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December 2013

Editor’s name appears in two new books

In addition Andrashie What Say You to writing books, I’m now featured in them! Wisconsin novelist Ann M. Andrashe’s new book “What Say You?” is a collection of quotations from other writers, and includes a quote from yours truly. Last year, Andrashie published the book, “Dog Island,” which is largely set in the Bayfield area. I’m also “mentioned” in Thonas Rand’s zombie apocalypse novel “The Fall of Society”, appearing on the roster of mentally ill patients in an asylum; among the other inmates are Sarah Connor. It’s a little in-joke (Though I’m certain a few exes might think it highly appropriate.), as I was editor for Rand’s book.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Daytona Beach, Florida, or a small town like Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, I can provide that second eye.



How to drive traffic to your book's website

While creating 14068313_10153611639040216_7400408382353237155_na website is an excellent idea, it won’t help you much if you no one sees it. That means you’ll need to promote it, which we’ll cover in upcoming entries. But even when not promoting your website, there are ways to drive visitors (aka as “traffic”) to it.

To get visitors to your website, you want it to have a high “page rank.” When anyone enters words into a search engine, a list of potential websites that might meet their needs pops up. If your website is among the first 10 listed, you’ve got an incredibly high page rank. If your site doesn’t show up until the 20th page of listings, you’ve got a really low page rank. You objective is to ensure your website gets closer to the first 10 listed than to the 200th entry. Doing so greatly increases the odds that someone conducting an Internet search will then go to your website (as opposed to someone else’s site, as they also may be selling a book with the same topic or in the same genre as you).

One of the quickest ways to improve in page rankings is to get links to your website. There are a variety of ways to do that, but they’ll require a concerted effort on your part. You should be able to links to your site through:
Other bloggers – Offer to swap links with other bloggers. If you wrote a book about beer, a link to your blog would be great on a beer lover’s blog (and vice versa!).
Press release distribution sites – Send a press release to distribution sites that will post it (and probably a link to your website) online. You press release probably won’t result in media attention simply because it’s been posted, but you’re really only interested in the link.
Social review sites – These websites post visitor-written reviews of businesses, products and public facilities. There are a number of book-related social review sites where you can set up a page about your tome and yourself.
Directory sites – Some sites list links to various businesses. If you do consulting related to your book, get your name with a link to your website posted on them.
Event listings – Should you have a book signing/reading or other appearance, post it on various event listings for the community where your appearance is planned. Include a link to your website.
Answer board sites – You’re an expert on the topic you wrote about (or if a novelist, you’re now an expert on writing), so share your expertise and experiences on answer boards related to your subject area. As part of your signature, include a link to your website.
Video listings – The biggest driver to most websites are videos posted on YouTube. Create some videos in which you tell about your book or discuss the subject that you just wrote about. Clicking on the video sends people to your website where there’s a video feed.

In addition to creating links all over the web, submit your site to as many search engines as you can. This will ensure that the various search engines out there actually know about and list your website. For the larger search engine houses, such as Google, you probably won’t have to do anything as your site automatically will be listed within days of going live.

Another way of driving traffic to your website is through Search Engine Optimization, which we’ll discuss in an upcoming entry.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Toledo, Ohio, or a small town like Gnaw Bone, Indiana, I can provide that second eye.



Download editor’s self-publishing book free

You can Self-pub_front_cover_borderdownload my 7 Minutes a Day to a Self-Published Book for FREE from Friday, Nov. 29 through Sunday, Dec. 1, on your Amazon Kindle. Whether writing a novel or nonfiction, whether planning to print a paperback or an ebook, this book guides you through the self-publishing process, from the title page to the index, from designing a cover to formatting your text. The title is the second in a four-book series about writing; the other three address writing a fiction bestseller, promoting your book, and mastering the craft of fiction writing.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Ogden, Utah, or a small town like Rake, Iowa, I can provide that second eye.


How to format line spacing for an ebook

One of the 240_F_58265486_JIq7GfzZwfGGXyKsOieM42wXArARQvia (1)common problems indie authors run into when formatting their ebook text is line spacing. This is the amount of space between lines and paragraphs.

Fortunately, adjusting the spacing between lines is easy enough in a word processing program; simply go to the line and paragraph spacing menu and adjust. Usually 1 or 1.15 is good enough; any more, and the lines will be difficult to read.

A bit more confusing to resolve is the spacing between paragraphs. Many writers like to automate the paragraph spacing so that an empty line automatically appears once the Enter key is hit. While this saves on key strokes up front, it becomes problematic later when formatting. In truth, the “add space after paragraph” function actually creates more keystrokes. It’s best to single space the text and if formatting a paper version first, use the tab key to create an indent.

Of course, this in turn creates issues when you want to convert the paperback into an ebook. Most ebooks don’t use indents but instead place a blank line between the paragraphs. This is the standard style used at Smashwords.

Converting your paperback to ebook is simple enough, though, and can be done in just a few keystrokes. To begin, you’ll need to eliminate the tabs. In Microsoft Word, you can do that by:
Clicking on the arrow in the lower right corner of the Paragraph portion of the Command Ribbon at the top the screen.
A pop-up window will appear; in the lower left-hand corner, hit the Tabs button.
A new pop-up window will appear; in the lower right-hand corner, hit the Clear All button than the OK button.
All the indents used to mark the beginning of a paragraph will have disappeared.

Adding the extra line between paragraphs also is easy. In Microsoft Word, look at the Editing menu in the Command Ribbon, then:
Click Replace.
A pop-up window will appear. In the Find What box, type ^p (which represents a paragraph mark). You can find that by clicking the More>> button in the lower left corner then clicking on the Special button; on the drop-down menu that appears, hit “paragraph mark”.
Do the same for the Replace With box, however place two paragraph marks in it so that you have ^p^p.
Click “Replace All”
You now have an extra space between each paragraph, and the text of your paperback is formatted for an ebook.

There are a couple of items to keep in mind when making these conversions. First, don’t use a capital letter for your paragraph mark; ^P doesn’t work. Secondly, you still need to make a visual run-through of your text. Sometimes a new paragraph wasn’t started by hitting the Enter key, and in such cases paragraphs don’t enjoy a line space between them.

If formatting an ebook first rather than converting a paperback, follow these basic rules:
Use single space with the “Add Space After Paragraph” and “Add Space Before Paragraph” (or their equivalents in word processing programs) turned off.
Don’t use tabs or extra spacing to indent the beginning of a paragraph.
Hit Enter twice at the end of each paragraph.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Lakeland, Florida, or a small town like Hygiene, Colorado, I can provide that second eye.


Which to choose? Pickup vs. pick-up vs. pick up

How the Kids-1830603_1920word is spelled depends on which part of speech it is (See, you should have paid attention in junior high English class after all!).

“Pickup” is used when you have a noun or are referring to a thing, as in “Jacob drive his pickup to the prom” or “Sophia found that drinking a can of soda gave her a real pickup.”

“Pick-up” is an adjective that describes something, as in “Mason’s pick-up line surprisingly worked.” In this case, “pick-up” describes what kind of line it is.

“Pick up” is a verb, which shows that someone is “doing something,” as in “Pick up some milk on your way home tonight!”

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Madison, Wisconsin, or a small town like Possum Grape, Arkansas, I can provide that second eye.



Work off the fat from overwritten descriptions

Fabio’s robust, 13241251_10153417704530216_263949061882870661_n bulging arms swathed themselves in a bronze casing about Shannon’s flawless, wilting body. Her velvety, wine-colored lips arched toward his as her sparkling sapphire eyes gazed into his brilliant, glowing emerald pupils and she in turn sheathed his body with her elongated, graceful, snow white arms. They were one at last.

Wasn’t that pretty?

Maybe, if you like pigs with lipstick. It’s a good example of fat writing.

Fat writing, a term coined by CSFW’s Sarah Smith, is “unnecessary and grandiose verbiage.” You may have heard writing instructors refer to it as “verdant greenery” or “purple prose.”

You want to trim the fat off your writing. If you stuff it with grandiosities, you’re just showing off, or demonstrating your writing skills not to advance the story but merely to prove you’ve got a way with words. Okay, so maybe you’re good at creating a clever image with consonance and alliteration, but what is the point of that image if it doesn’t advance the story? It’s just fat on your piece…and while your story can be lean, muscled or curvy, you don’t want flab hanging from it.

Fixing it is easy: Simplify your sentences and say exactly what you mean. For example, the first paragraph could be rewritten as: Fabio and Shannon embraced and gazed into one another’s eyes. They were one at last. Notice how all of the extra adverbs and adjective were deleted.

Giving your writing a good liposuction doesn’t mean it can’t be evocative or sensual. Quite the contrary. It will be more so after you’ve toned and shaped your sentences.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Springfield, Massachusetts, or a small town like Burnt Corn, Alabama, I can provide that second eye.



Fourth writing guidebook hits store shelves

The fourth Craft front coverbook in my “7 Minutes a Day…” writing guidebook series went on sale today. 7 Minutes a Day to Mastering the Craft of Writing is a practical, how-to guide that takes readers step-by-step through improving their story and fiction writing skills. The book addresses topics such as establishing your own unique voice as a writer, diction, narrative drive, and description, offering more than 150 tips. It is available in both paperback and on Kindle.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Wichita, Kansas, or a small town like Bird In Hand, Pennsylvania, I can provide that second eye.



Five Great Quotations about Characters

“It begins 240_F_54492087_uBY9833KpVXnE9V7RNi0NlOo7eRK5ILp with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.” – William Faulkner

“My characters are fictional. I get ideas from real people, sometimes, but my characters always exist only in my head.” – S. E. Hinton

“…the thing about great fictional characters from literature, and the reason that they're constantly turned into characters in movies, is that they completely speak to what makes people human.” –Keira Knightley

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” – Ernest Hemingway

“In writing a series of stories about the same characters, plan the whole series in advance in some detail, to avoid contradictions and inconsistencies.” – L. Sprague de Camp

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Boise, Idaho, or a small town like Cut n' Shoot, Texas, I can provide that second eye.


Make science fiction ‘others’ relevant to readers

No matter 440148131_943cdc5a4ehow different science fiction characters are from humans – whether they be extraterrestrials, artificial intelligences, or a far future species evolved from Homo sapiens – they must be relevant to readers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that readers identify with those characters, only that those characters “say” something about humanity that the reader then finds relevant.

To achieve that, ask if these non-human “others” in your story serve any of these purposes:
Metaphors or stand-ins for human characteristics – For example, Mr. Spock with his logic stands for the human philosophy of rationality and logic. HAL 9000 represents how the inability to distinguish between two contradictions can lead to paranoia. The metaphor/stand-on approach is especially useful for writers wishing to criticize a specific human characteristic.
Mirrors/counterpoints for humans – In “Star Trek,” the Vulcans’ suppression of emotions is a counterpoint to humans’ expression of them. An alien species that develops space travel might consider those races lacking it (such as humans) to be less evolved, just as we might consider technology-vacant Homo erectus to be less evolved than us.
Shed light on the human condition through their interactions – Data of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” does this by questioning his crewmates about what being human means. Such interactions need not be between the non-human and a human but can be between two of the non-humans; as we learn about them, readers then learn something about themselves.

Arguably, as a human writer, all of your non-human characters can’t help but possess some characteristics of humanity because that’s your only frame of reference to work from. Whether or not that be the case, what matters most to a reader is how relevant you make such characters (Whether or not the nonhuman character has a scientifically plausible basis for existing is important, too, but a topic for a different discussion!).

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Syracuse, New York, or a small town like Hicks, Alabama, I can provide that second eye.


Stand out on Twitter: Tweet a photo instead

Among Twitter-793050_640the most common concerns I hear from authors is how Twitter has proven to be a fruitless effort in promoting and selling their books. Their tweets are lost in the crowd of thousands of others, authors say, and they get the feeling that their posts are ignored. After all, as one admitted, “I’m deluged all day with tweets and ignore almost all of them myself!”

At the same time, so many people read tweets that not utilizing the service would be a missed opportunity to connect with potential readers, they add (and if they don’t, as I always remind them). So the challenge is how to make your tweets stand out.

Major magazines, such as the Atlantic Monthly, may have just answered that question. They’ve recently started posting photos with their tweets. Many of them have reported increased retweets and more hits on the article that the tweeted photo links to compared to tweets when no photo is used.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be one of the big guys to tweet a photo. It’s relatively easy and inexpensive to do.

To get started, you’ll need a third-party provider of a photo-posting service. I went with twitpic, which is free and allows you to sign into your account with Twitter, entirely automating the set-up process.

When posting, simply pull the photo used on the page you’re linking to. Then write your tweet and paste the URL into the caption box. Hit “upload” and when that is completed, the tweet is posted.

One problem, though, is twitpic doesn’t shorten the URL of the page you’re linking to, which means you may go over the 140 characters that Twitter allows. A workaround is to enter what you would post on your Twitter site and then cut and paste that into the twitpic caption box.

The tweet via twitpic can be connected to your Facebook page so that it posts there as well, so long as you have a mobile app.

You also can embed a twitpic widget on your blog or website. The widget runs the list of your most current tweets.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Colorado Springs, Colorado, or a small town like Big Chimney, West Virginia, I can provide that second eye.