Saturday, April 9, 2011

Book Review: Be Your Own Editor by Patricia Fry

Patricia Fry, author of an astonishing 31 books, and the director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) gave Be Your Own Editor a great review in the February 2011 SPAWN newsletter!
Book Review: Be Your Own Editor, A Writer’s Guide to Perfect Prose
by Patricia Fry

Lulu Enterprises (2010)

ISBN: 978-0-557-31219-1

Paperback 160 pages, $17.99; e-book $4.99

Sigrid Macdonald is an author and an editor. She wrote this book in order to help authors better prepare their manuscripts for publication, whether the author does the final edit himself or he hands it over to a qualified editor before seeking publication. The more the author can fine-tune his manuscript, the better chance he will have at landing a publisher. If he decides to hire an editor to add the final editorial touches, the editor’s fee will be lower than if the author hadn’t done the fine-tuning. So learning to self-edit is a win-win situation.

I found this book to be easy to follow, substantial in content and concept, and even a tad humorous at times. Macdonald demonstrates editing techniques and rules in both fiction and nonfiction. She covers common spelling and grammar mistakes, punctuation, and word usage. I especially like her tips for catching typos. Did it ever occur to you to magnify the type in order to more easily spot typos? What about spellcheck? Should you use it? Should you rely on it? Macdonald has an interesting view on this.

I notice that she covers mistakes that I see frequently in my clients’ manuscripts—mixing present and past tense, confusing first and third person, using repeated words, and using inconsistent capitalization, spelling of proper names, etc.

Are you still confused about using commas, certain words and terms (lose/loose, fewer/less, who/whom, its/it’s), for example? This book will help. I suggest keeping it right next to your Chicago Manual of Style as a quick reference when you have an editorial question. Macdonald’s index will assist you in quickly locating the problem you need help with.

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