Saturday, October 24, 2009

On Contests, Editing Booboos and Embarrassment

Contests are funny things. Often they teach us something when we just thought we were having fun with them!

Here's the background. I found a really dumb error in a part of the newsletter that gets republished most every single week (except when I'm traveling or on deadline for other writing). As the author of The Frugal Editor, I was mmmmm, a bit humiliated and decided to make light of it.

The Big Editing Booboo contest I was the result and I had lots and lots of response and each one who wrote had an excellent suggestion or found another way to make me blush. Nearly 50 of them responded including many of who are editors in their own rights! Thank you! I picked only one to publish in the Letters-to-the-Editor section of my newsletter; there was no room for any more! It was the funniest though many found my embarrassment a hoot. (-:

But here's the thing. Not one of them found the gremlin I was so red-in-the-face about! And it was in the very first sentence of the newsletter. And it was one of those things we all know (your vs. you're). So the lesson here is that most of us find the obscure and don't find the obvious. All the more reason why even some of you editing pros may need my The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success.

I entered all of them anyway. They all got an A for expert. Maybe an F in mindreading! Ha! Then I picked the winner by thinking of a number and that was it.

And a proofreader won! She is

Laura Kerley of PENCILS - A Proofreading & Copyediting Company™"Improving the written word one letter at a time." Let me help you present your work in the best light possible! Email: Web:

She wins a copy of my novel This Is the Place. And that's another reason to get uncomfortable. That's because this book is my first and though it was traditionally published (meaning and advance and royalties even though it ws pubbed on a digital press), and even though it is an award winner and even though it got wonderful reviews, it is full of scrapes, bruises and scabs. My publisher may have assigned me the worse editor in the world and, hey! It was my first. What did I know when she proclaimed it the "cleanest manuscript" she'd ever edited. Pride is a terrible thing! But it lead me to write The Frugal Editor. So, you see, something good comes out of everything.

In fact, that experience was one of the biggest reasons I wrote The Frugal Editor.

So, have we all learned something from this, guys? I hope so. I have. I learned no one is perfect and to be gentler and kinder with editing errors--when it is us or someone else. (I knew that but needed another boot in the pants about it.) And I learned that contests can be lots more useful than most people give them credit for.

PS: Laura, please e-mail me with your street address so I can send you This Is the Place.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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