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... but mostly I edit, so these articles and musings appear infrequently. If you have a question or topic you're curious about, write to me at meadowsjen@gmail.com.
Darrell Laurant, founder of The Writers' Bridge, gave me permission to re-publish his article about the act of writing. https://www.facebook.com/groups/116883148326662/permalink/1067036956644605/

My new role model is an artist and philosopher named Andres Amador.

Wearing a ponytail and a beatific smile, Amador uses a rake, his bare feet, and a wonderfully creative mind to fashion elaborate sand “paintings” on California beaches. Sometimes, people see what he’s doing and flock to help him. Almost always, they stand in awe when his work is done, camera phones clicking softly above the gentle lapping of the surf.

Then, in a few hours, Amador’s gritty canvas has been swept clean by the incoming tide, existing only inside those portable phones and short-term memories. And Amador is fine with that — he just starts another sand painting. If you Google him, you can see examples of his work, and the joy it obviously brings him.

So what’s the lesson here? I’m sure Andres Amador does OK for himself in other areas of his art career. There is more to it than simply racing (or raking) against the tides. But in this little facet of his life, I believe, he teaches every creative person a lesson about our obsession with results, and with permanence.

We don’t like to think about it, but most books are, in a way, like sand paintings. They get published, they may be popular for a few months, and then the incoming tide of new books takes their place and washes them away. Soon they are relegated to libraries and bargain book bins.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t take the marketing and sale of our books seriously. And who knows? Maybe something we create will weather the tides and stand for decades as a shining example of our craft.

Yet here’s Amador’s unspoken point: Even if what we write doesn’t last, or perhaps isn’t even published, we shouldn’t forget to glean joy from the process. We create because we love to, because we have to. I don’t know any feeling better than a day when you sit down at the computer and everything just flows, and those plot problems that bedeviled you the night before obediently fall into place.

I love to sing — in the car, in the shower, wherever. I enjoy the sound of my voice, despite the fact that I’ve heard myself singing on tape, and it’s pretty awful. I tried karaoke once, and it was a disaster.

Thus, I’m not singing to impress anyone. I have no hope of making it as the front man for a rock band. All that matters is that I’m enjoying myself.

Harry Chapin (remember him?) once wrote a song called “Mr. Tanner.” It was about a man who ran a dry cleaning business in Dayton, OH and sang operatic arias while he worked. His customers were so impressed with his voice that they convinced him he had a great future in music, so he took his life savings and rented Carnegie Hall for a performance. He sang, and the critics savaged him, one of them noting: “Perhaps an alternate form of employment … might be in order.”
So Mr. Tanner went back to his store and forgot about being famous. But he never stopped singing.

Here’s a suggestion, based on watching Andres Amador “painting” on sand. When you’re creating your work, just appreciate the fact that you have been given the power to form something out of nothing. That door doesn’t open for everybody. If you get writer’s block, walk away for a while. Don’t show what you’re doing to anyone because that’s a no-win situation — either they will be too honest, or not honest enough.

Wait until you get it done, and then feel the tide wash it away from you. Once done, it belongs to other people — the people you need to edit it, and publish it, and present it (you hope) to the masses.

But you have finished a book, or an article, or a painting, or a song, and no one can ever take that away from you. That, alone, makes you special. Savor it.



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Tuesday, May 12, 2015  |  Permalink | 
trackback URL:   http://www.mycopyeditor.com/my-copy-editor-blog/art-not-meant-to-last/sbtrackback
Victoria Strauss, co-founder of Writer Beware, gave me permission to reprint her blog article from July 1, 2014.

Recently I've gotten a number of questions about the American Writing Association (note the .org suffix, implying altruism and good will), a group that describes itself thus:

We are a group of professional writers and editors that are committed to helping people become published writers. We work with a wide range of people - from the every day writer with a story to tell, to the experienced writer looking for the big publishing contract. Whatever your goal is, we are dedicated to helping you achieve fulfillment from the time and effort you have put into your writing.

What exactly does that mean? Well, if you ignore the abundant red flags and submit your writing, you receive an offer like this:

If we do feel the book has the potential for success, then we would offer to represent you. That includes:

1) Writing a Query Letter to represent you and the book 2) Offer to copyright the completed book if necessary 3) Our attorneys will represent you when signing contracts 4) Submit you directly to Literary Agents in our expansive network

This requires an investment of $699. Again, past that there are no other fees other than the 5% Commission, but we will not surprise you with any hidden fees within our business. We are very up front about what we plan to do.

In other words, American Writing Association is a new iteration of a very old scheme: the literary agent middleman.

For a savvy writers, AWA should set off multiple warning bells based just on its particulars: the lack of substantive information about staff; the vague promises about connections and networks; the last-names-missing testimonials; the non-verifiable success stories on its Twitter feed. Not to mention the big fee and the 5% commission.

But there's a bigger issue here as well. Literary agents are the ONLY recognized middlemen in the publishing business. And you don't need a middleman to approach a middleman.

Unfortunately, services like AWA--which can carry fees into the four figures--have a fatal appeal for writers frustrated by the research and query process, not to mention multiple rejections. The concept even makes superficial sense, in a hall-of-infinite-reflections kind of way: since you need an agent to get the attention of publishers, why wouldn't you need an agent to get the attention of agents?

You don't. In fact, you're far less likely to get a favorable response than you are with your own query letter. I've seen a number of these middleman-to-the-middlemen schemes over the years, and they all have one thing in common: literary agents hate them. You don't have to take my word for it--here's the recent reaction of two successful literary agents to a middleman approach--one that I'm betting was a lot more professional than AWA's:

IF an agent is open to queries, you query them. You do not pay someone to ask them if you can query them. — Mandy Hubbard (@MandyHubbard) June 18, 2014

Just blocked the addy of a "query consultant" so if you hired her, I will NOT receive the emails you pay her to send. DO NOT PAY TO QUERY. — Kate McKean (@kate_mckean) June 18, 2014

So who's behind AWA? Its website offers no clue; those highly-touted "professional" writers and editors and attorneys aren't named (though I did manage to find one of AWA's editors; I'll let you judge her level of experience), and the URL is anonymized.

I was able to find several names that appear to be associated with AWA: Bruce Allen, AWA "Vice President"; Jerry Moore; and Adam Goldson. AWA alleges that it's located in Downers Grove, Illinois (home, perhaps not coincidentally, to Silver Screen Placements, a fee-charging agency about which I got a number of complaints in the mid-aughts). A toll-free number on the website thanks callers for contacting AWA and invites them to dial staff members' (non-existent) extensions.

However, the phone number included in the AWA emails I've seen belongs to something called Big Rock Florist Concierge in Big Rock, IL, just down the road from Downers Grove. I called that number too, and was routed to Adam Goldson's voice mail. So he, at least, appears to be a real person, though I was unable to find out anything else about him--leaving open the question of how being a florist concierge, whatever that is, qualifies you to have anything to do with writing and publishing.

Writers, don't waste your money on a needless "service" like this.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014  |  Permalink | 
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Self-explanatory. Click on the link or copy it into your browser to read Dr. John Yeoman's article.
http://writetodone.com/2013/07/11/why-self-publishing-doesnt-work-and-how-it-can/

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Sunday, July 14, 2013  |  Permalink | 
trackback URL:   http://www.mycopyeditor.com/my-copy-editor-blog/why-self-publishing-doesnt-work-and-how-it-can/sbtrackback
I can't emphasize enough how important it is for authors to not only write well but think ahead constructively when it comes to marketing the work they're laboring so hard on. Planning for selling your book has to be done waaaaaaaaay in advance. Thanks to Doris for permission to reblog this article. http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/7-errors-writers-make-when-dealing-with-the-media/


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Tuesday, February 12, 2013  |  Permalink | 
trackback URL:   http://www.mycopyeditor.com/my-copy-editor-blog/7-errors-to-avoid-when-dealing-with-the-media/sbtrackback
An article in The Atlantic, by Peter Osnos, a journalist turned book editor/publisher. He spent 18 years working at various bureaus for The Washington Post before founding Public Affairs Books.

As the author explains, self-publishing is exploding. What he doesn't say until the very end is the absolute necessity for an author to be as committed to marketing their book as they are to writing it. Marketing = sales. Sales = return on investment. ROI = satisfaction with being a (self) published author.

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/the-cruel-paradox-of-self-publishing/261912/#.UEf6-z-G9gw.twitter



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Thursday, September 06, 2012  |  Permalink | 
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Published in The New York Times, March 17, 2012

As an editor, I often witness the struggle authors go through to get to the stage where they're ready (well, sort of) to pass on their writing for me to edit. And though I'm an editor, I know well that voice in my head that constantly says, "You could do better." Ms. Lahiri, author of "Unaccustomed Earth," "The Namesake," and "Interpreter of Maladies," speaks of that process lyrically.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/my-lifes-sentences/



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Sunday, March 18, 2012  |  Permalink | 
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Found this on Facebook. Thanks to Bill DeMain for putting it on Mental Floss. These words and more can be found in BBC researcher Adam Jacot de Boinod’s book ‘The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World.’
Bill DeMain

The Global Language Monitor estimates that there are currently 1,009,753 words in the English language. Despite this large lexicon, many nuances of human experience still leave us tongue-tied. And that’s why sometimes it’s necessary to turn to other languages to find le mot juste. Here are fifteen foreign words with no direct English equivalent.

1. Zhaghzhagh (Persian)
The chattering of teeth from the cold or from rage.

2. Yuputka (Ulwa)
A word made for walking in the woods at night, it’s the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.

3. Slampadato (Italian)
Addicted to the UV glow of tanning salons? This word describes you.

4. Luftmensch (Yiddish)
There are several Yiddish words to describe social misfits. This one is for an impractical dreamer with no business sense. Literally, air person.

5. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.

6. Cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish)
A word that would aptly describe the prevailing fashion trend among American men under 40, it means one who wears the shirt tail outside of his trousers.

7. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian)
“Hmm, now where did I leave those keys?” he said, pana po’oing.  It means to scratch your head in order to help you remember something you’ve forgotten.

8. Gumusservi (Turkish)
Meteorologists can be poets in Turkey with words like this at their disposal. It means moonlight shining on water.

9. Vybafnout (Czech) 
A word tailor-made for annoying older brothers—it means to jump out and say boo.

10. Mencolek (Indonesian)
You know that old trick where you tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to fool them? The Indonesians have a word for it.

11. Faamiti  (Samoan)
To make a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or child.

12. Glas wen (Welsh)
A smile that is insincere or mocking. Literally, a blue smile.

13. Bakku-shan (Japanese)
The experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.

14. Boketto (Japanese)
It’s nice to know that the Japanese think enough of the act of gazing vacantly into the distance to give it a name.

15. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

Many of the words above can be found in BBC researcher Adam Jacot de Boinod’s book ‘The  Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the  World.’



Read the full text here:  http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/94828#ixzz1jDjni4vd
--brought to you by mental_floss!

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Thursday, January 12, 2012  |  Permalink | 
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Though this article by Justin Brown was written in 2008, the words he mentioned have been problems for as long as I can remember.

Don’t worry, I won’t waste your time with the elementary school lessons about how to accurately pronounce “library,” “February,” or “arctic”… although I will take this opportunity to note that if you’re discussing a library and still dropping the first ‘R’, there’s a very good chance that your friends and/or colleagues are laughing at you behind your back.

I won’t trouble you with a lecture covering how some of the words you use actually aren’t words at all. If you’re using words like “snuck”, “brang”, or “irregardless” (no, none of those are real words), a magazine article – much less one written by me – is not going to solve your problems.

What I will do is offer up a rudimentary form of help, in terms of how to properly pronounce relatively common words that are bound to show up in your daily life. These tips will not seal the deal in a job interview or on a date (I can especially vouch for the “date” scenario) but if pronunciation continues to be a potential chink in your armor, your problems will soon be solved.

Thus, behold, People of the Internet… the ten most important words you should learn to pronounce, if you would like to appear reasonably knowledgeable about your own language.

ATHLETE

  • Incorrect pronunciation: ath – a – leet

  • Correct pronunciation: ath – leet

This may have been more helpful before the media blitz that was the Summer Olympics but it is a very valuable lesson to have for the future. It applies to “athlete” and any derivative (biathlon, triathlon, decathlon, etc.) and, honestly, I’m sad that I even have to point this out: there is no vowel between the ‘H’ and the ‘L’ in any of these words. There never has been. Let the dream die.

ESCAPE / ESPRESSO / ET CETERA

  • Incorrect pronunciation: ex – cape / ex – presso / ex – set – err – uh (ek - set - err - uh; Jenny's addition)

  • Correct pronunciation: ess – cape / ess – presso / ett – set – err – uh

Yes, a three-for-one deal, but only because this one is dually very common and very simple to fix. For some reason, we of the English tongue have an obsession with changing any ‘S’ to an ‘X’, if it follows an ‘E’ sound; call it the Exxon Indoctrination. These words are spelled phonetically… let’s try to respect that.

Also: the yuppie kids will really respect you, if you master “espresso” and “et cetera” – what more motivation do you need?

NUCLEAR

  • Incorrect pronunciation: nuke – you – lerr

  • Correct pronunciation: new – clee – err

I’m going to try to get through this one without a President Bush joke. All right, so, despite the fact that it’s 2008, this is a word with which we’re somehow still struggling. Like most of the words on this list, “nuclear” is spelled EXACTLY AS IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE PRONOUNCED and yet, people continue to screw it up worse than the War in Iraq… oh, dammit.

PRESCRIPTION / PREROGATIVE

  • Incorrect pronunciation: purr – scrip – shun / purr – ogg – uh – tiv

  • Correct pronunciation: pre – scrip – shun / pre – rogg – uh – tiv

Overlooking the fact that many people also seem to have precisely no idea as to the latter word’s true definition (I’ve had several conversations where people bizarrely substitute “prerogative” for words like “agenda”), this is another problem that can be attributed to ignorance in the arena of “Sound It Out, You Lummox.” The ‘R’ comes before the ‘E’ in both of these words. Please ercognize this erality.  Sorry.

UTMOST

  • Incorrect pronunciation: up – most

  • Correct pronunciation: utt – most

In a bizarre twist, people actually became so certain of this word’s meaning that they alter its pronunciation to reflect that definition. Yes, “utmost” is an adjective synonymous with “greatest” (a term that immediately calls to mind some tangible Mount Olympus-type of vertical hierarchy and the word “upper”) but that second letter? It’s still a ‘T’.

CANDIDATE

  • Incorrect pronunciation: can – uh – dett

  • Correct pronunciation: can – da – dett

Mastering this word will help you at least sound educated in your excruciating political debates as we approach November 3. I cannot explain it any more simply than my second grade teacher once did: “You always want to have a good candidate for your CANDY DATE.” Candy date. It’s sweet and simple.

SHERBET

  • Incorrect pronunciation: sherr – berrt

  • Correct pronunciation: sherr – bet

This is one of those words that ultimately had to abandon its crusade for righteousness and now has been corrupted to the point where dictionaries may list the incorrect pronunciation as acceptable because of just how rampant the ignorance grew to be. But there’s only one ‘R’ in “sherbet,” America… no matter how awesome the rainbow flavor is, there’s still only one ‘R’.

AWRY

  • Incorrect pronunciation: aww – ree

  • Correct pronunciation: uh – rye

Up until very recently, I could not even conceive a situation where someone would mispronounce this word; it always seemed very simple, to me. However, I have heard three different people – in the world of talk radio, no less – pronounce it inaccurately in the last few months. It’s like… it’s like the mechanism that allows people to speak in an educated fashion went awry (see what I did there?).

FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES

  • Incorrect pronunciation: “for all intensive purposes”

  • Correct pronunciation: “for all intents and purposes”

All right, yes, I cheated a little bit here (for posterity’s sake, I should note that a phrase and a word are not the same thing) but this is still a very popular pronunciation mistake and one that I really feel must be addressed in a public forum. While “intensive” is absolutely a word, the clichéd saying that most people are trying to channel is all about intent. As for the rumor that I, as a younger man, frequently employed the incorrect pronunciation… no comment.

OFTEN

  • Incorrect pronunciation: off – ten

  • Correct pronunciation: off – en

If there is a bigger red flag for “I am misinformed about how to pronounce something” in our language, I have yet to encounter it. This word and its evolutionary course in American vernacular could be a cultural study unto itself.

For a while, nobody was aware that the ‘T’ was silent; this sneaky caveat had to be beaten into our brains for years and years in school. But then – in what can best be described as the greatest grammatical epiphany since someone decided that we needed a contraction to turn “I am” into a single word – people seemed to universally scream out “We get it! A silent ‘T’!”. It was a glorious day.

However, this euphoria was ultimately fleeting. At some point, the rational people of Earth decided to flip over the Buffet Table of Reason at the Banquet for Intellectual Hope and thought it best to, once again, simply start pronouncing the ‘T’ in “often.” I do not know whether this was brought on by an innate human desire to flout the rules of our world or just a collective hatred for all things associated with the establishment but it is now arguably the most frequent linguistic speed bump in the history of hyperbole. And I would like to lead the charge to restore balance.



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Saturday, January 07, 2012  |  Permalink | 
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A client sent me a link to Ernest Nicastro's latest blog article, and I have his permission to link it here.

I was just talking with my granddaughter the other day about the difference between hone in and home in, and today a client sent me this article about commonly misused words -- one of them being hone in. Enjoy!

 



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Wednesday, July 13, 2011  |  Permalink | 
trackback URL:   http://www.mycopyeditor.com/my-copy-editor-blog/misused-words/sbtrackback

The publishing industry is changing so fast that I'm always looking for the latest info about book proposals, cover letters, queries, etc., to help the authors whose docs I edit. Today I received a link to a website and downloaded a free guide to writing a great book proposal, etc.

 It's by Gary Smailes, and he is current on traditional and digital publishing.

http://bubblecow.co.uk/2011/02/a-guide-to-successful-self-publishing/

When you first click on the link, you'll get the website with a popup box in front of it, asking for your email to get the free download. Go ahead and close it and read the website first. If you then decide you want the free download, there's an area in the top RH side of the main page to put in your email address.

 Enjoy!

Jenny



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Saturday, February 12, 2011  |  Permalink | 
trackback URL:   http://www.mycopyeditor.com/my-copy-editor-blog/writing-a-great-book-proposal/sbtrackback

Sometimes I have a bunch of authors making the same error, and that's a clue to me to verify, verify, verify ... as I might be making a mistake, too, by fixing something that's evolved into being correct, or at least informal, usage in the decades since I started in this business. That was the case with till and 'til. Writers have been using till quite a lot lately in the documents they send me for editing.

I grew up being taught that, among its many meanings, till was what you did to soil when you prepared it for seed-planting time or it was the place where you put money, and until became 'til in informal usage.

So many authors were using till that I decided to have a look-see, and here's what I found at World Wide Words, by Michael Quinion, who writes on International English from a British viewpoint: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-unt1.htm



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Monday, December 27, 2010  |  Permalink | 
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Or anything you write, for that matter. Check out this info from Joanna Penn's blog, The Creative Penn. By the way, this "trick" is something I've been recommending to authors for decades. Those who follow this advice can save themselves a bundle.

I have just submitted my first thriller, Pentecost, to my editor for review.

Before I sent it, I read the entire book out loud which really helped me pick up some problems. It took me a whole day, from 7am to around 9pm and I was pretty hoarse by the end of it! Watch the video or read the text.



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Sunday, October 10, 2010  |  Permalink | 
trackback URL:   http://www.mycopyeditor.com/my-copy-editor-blog/7-reasons-to-read-aloud/sbtrackback
From Alan Rinzler's blog, The Book Deal: An Inside View of Publishing

The top dog at one of the most successful literary agencies in New York says he’s in hot pursuit of self-published books to represent to mainstream publishers.

“Absolutely, yes!” That was Jim Levine’s unequivocal answer when I asked him recently if he was accepting self-published submissions.

Levine is a founding partner at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, among the top five overall most active agencies in the business, according to Publishers Marketplace. And he's on the crest of a wave of agents beginning to represent authors who've self-published and are seeking mainstream commercial publication. Click here to read more.



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Thursday, October 07, 2010  |  Permalink | 
trackback URL:   http://www.mycopyeditor.com/my-copy-editor-blog/literary-agents-and-self-publishing/sbtrackback
An article by Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist, in the San Francisco Book Review, Oct. 7, 2010:

"The value of an award-winning book designer on your publishing team (as opposed to a general skills graphic designer) cannot be underestimated.  Good book design both integrates the author’s material and persuades the reader to buy the book."

Go to http://stephaniebarko.com/blog/ to read more.



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Thursday, October 07, 2010  |  Permalink | 
trackback URL:   http://www.mycopyeditor.com/my-copy-editor-blog/value-effective-front-cover/sbtrackback

Here you'll find NPR's take on this, a longer story, an excerpt from the warriors' book, and a 17-min. audio file.

Enjoy!

Jenny



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Monday, August 16, 2010  |  Permalink | 
trackback URL:   http://www.mycopyeditor.com/my-copy-editor-blog/more-on-the-typo-war/sbtrackback
These guys are my heroes!

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/conversation-inside-war-typos-11385560

I'm posting this on Aug. 14, 2010, so don't know how long this link will work. Here's to Jeff and Benjamin, doing the world a favor. I'm surprised they didn't find more; I think I can find that many just walking around Austin on a weekend!

 

Jenny



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Saturday, August 14, 2010  |  Permalink | 
trackback URL:   http://www.mycopyeditor.com/my-copy-editor-blog/the-war-against-typos/sbtrackback

 

Today's guest post is from literary publicist Stephanie Barko, who shares her thoughts on planning for book marketing success from the very beginning of your book project.
  • Poorly designed or stock cover art
  • Unedited, under-edited or unprofessionally edited text
  • Under-funding of or lack of a book marketing budget
  • Invisible or inadequately visible online presence for author and title
  • Absence of platform and clear audience for the material

Book Covers make or break your ability to obtain reviews and readers. You can judge a book by its cover. As James Cox, Editor of Midwest Book Review puts it, "Stack #3 are those titles that are immediately rejected—not for their subject matter; not for being written by a first-time author; and not for their self-published, POD-published, or small press published status, but because they are poorly designed or defectively produced in terms of presenting substandard, inadequate, or otherwise unattractive covers."

Prior to being published, new authors frequently make mistakes that damage or even preclude their book’s marketability. Commonly, these errors include

Appealing covers summon buyers. Whether these buyers actually read your book is another matter, but the most important element for purchasing a publication is its wrapper. It has been proven that people choose a book by what they see and read on the cover, especially if they don’t know the author or the title.

Make sure your cover is designed by an award-winning book designer, not a general graphic designer. For different angles and musings on book covers, visit book design websites and blogs.

Editing is also critical to your book’s success. You want to interview several editors and hold their completed books in your hand. Choose a set of editors who are experienced with your genre. Among equally qualified candidates, hire those with whom you have some professional chemistry. For an explanation of the types of editing your work might benefit from, read Mindy Reed’s short piece, Types of Editing.

What is a reasonable Marketing Budget for a book launch?  Plan to spend $2,500 to $12,000 before and during the first three months of your book’s life. If you get an advance on your manuscript, I recommend spending the whole amount on marketing your book. 

Line-item expenses in a prep and launch budget might include research and fact-checking, editing, indexing, illustrating, cover and interior design, web design, optimization, maintenance, distribution, shipping, travel, publicity, and advertising. If you need media training or a public speaking coach, include that. If you are independently published, add in book fair and industry conference fees, book award submission fees, exhibitor costs, and presentation equipment.

An author’s Online Presence is absolutely crucial in today’s book market. Internet book sales have risen 18% year on year since 2002. For this reason, each author needs a web site that pulls incoming traffic from people who are searching on the book’s issues, title, and author name. 
The internet is so dynamic that each year the way to attract customers on the superhighway seems to morph. Right now, it’s social networking and backlinking.

Perhaps 12 million Americans now keep a blog because they’ve learned that updating it every couple of weeks will maintain or lift their page rank. If you are facile with a computer, use search engine optimization (SEO) tools to discover high-ranking keywords, and then repeat those appropriately throughout your web site, blog and press releases. Seek a web designer who is both imaginative and good at taking direction, while exhibiting a proficiency in English, design, programming, SEO, and business.

Finally, if you cannot define your book’s Audience and Platform, your book will never get off the ground. To market your book, you must be able to distill its issues and know who and where your readers are and how they search for information. Create your log line to attract them, and prioritize your first-year plan so that you fully fund and lead with the strongest device in your platform. 
 
Don’t end up in the slush pile! Spend time and money with your editing team, a book designer, an SEO guru, and a publicist, so your book is more likely to remain competitive among the 200,000 titles released in America each year.

Stephanie Barko is a Literary Publicist based in Texas. Clients include authors under contract with traditional publishers, small presses, and independently published writers. Visit www.authorsassistant.com/Barko.htm for genres accepted and services offered.



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Friday, April 16, 2010  |  Permalink | 
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Got this blog article from an author.
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM 
. . . Monday, April 12, 2010  
WORD archives, commentary and reader discussion at http://tedsword.blogspot.com

Writing to the Audience

“Uneducated, uninformed, unskilled, inept citizen-journalists would be gone in a flash if it were not for the fact that they have such a large audience of uneducated, uninformed, unskilled, inept readers. Unfortunately that audience is growing. Education is the answer, as it always has been. All good writers are frustrated by the fact that they have to write to an audience who cannot comprehend what they read."
--David Bresnahan, public relations consultant, 2009

Editor's Note: Garbage in, garbage out?
  
Today's Wish-I-Were-Here Photo: Seadogs. . .  http://peezpix.blogspot.com/2008/03/sea-dogs.html

• • • 
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free "service" sent to the 1,800 or so misguided volunteer subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don't want it anymore, send "unsubscribe." Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote 'em, I don't necessarily endorse 'em. All, in theory, contain at least a kernel of truth.)

Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff
Utah State University, Logan, Utah
To receive Today's Word on Journalism, send "subscribe" to ted.pease@usu.edu
"Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little." --Tom Stoppard


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010  |  Permalink | 
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What will you need to do on your end to get your writing ready to send to the copy editor you've hired?
Any writer who has had a book edited by a professional already knows this, so if you're in that category, you don't need to read any farther.
Or, maybe you should forward this to your friends who are writing a book for the first time and think it's a Type-Hit SpellCheck-Print It process.
And if you're a first-time author, trust your experienced friends when they tell you it takes an investment of work, time and money to get the end product ready for the market. NOTE: Professional copy editing comes well before publishing IF you want the printer/publisher to be oh-so-appreciative of being chosen to print your book.
But before you get to the printing stage, what will make your copy editor oh-so-appreciative?
~ Write the book, blog article, thesis, pamphlet, website, whatever. Sounds like a "duh" statement, but for books and dissertations, this is often a multi-month process. Occasionally, it's multi-years. So make a plan, think it through, do what it takes to keep yourself focused, and most of all, practice patience.
~ Print out the doc. 
~ Read the hard copy and mark it up, but don't make any changes on your computer.
~ Set it aside for about a month if it's a book or longer manuscript; a shorter time if the doc is short. No kidding -- no peeking!
~ Pick it up and start reading the hard copy. It will look foreign to you, which is a good thing. You are looking at it from the reader's perspective. Do you like what you're reading? Breathe and stay in reader mode.
~ Breathe some more and switch your brain to author mode.
~ Mark changes, corrections and additions. Scribble notes in the margin.
~ Set it aside for a week.
~ Pick it up and read it from the end, last chapter first.
~ Set a timer for 47 min. When it goes off, stop reading, put down the manuscript and take a 5-min. walk outside or around your home. Resume after 5 min., and set the timer for another 47 min.
~ Read it aloud, as though you're speaking to a crowd. When you get bored or tired, sing a few paragraphs. Or note where you got bored and see if it's more because the text needs revision than the fact that you've been reading aloud for 47 minutes non-stop.
~ Mark errors on the hard copy.
~ Then read it from the beginning, aloud, and mark errors on the hard copy.
~ Set it aside for a day.
~ Fire up your computer and make the corrections/changes/edits to the electronic copy.
~ Hit Ctrl S every time you make a change!!
~ Print it out and read it aloud again.
~ Note any changes needed.
~ Make the changes on your computer.
~ When you just can't stand to look at the doc one more time, send the electronic copy to the copy editor you've hired.
If you're willing to make an investment of this kind of time and energy, the copy editor will have to spend fewer hours on the doc, which translates to money you get to keep in your wallet.
When I receive a doc and it's obvious that the author put a lot of work and care into it, it's like receiving an unexpected gift. So appreciated.


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Friday, March 12, 2010  |  Permalink | 
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Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, has a regular podcast and shortened email version of same. I get them both. Today her email mentioned a quick-and-dirty tip that I've been telling authors for years:

Typo Trouble

A company called TextTrust, which checks websites for spelling errors, ran into some typo trouble in 2006 when it issued a press release detailing the most commonly misspelled words it had found "on the 16 million we pages it has spell-checked over the past year." Whoops! They meant to write "16 million Web pages."

A quick and dirty proofreading tip is to read your work out loud or have your computer's text-to-speech function read the text to you. If people at TextTrust had read their press release out loud, the error (which wouldn't be caught by a spell-checker) would have jumped out at them.



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Tuesday, May 12, 2009  |  Permalink | 
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Have you heard of Grammar Girl's Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing?  Well, I hadn't until she was on Oprah a couple of months ago to rebut a viewer's opinion about the title of an episode.  Her explanation (Oprah's writers were correct, by the way) was so easy to grasp that I subscribed to her RSS feed.  Sure enough, those great explanations have not wavered in quality. Now I download her podcasts onto my iPod.

The Grammar Girl is aka Mignon Fogarty. Catch her yourself here: Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. She not only puts out a podcast, she also provides a transcription for easy access to the info whether you learn visually or aurally. 

Enjoy!

Jenny



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Friday, May 11, 2007  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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Tom Parish told me about RSS feeds a few years ago, and eventually I understood ... but I've never been able to explain them to others.  Now I don't have to, and neither do you.  Just click on this link

Video: RSS in Plain English

and you'll see a clever video by Lee LeFever.  He makes it so easy!

Jenny



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Thursday, April 26, 2007  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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Reprinted with permission from the Marketing Minute, a free weekly
newsletter written by Marcia Yudkin on creating marketing: http://www.yudkin.com/markmin.htm

Occasionally I encounter marketers who insist spelling 
doesn't matter.  "No one really cares," their argument 
goes.  "Typos humanize the copy, and besides, everyone 
knows what we mean."
 
Oh, really?
 
* In 2004, Judge Jacob P. Hart of Philadelphia slashed the 
fee due an attorney in half because of overabundant typos. 
The lawyer lost $31,350.
 
* In Britain, DDS Media had to destroy 10,000 spelling game 
DVDs whose cover misspelled a popular TV anchor's name.
 
* A Wisconsin-based editor paid an executive recruiter 
$1,720 to spruce up her resume and send it to 200 potential 
employers, only to learn that the resumes went out 
containing a section of gibberish.  The editor sued the 
headhunter for more than $75,000.
 
* In 2005, a trader on the Tokyo stock exchange intended to 
trade 1 share at 610,000 yen, but instead placed an order 
for 610,000 shares at 1 yen each.  The firm's loss:  around 
$18.7 million.
 
* A spell-check service whose motto is "no more embarrassing 
errors" itself uses "then" where "than" is correct.  Will 
potential clients really laugh this off?
 
                 *******************
 
READ MORE:  For additional stories about the high cost of 
typos and a checklist on how to avoid them, go to:
 
http://www.yudkin.com/typos.htm
 
Find out what happened when a would-be bank robber just 
couldn't spell.

                 *******************
 



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Monday, February 05, 2007  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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Thanks to Robin Nobles for permission to bring you his article about ...

Top Ten Grammar Errors that Haunt Web Pages
. . . Since content is crucial, isn’t it time to
introduce a few grammar tips?

by Robin Nobles 

With all of this talk about content, don’t you think it’s time to have a frank discussion about grammar? Our Web sites are our online store fronts—our online images. If our sites are full of grammar errors, what does that say about the professionalism of our businesses?

The Internet tends to be a more relaxed atmosphere, so should we expect to see a more relaxed use of grammar on the Net?

No. Just because the Internet is a different publishing medium, and just because we’ve gotten a little lax in our editing or forgotten some of our grammar rules, that doesn’t make it correct.

It’s time to pay attention to our own Web pages and relearn some of the basic grammar rules that we may have forgotten along the way.

Let’s look at what I consider to be some of the top grammar errors that haunt Web pages:

Click here to read the rest of Nobles' article ...



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Wednesday, October 11, 2006  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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The other day, I was talking with one of my clients about the verb tense he had used in a paragraph, and for the life of me I couldn't think of the word subjunctive!  Even if I had, I couldn't have explained why he needed the subjunctive form of the particular verb he was using.  After 8 straight hours of editing, the English teacher part of my brain wasn't working any more. 

Luckily, a friend (who had no clue of my need for the information) sent me the following from Ruth Walker's Verbal Energy blog.  It explains the subjunctive mood very well.

*******
Subjunctivity is subjective

by  Ruth Walker

On a recent trip, as my plane descended, I heard a familiar announcement: "As we prepare for landing, it is important that your seatbacks and tray tables are in their locked and upright positions."

Hmm, I thought. Shouldn't that have been in the subjunctive? "It is important that your seatbacks and tray tables be in their locked and upright positions."

Perhaps everyone isn't all locked and upright - maybe that doofus in 17C is still reclining to the max and dozing. But it is still important that seatbacks and tray tables be locked and upright. That the goal has not been achieved makes it no less worth striving for, and the subjunctive is just perfect for covering this disparity.

The Columbia Guide to Standard American English observes, "It has long been conventional to observe that the ... subjunctive is fast disappearing from English, and the statement is partly true."

What exactly is the subjunctive? Well, it's a mood. Just as people have their moods - good, bad, sunny, gloomy, cranky - so do verbs. They just have different ones: indicative, subjunctive, and imperative.

As the Columbia Guide explains, "An indicative verb is one that makes a factual or actual statement, as contrasted with a verb in the subjunctive mood, which makes a doubtful, conditional, or hypothetical statement or one contrary to fact or in some sense subordinate to another statement."

This may sound complex, but it refers to distinctions we make all the time. The indicative mood is where we live: "I generally get home by 5." If we say, "It is important that he get home at 5," "that he get" is a subjunctive. If we say, "Get home by 5, or else," we've moved into the imperative mode - the language of direct command.

The argument against the subjunctive is that it's weak, and that an imperative verb is more forceful: "Get home at 5." But imperative can be imperious, and a subjunctive can be a clear but impersonal way of articulating a standard without getting in anyone's face.

For instance, the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle sets forth its rules for what may or may not be hung from its rafters: "It is imperative that your banners (size and placement) be approved in advance of your show."

For more cosmic examples: It is important that we overcome our addiction to oil. It is imperative that we resolve the problem of illegal immigration. It is essential, many policymakers argue, that Iran not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.

At least one observer of things subjunctive, C.E.A. Finney of the University of Tennessee, challenges the notion that what he calls "a beautiful and valuable component of the English language" is dying out. He suggests that instead, "it actually is enjoying a subtle revival."

I'd like to think he's right. The subjunctive - used to refer to possibilities, doubts, desires, hopes, fears, wishes, external imperatives - seems so suited to that great gap between real and ideal in which we spend so much of our human lives that I'd expect it to be in great demand.

Click here to read this story online:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0503/p18s05-hfes.html

(c) Copyright 2006 The Christian Science Monitor.  All rights reserved.



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Saturday, May 06, 2006  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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Last week, an article on CNNMoney.com listed seven trendy new jobs ... and blog editing was one of the seven.

All I can say is, "It's about time blog editing got recognized!"  I've been editing blogs for about 3 years, though getting clients hasn't been easy.  The argument I usually hear is that "blogs are meant to be casual and off-the-cuff, not prissy and formal."  To which I reply that misspelled and misused words, poor grammar, confusing sentence structure and non-working links don't make anyone's blog writing casual -- just sloppy. 

Editing isn't designed to make writing stiff or homogenized; it's meant to keep the reader from having to "translate" what you write into what you mean, to help them easily "get" you  ... whatever your writing style.

My earliest blog customer and the biggest cheerleader of my blog editing skills is Tom Parish.  He took the leap early and now has me editing both his 4WebResults and Talking Portraits blogs.  Nothing prissy or formal there -- just Tom doing his thing -- but his messages are spelled right (unless he publishes an article before notifying me to edit it).

So if you want to take your blog to the next level, possibly even get it sponsored, hire a blog editor.  Look for one who won't alter your "voice" or writing style, which is the essence of your blog.  Find one who will clean up grammar, spelling, usage, links, and who can work with integrity in your blog site.  Your readers will thank you!


Jenny

 



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Monday, May 01, 2006  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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When you start writing a story, I bet you're envisioning pages and pages of text flowing onto the screen or paper.  That's not a bad thing if it really takes pages and pages to tell your story, but check out Michael Weinstein's article about what Brady Dennis trained himself to do with only 300 words.
---

Short and Sweet: Storytelling in 300 Words:
How Brady Dennis of the St. Petersburg Times won the Ernie Pyle Award with 9-inch stories

by Michael Weinstein
    
[NOTE: This is an edited version of an article that ran in The Write Stuff, the monthly newsletter of The Charlotte Observer's writing group. Observer features editor Michael Weinstein, along with assistant metro editor Michael Gordon, is co-editor of the newsletter.]

Brady Dennis was a night cops reporter in the Tampa bureau of Poynter's St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times when he started writing "300 Words," a series of short stories about ordinary people, in 2004. This year, he won the Ernie Pyle Award for human interest writing for his series.

The "300 Words" stories have been running, alongside pictures by Times photographer Chris Zuppa, on the front page of the paper's local-news section, about once a month.

To find their stories, Zuppa and Dennis think of a moment they want to capture, then find the subject who best defines that moment. Dennis is now a general-assignment reporter in the Times' Tampa bureau. I interviewed him, via e-mail, to find out what he's learned about storytelling in small doses.

MICHAEL WEINSTEIN: How did you come up with the idea of writing 300-word stories?

BRADY DENNIS: I first dreamed up "300 Words" while working as a night cops reporter in Tampa. For starters, I wanted a project that offered a break from the usual murder and mayhem that I typically covered (and enjoyed covering). But more importantly, I wanted to take a chance and offer something in the metro section that readers weren't used to seeing, something different that would make them slow down and take a breath and view the people they passed each day a little differently. I knew I wanted the pieces to be short -- they never jump from 1B -- and to highlight people that otherwise never would make the newspaper. Luckily, I [worked with] a photographer who shared this vision and a brave editor willing to try new approaches and fend off the skeptics.

A big inspiration for the series, by the way, were the "People" columns that Charles Kuralt had written for the Charlotte News back in the early 1950s.

What was the easiest thing about doing them?

The easiest thing was my complete confidence in the people we would find. I believe that each person not only has a story to tell, but that each person has a story that matters. I've always felt humbled in the presence of everyday, "ordinary" people who are willing to share their lives with us. Give me them any day over politicians and celebrities.

What was hardest?

The hardest thing, I suppose, was finding a theme in each piece that was universal -- love, loss, death, change, new beginnings. Something everyone could relate to on a human level. I didn't think it was enough to say, "Look, here's an interesting person." I wanted to capture that person in a moment when readers could say, "I understand. I've been there."

What did you learn about writing short stories with a beginning, middle and end?

I learned it doesn't take 3,000 words to put together a beginning, middle and end. A good story is a good story, no matter the length. And sometimes the shorter ones turn out [to be] more powerful than the windy ones.

That said, there's a risk of sounding like I'm advocating super-short stories with no traditional nut graph. Not so. I believe no matter how long or short the story, people should know why it is important and worth their time. It's not enough just to paint a pretty picture. We must strive to tell them something about the world that matters, to be journalists and not simply storytellers. Hopefully, in a non-traditional way, "300 Words" does that.

Has it made you a better reporter? Better writer?

Absolutely. "300 Words" made me a better reporter by forcing me to rely almost primarily on observation. Notice that most pieces contain almost no quotes. I didn't interview people as much as I simply shut my mouth and watched and listened. We don't do that enough.

It also made me a more economical writer. With only 300 words to spare, each one had to matter. I've tried to apply that rule to the other stories I do, even the long ones. The idea is to cut away the fat and leave only the muscle. As my editor, Neville Green, repeated again and again: "Less is more." It's true for most stories we write.

How did your editor help you?

Neville Green helped in so many ways. He wrote most of the headlines. He helped me trim many unnecessary sentences, greatly improving the stories with each change. And sometimes, he simply put that universal theme I was searching for in perspective. "Isn't this story about...?" he would start, and he'd always be dead-on.

Anything else I should ask?

One thing I would offer is my opinion that, now, more than ever, we should be willing to take risks and make reading the paper an unpredictable and interesting exercise. "300 Words" was an effort at that. But there are a million other possibilities, and journalists are pretty bright folks. All it takes is the willingness to risk something new.

RELATED RESOURCES

To read an example of "300 Words," written in 57 lines (or just under 9 inches), check out After the Sky Fell, by Brady Dennis (St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 28, 2005)

For all "300 Words" stories, click here.



Tuesday, April 25, 2006  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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Editing transcriptions can be tricky.  There are two ways to do it, and I definitely prefer one over the other.  I can take what a transcriptionist has typed while listening to the recording and edit that into logical sentences, correct spelling and a layout that quickly tells the reader who said what.  That's the hard way because I'm just reading words, not listening to the speaker at the same time. 

The easier way (notice I didn't say easy - transcriptions are never easy because recording conditions and speakers' voices are rarely ideal) is to listen to the original recording while editing what the transcriptionist wrote.

The huge advantage of the latter is that I always hear words the transcriptionist didn't, and catch words and phrases they completely misinterpreted.

I've also been the transcriptionist and done the subsequent editing after an author's original attempt to use a voice-activate transcribing service failed.

When I edit a transcription, I prefer to have the recording to listen to, at least for my first read-through. My last such job was for a designer of dental offices, and he not only mumbled a lot or turned away from his microphone, he used many medical terms. The transcriptionist had guessed at what he was saying. Because I spent much of my childhood in a dental chair, I knew quite a few of the terms. The rest I looked up on the Internet. It also helped that I understand "deep" Texas accents!

The speaker wanted his seminar lectures and Q&A sessions turned into a book, and that's what we did.
Before you hire a transcriptionist or transcription editor, here are some things to find out:

    • Are they familiar with the topic?
    • Do they know how to do searches on the Internet?
    • Are they able to turn rambling sentences, half-finished sentences, interruptions, etc., into something coherent AND interesting to the reader while maintaining the "voice" of the speaker and tone of the content?
    • Are they able to meet your standards for layout?

For the last one, you have to know what your standards are. No fair saying, "Well, you're the professional. You tell me what it should look like."

Jen



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Saturday, April 01, 2006  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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Tom Parish, whose blog I edit, sent me the article below.  He hired me because he fully believes that spelling counts, that website owners have a tiny amount of time in which to make a good impression, and they don't need to make their readers decipher spelling errors. 

I agree.  I'm no stickler for "formal" writing in blogs, websites or Podcast show notes, however.  There are lots of versions of English - ranging from casual to legal - and I'm fine with casual writing in a casual setting.  What I am a stickler for, no matter the setting, is correct spelling and grammar.  Casual writing is not improved by misspelled words and poor grammar.  It just becomes sloppy, and the writer looks like he/she doesn't care about you, the reader.

So, IMHO, spelling definitely counts.

Jenny

Spelling Counts

By Susan Esparza on SEO Tips & Tricks

What do Matt Cutts and Rob Malda have in common? Aside from both having extremely popular blogs (MattCutts.com and Slashdot.org, respectively), both have used recent posts to look at the importance of grammar and spelling on websites. Malda (Slashdot's CmdrTaco), in an entry discussing how the editors decide which stories...





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Do writers need an agent?
by Peggy Tibbetts

Writers generally accept the fact that to get a contract with a major publisher we need agent representation. Combining common sense and humor, E. Hanes summed it up the best: "The question is something akin to: Does a human being need a doctor? The answer, of course, can be 'no,' but it begs the question: why would  you want to doctor yourself? It's the same with writing. At  a certain level, a writer does not need an agent. Placing a short story in a journal? No. But selling a novel? For me, the answer is yes, because: Agenting is not my  profession. Just as I expect to be paid for rendering my professional service -- writing -- I have no problem paying others for rendering their professional services, whether agenting, doctoring or car fixering. In fact, not only would I be willing to pay in good old-fashioned greenbacks, truth be told, I'd practically give my right arm in exchange for agent representation. OK, maybe not my arm. Definitely a portion of my spleen, though."

In the vast publishing world, agents serve a purpose, as
described by V. Laherty: "It seems to me that an unagented manuscript lacks having been through some kind of screening, and in a 'perceived value' environment, marketability is key to people keeping their jobs based on their recommendation, as well as time spent sorting through manuscripts for fatal flaws."

When M.B. Miller collaborated on a book with a friend, she learned the advantages of having a good agent: "We got an agent, but after a few months, the agent declared she wasn't going to try again with our book for six months or more. We fired her. Then, finally, without an agent, we succeeded in getting the book published, by what we thought was a good publisher. Talk about languishing. We received one royalty check, which might have paid for paper costs and another small one that didn't cover postage. Not only does a writer need a good agent, he or she also needs a good publicist, and an editor, not just a publisher that prints whatever a writer sends."

But what happens when the agent doesn't sell your manuscript? S.F. Lick shared her story: "It's a sore subject for me right now because my agent just informed me that she has tried every publisher that seemed likely to her and she can't do any more for me. Ouch. Our relationship is over unless I can pull a blockbuster out of my file cabinet. Let me look. Nope. Don't have one. But in three months, she queried 23 major publishers that don't accept unagented submissions. It would have taken me years to do that on my own. She also forced me to rewrite my proposal and sample chapters until they were flawless. So it wasn't a waste of time."

Lick comes away from her experience with a positive attitude and stresses the importance of keeping it all in perspective: "I have published three books without an agent, and the new books I'm working on now are so  specialized in topic or geography that I don't believe an agent would represent them, and I don't need an agent for the smaller publishers I'm contacting. I think one should definitely try for an agent for novels and for nonfiction with widespread interest and best-seller potential. But for poetry or books with limited audiences, go ahead and sell it on your own. Although we would all love to have that million-dollar contract and a place on the bestseller list, with an agent handling all the negotiations, I think most of us are just happy to have our books published, with or without an agent."

In a perfect world every writer would have an agent and every agent would sell his client's work. Since this is far from a perfect world, even if you don't have an agent, writers agree you shouldn't let that deter you from moving your career forward on your own.

     >>-----------------------------------------------------<<

Peggy Tibbetts answers your questions about writing for children in her monthly column, Advice from a Caterpillar:
http://www.writing-world.com/caterpillar/index.shtml
She is the author of "The Road to Weird" and "Rumors of War." Visit her web site at: http://www.peggytibbetts.net

Copyright (c) 2005 by Peggy Tibbetts



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Monday, January 23, 2006  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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I've never been much of an e-book reader, preferring to feel the weight of a book in my hands when I read for my own pleasure. Yes, I edit e-books, but that's different.  When I'm not working, I like the feel of the paper, the smell of the ink, and the action of turning pages.  And when I'm at a stopping point, I like putting in one of my favorites bookmarks to hold my spot.  My bedside table currently offers up about 8 books to choose from when I'm ready to head off to dreamland.

But Sony has a new e-book reader that just might change my mind.  It would certainly clean up that bedside table.

Check out the story on USAToday.com:

The Plot Thickens with a Thin eBooks Device

Jenny



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Saturday, January 07, 2006  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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I had just finished talking with a friend in South Africa about Skype - she uses it to stay in touch with her daughter in California - when I opened an email from a friend who forwarded the article below.  The partnership mentioned is just the sort of thing that my South African friend and her daughter will delight in using.

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Kodak and Skype Give a New Voice to Online Storytelling with KODAK Photo Voice
    
LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 3, 2006--

   Kodak Launches the First Skype-Certified Online Photo-Sharing Experience, Helping People Talk Live to Friends, Family and Colleagues around the World While Viewing a Shared Photo Album
 
  Eastman Kodak Company and Skype(TM), the global Internet communications company, announce the availability of the latest innovation in digital storytelling - KODAK Photo Voice - that combines live voice and online photo sharing. The beta version of KODAK Photo Voice, the first Skype certified online photo sharing experience, is now available as a free download at www.kodakgallery.com/photovoice.

  "Today's families and social networks are scattered around the globe. Staying connected through photo sharing remains an important element in maintaining closer personal relationships," said Sandra Morris, general manager of Consumer Imaging Services at Kodak. "Traditional social gatherings that once took place around the radio, television or telephone are now happening around the computer, mobile phone or camera. KODAK Photo Voice marks the next step in this evolution."

  KODAK Photo Voice is a brand new way to relive memories, empowering two people to simultaneously view a customized slideshow, and to reminisce and react to each picture. Imagine if Grandma could see pictures from her grandson's first day at school while he narrates every moment of the experience over Skype. Perhaps an old roommate could share detailed photos and recount stories of his new life in London, as his friend back home in California reacts to each picture.

  "Our goal is to make technology easy to use and Skype is a simple Internet communications service that is changing the way people stay in touch," said James Bilefield, vice president of business development for Skype. "The combination of Skype's service and KODAK EASYSHARE Gallery's photo sharing capabilities will make sharing memories even more simple and rewarding for consumers around the globe."

  After downloading KODAK Photo Voice and Skype, the host selects pictures from a KODAK EASYSHARE Gallery album or from their computer, quickly and easily compiles them into a KODAK Photo Voice presentation and "calls" a friend via Skype to watch the slideshow live. Hosts submit orders for prints and other merchandise that guests select through KODAK EASYSHARE Gallery and have them mailed directly to the guest's home.

  About Eastman Kodak Company

  Kodak is the leader in helping people take, share, print and view images - for memories, for information, for business, and for entertainment. With sales of $13.5 billion in 2004, the company is committed to a digitally oriented growth strategy focused on four businesses: Digital & Film Imaging Systems - providing consumers, professionals and cinematographers with digital and traditional products and services; Health - supplying the medical and dental professions with traditional and digital imaging and information systems, IT solutions and services; Graphic Communications - providing customers with a range of solutions for prepress, traditional and digital printing, and document scanning and multi-vendor IT services; and Display & Components - supplying original equipment manufacturers with imaging sensors as well as intellectual property and materials for the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) and LCD display industries. More information about Kodak (NYSE:EK) is available at www.kodak.com.

  About Skype

  Skype is the world's fastest-growing service for Internet communication, allowing people everywhere to make unlimited voice and video calls for free. Skype is available in 27 languages and is used in almost every country around the world. Skype generates revenue through its premium service offerings such as making and receiving calls to and from landline and mobile phones, as well as voicemail and call forwarding services. Skype also has a growing network of hardware and software partners. Skype is an eBay company (NASDAQ:EBAY). To learn more visit www.skype.com.

  Kodak and EasyShare are trademarks of Eastman Kodak Company. Skype is not a telephony replacement service and cannot be used for emergency calling.

Contacts
 

Kodak
Liz Scanlon, 510-295-7542
liz@kodakgallery.com
or
Ketchum for Kodak
Jodi Sacks, 404-879-9140
jodi.sacks@ketchum.com
or
Sparkpr for Skype
Alicia diVittorio, 415-321-1875
alicia@sparkpr.com

  © Business Wire 2006
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Jenny



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Wednesday, January 04, 2006  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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Last week, I gave Moira Allen's point of view about whether writers need agents.  Today it's Peggy Tibbett's turn to give her angle on agents.

Do writers need an agent?

Writers generally accept the fact that to get a contract with a major publisher we need agent representation. Combining common sense and humor, E. Hanes summed it up the best: "The question is something akin to: Does a human being need a doctor? The answer, of course, can be 'no,' but it begs the question: why would  you want to doctor yourself? It's the same with writing. At a certain level, a writer does not need an agent. Placing a short story in a journal? No. But selling a novel? For me, the answer is yes, because: Agenting is not my profession. Just as I expect to be paid for rendering my professional service -- writing -- I have no problem paying others for rendering their professional services, whether agenting, doctoring or car fixering. In fact, not only would I be willing to pay in good old-fashioned greenbacks, truth be told, I'd practically give my right arm in exchange for agent representation. OK, maybe not my arm. Definitely a portion of my spleen, though."

In the vast publishing world, agents serve a purpose, as
described by V. Laherty: "It seems to me that an unagented manuscript lacks having been through some kind of screening, and in a 'perceived value' environment, marketability is key to people keeping their jobs based on their recommendation, as well as time spent sorting through manuscripts for fatal flaws."

When M.B. Miller collaborated on a book with a friend, she learned the advantages of having a good agent: "We got an agent, but after a few months, the agent declared she wasn't going to try again with our book for six months or more. We fired her. Then, finally, without an agent, we succeeded in getting the book published, by what we thought was a good publisher. Talk about languishing.  We received one royalty check, which might have paid for paper costs and another small one that didn't cover postage. Not only does a writer need a good agent, he or she also needs a good publicist, and an editor, not just a publisher that prints whatever a writer sends."

But what happens when the agent doesn't sell your manuscript? S.F. Lick shared her story: "It's a sore subject for me right now because my agent just informed me that she has tried every publisher that seemed likely to her and she can't do any more for me. Ouch. Our relationship is over unless I can pull a blockbuster out of my file cabinet. Let me look. Nope. Don't have one. But in three months, she queried 23 major publishers that don't accept unagented submissions. It would have taken me years to do that on my own. She also forced me to rewrite my proposal and sample chapters until they were flawless. So it wasn't a waste of time."

Lick comes away from her experience with a positive attitude and stresses the importance of keeping it all in perspective: "I have published three books without an agent, and the new books I'm working on now are so specialized in topic or geography that I don't believe an agent would represent them, and I don't need an agent for the smaller publishers I'm contacting. I think one should definitely try for an agent for novels and for nonfiction with widespread interest and best-seller potential. But for poetry or books with limited audiences, go ahead and sell it on your own. Although we would all love to have that million-dollar contract and a place on the bestseller list with an agent handling all the negotiations, I think most of us are just happy to have our books published, with or without an agent."

In a perfect world every writer would have an agent and every agent would sell his client's work. Since this is far from a perfect world, even if you don't have an agent, writers agree you shouldn't let that deter you from moving your career forward on your own.

     >>----------------------------------------------------<<

Peggy Tibbetts answers questions about writing for children in her monthly column, Advice from a Caterpillar:
http://www.writing-world.com/caterpillar/index.shtml.


She is the author of "The Road to Weird" and "Rumors of War."

Visit her web site at: http://www.peggytibbetts.net

Copyright (c) 2005 by Peggy Tibbetts



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Thursday, December 08, 2005  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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Now that you've read Joe's writing about the shoe that thinks, I want to comment on his message that hypnotic marketing is nothing more than sharing your sincere passion with the people who most want to hear it.

That's what good writing is all about too.  What do you have a passion for?  Whether it's fiction, non-fiction, website text, or your annual family Christmas letter ... if you write genuinely and envision the people who are going to read it, you'll create something those people want to read.

Another thing: How old did you feel as you read through Joe's story about his shoes?  I could feel myself getting younger and younger, as though I were at a campfire being told an intriguing tale, and the storyteller was enjoying creating the suspense.  And I was enjoying being teased along.  When I'm feeling that playful tension, I start to grin, which is what I was doing toward the end of Joe's piece.  He was having fun not telling me the brand of the shoes, and I was having fun not being told. Well, for a while, anyway!  I did feel relief when he finally mentioned the brand.

Consider not telling everything up front the next time you write a story or create dialogue.  Give the reader an opportunity to be intrigued.

Jenny



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Wednesday, November 30, 2005  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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I've been reading and occasionally editing Joe Vitale's writing for a few years now.  The man is definitely savvy. But could it be that his shoes are even smarter?

http://www.thinklikejoevitale.com/theshoethatthinks.htm

 



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Wednesday, November 30, 2005  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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In the latest edition of Writing World, Moira Allen has an article answering the following questions:

  • Is it mandatory to go through an agent before submitting to a publisher?
  • Are there free agents?
  • Do most publishers want the author to put money down up front?
  • I don't know what genre I write in. I don't know what I like to read. Why are writers and readers so caught up with genres and labels?

Because I get a lot of similar questions - and I don't know the answers because this isn't my area of expertise - I asked Moira if I could publish her answers for all to see. 

But before I do that, here's some info about Ms. Allen.  She has been writing and editing professionally for more than 20 years. A columnist for The Writer, she is also the author of Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer; The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals (now available as an e-book); and Writing.com: Creative Internet Strategies to Advance Your Writing Career. For more details, visit:
http://www.writing-world.com/moira/moira.shtml

Now for those answers from her copyrighted article:

Last question first: Readers and writers aren't caught up with genres and labels; publishers and booksellers are. It makes it easier to put a book on the right "shelf." That's why even a so-called "crossover" novel (e.g., "science fiction/romance") will generally be placed on one shelf (most likely "romance") rather than in both genres.

Next question: REPUTABLE agents do not charge money up front. They make their money by selling books. Of course, that makes it harder to get an agent, because they won't TAKE your book unless they are absolutely certain they can sell it to a publisher. But do not, repeat, DO NOT use an agent who asks for money from you up front, such as a "reading fee" or something of that nature. Of course you'll be able to "get" an agent who charges the writer money -- because such an agent doesn't care if your book is any good or not! He or she is making money anyway, off YOU, whether the book can be sold. Reputable agents take a commission off sales (15%), and if your book doesn't sell, you don't owe them any money.

Another scam to watch out for is one that, sadly, is still going on: The agent who says that your book is ALMOST ready for publication, and they might consider taking you on if you get a professional editing job -- and they then refer you to an editor/book doctor they just happen to know who can handle this.*

I've just heard of a new variation on this scheme: An agency that requires a person submitting a manuscript to include a "critique" with the submission.  The writer asked a friend to provide this, but the agent "rejected" the friend's critique and then recommended that the writer pay a "professional" $100 to provide it instead. 

Needless to say, the "professional" was an editor/book doctor whose job was to convince the writer that her  manuscript needed professional editing.*

Now to the first question: Is it mandatory? No. Some publishers do not require submissions to be agented." Others do. It's simply a matter of looking at the publisher's guidelines. If a publisher accepts unsolicited or unagented submissions, you can go to them directly. If they say "no unagented submissions," then you'd have to have an agent to reach that publisher.

However, having an agent does more than just getting your book in the door. An agent will help negotiate a contract that is more in your favor, and help sell subsidiary rights to your book -- perhaps even get a movie deal if it's the right kind of book. So an agent can do a lot more for you than you can do for yourself, particularly if you're not familiar with the book-publishing industry.

But the first thing to do is get the book written. Agents and publishers will usually NOT look at a proposal from a first-time (i.e., unpublished) author who hasn't finished the book. That's simply because there are so many authors who THINK they are going to write a book, but never actually get it done. So if the book isn't finished, get the book written, then worry about agents and publishers!

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* Note: I am not and never will be in any agent's pocket.  I.e., I'm not an editor/doctor in cahoots with an agent to rip off unsuspecting (usually first-time) authors. 

That said, most authors do need to get their writing professionally edited before submitting it to an agent or publisher.  It's not the agent's job to clean up the author's writing, and by getting their manuscript professionally edited, authors show that they know how to make a good impression.  This bodes well for marketing of the published book, as authors must attend book-signings and do other promotions to make their books sell.  A sloppy manuscript could mean that the author would also be sloppy in their commitment to marketing (read: making the agent, and the author, some money!).

Jenny 



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Monday, November 28, 2005  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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I could just as easily ask the question: Should editors give free re-edits after the author has completed the revisions?  But that's another story, though the answer is the same.

This article is about what happens to authors after they've been to professional editors like me and have submitted the ms to a publisher for further editing.

Read what Brent Hartinger, published author (finally!), has to say about doing free rewrites.  (Keep reading past the initial blurb to get to the story.)

Hartinger did rewrite after rewrite for several publishers, and though all the editors gave him lots of praise, they turned him down flat.  Then he complained to a successful screenwriter friend and found out what he'd been doing wrong.

http://www.underdown.org/no_freerewrites.htm

Jenny



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Friday, November 25, 2005  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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I just read in the Washington Post that Google and the Library of Congress are teaming up to create the World Digital Library. 

David A. Vise, a writer for the Washington Post said,

"The Library of Congress is launching a campaign today to create the World Digital Library, an online collection of rare books, manuscripts, maps, posters, stamps and other materials from its holdings and those of other national libraries that would be freely accessible for viewing by anyone, anywhere with Internet access.

"This is the most ambitious international effort ever undertaken to put precious items of artistic, historical, and literary significance on the Internet so that people can learn about other cultures without traveling further than the nearest computer, according to James H. Billington, head of the Library of Congress.

"Billington said his goal is to bring together materials from the United States and Europe with precious items from Islamic nations stretching from Indonesia through Central and West Africa, as well as important materials from collections in East and South Asia."

You can read the rest of the story here.

I haven't decided where I stand on this yet.  I don't see it as the "doom" of libraries or book stores.  There is the problem of copyright, and Google is fighting that battle in court.  What I do like is that documents hundreds of years old and very fragile are being digitized, and Google is learning how to handle them in the process.  In the future, I suspect the knowledge of how to carefully handle such books while digitizing them will be valuable information.

It's an interesting era we live in, eh?

Jenny



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Wednesday, November 23, 2005  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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A Stanford Workshop for Magazine, Association and Corporate Publishing

Spaces are still available for this workshop, Nov. 14 - 16, 2005, at Stanford University in Stanford, California
 
Publishing on the Web is an intense, three-day learning experience--a workshop, not a conference--for publishing professionals who want to roll up their sleeves and rethink their web-publishing strategies. It affords you the opportunity to benchmark your web strategies against those of other publishers, to assess how you could do more with your existing resources, to redesign your business model so that it's poised to take advantage of the upturn in the economy.

It's also a place where you'll sit in front of a computer and watch as your website is test-driven and critiqued by others, and where you'll be challenged to analyze and critique others' content-rich sites. You
come back to the office with pages of notes on how to improve your site.

View rest of article here:

http://publishingcourses.stanford.edu/pow



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Wednesday, November 09, 2005  |  Permalink |  Comments (0)
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Hi all,

  I'm going to start off my blog with a plug for a friend of mine, and she doesn't even know I'm doing this.  Her name is Susan Morrow, and she's also known as the "Grammar Grouch." 

  Susan loves to speak up about Grammar Damage.  Here's a snippet from her latest ranting, which I just received:

Greetings, O English speakers!
 
I like to choose a timely and interesting topic, one that most people will understand, as well as one that satisfies my desire to rant.  Thus, this month, I am following up on a couple of previous items.  I typically receive several comments (thank you and keep 'em comin'!) regarding each month's Grammar Grouch, so I will feature some of them below.
 
1)  Moron apostrophes
 
Oh, no, that's more on apostrophes.  Tsk!
 
You may remember that the only possessive that doesn't take an apostrophe is "its."  It's confusing to use its, but it's the way it's done. 
 
Another one has come up, though, and that is "whose." 
 
"Will the person whose car is locked and running in the rain please come to the hostess stand?"
2)  Access, accessories, escape....
 
More than one person mentioned "espresso" and its frequent mispronunciation as "eX-presso."  I believe that the word, which is Italian, is actually from the same root as "express," but it is pronounced as it is written, without an "X": 
"ESSSSSSS  PRESSSSS OOOOO." 
 
And speaking of espresso, I am a completely devoted Starbuck's junkie, but I can't stand the way people say "vent-ay" as if it were Spanish.  No, it's "vent-eeeeeee."  "Venti" is Italian for "twenty," the number of ounces in the cup.  Mystery solved.
 
3)  Chunky Chucky
 
I had numerous comments about "chunk vs. chuck," and many people were incredulous that to toss something is to chuck, not chunk.  Grown, intelligent, educated people--maybe the evolution of language will eventually bring it around to "chunk."

To read more about Grammar Grouch, go to WordsAreWe.com

Keep grouching, Susan!

Jenny



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