authors, Editing, Guideposts, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Kitty Slattery offers insightful thoughts on the writing process

Kitty Slattery is an author and contributing editor for Guideposts magazine, the inspirational publisher of magazines and books. Kitty did a series of interviews for Inspiring Voices, the self publishing service of Guideposts launched with Author Solutions In these clips Kitty offers some advice on writing that I think is helpful to hear for the first time or as a reminder. In the first video, she asks the question, Is Writing for Me?. In the second video she addresses the importance of rewriting. Hopefully, you will find them motivating.

In the second video she addresses the importance of rewriting. Hopefully, you will find them motivating.

authors, Editing, self publishing

Ten mistakes a reader never misses: Misplaced modifiers (Part 10)

This is the last of the series I have been posting on the mistakes readers never miss when reading a book. My intent with this series was to point out how easy it can be to miss simple editing issues, which can greatly effect the way readers perceive the quality of the book. The last mistake I think readers never miss is Misplaced modifiers.

These are probably the trickiest error of them all. One simple example of a misplaced (or dangling) modifier was used is in this sentence describing a person shopping for a book

Walking down the aisles, many books draw her interest.

In this sentence the books, not Shelley, are walking down the aisle all because of the misplaced modifiers. You might wonder if a reader would notice that. In this circumstance some wouldn’t but others would. Generally the thing that makes misplaced modifiers quite problematic is their tendency to make sentences confusing.

What exactly is being communicated in the following sentence?

We could understand the book read by the man easily.

What was easy? Was it easy for us to understand or was it easy for him to read the book? This would be confusing to any reader. An editor might reword this in one of two ways, depending on the author’s meaning:

“We could easily understand the book read by the man” or

“We could understand the book read easily by the man.”

The following two sentences have very different meanings.

He has read nearly every book on the shelf.

He has nearly read every book on the shelf.

The first sentence states he has read almost every book, so he has read most of them cover to cover, but there are a few left that he hasn’t read. The second sentence states that he hasn’t read any book on the shelf. He has come close to reading them, but has never actually done so. He has nearly read them. Confused yet? Hopefully the explanation of this example makes sense, but keep in mind this is one of the simplest examples of a misplaced modifier.

Now the point to all this is not to frustrate you with how the nuances of the English language can make it difficult to create a flawless manuscript. My intent is to use examples like this to encourage you to have a good editor review your manuscript before you publish you book. It is one of the best investments you can make as an author.

….the thing that makes misplaced modifiers quite problematic is their tendency to make sentences confusing.

authors, book selling, Ebooks, Editing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Kindle, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Ten mistakes a reader never misses: Compound words (Part 9)

Compound words can be very frustrating because it does not seem like there are any hard and fast rules for determining what should be a compound word and what should be two words.  Take these words for example. Lifetime and lifespan are compound words, but life form is not. You might think that pay phone and light bulb would each be one word, but they’re not. Many compound words are not well known and are mistakenly treated as two words quite often. It’s also quite common for authors to accidentally put spaces between words like someone, something, somewhere, sometime; anyone, anything, just to name a few.. (Remember Spell Check will not catch any of these as errors if they are two words.)

Take a look at the sentences below. The first one is written as many authors would likely write it. The second sentence in the pair shows how compound words should be used properly in the sentence.

  1. He stopped in the drug store to buy some ball point pens and a note pad.
  2. He stopped in the drugstore to buy some ballpoint pens and a notepad.
  1. The school teachers met the book club at the local book store on week days.
  2. The schoolteachers met the book club at the local bookstore on weekdays.
  1. She wrote everyday in her journal about everyday life.
  2. She wrote every day in her journal about everyday life.

What did you think? Are the mistakes in sentence one of the pairs above, mistakes you would likely make? Don’t be embarrassed if the answer is yes. Compound words are one of the most confusing things about the English language in my opinion. Again, that is why having an editor thoroughly review your manuscript is definitely worth the investment.

authors, Balboa Press, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

From self published author to selling 30 million books: Louise Hay shares her story.

If you do not know Louise Hay, you really need to listen to her tell her story of how she went from self publishing her first book to selling over 30 million copies in multiple languages over these past years. Louise is the author of many books, but the one that put her on the map was “You Can Heal Your Life”. In this video she explains how that book came to be and what has happened since then, including founding Hay House publishing.  As you listen to her story, you will find there are important lessons for any author to remember. I encourage you to watch the complete video, but here are just a few of the highlights

  1. The title of your book matters. The first title Louise had for the book, You Can Heal Your Life, was actually titled, The Metaphysical Causes of Diseases. That is not a title that rolls off the tongue so she changed it to make the title more more memorable and accessible to people and the rest is history.
  2. The design and packaging of your book matters. When she first self published, she went to bookstores and watched what people did. That research led her to realize that unless your book has the right title and is designed the right way, people will not pick it up.
  3. The most important motivation for publishing is not money. The most important reason for publishing is because you think you have something to say or share that can help people. She has a great quote in the interview, “Books will not make you rich, but they will open the door to some many other possibilities.”
  4. Self publishing lets you retain control of your content. While this statement seems rather obvious, it is an important reminder of the reason why indie publishing has grown so dramatically. Louise did not want anyone changing what she wanted to say.

The video is nearly nine minutes long, but it is worth watching. Enjoy.

authors, Ebooks, Editing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Ten mistakes a reader never misses: Run-on and incomplete sentences (Part 8)

Writing a complete sentence seems like a simple thing. Don’t be fooled, it’s not. Take the previous run-on sentence, for example. Smart people from all walks of life don’t always write in complete sentences. Executives, attorneys, doctors, and even PhDs repeatedly use commas where periods should be and write long “sentences” that are unfinished thoughts. As they’re working on describing something, thinking hard, trying to ignore the dog barking outside, and the phone starts ringing. Oops, they write an incomplete thought, like that last sentence.

Run-ons and incomplete sentences are a fact of life for even the most intelligent people, so just acknowledge it and don’t take it personally. (Be forewarned, though, that well-meaning friends and family members are notorious for pointing out every incorrect sentence in a book.) Focus on writing well and making sure you get all your thoughts down on paper and then use an editor to help you polish your manuscript.

Which of these sentences is a run-on sentence?

  1. Don’t worry, this book doesn’t have errors.
  2. It’s not just a story, it’s a true story.
  3. I tell you what, I’ll read it.
  4. Don’t get me wrong, I like that sentence.

The answer is all of them are run-on sentences, but a good editor would catch them before your book is published.

Another issue that often comes up for writers are Incomplete sentences. Take the sentence below for example.

Some interesting books which caught her eye, even though they were on the back shelf.

Omitting the word, “which” in this sentence makes it complete, but this is an example of a short incomplete sentence. Much like run-on sentences, long, incomplete sentences tend to get away from an author and need to be sorted out or restructured to avoid confusion. That’s why no matter how long you have worked on your manuscript or how many times you have read it, you want to make sure you have your book edited before you publish.

authors, Ebooks, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Kindle, self publishing, writing

Booktango: the new free e-book publishing site that makes your book look great and available for sale on every e-reader

In my webinars, titled Seven Secrets of Successful Self-published authors, which I do frequently on the Author Learning Center and Writers, I describe the three publishing options for authors today as DIY, assisted and tradtional publishing. DIY is for authors who want to control the formating, pricing and distribution, but don’t need to speak with anyone. Assisted self publishing allows an author to get published, but provides personal support throughout the process. Traditional publishing is as it has always been. You need an agent to get published and usually lots of patience.

Great new free e-book publishing solution with distribution to all devices.

Author Solutions (ASI) has been the clear leader in assisted self-publishing for quite some time, but recently to serve an even greater author base, ASI introduced a new free DIY e-book publishing solution called Booktango. Booktango gives authors some unique advantages no other DIY solution offers.

  1. Free, easy-to-use editor.  Much like WordPress or similar applications, Booktango makes it easy to upload your manuscript, identify the errors that make e-books look bad, fix them quickly and create a killer-looking e-book. Other applications like Smashwords have been described as meat grinders so Booktango is a a welcome addition to the author tool box
  2. Distribution to all the e-readers and distributors. One of the great challenges for DIY authors is getting the right formating and distribution for the variety of readers and distributors out there. You can publish on the Kindle, but that’s all you get. If you want to publish on other distributor’s platforms you have to create a different type of file and track your royalties separately. Booktango does all that for you.
  3. Set your own price. One of the keys to getting traction for e-books is pricing it to be an impulse purchase. With Booktango, that is easy to do.
  4. Best in classs DIY Cover designer (Coming soon). One of the great limitiations right now for authors creating e-books is an easy-to-use applicatioin to create covers. By the end of March, Booktango will have the best in the market.

Right now, Booktango is in beta, but feel free to take it for a test drive and spread the word. It is one more reason why this is the best time in history to be an author.

authors, book marketing, Ebooks, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

4 easy ways to build content and a following on your blog

One of the best ways to build an audience for your book or books is build a following on a blog. Yet when I speak to many authors about creating a blog, they are often hesitant because of the amount of writing and work they believe is involved. While it does take some work to have a blog, there are some things you can do to make the whole process easier and enjoyable. Remember, the reason for having a blog is to build an audience for the topic you are passionate about and while you can write about it your self, there are other things you can do to gather content around the topic that will be relevant to your audience. Here are some ways to do that you may find helpful.

  1. Write a series and make a number of different posts over time. Once you find a topic that your audience is interested in, you should consider writing multiple posts about the topic. In other words, you can write the text at one time but post it in sections over time. It is a great way to get people to keep coming back for more. One example on my blog is the series I have been doing on Ten mistakes a reader will never miss. This blog series has ten parts and focuses on common errors writers make, but editors will catch
  2. Find other blogs that are similar and re-post the content. You need permission to do this and you want to give the original source credit, but you can often find kindred spirits and relevant content on blogs like yours. For example, I was recently interviewed for the Pubslush blog and re-posted their interview on my blog. By re-posting and linking back, I also helped expose my blog to their audience and vice versa.
  3. Comment on recent news releases. If you set your Google alerts for the right words, you will see when relevant news is released on the topics of interest to you. Again, cite the source, but you can re-post the release and add your comments to it. For my blog, I get any release with the words, “indie publishing” or similar phrases.
  4. Do an interview with someone who can provide expertise on a topic of interest. This is a great way to source expert content and add to your following. Recently, I had a question from an author in a comment on how to find a good editor. Rather than answer it myself, I asked Alan Rinzler for his opinion. Alan is one of the most respected consulting editors in the business. His answers were insightful and helpful

I am sure you may have other ideas on how to source good content for a blog. Feel free to share those in the comments section. I will make sure you get the appropriate credit for your suggestions. We can all learn from each other. .