’s something most authors feel they must do themselves. Editors like Karen certainly include services for these other documents and she has that extra dash of marketing knowledge required to do a good job of editing documents like query letters, cover letters, media kits, etc.  
 


So What Do These Terms Mean?

Copy Editing, Line Editing, Substantive Editing

By Karen Cioffi

If you’re an author, freelance writer, content marketer, healthcare professional, or business owner, chances are you will occasionally need professional editing for:

A book
Webcopy
A guest post on a ‘heavy hitter’ blog
An academic or health article you will be submitting to a journal or magazine
An essay
A thesis

When the occasion arises, it’d be a good idea to know which type of editing your manuscript needs. Hopefully, the descriptions below will give you an idea.

Copy Editing

This is the bare-bottom basic of mechanical editing. It covers:

•    Spelling (includes checking for homonyms)
•    Punctuation (periods, commas, semicolons, dashes, etc.)
•    Typos
•    Grammar (verb tense, numerals, etc.)

A homonym is a word that sounds just like another word, but has a different spelling and meaning. (e.g., hear/here/hair; it’s/its, to/too/two). These are words that spell-check won’t usually pick up.

Line Editing

This is the mechanical aspect of editing. Line editing includes checking for:

•    Copy Editing
•    Run-on sentences
•    Sentence clarity
•    Overuse of adverbs and adjective
•    Words used to begin sentences and paragraphs
•    And, more

It also checks for certain inconsistencies, such as:

•    Are the chapter titles all written the same?
•    Are names, such as countries and states, treated the same?

The manuscript is checked line-by-line. This is one of the most common editing requests.

Substantive Editing (Content Editing)

According to the CMS [Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, 2.46]:

“Substantive editing deals with the organization and presentation of content. It involves rewriting to improve style or eliminate ambiguity, reorganizing or tightening, recasting tables, and other remedial activities. (It should not be confused with developmental editing, a more drastic process; see 2.45.)”

This form of editing is in-depth. This is where the entire story is checked, line-by-line. It includes:

•    Line Editing
•    Rephrasing/rewriting sentences
•    Rephrasing/rewriting paragraphs
•    Checking for tight writing
•    Check POV (point of view)
•    Checking plot credibility
•    Advising if particular content (sentence/paragraph/story) is appropriate for children
•    Checking for clarity
•    Checking for readability
•    And much more

This form of editing is time consuming and can take up to four weeks.

NOTE: It often happens that the author doesn’t realize the needs of her/his manuscript. Your editor should let you know if it would be a good idea to ‘take it up a notch.’ Obviously, it’s the author’s choice, but the editor should let you know.

The reason? What’s the point of paying for line editing if the story’s structure needs an overhaul.

Ask around (your writing buddies, groups, social media networks) to find a professional editor to take your piece to the next level.

ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST BLOGGER

Karen Cioffi is a writer (including editing and ghostwriting) and online marketing instructor. To keep up with must-know and easy-to-do writing and marketing tips and strategies, get free access to The Writing World (http://thewritingworld).

And, be sure to stop by Writers on the Move (http://writersonthemove.com) for articles from a talented and experienced group of writers and book marketers.
 
ABOUT THE FRUGAL EDITOR

There are gremlins out there determined to keep your work from being published, your book from being promoted. Resolved to embarrass you before the gatekeepers who can turn the key of success for you—they lurk in your subconscious and the depths of your computer programs. Whether you are a new or experienced author, The Frugal Editor will help you present whistle-clean copy (from a one-page cover letter to your entire manuscript) to those who have the power to say “yea” or “nay.”

“Absolutely essential for beginning writers and a necessary reminder for the more advanced.  The mentor you've been looking for.  This book won't collect dust!”~Christina Francine, review for Fjords Review
 

"Using the basic computer and editing tricks from The Frugal Editor, authors can prevent headaches and save themselves time—and even money—during the editing process. It’s well worth your effort to learn them." ~ Barbara McNichol, Barbara McNichol Editorial

“Writers and editors have a true friend in Carolyn Howard-Johnson. Her word smarts, her publishing savvy, and her sincere commitment to authors and editors make The Frugal Editor a must-have resource.” ~ June Casagrande, author of The Best Punctuation Book, Period and Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies (Penguin)

"The Frugal Editor has become an appendage to me." ~ Donna M. McDine, award-winning children's author www.donnamcdine.com / www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com
 
 
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The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor who writes and curates this blog also 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, March 22, 2015

Editors Make a Living from What Some Consider Aggravating!

I just started reading Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation. I am gleaning tidbits from it for my ESL tutoring students and recommending it for anyone who loves English, loves how we borrow phrases and words, and generally gets a kick of what some find aggravating.  Or make a living from it--and that would include editors.
 
Hammacher and Schlemmer calls it “the history of English idiosyncrasies. http://bit.ly/AggravationEnglish. It should make a great gift for writerly types. You’ll also want to follow my Smart, Frugal, and Tuned-In Editing blog for help and reminders with things like wordiness, wordtrippers, and politically correct constructions (which you may or may not want to avoid!).

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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, March 11, 2015

Grammar Lovers! So What Exactly Is a Flat Adverb?

Just a quick tip for visitors and subscribers to this newsletter. It's originally from my SharingwithWriters newsletter, but those who love words, grammar, and editing, it's a tip that may surprise you! 

"Many folks (including authors) aren’t aware—unless they’ve read my The Frugal Editor—that many grammar “rules” aren’t rules at all. Take the word slow. Sure you can “go slowly.” But dictionaries define slow as an adverb and as a synonym of slowly. You’ve all seen lists of adverbs that don’t end in ly, right? These adverbs are called flat adverbs. Some grammarians place slow into that category and even on those lists. So you go right ahead and use slow as an adverb secure in the knowledge that picky grammar cops get things wrong. . .mmm. . .quite often!"
 
PS: To subscribe to SharingwithWriters newsletter and get a free e-booklet on wordtrippers, go to http://howtodoitfrugally.com. There is a subscription book at the top right of almost every page.


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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, February 13, 2015

My Fave Tip from SharingwithWriters for Word-Lovers

Just a quick tip for visitors and subscribers to this newsletter. It's originally from my SharingwithWriters newsletter, but those who love words, grammar, and editing, it's a tip worth following through on. 

June Casagrande is my go-to grammar girl when stylebooks and dictionaries are all disagreeing. She is the author of several grammar books published by the likes of Penguin and Ten Speed and writes a syndicated column called A Word Please. In this article, she reiterates the cry you have often heard from me in this newsletter and in my The Frugal Editor, “Don’t trust the Internet for editing and grammar rules.” She even gives a list of articles from supposedly reliable sources the definitely miss the boat! (-: Here it is. Leave a comment for her and mention your book while you’re doing it.   http://www.glendalenewspress.com/opinion/tn-gnp-a-word-please-grammar-lists-often-forget-to-check-the-facts-20150116,0,5044084.story

PS: To subscribe to SharingwithWriters newsletter and get a free e-booklet on wordtrippers, go to http://howtodoitfrugally.com. There is a subscription book at the top right of almost every page.
 
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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 23, 2014

Editing Dialogue: Some May Be a Surprise


I'm doing some final editing before releasing the 2nd edition of my The Frugal Editor in paperback.  The ward-winning (Global Ebook Awards) e-book version (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditorKind)  is now available, but I keep getting requests for the paper, so I'm on it! Thanks Linda Ballou!
 Anyway, as I was working on it, I thought I'd share this little section on  writing professional dialogue.  There's more on punctuation, etc.--this is just a taste.
 
There’s a lot more to editing dialogue than reconsidering the tags. Here are ten easy ways to improve your dialogue without reading whole books or taking a seminar on the subject (though if you undertook one of those projects, you would probably be glad you did):

~Keep it simple. He said or she said will usually do. Your reader has been trained to accept this repetition.

~Forget you ever heard of strong verbs (just for the purpose of editing dialogue—then go back to your strong verb mode). Skip the he yelped and the she sighed. They slow your dialogue. If you feel you need them, look at the words—the actual dialogue—your character used when he was yelping. Maybe it doesn’t reflect the way someone would sound if he yelped. Maybe if you strengthen the dialogue, you could ditch the overblown tag without losing any meaning.

~When you can, reveal who is saying something by the voice or tone of the dialogue. That way you might be able to skip tags occasionally, especially when you have only two people speaking to one another. Your dialogue will ring truer, too.

~Having characters use other characters’ names to identify who is speaking is the lazy writer’s attempt at clarity. In real life, we tend to reserve using names for times when we are angry, disapproving, or we just met in a room full of people and we’re practicing our social skills. Overuse of names in dialogue might annoy a reader enough to distract her from your story.

~Avoid putting internal dialogue in italics or in quotation marks. When you write in a character’s point of view, your readers knows who is thinking the words. Point of view is a convention of literature and writers need to learn how to make it work for them instead of taking the easy way out. [There's also a section that will give you enough information on using italics fon internal dialogue to give you enough fodder to at least reconsider if you are already using them.]

~Be cautious about using dialogue to tell something that should be shown. It does not help to transfer the telling or exposition from the narrator to the dialogue. It does make the character who is speaking sound longwinded and negate one of  the things dialogue does well—that is, move the pace of the story forward quickly. Putting quotation marks around exposition is the lazy writer’s approach to revision.

~Don’t break up dialogue sequences with long or overly frequent blocks of narrative. That, too, keeps dialogue from moving the story along. If a writer inserts too much stage direction, it loses its forward motion along with the tension it is building.

~Avoid having every character answer a question directly. Some people do that (say a sensitive young girl who has been reared to obey her elders), but many don’t. Some veer off with an answer that doesn’t follow from the question asked. Some are silent. Some characters do any one of these things as a matter of course. Some do them purposefully, say to avoid fibbing or to change the subject or because they are passive aggressive.

~Avoid dull dialogue that doesn’t help draw better characters or move the action forward. Forcing a reader to hear people introduce themselves to one another without a very good reason to do so is cruel and unusual punishment.

Use dialogue to plant a seed of intrigue unobtrusively. When a character brings up a concern that is not solved immediately, the page-turning effect of your story is heightened. Just don’t forget to answer the question raised at another appropriate time in your story. 

For those who just can't wait or prefer e-reading, well, it's there waiting for you.


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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. (-: