Monthly Archives: September 2013

As part of my Assisted Self-Publishing services, I offer a round of comprehensive editing. This editing covers grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Here’s a quick grammar tip for your Saturday!

Saturday Editing Tip: Catching the “little” things

I’m in the middle of an edit on my next book. The working title is “A Beginner’s Guide to Tent Camping”. This edit is still for major issues like adding in a whole section and clarifying paragraphs. But as I do this, I’m also looking for the “little” things that can mean the difference between a professional manuscript and looking like an amateur.

See if you can spot the problems:

  • Most public campgrounds in have paths between sites to the bathrooms, trash, etc.
  • When the sun begins to sweat you’ll get a chill.
  • Fist Aid Kit
  • I recommend packing in a duffle big.
  • And never underestimate the importance of a pair of slip of shoes.

None of the sentences (or chapter headings) above have any grammatical error that will be caught by a spelling or grammar checker. It’s up to a real editor who carefully reads each sentence to find them.

So how do you spot things like this in your own writing?

  1. Read the manuscript backwards. I start with the last sentence (reading it from start to finish). And then the second to last sentence; the third to last sentence, etc. By reading the manuscript this way, I’m able to focus on one sentence at a time and my brain isn’t “assuming” it knows what will come next.
  2. I print out the entire manuscript, grab my tea and red pen and go to town. Looking at the project in a different format really causes errors to jump out at me.
  3. Read it aloud. It’s not a quick (or even entertaining) process, but hearing it can help me identify mistakes and sentences that don’t flow.

After your manuscript meets your personal editing standards, be sure to pass it along to a copy editor to go over it again. No matter how good you are at self-editing, a copy editor will find mistakes.

As part of my Assisted Self-Publishing services, I offer a round of comprehensive editing. This editing covers grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Here’s a quick grammar tip for your Saturday!

 

Affect vs. Effect

I’m sure that every English teacher everywhere has a catchy way of remembering the difference between affect & effect. But, when I was in school, it wasn’t considered “in vogue” to diagram sentences, focus on parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, etc), and spend much time on those little nuances of grammar that I’ll use my whole life long. Like the difference between affect and effect.

It doesn’t help that the affect/effect pairing not only sound similar but don’t have meanings that are wildly dissimilar. I mean, couldn’t it  be like pear and pair? Same sound, nearly same spelling, but one’s a food!

BTW My mom taught me a trick to remember the difference. I was a third-grader and I had a bunny. Mrs. No-Name (Rabbit) liked to eat pears. She had EARS. The one she ate had EARS in it like a bunny! Whew!

The Grammar Girl website has a great tutorial on the difference between affect and effect. Go check it out.

But when I’m editing someone’s writing, sometimes I have to guess about what they’re trying to say. I wasn’t there for the thought process and I don’t want to fire off a list of questions about what they were thinking in that particular sentence and do they mean X or do they really mean Y?!

What I do is just re-read the sentence subbing in a synonym for effect or affect. Without fail, the sentence with the wrong affect/effect choice will JUMP out.

Effect Synonyms:

  • result
  • consequence
  • outcome

Affect Synonyms:

  • influence
  • impact

 

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In my “Publish Your eBook Blueprint: Home Study” course, I really get on a soap box about using the preview functions every time you publish an eBook.

You wouldn’t publish a book, or even an article, without proofreading it for grammar and spelling errors, right? The preview functions work the same way.

Now, here’s where I differ from just about every other how-to teacher out there. I tell my students they need to check every single link in their (clickable) Table of Contents. Don’t do the first few links, assume that since they work, all the links will work. But I take my instructions on previewing one step further:

Look at every single page.

Yep, every single page. Is that a huge PITA (pain in the a$$) for large manuscripts? Yep! Do I care? Nope!

Here’s why I teach this, and why I do it for every book I write or publish, because I always catch errors in the previewer that I’ve missed in every other version of the book. Occasionally, those errors are typographical, but more often than not, they have to do with formatting. In the previewer, “little” formatting errors like commas not attached to a word will stick out. Like this , comma that isn’t touching the s in this. I’m purposely hiding this typo in the middle of a paragraph. Maybe it’ll catch your eye and maybe it won’t. Stuff like this drives me crazy! Especially in a published eBook.

Will you catch every single formatting problem? Nope. One of my books, “Easy Camping Recipes from The Outdoor Princess: 33 Simple Camping Recipes” was first published with a formatting error. And a reviewer was “kind” enough to bring it to my attention:

Kim has done a decent job with the text layout and has thoughtfully included an interactive Table of Contents, though the interface does need some work and the Table of Contents includes a link to a blank page titled “Return to Table of Contents” and another called “Open Carefully and Enjoy”. (You can access is just fine from the TOC button, but the back arrow will take you to a page with a non-working link that says “back to the Table of Contents.) Kim might want to take a second look at that and issue an update.

Imagine my panic and embarrassment when I saw that review! I pulled open the eBook on my Kindle and the reviewer was correct. I fixed the problem and uploaded the changed file. Whew! Crisis averted. I then went back and triple checked all my other titles.

Lesson learned. While this was embarrassing, it wasn’t the end of the world. The entire book was still readable and usable. Why do I bring this up? Because a fellow independently self-published author shared a similar story but with more unpleasant results.

She published her book, set a free download day with Amazon.com, and paid for some advertising. She had an unheard of 22,000 downloads and hit the bestsellers list “free” in several categories. Then negative reviews started pouring in:

Due to a formatting issue, the book was unreadable: a margin had been set incorrectly and all the sentences were cut off. This began a third of the way through the book; beyond where she double checked using the previewer.

I really can’t imagine the stress of trying to deal with this! Fixing the formatting, begging Amazon to contact the people who downloaded the book to issue a corrected file, seeing one-star reviews, and having wasted advertising money. It gives me a stomach ache just thinking about it!

Moral of the story:

Preview each and every page on the previewer! For every eBook format you publish. Every time.

I received an email from a client last week asking my opinion on adding additional content into her book project. Her manuscript is nearly done and she wanted my advice on adding in some additional chapters with resources, tips, and a “plan” to follow.

I suggested against it.

Oh! Did I surprise you? Let me explain:

In the industry where she works (health coaching) it is a very common practice to add several bonuses to the main offer. The thought is that you’ll come for the meat of the topic (main offering) but stay for the potatoes, salad and dessert (bonuses).

However, in the book publishing world, this approach often backfires. Your reader purchased your book for a very specific reason; they were looking for a very specific solution. Offering them more than what they came for usually doesn’t scream “BONUS INFO! This author really knows her stuff!” It says: “This author couldn’t figure out how to stay on topic!”

I’ve seen it in a lot of independently self-published titles, both in fiction and non-fiction. Here are some examples:

 

Fiction Example:

I buy a Kindle version of a novel. Upon “finishing” the book, the progress bar that tells me how much of the book you have left to read is saying 20%. That last 20% of the book are excerpts from the author’s other novels.

Now, at first glance, that seems like good marketing, right? I just finished this novel, presumably liked it since I got to the end, and I get a taste of more stories. But think about the math: I paid $4.00 for the book. But 20% of the “book” wasn’t a book. It was just advertisements placed there by the author.

I really spent $3.00 for the book and gave the author $1.00 for the PRIVILEGE of selling to me. I think I might be a bit annoyed.

 

Non-Fiction Example:

I purchase a book on how to use a trade show event to attract new clients to my business. I’m expecting a book that will have tips, tricks, techniques, sales tools, etc all revolving around a trade show.

I get one chapter about finding the right trade show, one chapter about setting up the booth, one (short) chapter about a free giveaway to build my newsletter list. Then, I get six chapters about how to email that list, how often, what to say, etc and a call to action to buy the author’s email newsletter building program.

Again, it seems like good marketing, right? I’m learning how the author is an expert in list building.

Here’s the rub, I really spent my $6.00 on a book about TRADE SHOWS! I got three chapters about trade shows and six about email newsletter lists. I’m feeling flat-out ripped off!

So how can you fix this problem?

1. Deliver what you’ve promised
If I’m expecting a novel, give me a story. If I want a non-fiction book, especially a how-to, solve that problem for me.

2. Offer related “bonuses”
My recipe books offer 33 recipes and four tips on camp cooking, each under a page long. It works out to approximately 36 pages of recipe content to 4 pages of “bonus”. Or, another way of looking at it is 90% content they paid for (recipes) and 10% bonus (tips).

3. Point them at a second book!
Break your content into targeted chunks. Then make each chunk its own book. At the end of each book, give links to the others.

We’ve been trained that offering bonuses is the key to getting more sales. But in books, the price point of purchase is so low that only the most targeted of bonuses really impact sales.

Coming back to my client; she decided to keep her initial book with a highly targeted focus. We’re moving all the “bonus” material into a companion book project that will dovetail into her existing marketing.

I’m jazzed to tell you I’ve been published as a Featured Expert for the launch of a brand new online publication: Happier Healthier Women.

090513-HHW-Article

My article titled “Dreams in the Drawer: The Story of Pastarelli Got Out” is featured under the Personal Growth category, along with eight other experts in their respective fields covering the following topics:

  • Money Matters
  • Mind-Body-Spirit
  • Parenting
  • Nutrition
  • Relationships

I invite you to subscribe today to this free online magazine by visiting www.HappierHealthierWomen.com, read my article (it starts on page 20) and let me know your thoughts!

Subscription is free and this is a monthly, full-color, downloadable magazine. The editor, Angie, does an absolutely bang-up beautiful job!

You can read an excerpt at http://happierhealthierwomen.com/dreams-in-the-drawer-how-the-story-of-pastarelli-got-out/ and you can also subscribe from that same page!

I’m truly excited to be a part of this publication and having my passion spread worldwide!