Showing posts with label modern history press. Show all posts
Showing posts with label modern history press. Show all posts

Here's What You May Not Know About Adverbs

Pesky Adverbs or the Means to Making Pure Gold?


 

Here’s What You Seldom Hear About Adverbs

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, 
writer of fiction, poetry, and the multi-award winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

 

We are often warned that adverbs can be overdone. Then writers take the warning too literally; they think they shouldn’t use any at all! 

 

Of course, we wouldn't have adverbs if they didn't serve a purpose. But when we examine them—carefully (very carefully!) we often find that they duplicate a quality that the verb itself (or another adverb) has already achieved for us. That makes them redundant. 

 

Adverbs are often awkward. Or they slow down the forward movement of a sentence. Or both.

 

Authors often worry when an editor removes their adverbs. They think those edits will change their voices. Though an author can (and should) reject edits that he/she thinks aren't appropriate, these edits of adverbs rarely change a voice. Certainly voice isn't achieved by using adverbs or most other edits. It is achieved by much subtler elements of writing. Point of view. Use of colloquialism or slang. Choice of detail. 

 

For the most part, I think most writers worry way too much on having their voice changed and not enough about improving their writing skills.

 

Having said that, I worry more about editors who don’t really have the training to be editors. Would an editor really remove all of a writer’s adverbs? And how would a new author know if an editor is overstepping if he/she doesn’t have lots of information on editing under his or her own little writer’s belt?

 

I hope those of you who have been relying on an outside editor—someone you hired or a friend—will read The Frugal Editor in its 3rd edition and now published by Modern History Press. It includes lots of do-it-yourself stuff. I know most authors—you?—don’t hire an editor for all the daily stuff they do like writing query letters, media releases, etc.) but this book also includes how to partner with an editor, how to save money hiring an editor, and how to hire one that is compatible with your personality and the kind of writing you do. Many good editors like Barbara McNichol (www.barbaramcnichol.com) specialize in specific genres, nonfiction vs. fiction, etc. Larry Brooks (www.storyfix.com) helps writers of fiction with structure. Good editors know that it is hard to be an expert at everything.

 

Editing is a two-way street. There's gotta be some trust and also some confidence. The more an author knows about editing, the better equipped she or he is to discard or keep edits. That’s comforting. But it’s essential to know things like agents’ pet peeves. They rarely have anything to do with the grammar we learned in the fourth grade.

 

Essential? Yes, because those are the documents you send to the people who have something to say about the future of your book including newspaper and magazine feature editors, movie producers, and the millions of folks who read what you put out there on the web. So, yep. Examine every adverby "ly" word. And then use each one to your advantage. Know the adverbs we usually don’t think of when we hear the term adverbs (like “even” and “just”). There is a list in The Frugal Editor (see Amazon’s new series page for it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BTXQL27T .) Make a list of the ones you tend to overuse. Either discard each one or use one of the methods in The Frugal Editor to turn them into more visual writing. Their best quality? Adverbs can turn you into a magician—that is help you turn them into image-producing gold—similes, or better, metaphors.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults, and speaks on issues of publishing. Learn more about her other authors' aids at https://www.howtodoitfrugally.com. She blogs on editing at https://www.thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com and all things publishing (not just editing!) at https://www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo .

 


 

                                                                         LINKEDIN

Celebrating the 3rd Edition of The Frugal Editor with a List of Resources



Recommended Reading, Listening,
 And Help from 
The Frugal Editor

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

 

   I am celebrating the release of the third edition of the second book in my HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for Writers with peek at the Appendics for visitors to Karen Cioffi’s #WritersontheMove blog. It’s a list of recommended reading for authors, some of them oldies but goodies, some new. It is a way to express gratitude and underscore my belief that reading one book on any how-to topic for the publishing industry is never enough because there is no more frugal way for a newbie to learn more about a new career. A great book with notes in the margins is much, much less expensive that classes from respected writers’ schools. And there is no better way than to learn more about publishing than from experts who have been there, done that, and care enough to have taken time from that trajectory to share with other authors.

 

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 even writing aids. Here are some recommended books, books I have read and found something new and important for my work in progress (WIP) or surviving the expectations of the traditional world of publishing. The editing process can be so much fun it become as addictive as chewing gum. Like chewing gum, there are some great benefits.

 

Editing

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.

 

Editors

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

 

Dr. Bob Rich, an Aussie who can bring a worldwide sensibility for the English language to titles that would benefit from that expertise. Find him on Twitter @bobswriting.

 

Grammar and Style

AP Stylebook by Associated Press. This is the better of two major stylebooks for those who write for newspapers and other print and online media.

 

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. It’s the go-to source for authors of books as opposed to online or print media.

 

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss. For the author who doesn’t mind following strict grammar rules assiduously.

 

Far From the Madding Gerund, by Geoffrey K. Pullum et al. Those of you who are thinking what the heck is a gerund? are the ones who should be reading this.

 

Garner's Modern American Usage, by Bryan A. Garner, is complete and excellent for Americans. Choose the more formal style choices this book offers to avoid riling the ire of gatekeepers like agents and publishers. 


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 for that purpose is The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (Fowler and Burchfield)It isn't nearly as entertaining, however. And authors (as compared to freelance writers) probably won’t learn as much from it.

 

The American Heritage Book of the English Language is available only in hardcover and is expensive, but you’ll find features in it you love.

 

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. A classic.

 

The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition, by William Strunk Jr. , E. B. WhiteRoger Angell. Do not read this until you fully understand the difference between a style book and a book of grammar basics.

 

The Describer's Dictionary: A Treasury of Terms & Literary Quotation, by David Grambs. Keep this one forever and add your own notes when you visit museums and other places where you might encounter words you don’t know.

 

Craft of Writing

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. Mini review from me: This book has everything you’ll ever need to know about writing dialogue.

 

Writing for Emotional Impact: Advanced Dramatic Techniques to Attract, Engage, and Fascinate the Reader from Beginning to End, by Karl Iglesias. Authors of books can learn a lot from great screenplays. 

 

Custom Dictionaries

Many professional organizations will share their print conventions with authors—from medical terms to lists of shady trees. Just ask. 

 

You’ll find my recommendations for frugal learning for other aspects of publishing in all the books in my HowToDoItFrugally SeriesToday we’re celebrating the release of The Frugal Editor’s third edition and, because blog posts must be more limited that books, it is only a taste of the resources you will find in it.) Nevertheless, a good place to start is to subscribe to this blog so you get their articles directly to your email box and when they arrive do a search using each contributors names. Most of them have at least one how-to book for you to consider.

~~

MORE ABOUT THE FRUGAL EDITOR


Carolyn and her husband Lance edit
his how-to book for immigrants.


          That would be me, as well as the name of the book I am celebrating today. In its first edition The Frugal Editor (the book) was subtitled Put Your Best Foot Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. I wrote it because I needed a text for the class on editing I would soon be teaching for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. At that time (2007), available books on editing didn’t cover what all writers needed including self-publishers. It turned out to be the winningest book in my series of books for writers. 

I also write fiction and poetry and I think my favorite award for them was an honorable mention from Writer’s Digest for my first full book of poetry, ImperfectEchoesI love #sharingwithwriters as a presenter and with visitors who frequent blogs like this one. So this bio comes with huge thanks to Karen Cioffi, owner of this Writers on the Move and many others who are celebrating with me.

What's New in the Publishing World

 

What’s New in the Publishing/Writing World
 By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

 

Image Courtesy Amazon's New Buy Page for Series
I know.

 

You are laughing. Everything is new in the publishing world, and in the last decade it’s moved faster than ever before. That’s probably the biggest reason that Modern History Press is publishing my HowToDoItFrugally Series of books in new editions, including the just-released Third Edition of The Frugal Editor: Do It Yourself Editing Secrets for WritersAnd that means that beyond the basics I had to decide what was new enough (and helpful enough!) for me to include in it. I mean, the second edition was already jam-packed with essentials needed way beyond grammar and craft needed by authors whether they self-publish or publish traditionally.

 

My publisher swears there is 50% more in the third edition than the second and we won’t even talk about the first! (Once published—gratefully—by Red Engine Press.)

 

So here is the new stuff that even those who read the second edition will find in this this new one. I hope you’ll find it well worth investing in the ebook. I promise you some surprises:

 

Why a Third Edition of The Frugal Editor?

It surprises people when they learn that grammar rules change over time. Or that what they learned in high school or advanced grammar classes in college is either passé or may not apply to fiction or to the publishing of books as opposed to the web and other media. It also surprises them to learn that a perfectly edited book is never perfect because there are always so many disagreements among experts. And even experts are often misinformed. Further, as my client base grew, I kept running into common misconceptions and outright annoying style choices that would never fly in the publishing world. Thus, a new edition of The Frugal Editor was a must! So here is a smattering of what is new:

·       The Third Edition has new “Editor’s Extras” based on my own school of hard knocks! (I think you’ll love seeing (and learning from!) the worst mistakes I made with my first publishing effort in spite of years as a journalist, PR professional, and writing instructor!)

·       Authors will love the all-new sections including:

o    Beta readers and peer reviewers

o    What you probably don’t know about custom dictionaries

o    Up-to-date rules for accommodating gender-specific and other cultural needs. I mean, are you using the LGBTQIA2+? When you need to be as politically correct possible? 

o    A chapter for word-lovers and poets

o    Quickie reviews of word processors. They’ve changed a lot over the years.

o    What even traditionally accepted front and back matter can (and can't)  do for your book sales, your career, and your readers

o    How to spot shady publisher scams

o    How and when to go for style choices for your book rather than rules.

·       The Third Edition of The Frugal Editor still includes the basics that make you into an on-your-own editor when you must be. Few writers other than Toni Morrison can afford to hire an editor for every query letter, every media release, every media kit, every blog post. So until your career is so star-studded you can afford a publicist and editor on a retainer basis, writers need to know both the basics of editing and the little-known secrets.

·       The third edition is still loaded with reader favorites like what authors need to know about book covers—but it’s updated!

·       New information helps with oft-misunderstood aspects of publishing like these:

o    Agents are a cantankerous lot. (Nope! In The Frugal Editor, twenty-one of the nation's best tell you their pet peeves and they do it in the best of spirits.)

o    If your English teacher told you something is OK, it is. (Language has changed since you were a sophomore. And your English teachers likely have no background in publishing, so apart from basic grammar, how much help can they be?

o    If a manuscript or query is grammar-perfect, you'll be fine. (No! Lots of things that are grammatically correct annoy publishers.)

o    Always use your Spell and Grammar Checker. (No! Some suggest you don't use it at all, but The Frugal Editor helps you make it your partner instead of your enemy.)

o    Your publisher will assign a top-flight editor. (Maybe, but don't count on it. The more you know, the better partner you’ll be for an editor!)

o    Formatters and editors will take care of the hyphens, ellipses, and all the other grungy little punctuation that English teachers avoid teaching because they didn't know how to use them either. (Chances are, you'll catch even great formatters and editors in an error or two if you know your stuff!)

 

More About Today’s Contributor

 

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. Both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor are multi award-winners. The latter is her winningest book which includes awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. Her third book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. It was released to acclaim from The Midwest Book Review and others.

 

“Careers that are not fed die as readily as any living organism given no sustenance.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson,

Websitehttp://www.HowToDoItFrugally.com     Bloghttp://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com
E-mail: HoJoNews  @ AOL.  dot   com        Amazon Profile and Book List
http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile

Trusting Your Own Instincts: Rules Vs. Passion


Trusting Your Own Instincts: Reaching for Your Star

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the
multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers


Advice divvied out to authors by fellow authors often makes me uncomfortable It is, after all advice. Really. Advice almost never applies to all authors, all genres. Even what we think of as “zero-tolerance” disciplines like punctuation and grammar “rules” offer style choices and exceptions. I don’t blame the authors. Many are operating on what they learned decades ago. The things is, the publishing industry is always morphing and that’s especially so in the age of the internet.  And language itself?  It’s a living entity. Shakespeare himself probably knew that the rules for sonnets he followed (or made) would one day be different. He also may not have realized that one day they would be considered sacrosanct.

For instance, nonfiction authors—well respected nonfiction authors—suggest that authors research the need for a topic among their presumed audience, that they check out competitive titles, agents who are looking for a specific topic, and on and on.  Some of it is pretty good advice. What it overlooks is passion. And the joy that passion brings to what we do.

I feel lucky that I hadn’t read this advice when I started my HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. So here’s my story. I hope it gives a few authors the confidence to follow their dreams. I start this story backwards because the original going-against-advice started back in early 2004 and you, dear reader-author, may not put much stock in anything based on ancient history.  

So, this is 2021.  My series for writers has been prospering since 2004. I started thinking my books had outgrown their own britches—or I had outgrown mine. So, there was a nice person I had worked with way back then partnering with a writer-oriented organization. I had been vaguely aware he was publishing and because Dr. Bob Rich and Diana Raab, two of my online friends, had published with him. One morning when I felt overworked and underappreciated, I picked up the phone and called Victor Volkman, publisher of Modern History Press. No research. No book proposal. Yes, I knew doing it went against all publishing tradition, all common sense. I really expected a no after I gasped, “Do you remember me? We worked together on a podcast some time ago.”

“Yes, he said. And he kept saying “yes.”

The upshot was that he published a full book under his Modern History Press imprint and a slender booklet (a kind of nonfiction chapbook) in less than six months. So, he deserves credit for following…well, his instincts if not his passion. He went by the seat of his pants, here, too.  Two books, both with a September first release date? Really? And both books had been published before. Well, that was gutsy. No matter what you’ve heard about the possibilities of getting a traditional publisher for a self-published book, it is rare. That path is loaded with all kinds of dangers and I am the first one to warn a client of what she might be up against if that is her hope (all the while urging her to follow her star if the book is already published or there are other well-meaning no-nos pointing in the direction of her book, style, or whatever.).

Returning to the early days of The Frugal Book Promoter, I came to realize I had just mirrored an earlier foolish move I made when I first started writing again. It was early-internet days. E-books were just beginning. And the craziest stuff –some of it outrageously unethical—was going around the net in what we called Yahoo writers’ groups and other places. I felt I should be letting people know, maybe teaching, but knew that I didn’t have the graduate degrees necessary. But a friend at a party told me that the world-renowned UCLA Extension Writers’ Program valued practical experience above graduate degrees so…well, I just pitched them a new course based on avoiding the potholes I had just experienced publishing my first fiction effort. Again, no hesitation. “Yes.” And I had a class to teach that fall with no book or e-books written specifically for authors available to use as a text!

That series of books now includes six of them and hundreds of how-to articles. The joy flows. One of the most joyful aspected is helping new writers avoid the same potholes I fell into and maybe rope in successes they would never have had if they hadn’t ignored the rule-makers, the nay-sayers. We have instincts and passions that can work for us. We can be cautious about using them, but we should never ignore them.

Publishing is in big part about trusting our instincts. Publishing is intense. That means writers must learn to take care of themselves. That includes learning more so we become more confident in our own choices, can take better care of our own needs.

Because of my desire to help other authors avoid the pitfalls I had experienced with my novel, I dropped my fiction to write that text. I used a new concept—a chatty text. And I am still chatting through my nonfiction books (gasp!)—and finding some time for fiction and poetry, too. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love more than just one thing in their lives. That’s why we have hobbies—and some of us have one or more children.

And it happened because I didn’t let advice—and fear—deter me. It happened because I did what people should always do when they start something new, I asked for a whole lot of help from my friends. The publishing industry is very traditional but there are a lot of plucky souls in it. Most the authors I know are risk-takers. The authors who aren’t in that category still have manuscripts stowed at the bottom of drawers or the bowels of their computers.

Suggestion for Friends and Writers

Gifts for Writers
Everyone is a writer these days. The ones who aren’t may find my advice to write about what is bothering them helpful for their stress level. Maybe my multi award-winning The Frugal Editor  will help give them the confidence to actually send what they write to the power brokers of the world! Especially when they find that a whole lot of the rules that stifle our creativity aren’t rules at all, that we get to make style choices. Emphasis on the word choices.

The Great First Impression Book Proposal is one of the books my published by my new publisher, this one its second edition.  And now it’s an audiobook, too. I’m including it because it makes the point that sometimes doing something the easy way is the best way. (The subtitle suggests you can learn all you need to know on the topic in thirty minutes or less using this booklet.) A new book on how to make Twitter work for authors is in the planning stages. Watch for it on The Frugal Book Promoter page at Modern History Press or follow me on my Amazon author page at https://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile page for automatic notifications of new books in the series.

 




Gift for Readers
I’m including my newest nonfiction book of poetry because I am making a point that we needn’t give up one passion to pursue another. Imperfect Echoes won a Writer’s Digest honorable mention award. Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Wisconsin Bookwatch says, “[Carolyn Howard-Johnson is] an exceptionally skilled wordsmith, her poetry will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections . . .” Find Imperfect Echoes . And, yes, some of the poems in it are a bit risky.



Cover art by Richard Conway Jackson who is serving twenty-five years to life in a California State prison for receiving stolen property.



 

 


Writers on the Move Contributor Carolyn Howard-Johnson Talks Book Covers


 
 To One Degree or Another

Why and How Your Book Cover Is Always Your Business 

Most authors start dreaming about their book covers well before their manuscript is ready to publish. They start paying attention to what they encounter of the internet, which is often more disinformation than something they can or should use. One of the least helpful tells them that if they are going the traditional route, they should expect their publisher will not welcome their ideas or expertise (if any exists) to be used under their trademark. In fact, an effort on the part of the author will be an annoyance. Basically, they are told to butt out. Actually, the professional thing an author should do when they have a question is to ask—in the publishing process or—even better—in the contract-signing process.
 
My series of books for writers is a case where these naysayers were wrong. The publisher of Modern History Press made an effort to work with the book cover designer I used when I was self-publishing the series. We ended up with his designer and both publisher and designer accepted most of my suggestions or helped me understand why it wasn’t viable. In fact, occasionally they asked me for ideas or suggestions.
 
That is the reason authors—no matter how they hope to publish or how they end up publishing—will benefit if they start considering what their book cover should look like beyond what they see in their dreams.
 
Here are five things that an author can do to better prepare them for whatever role they play in the publishing process:
 
1.     We can learn a lot about what makes a good book cover by just looking at the best of them--in airport bookstore windows and in our favorite bookstores.
2.     We can learn a lot about what not to do by looking at book covers on Amazon where they are often only thumbnail size. I got a reminder about the importance of bookstores as I was scrolling through the books offered on an online book promotion service as I was trying to decide which books to retweet to my 40,000 plus publishing industry followers. I had to bypass many that might have otherwise worked for me but for lack of a prominent author's name on the cover. A cover must feature the name of the author big enough to be seen from a distance or in an image shrunk to accommodate the layout needed for online bookstores’ formats. That author name should be defined by color, outline, font style and more to be read. You’ll see some with the authors’ name in three-dimensional gold foil! Keep in mind you, the author, may one day be a star and it will be your name people remember, not necessarily the title of the book.
3.     Even poetry and fiction authors should watch how poorly (and well!) some book covers use subtitles. It’s a good idea to jot down ideas that occur to you and put them into Notes or some other file.
4.     Pay attention to the way front and back covers blend into the design of the spine. Having a hard delineation for what can be an imaginary line can cause big problems for a printer. (You may end up publishing independently and will be ahead of the game if you’re aware of this before your select your professional designer. You will be her or his partner and boss.
5.     Pay attention to the covers of already-published books in your genre. It will teach you what you like and what to avoid. 

So here is the new book cover of my recently published  second edition of my booklet "Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers" (Modern History Press). I broke the "rules" and suggested a larger author name for my problematical name, a very, very long one. I quickly learned, all my “advisors” had been wrong. Victor Volkman, the publisher, was able to magically improve it by using what is widely regarded as the most easily read font of all, Times New Roman, using more contrast in color, and choosing a font that doesn't take up a lot of space—that is the letters are naturally narrower than in some other fonts. And he did it by using a readily available font—no special, expensive font design needed! And we were able to keep the retail price of the book down by using an appropriate image from an online catalog. They are sometimes reasonably priced, but they are often free. You’ll probably have to poke around a bit on image services to find the perfect one for your book.


Note: I am fussy about what I called “canned images.” Some authors select something that other authors found useful, many others. See the suggestion about paying attention to books in your genre that have already been published.
 
Now you can do this for the next book you publish with Kindle Direct Publishing or anywhere else that offers handy (and frugal!) cover templates. Remember what I tell my clients. "You may love Stephen King.  But quick! Name all of his books. OK, name three." You can see that your readers remember you better than they remember your titles--even if you are as famous as King. 
----
Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically launched to rave reviews from Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Midwest Book Reviews and others:
 
“How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically [and other books in the series] could well serve as a textbook for a college Writing/Publishing curriculum.”

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