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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Backwards Editing: What a Concept!


This is the tip I offered in a mini-column (for lack of a better word) for a listserve I belong to. It's Word_Mage. You may subscribe by sending an e-mail to Word_Mage-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


This is Book Expo America (BEA) week so I'm keeping this short. It is one of those tips some of you may know and use or one of those tips some of you may know and not use 'cause you get in a hurry! In any case, it's an important reminder.

For the most accurate self-edit possible end the process I outline in The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success with a backwards edit. Start at the back of the book and read each sentence aloud. Yes. Backwards. Doing that keeps each sentence unconnected to other sentences and to other ideas so your expectations of what should be on the page are minimalized. That way your brain won't fill in corrections when they aren't there. This works as well for query letters and media releases as it does for full manuscripts.

By the way, The Frugal Editor has a couple of chapters on writing the kind of query letter that won't make an agent or other gatekeeper roll her eyes. Many of the helps I list in those chapters come straight from the mouths of 20 of the nation's top agents (and, yes, the agents are identified, complete with URLs). And they're all agents who cared enough to help me help you. Not a bad start for finding a compatible agent!

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits and consults on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success on Amazon. Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com.

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