Friday, December 19, 2008

A Must Read for Writers

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, the frugal editor and author of the Frugal series, wrote one book that every writer or person who wants to be a writer should read. In fact, they should have the book as a reference, as I do. The following review covers The Frugal Editor, a must have for any writer.

Title: The Frugal Editor
Author: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Publisher: Red Engine Press
ISBN 13:978-0-9785158-7-4
Copyright: 2007

No one knows everything about anything, and certainly no one knows all there is know about writing, or can remember everything learned. Even after teaching writing for twenty-seven years and studying it for over forty, I’m still learning.

The Frugal Editor by Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an excellent reference book for those who have studied composition and know much about it, maybe even have been published multiple times by a valid publishing company. It is a must have help and learning aid for those who want to write and need to know how to edit their work. It is a refresher course for editors who try to remember all there is to know and find in writings.

The approximately 170 page book, counting the introductory material, should be read from cover to cover. Each section contains information to aid in editing (or for revisions while writing). The author refers to gremlins in the introductory pages, and those gremlins cause enough trouble when the author and editors search and search for errors, typos, and other uh-ohs. Writers and editors then need to take extreme care in avoiding as many problems as possible.

Using Howard-Johnson’s book as a guide will help eliminate many common and not so common errors in writing. Of course, a person has to read it first and then apply the lessons she provides.

When experienced writers can find overlooked mistakes, then new authors certainly can. We won’t talk about wrong files being sent to printers or other really drastic mistakes, but the ones often overlooked through carelessness, ignorance, or accident.

The section about using the MS Word functions, use not allow them to dictate, is a helpful guide for everyone. Another point Howard-Johnson makes is to tackle one type of editing at a time, which allows editing to be more manageable. I could write a book about all the helpful hints and information in this book, but she already wrote it.

The only area in the book with which I personally disagree is the section stating that using italics for internal thoughts isn’t correct or professional, but the practice is a sign of self-publishing, subsidy published, or put together by marginally qualified editors, or no editor at all. Experts I’ve read or heard say to use italics for thoughts (internal dialogue) in third person point of view writing so that the reader knows what is a thought and what is spoken.

The Frugal Editor makes an excellent gift for one’s self or for a favorite author. My copy will remain beside my computer where I can reach, read, and use it.

Review by Vivian Zabel, December, 2008



Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hi, Vivian,

Sounds like a wonderful book to add to any writer's professional library.

Everyone needs a little editing - or self-editing- help now and then.

Thanks for the info.

Happy holidays!

Suzanne Lieurance
The Working Writer's Coach

elysabeth said...

I need to get a copy of both of Carolyn's books so that I can have at my figertips, although I must say I've been doing what I can for self-promotion of my series. It will happen I'm sure. Thanks for the review. E :)

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thank you so much for your review, Vivian. I operate from the idea that no matter how long we've been writing, editing, publishing, there is always more to learn. I just learned lots from Aaron Shephard's Aiming at Amazon and think you might enjoy it, too.

Also, Elysabeth, I hope you do get both copies of my books. If you'd like me send you signature labels for them, just let me know. (-: I've been touting buying books for gifts this season. With this economic downturn, it seems essential that we support our own industry. I guess that means we could treat ourselves, too!

And, Suzanne, yes. Even those of us who are smart enough to hire good editors for our manuscripts will often need to edit a query letter, as an example, all on our own. We also make so much better partners with an editor if we know lots about it ourselves.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Vivian Zabel said...

Thanks for stopping by, Suzanne, Elysabeth, and Carolyn.

I'm a firm believer in if we stop learning, we start dying.