Search This Blog

Friday, August 29, 2008

Recommended Reading, Listening and Help from "The Frugal Editor"

Here are some of the people and sources I've mentioned or quoted in the text or appendixes of The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. The editing process can become as addictive as chewing gum. Like chewing gum, there are some great benefits.

In the Appendix of The Frugal Editor ( you'll also find lists of the agents who contributed to the chapters on writing picture-perfect query letters, a short list of common errors, sample query letters, sample cover letters and more. Here are some recommended books.


Lapsing Into a Coma: A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print--And How to Avoid Them, by Bill Walsh.

Concordance is a text-analyzing computer program that makes indexes and wordlists, counts word frequency, compares usages of a word, analyzes keywords, finds phrases and idioms, and publishes to the Web:

Writing Help is a collection of computer programs by Roger Carlson, including "Passive Word Highlighter," "Preposition Highlighter," "Adverb Highlighter," "Adverb Eliminator," "Word Frequency Counter" and "Count Lines." You need some computer expertise to set your computer's security settings to accept macros, reboot your computer so the new settings will take effect and install the programs. For more go to:


Trudy McMurrin is an editor with decades of university press and freelance experience in fiction and nonfiction. Her authors have won many regional and national awards in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Reach her at Her blog is

Barbara McNichol, editor and writer, was introduced earlier in this book. Learn more about her at

Virgil Jose, writer and freelance editor, may be reached at

Grammar and Style

AP Stylebook by Associated Press.

Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words: A Writer's Guide to Getting It Right, by Bill Bryson.

Chicago Manual of Style by the University of Chicago Press Staff.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss.

Far From the Madding Gerund, by Geoffrey K. Pullum et al.

Garner's Modern American Usage, by Bryan A. Garner, is complete and excellent for Americans. For our purposes--that is not to rile an agent or publisher--choose the more formal of possibilities it offers. Or, if the suggestion feels stilted, rearrange the construction of your sentence.

Grammar Snobs Are Big Meanies: Guide to Language for Fun & Spite, by June Casagrande. Use this book when you want to argue with an editor, not when you want to impress one. A more formal tome that may be used the same way is The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (Fowler and Burchfield). It isn't nearly as entertaining, however.

StyleEase for Chicago Manual of Style and Turabian's Manual for Writers is a computer program to help you automate some of what is in this book. Go to:

The American Heritage Book of English.

Audio Classes for Writers, a series of MP3 or CD-ROM lessons. The title "Flesch Readability Score: A Rarely Used Tool for Tweaking Manuscripts and Targeting Your Audience," produced, written and recorded by Allyn Evans, Joyce Faulkner, Kathe Gogolewski, Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Marilyn Peake, tackles that subject in depth. Find it at

Perrin and Smith Handbook of Current English has been around so long you might find it in a used bookstore. When you’ve read it, you’ll know the difference between temerity and timidity--or at least know to look them up. “Half knowing a word may be more dangerous than not knowing it at all” is the kind of truth you’ll find within its pages.

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition, by William Strunk Jr., E. B. White, Roger Angell.

The Describer's Dictionary: A Treasury of Terms & Literary Quotations, by David Grambs.

When Words Collide--A Media Writer's Guide to Grammar and Style, by Lauren Kessler and Duncan McDonald.


A site that will help you with straitlaced, no nonsense rules of grammar:

A site that gives a lot of detail and practical tests for grammar is:


The Complete Writer by Bev Walton-Porter, Mindy Phillips Lawrence, Pat McGrath Avery and Joyce Faulkner. Do your Amazon search on ISBN 0974565261.

Writing Dialogue by Tom Chiarella is a must-read because poor dialogue technique is a glaring tip-off to editors and publishers that a manuscript is written by a beginner who has not taken the time to learn our craft.

Writing for Emotional Impact: Advanced Dramatic Techniques to Attract, Engage, and Fascinate the Reader from Beginning to End, by Karl Iglesias.

Custom Dictionaries

Many professional organizations will share their print conventions with authors. Just ask. Here are a few:

Zoologists and those who write about wildlife will find free custom dictionaries at:

This site is for linguists and others who would like foreign language custom dictionaries:

Here is a custom dictionary for medical terms:

To find a tree and woody plant dictionary go to:


Book Promotion from A to Z, by Fran Silverman.

Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent's Eye, by Katherine Sands.

PromoPaks: Nearly Free Marketing for Authors, by Janet Elaine Smith. Available only at

The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't, by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. USA Book News' Best Professional Book award and the Book Publicists of Southern California's Irwin Award winner. Helps authors build a credible package or platform necessary for selling writing to agents and publishers and for selling books once they are released.


The ABC's of POD: A Beginner's Guide to Fee-Based Print-on-Demand Publishing, by Dehanna Bailee. Those choosing to self- or subsidy-publish and thus required to do most of the detail work on their own will find this reference useful. For more information visit the author's website:

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Marilyn Ross and Tom Ross.

The Well-Fed Writer Publishes by Peter Bowerman.

Gorham Printing ( has a free e-book with some helpful guidelines on publishing on their home page.

Book Proposals

Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success, by Terry Whalin.

How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen.

Typesetting and/or Formatting

Books, Typography, and Microsoft Word by Aaron Shepard. This is a downloadable e-book.

Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works by Erik Spiekermann and E. M. Ginger.
The Complete Manual of Typography by James Felici.
For desktop publishing:

Having Fun

Sun Signs for Writers by Bev Walton-Porter.

The Complete Writer's Journal, edited by Pat McGrath Avery, Joyce Faulkner and Carolyn Howard-Johnson, is a journal crammed full of quotations from old pros and newbies to amuse and inspire you.

Directories: Marketplaces for Your Work

International Directory of Little Magazines & Small Presses, edited by Len Fulton, includes information that will help you target the right publisher for anything from an article to a poem.

Writer's Market, published by Writer's Digest Books, has companion volumes targeted companion for markets like poetry, novels and short stories, Christian markets and more. Updated annually. Everyone uses them.

Writers' Journal, a bimonthly magazine, focuses on writers who are beginners.

The Writer, a monthly publication. This one seems targeted to those writing only for pleasure.

The Writer's Guide to Magazine Markets: Fiction, edited by Krieger and Freedman, includes information on grants and other topics of interest to writers.

The Literary Press and Magazine Directory: The Only Directory for the Serious Writer of Fiction and Poetry, edited by the Council of Literary Presses and Magazines.

The Poet's Marketplace, edited by Joseph Kelly. This reference is not updated frequently, and authors need to check the facts in any targeted publication before submitting. Buy a copy of the magazine. You'll get more than current contact information from the experience.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,

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 at Learn more about her other authors' aids at She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at


Terry Whalin said...


Thanks for mentioning my Book Proposals That Sell. It has helped many people navigate the publishing world.

What a great list of resources! Keep up the good work.


Creator of The Writing Life blog with over 850 searchable entries.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list of resources. I was interested in some of your audios though. The Flesch Readability one in particular but the link does not work. Can you provide one that does so that I can order one? Thanks.

By the way, I like your blog so much that I just ordered your book today.


Great Editing Is Great Marketing

Your First Marketing Offense: Write and Edit Great Query Letters