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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Playwright Filmaker Reviews The Frugal Editor

Title: The Frugal Editor
Subtitle: From Your Query Letter to Final Manuscript to the Marketing of Your New Bestseller (2d Edition)
Author: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Series: HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for Writers (pub. 4/3/15)
Genre: Editing, Self-Publishing Editing
ISBN-13: 978-1505712117  
288 pages 
Available on Amazon
Amazon Kindle: $3.99 
Paperback: $17.95

Reviewed by Marlan Warren originally for her blog Roadmap Girl's Book Buzz

Summary: What sets “The Frugal Editor” apart from the status quo of grammar/style reference books is the ease and simplicity with which it presents a wealth of well-organized information. With humor and high intelligence, Howard-Johnson covers an impressive variety of topics vital to every editor’s survival in eighteen chapters, seven appendices and an accessible index that can help a harried editor quickly find answers to pressing editorial questions.

“To neglect researching the language we write in when we so assiduously research the facts for what we write is folly.”—Carolyn Howard-Johnson

As a professional writer and editor, I know firsthand the pain of discovering a grammar mistake or typo in a manuscript I thought was finished and reviewed dozens of times. DIY editing can be like trying to take out your appendix in a forest where you can’t see the trees. However, into all our writers’ lives a lot of editing must fall, and our manuscripts must be flawless if they are to be sent to a publisher or be self-published. 

This is where “The Frugal Editor” comes in.

I was actually on a book editing assignment when I received a copy of “The Frugal Editor” from the author in exchange for an honest review. It fell into my lap like heavenly manna. 

The Table of Contents sets the tone with such promising and funny titles such as:
"Getting Cute with Caps"; "Effusive Italics"; “Quotation Marks for the Two-Dumb Reader"; "What About Those Double Adjectives?"; and "Ellipsis Dots Gone Wild.”

Inside this comprehensive handbook is a meticulously organized wealth of information that covers the most common editing questions that can still niggle even the most seasoned of editors. The book’s seven appendices include "My Generous Agents,” which features the responses from agents about what submissions turn them on and off, as well as sample query letters for submissions of media kits and books for film consideration.

“The Frugal Editor” fills the niche between dry, technical style manuals and the kinder-gentler teacher approach. Howard-Johnson's presentation gives us the feeling that we are seated in her classroom, with the added benefit that she will not disappear at the end of the semester.

Howard-Johnson makes the valid point that even if you are an English teacher/scholar, your "credits" don't perfectly transfer to the exact knowledge required for excellent book editing. Although she provides many handy tips, she still urges authors to seek professional editing assistance. Four eyes are better than two, right?

As with the other books in her “How to Do It Frugally” series, Howard-Johnson is again writing for the Highest Common Denominator in reader intelligence. It is NOT for Dummies. In fact, I’d suggest a printed warning, similar to the ones at the base of roller coasters that states:

"You have to be THIS smart to read this book."


Marlan Warren is a book publicist with Roadmap Communications in Los Angeles, as well as a journalist, blogger, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker. She regularly reviews for the Midwest Book Review. Her blogs include “Roadmap Girl’s Book Buzz” and “L.A. Now and Then.” Her novel, “Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged: All’s Not Fair in Love or War” is available on Kindle, and her documentary “Reunion” has been shown internationally at film festivals. Her play “Chasing Sangha” debuted at the Athena Cats Play Fest in 2017. Currently, Marlan is in post-production for her film, “What Did You Do in the War, Mama?: Kochiyama’s Crusaders” based on her play “Bits of Paradise” (performed in 2017 at Rogue Machine Theatre and in 2008 at The Marsh). Both works celebrate the women behind the barbed wire of the “Japanese American Internment.”

For more info about Marlan:
Roadmap Communications:
Roadmap Girl’s Book Buzz:
L.A. Now and Then Blog:
Film and Play Info:


 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically ( ) that covers 325 jam-packed pages covering everithing from Amazon vine to writing reviews for profit and promotion. Reviewers will have a special interest in the chapter on how to make reviewing pay, either as way to market their own books or as a career path--ethically!

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