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Amy Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

"If you combined the lyricism of Annie Dillard, the vision of Aldo Leopold, and the gentle but tough-minded optimism of Frank McCourt, you might come close to Amy Lou Jenkins.Tom Bissell author of The Father of All Things 

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In Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style, Virginia Tufte presents-and comments on-more than a thousand excellent sentences chosen from the works of authors in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The sentences come from an extensive search to identify some of the ways professional writers use the generous resources of the English language.

Artful Sentences

Virginia Tufte

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Before You Write Your Book, Organize its Parts

      - Part 1 Judy Cullins 2004 All Rights Reserved.

If you are a serious writer who wants to publish and sell books and informational products, you need to be able to find all of its parts in a minute or less. Filing only the important parts of your book will yield fast-writing your book. With the tips below, you will find any book-related paper within two minutes!

After you decide on your topic, working title, audience, thesis, and "tell and sell" and before you write a single page of a chapter, it's best to organize your book, its chapters, even your promotion how-to's.

Five Hard Copy Filing Tips

1.Stop Piling and Start Filing!

Maybe you're a stacker (horizontal multiple piles), a stuffer (look organized, but can't find things, a spreader (spread one pile to another place, then another), a slinger (undecided, you sling into a place behind closed doors).

For those of you who want a hard copy of your book's parts, you'll want to leave the bad habits above.

2. Make all important files vertical and A-Z. To retrieve your book's chapters, place the name "all chapters" (table of contents) on the flap of your manila folder; then place each chapter title and number on one manila folder. Here you will also add other parts of your book such as the introduction, the hot-selling points such as the "tell and sell," and your "audience profile." Keep these files alphabetical and vertical and you can find them fast.
You may choose a file such as a box, filing cabinet or three-ring binder.

3. File each scrap of paper of useful information on an 81/2 by 11 piece of paper. Give it a category (title) at the top and file it alphabetically. Whenever you see something, a book title, a quote, an article that relates to your book, pop it into the proper file. One may read "useful quotes for chapter one" or "sample working book titles," or "signature stories and analogies." When you take different notes on one page, or allow your scraps of brilliance to get into the horizontal piles, one of your great ideas will get lost.

4. Write on one side of the paper only when you want to save useful notes. Again put only one subject at the top of each page and the correct word on the manila folder to retrieve quickly. It's far easier to read handwriting on one side only. Staple and number pages of related parts for easier retrieval.

5. Keep every piece of important paper vertical and file it in its proper place. The Pareto Time Management Principle says that only 10% of our papers are important. That means those related to your book--it's chapters, front matter, back matter and the all-important promotion-marketing folder. When you give each paper a special place in your book file you will find it fast and also write your book fast!

Four Computer File Tips

For those who also want to keep files on your computer, you need to think Word folders and files within the folders. If you aren't savvy, hire a high school or technical school tutor or computer assistant.

1. Put your major topic in a folder. One client gave her main folder the name of her book. Within that folder she kept three other main files--the three 3 sections (can be chapters) of her 70-page book. Now that she has these organized, she can add new material, as she needs in the proper folder and file. And, she can find it within a few minutes. When important information comes your way, immediately file it and add the date to the end of the file to help you retrieve it fast.

2. Put your unfinished work in a file in My Documents. We are not always sure what category or chapter new information will go in. Located right after your folders, these files are alphabetized, and you can skim right to these files over the next days or weeks you want to work on it before it's ready to re-file into your book folder. This works well for ongoing, unedited work because you can find it fast.

3. Take care to name your files correctly. In one book I wrote three chapters on how to write articles, subscribe to ten opt-in ezines out of 400,000 possible ones, and how to submit them to the ezines and top web sites for the big payoffs of getting into the top ten search engine placements and getting my web site listed on over 900 other web sites. All related, but they each needed a separate file. When you think filing always think specific categories.

4. Save your files with first the name, then the date you last worked on it. Including the date shows me and my assistant the latest revision fast for easy retrieval.

Without organizing your files, you will waste a lot of time looking for the correct one. One figure is over 150 hours a year time wasted looking for misplaced paper. You will also waste money because unfinished projects that don't get shared, don't make you money.

Without organizing your book folders and files, you will waste a lot of time looking for the correct one. You will waste money because unfinished projects that don't get shared, don't make you money.

Part two of this article is available at Before Your Write Your Book; part two.


Judy Cullins: 20-year author, speaker, book coach
Helps entrepreneurs manifest their book and web dreams
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