Barbara Brabec's Writing and Editing Services

Perish the Thought!

"The Singular They is Now Officially Correct," states Dave Bricker in this January 16, 2015 article. "The singular they/them has been adopted as officially correct English by over 200 linguists at the American Dialect Society. The Washington Post has already integrated the new rule into its style guide."

I have found many ways to avoid the clumsy him/her references in my writing, and I won't let a bunch of linguists change my view on this topic. It's one thing to speak this way (and I'm as guilty as the next person here), and quite another to write this way. I urge professional writers who care about the quality of their writing not to take the lazy way out by using the singular "they/them."

BARBARA'S FIRST MEMOIR continues to find an appreciative audience. See summary reviews and story of Barbara's early life as a professional musician HERE.

Barbara's "Book Cat," Charlee

(The story behind this picture.)

Longest Book Title in the World?

Check this best-selling financial book on Amazon which is surely the longest book title in the world—104 words. The first three words of the title are RESCUE YOUR MONEY, but then the title just keeps going with the word "from" and runs to the bottom of the cover. I found this a very interesting way to tell readers up front exactly what they're going to get in a book. (You'll have to zoom in on the picture to read it all, but you can see that this is a mini brochure for the book, done in a way to entice readers to keep reading right to the bottom.)

Can You Read This? ("Inetertsing," to say the least)

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe. Ins't taht cool? (Ntocie I sawpped teh two oo's in cool.) ~ Author unknown




Copyright © 2000-2018
by Barbara Brabec.
All Rights Reserved.

Articles and Resources for
Writers and Self-Publishers

On this page you'll find links to a wealth of articles and Web resources for freelance writers and authors interested in self-publishing. All articles are by Barbara Brabec unless otherwise noted. Quick Links:

Copyright Issues * Writing a Book * Self-Publishing
Book Publishing, General * Working with a Trade Publisher
Reader Articles & Reports


Writing, General

Barbara's Editing Checklist of Common Writing Errors. Use this helpful list when you're proofreading your manuscripts and trying to find all your grammar and punctuation errors.

Electronic Editing: A Great Way to Learn How to Improve Your Writing. Electronic on-screen editing is not only easier and faster for the editor, resulting in a lower editing fee, but a great time saver and learning experience for the author who can see every little thing the editor has changed, and, with a click of the mouse, immediately accept or reject that change.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. Barbara waxes nostalgically about what many people are now losing because of the convenience and speed of electronic and digital communication, which has made letters seem impractical. "But don't let your personal, family, and home-business history get lost in the process," she urges.

Success Tips for Beginning Writers and Would-Be Authors. How Barbara got started as a writer, with practical tips and resources for success. 

Writing as Therapy. How journaling or letter-writing can effectively release pent-up emotions, especially during the grieving process. Includes links to several books and articles on this topic.

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read." ~ Groucho Marx


American Society of Journalists and Authors. Blog site for ASJA, an invaluable membership organization for independent nonfiction writers who are trying to advance their careers.

Midwest Book Review. A major Internet resource for publishers, writers, librarians, booksellers, and book lovers of all ages and interests. Includes dozens of articles of interest to writers and self-publishers.

Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. One of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators, and the only professional organization specifically for those individuals working in the fields of children's literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia.


Avoid Clichés. Tips from Communication Briefings newsletter.

Quotes about Writing from Famous Authors

Mark Twain's Advice on Writing

"Use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English--it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them--then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice."

Copyright Issues

The All Rights/Electronic Rights Issue - A personal experience article with reader feedback

The Controversial "Orphan Works" Copyright Bills and Google Book Settlement

To Catch a Content Thief. Another website may be using your copyrighted material. Website expert Dennis Gaskill offers one way to catch a content thief.

Writing a Book

Barbara's Book Manuscript Editing Options & Fees. Now expanded to include short stories and mini-eBooks.

Book Manuscript Formatting Tips. Avoid digital conversion problems and make your editor and book designer happy by following these proven book manuscript formatting guidelines from Barbara.

How to Write a Good Memoir: How the book, Your Life as Story, helped Barbara write a better memoir and biography.

Knowing Someone Like a Book. How well do you really know your spouse or loved one? In researching her late husband's life during the writing of her memoir, Barbara learned things about her husband she never knew before.

Life Writing. What has life taught you that you might write a book about? This article explains how the writing of her late husband's biography  changed and enriched Barbara's life.

"Good means whatever people buy. Literature is only what people read. That's the important thing. We're in a business. The first page will sell this book; the last page will sell your next one. Because people don't read a book to get to the middle. They read a book to get to the end. And they hope the end justifies the time they spent."
     ~ Mickey Spillane, in an interview article for Memories magazine, 1990

Self-Publishing (Print & Electronic)

Author-Publisher Contracts from Internet Book Publishers and Self-Publishing Services. Do not sign one of these contracts until you understand the legal and financial implications of every clause it contains.

How to Self-Publish a Book--Your Print-on-Demand (POD) Self-Publishing Options, with Perspective on eBook Editions. This updated article is a summary of what Barbara has learned from first-hand experience, with links to some of the best resources for self-publishers

"For a lot of authors, self-publishing is going from the option of last resort to the option of first resort . . . The stigma associated with self-publishing is quickly disappearing as we see more and more indie authors becoming commercially successful on their own merits, and as some of the problems with traditional publishing become more apparent." ~ Mark Coker, in a July 2012 interview with Forbes. "Significant Disruption for Traditional Publishers Still to Come"


The Book Designer. A wealth of articles and practical advice to help build better books. Note this article: "52 Great Blogs for Self-Publishers."

Independent Publisher (formed in 1996) runs a Book Awards contest each year to recognize excellence in independent publishing. They stated in 2011 that there were currently 1.5 million book titles in print and available to American consumers, with about 160,000 new titles published each year in the U.S. and about 30,000 new titles published in Canada. Today the independent is also competing with nearly 70,000 other small-to-midsized presses.

SPAN is a nonprofit trade association of independent book publishers with more than 1,000 members. The association provides support to authors and independent book publishers through industry news, business benefits, education, and marketing opportunities.

Book Publishing, General

"Among the wonderful aspects of self-publishing is that my editor and publisher will never drop me and every sale presents a new opportunity." - G. J. Berger, author of South of Burnt Rocks West of the Moon

The Changing World of Book Publishing. Helpful perspective for book lovers and self-publishers.

Book Publishing News. Interesting posts on a variety of topics of interest to writers and self-publishers.

Working with a Trade Book Publisher

Author-Publisher Book Contract Consulting Service. Need help in understanding that publisher's contract you've just been offered? Let Barbara explain how certain clauses will affect your overall earnings and rights to your book's content, and what you need to ask for in the way of changes to maximize your profits. Publishers will negotiate with savvy authors.

Author-Publisher Contract Tips. Barbara's tips on special clauses you should try to get in your contract. Includes special tips on how and where to find a reputable literary agent.

Selling Your Book to a Trade Publisher. Barbara shares her personal experiences in working with trade book publishers over the years.


Unscrupulous Literary Agents on the Web. Read this excellent article on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer's Website. It offers a list of dishonest agenting practices, explains why there are so many amateur, marginal, and incompetent agents looking for clients on the Web, and how to tell a questionable agent from a reputable one. Also included is a list of resources for authors in search of a good agent.

Reader Articles & Reports

Joan's Angels: An Amusing Story of how a successful author moves Her books in bookstores. (Joan taught her children to "work the bookstores" whenever a new book was published.)

My Self-Publishing Experience with Australian author Bryan West reports on his positive publishing experience with Lulu, and what authors should expect here in the way of help and services.

Tapping the Verbal Motherlode by Patricia Kutza. A guide to a treasure chest of verbal nuggets you can use in your copywriting.

The Joys of Live Alchemy—The Excellent Writer Within by Michael Levy. "The pure joy of writing makes us successes; nothing else will," says Levy.

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