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Susan Uttendorfsky
Friendly, Dependable, and Professional!
Friendly, Dependable, and Professional!

Susan's posts

If Your Manuscript Could Talk…

What would yours say? Would it berate you for neglecting it for so long? Beg for some trimming? Plead for fleshing out and expansion? Implore to be sent to a copy editor? Say, “I’m finished, already! Stop tweaking!”

The Blood-Red Pencil blog (I have no connection with it) wrote an imaginary dialogue between one writer and their manuscript, and I think you’ll enjoy it a lot! The author agreed to let me share it with you.

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Check out this week's Editing 101 post!

Using your email marketing list

“Don’t send emails too often or people will unsubscribe!” Have you heard that advice before? While some may unsubscribe, people have a high tolerance for receiving useful, entertaining content, especially if they’ve signed up for it.

So it’s not how often you email them, but what you email them.

“OMG! I don’t have anything to send!”

Yes, that’s a problem, and generating high-quality content for your email list is even more important than for your blog.

While I can’t write your content for you, I can suggest that you generate content that is helpful to them—not you. “Buy my wonderful book!” doesn’t help them, especially if they have already purchased it! In writing your book, you probably figured out who your audience is (if you didn’t, now’s the time!). Create information that they will find helpful, useful, or interesting (like this post!).

What have you found that works best for sending to your readers?

This blog post (not mine!) offers additional suggestions for creating a schedule and good content for your email readers:

Passive or Active Voice?

Which do you tend to write? And why does it matter?

“Paula answered the telephone” is a sentence in active voice.

“The telephone was answered by Paula” is a sentence in passive voice.

Why does it matter? While no writing technique is inherently wrong, overuse of the passive voice is wordy and doesn’t add to the strength of your material.

However, sometimes passive is correct for the scene or character.

Barbara Kellam-Scott of Artisan Review service ( described the difference between the two styles beautifully:

"Paula answered the telephone" works if she's one of several possible answerers, or answering the telephone is one of several significant actions Paula might take in the circumstance. But it makes either Paula or the phone getting answered the significant thing. "The telephone was answered by Paula" would work much better if the preceding sentence was something like, "Joan called her husband's hotel and was put through to his room." That the telephone was answered is just a segue, but putting Paula at the far end of the sentence makes her the dropped shoe. (Used with permission.)

How do you handle a bad review?

After you’ve wept/ate all the ice cream/drank all the alcohol/ranted and raved, what do you think of these actions?

1. Do nothing.
2. Do not respond.
3. Consider that a bad review is still a review.
4. Re-read your good reviews to bolster your spirits.
5. Don’t pour gasoline on the fire (beware the trolls!).
6. Ignore it.
7. Recognize that it’s not personal.
8. Don’t rush to your favorite social media site to rant.
9. Get some tough skin.
10. Remember why you write.

A wise participant added Number 11: Consider that there may be some element of truth to what the reviewer is saying. Strive to improve!

All of these are good ideas, but they can be hard to do after a stinging review. How have you handled a bad review?

List shared with permission by Alan Kealey (Content-Manager/New-Editor for

Learning correct English writing

Some uneducated (or opinionated) “editors” and writers insist a semicolon should never be used in fiction or in dialogue. That you should eliminate every “ly” adverb from your writing or use of “that.” Let’s see… What else have I heard aside from the typical “Don’t start a sentence with a conjunction” and “Don’t end a sentence with a preposition”?

Oh yes—here’s a good one! “Never use any form of the verb ‘to be’ because that’s passive writing.” Along with “Passive writing is always wrong and should never be used.”

There is NOTHING WRONG WITH ANY PART OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE as long as it’s used appropriately and correctly and not overused. What I’ve listed above are incorrect blanket rules.

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to tell which grammar “rules” are true and which are false. How do you learn which is which? By researching grammar rules in reputable books or sites, like Purdue University’s OWL (Online Writing Lab), the University of Sussex’s Guide to Punctuation (UK style), and Grammar Girl (links in first comment).

Are there any grammar rules that you’re not sure are correct? Or good sites you’d like to share?

Marketing Strategy: Sell Sheets

Self-publishing authors might not know that a sell sheet is a common paper that you should create and have available. A sell sheet is different from a brochure in that it is typically not folded. You’ve probably seen them before at an automobile dealer’s waiting room or a washing machine repairman’s office.

For an author, his one-page document contains all the information about your book that a publisher, purchaser, marketer, or bookstore might need or want to know. It’s like a website on paper, but with even more facts and is used in sales to attract attention to a new product. It can encourage enthusiasm, promote your book for you, and generate sales.

If a publisher or bookstore is interested in your book, you don’t want them to have to search for the ISBN, do you? Or try to find out what the cover looks like? Or what genre/category the book fits into, how big it is, or where they can get a copy? This simple document gives them all the information they need on one sheet.

Have you used a sell sheet in your marketing efforts?

More information can be found in this blog post (not mine!):

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Sounds fascinating!

Research is fun! I’ll write tomorrow…

Ahh. How many of you have wandered down the rabbit hole* of research? C’mon, admit it. Following that trail from one morsel of interesting—and possibly useful—information to another, especially when it’s about a fun topic, can lead to wasted hours or days. Some writers enjoy it so much that they end up with folders electronically stuffed with tons of tidbits…and nothing written.

That’s fine if your intention is to wander around the Internet endlessly. But if your true objective is to write a book, then you need to stop procrastinating and letting fact-finding drag you into the rabbit’s maze! One tip is that when you’re writing, if you run across something that needs additional investigation, simply insert a comment (New Comment on the Review tab of Word) saying “RESEARCH” and—here’s the important part—keep writing.

And it’s not just authors…even editors can get sucked in while verifying details. After two (or more) hours have passed, I have to try to figure out when my paid work of fact-checking actually ended and when the rabbit hole began. Thank goodness for browser history!

You might keep research in its place by saving it as a reward for writing or revising a certain number of pages. How have you been able to keep your fact explorations under control?

*Urban Dictionary defines it as “To follow a thread or a lead that branches off from your initial objective, then (often) doing that repeatedly to get yourself lost and/or completely off topic.”

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Good info. Take care of you! <3
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