Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Editor-Proof Your Writing by Don McNair Blog Tour: excerpt, interview & giveaway

Welcome to Reader Girls. We are today's stop on the Editor-Proof Your Writing by Don McNair Blog Tour hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions. Author Don McNair has provided us with an excerpt from his non-fiction book and we have our interview with the author below. There is also a giveaway. Our review can be found here.

Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to the Clear Prose Publishers and Agents Crave by Don McNair

Paperback/eBook, 230 pages
Published April 1st 2013 by Linden Publishing

Most editing manuals are like geography books. They give great information, but don’t show how to get from place to place. Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to the Clear Prose Publishers and Agents Crave is a GPS that leads you through the writing jungle to solve your specific writing problems. 

Most editing manuals are like dictionaries from which you’re asked to select words to write the Great American Novel. This book shows what words to use and what words NOT to use. 

Most editing manuals are loaded with mind-numbing theory. This one presents knowledge a step at a time and asks you to apply what you learned—a step at a time—to your manuscript’s first chapter. Along the way you’ll also edit a nine-chapter melodrama and check your editing against the author’s. When you finish, you’ll have an editor-proofed first chapter and will be ready to edit the rest of your book. 

This system was proven to work in three years of weekend and online classes, titled Editor-Proof That Chapter and Twenty-One Steps to Fog-Free Writing. They are parts One and Two of this book. Part Three discusses finding and working with critique partners, professional editors, publishers, and agents. The students loved the concept! 

This book is perfect for use in classrooms. The information is presented in bite-sized lessons which can be assigned daily. See what students say about their classroom experiences on the back page. 

Over the next several months I edited many other paperback novels. I joined critique groups and aggressively edited other writers’ fiction. I plowed through all those manuscripts from pre-published authors and the marked-up paperback books I’d tossed into a dresser drawer, and painstakingly sorted thousands of offending sentences and other problems by type. I eventually identified twenty-one distinct problems. Today I call their solutions, appropriately enough, the “Twenty-One Steps to Fog-Free Writing.”

The inference staggered me. Just as there’s a specific number of elements in chemistry’s Periodic Table and letters in the alphabet, there’s also a specific number of fog problems in writing. I realized many unnecessary words are actually tips of bad-writing icebergs, and that eliminating those words resolves otherwise complicated editing problems. In fact, almost half the Steps actually strengthen action while shortening sentences. You can see it happen right before your eyes.

So, here’s the good news. You don’t have to be an English major to achieve this writing miracle. You don’t have to diagram sentences or study verb declensions, whatever they are. You don’t have to learn complicated rules, wade through thick manuals of style, or immerse yourself in the technical mumbo-jumbo of a book on editing. Applying what you learn here will make you a better writer than would struggling with any of those.

Here’s why. Most editing manuals are like geography books that give great information but don’t show how to get from place to place. This book is a GPS that leads you through the writing jungle to solve your specific writing problems.

Most editing manuals are like dictionaries from which you’re asked to select words to write the Great American Novel. This book shows what specific words to use and what ones not to use.

About the author:

Don McNair spent his working life editing magazines (eleven years), producing public relations materials for an international PR company (six years), and heading his own marketing communications firm, McNair Marketing Communications (twenty-one years). His creativity has won him three Golden Trumpets for best industrial relations programs from the Publicity Club of Chicago, a certificate of merit award for a quarterly magazine he wrote and produced, and the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil. The latter is comparable to the Emmy and Oscar in other industries. 

McNair has written and placed hundreds of trade magazine articles and four published non-fiction how-to books. He considers his latest, Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to the Clear Prose Publishers and Agents Crave, (published April 1, 2013 by Quill Driver Books) to be the cap of his forty-year writing and editing career. It’s an easy-to-use editing manual that helps writers edit, step by step, their first chapter, then use the knowledge gained to edit the rest of their work.

McNair has also written six novels; two young adults (Attack of the Killer Prom Dresses and The Long Hunter), three romantic suspenses (Mystery on Firefly Knob, Mystery at Magnolia Mansion, and co-authored Waiting for Backup!), and a romantic comedy (BJ, Milo, and the Hairdo from Heck). All are published internationally, and are available at his website, http://DonMcNair.com

McNair, a member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and the Editorial Freelancers Association, now concentrates on editing novels for others. He teaches two online editing classes. 

Can you share some of your past with us? Why did you become an editor? How long have you been editing? Teaching? Writing?

I started editing and writing right after college graduation in 1961, and haven’t looked back. I spent eleven years editing magazines, six years producing public relations materials for international PR firm, and twenty-one years heading up my own marketing communications firm, McNair Marketing Communications. I’m pleased so say I’ve won several awards for creativity during that time, including the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil. It’s comparable to the Emmy and Oscar in other industries. I’ve also written four how-to books and six novels.

With many how-to books on the market, why did you decide to write one?

Because I realized that, although writers know they should self-edit, most have no clue about how to do it. If they knew all that, wouldn’t they have written their copy correctly in the first place? I’ve found that most editing books are like geography books. They show all the hills and valleys, but don’t really show how to get from one place to another. My book shows readers what’s wrong in their specific manuscript, then tells them how to correct it.

With the increase of authors publishing on their own, is there anything you would like to tell these authors before they upload their files?

At no time in history has self-editing been so critical. Traditional publishers act as gatekeepers, protecting readers from having to sort through drivel. Simply put, if readers won’t buy their books, they’re out of business. Authors who bypass these gatekeepers present their work, flaws and all, directly to the public. If it’s a terrible book most readers won’t by it, and those who do will be quick to slam it in their online reviews. That’s the kiss of death for new writers.

What is the most satisfying part of being a teacher/editor?
I love seeing fledgling writer’s eyes light up when they realize there’s a better way of writing their stories. I love editing itself, changing a rough diamond into a sparkling jewel as it were, helping turn a flow of rejection slips into a sale. I see a lot of talent out there, talent which will go unfulfilled until someone tells writers what they’re doing wrong and help them learn the right ways. That, of course, is the purpose of my book.

The world of publishing seems to be in constant change, do you have any thoughts about the company mergers, self-publishing, and the future of publishing as an editor and reader?

The world of the e-book is upon us, and there’s no way to put that particular Genie back into its bottle. I have no idea, of course, how far and how fast we’ll go that direction. But I do know that writers who go up that road should let a professional editor help them get their work into an acceptable form. It’s a matter of survival.

What do you hope readers of your book will take away from their reading?

I firmly believe that, if readers actually apply what they learn in this book, their writing will improve tremendously. That was proven in a series of online classes I taught over three years, in which students reveled in their learning process. The classes took them step by step through their story’s first chapter, helping them discover problems they had no idea they had. This book is based on those classes. While its casual readers will smile, realizing they’ve learned things just by the reading, those who do the suggested exercises and practice editing will be far ahead. When they’ve finished the book they’ll have work acceptable to any editor out there.

Anything you would like to share?

Just this. Writing is a time-consuming endeavor, and it would be nice to have a payout at the end of our months of work. Most new writers, however, unknowingly build the same problems into every new manuscript, simply because they don’t recognize the problems. I believe my book will help them recognize and correct those problems, and hopefully end up with manuscripts publishers want.

Don will award one randomly chosen commenter their choice of books from his backlist. The books can be seen at his website. Remember, the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here.


  1. Robin ChristofaroApril 16, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    This book looks like a must have for any writer. I would love to read it and see what I've been doing wrong..lol


  2. I thought I left a comment this morning, but don't see it. So: Thanks for hosting me!

  3. Thanks everyone for stopping by today! Hosting this tour has been my pleasure. What an educational book!

  4. I read and review more than I write but I have so many ideas and half finished manuscripts. I need to get going. This book would be a HUGE help!!! Thanks!!


  5. Good advice

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com