Self-publishing

How to Be a Better Writer #5: Master Your Phrases

More recently than I'd like to admit, I'd hear "The Joker" by The Steve Miller Band and sing along at the top of my lungs: "Some people call me Maurice (woo woo!) / 'cause I speak to the prophetess of love." That is, until a friend gently pointed out that the line is "'cause I speak of the pompitous of love." Whatever that means... Belt out whatever lyrics you want on karaoke night, but when it comes to your writing, you've gotta get your phrases right. Today, I'm sharing 15 of the top misconstrued phrases, plus the correct ones you should slate in their place. 1) Instead of: Flush outIt's actually: Flesh outTrick: Think of giving an idea more body, fattening it up, making it fleshier. 2) Instead of: Hone inIt's actually: Home inTrick: Picture a homing pigeon returning to its place of origin -- getting to the point. This one's contentious, actually, but linguists generally agree that "home in" came first. If you can't stand that idea, try using another phrase altogether: "zero in." 3) Instead of: For all intensive purposesIt's actually: For all intents and purposesTrick: Just remember you're including all your reasons -- intents and purposes. 4)…

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How to Be a Better Writer #4: Revise!

                                            Good on you! You've published your novel and it's on digital bookshelves everywhere. Then you get a note from your outspoken cousin Tom. He loves the book...but he found a typo in chapter two. Ugh! Back when all books were ink on paper, you would've been out of luck. Thank goodness it's the Digital Age. Fixing errors is no big deal -- at least in your e-edition. Notice how I said "errors" there? It's entirely possible that Cousin Tom's discovery is the only typo you and your editor didn't catch, but just in case there are others, save your future self some work and proof your published book once more, noting necessary updates as you go. That way, you'll need just one revision. The process takes a little time, and you want your readers (current and future ones alike) to have that flawless copy ASAP. Both Kindle Direct Publishing [link: http://kdp.amazon.com/] and NOOK Press [link: http://www.nookpress.com/] give you the option to make corrections to a published manuscript. Not surprisingly, their services are a little bit different. Here's how each one works. Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)Updating your Kindle ebook is pretty darn simple. You fix…

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How To Use Real People in Your Writing (Or as Truman Capote said “

Scarlett Johansson won a defamation suit against a French writer for creating a promiscuous character who happened to look like the movie star. A Georgia jury awarded $100,000 to a woman who claimed a character in The Red Hat Club falsely portrayed her as an "alcoholic S***." Writers face three big risks when using real people in their writing: defamation, invasion of privacy, and misappropriation of the right of publicity. Yet every fiction writer bases characters on real people. Memoirists and nonfiction writers identify people by name. How can writers use real people in their work without risking a lawsuit? It's not that hard. Common sense and a cool head are key. First, let's start with a quick summary of United States law. (The laws of other countries are more favorable to the targets. In today's Internet environment, you could get sued in France for a blog written in California.) DefamationTo prove defamation, whether libel for written statements or slander for spoken ones, a plaintiff (target) must prove all of the following: False Statement of Fact.   If a statement is true, then it is not defamatory no matter how offensive or embarrassing. Opinions are also protected because they are…

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Is Reciprocal Reviewing OK?

In our July Newsletter we encouraged our B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree authors to support, read and review each other's books. We were by no means encouraging our authors to collude to do something improper. One of our Honoree authors Jane Steen brought to our attention that she felt we were sending the wrong message, which was clearly not our intent.  However, we thought you might like to read her blog - Keep Going You Fool!She has given us permission to share it with you. I hope you will take the time to read it: Reciprocal reviewing is not OK, authors. Here's why. The above is an invitation from a self-published author on Goodreads. Nice of him, huh? I've received many such invitations from this guy, whom I'm not going to finger specifically because he's not the only author who uses back-scratching to make his book more visible, not by a long chalk. If you're thinking that maybe he's just being nice to other people, here's one of his latest asks: He sends these invitations to over 7,000 people, and I still get them even though I've unfriended AND blocked him. Is this kind of thing wrong? I say yes. OK, he's not…

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How to Be a Better Writer #3: Get an Editor

Yup, it's true that your writing will improve if you proofread it, but guess what: You can take it leaps further. When I was interviewing renowned indie author Helen Hollick for last month's Post she had nothing but praise for her editor, and with good reason. A fresh set of eyes makes a world of difference. "A good editor is a must for indie writers—not only to ensure the final proof has as few typo errors as possible, and for the obvious grammar, punctuation and spelling bloopers, but also to assist with the writing process as an overall experience," Helen says.Editors vary greatly when it comes to their services, editing styles, pricing structures and so on. I got in touch with editor Dulcie Shoener, so we could offer a big-picture look at what you can expect from the experience. Why consider professional editing?Simply enough, hiring a pro has major benefits. First, editing is his or her job. He or she knows how to hone your language, plot flow, character development and all the other components that will keep readers engaged from the very first page. "Every sentence should be a good sentence," says Dulcie, who's been editing newspapers, magazines and books for…

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IS QUALITY IN THE EYE OF THE READER?

We are all familiar with the expression, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." It is generally interpreted to mean that different people have different ideas about what is beautiful. And as a dog lover, I must admit there are some AKC breeds only an owner can love. (To avoid upsetting anyone I hereby plead the 5th with regard to which breeds – and, of course, my purebred Alaskan Malamute really IS beautiful!). Having said that, I suspect that many of the general public who visit our website and view our list of B.R.A.G. Medallion honorees may wonder how these books can be fairly judged when, by its very nature, such judgment is qualitative rather than quantitative. Well, let me say right up front that we make no pretense that editors at the top traditional publishing houses, or professors at the leading schools of journalism, such as Northwestern's (I picked that one because my eldest daughter has her Master's from Medill), would give our honorees their stamp of approval. But I respectfully submit that those same editors and professors are NOT the people who buy fiction books or read them. Our readers ARE those people. Not professional editors. Not…

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Supporting Each Other!

These are great ideas to consider- 1. Buy a self-published book 2. Leave an honest review. (In fact, leave a review on more than one site!) 3. Thank the author publicly on social media. 4. Recommend the book to someone else. 5. Follow them on social media. 6. Engage with them on social media. 7. Ignore critics of the self-publishing industry. 8. Write your own good book. 9. Serve as a beta reader or reviewer for a book. 10. Write a blog post about the book. 11. Enter an author's contest or giveaway. 12. Become a book blogger or reviewer. 13. Interview an author. 14. Refer any potentially good reviewers to an author. 15. Don't obtain an illegal copy of the book. 16. Mention a book in a group or forum. 17. Buy a second copy of the print version for a friend or for your local library. 18. Download a copy from Amazon's Lending Library. 19. Invite an author to speak at a local event. 20. Purchase a copy of the book for a school or organization. 21. Nominate a book for a contest. 22. Suggest a book to an editor of a magazine or newspaper. 23. Offer your…

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Searching for the Golden Hinde by David Wesley Hill

                                                                  "The Golden Hinde off New Albion"by Simon Kozhin, oil on canvas, 2007. Little is known about the Golden Hinde even though she is one of the most famous sailing vessels in maritime history. No one can say for sure if she was built in England or if she was a prize of war. Originally christened the Pelican, she was the flagship of the small fleet in which Francis Drake and 164 men, gentlemen, and sailors embarked from Plymouth, England in 1577 on the three-year adventure that would become the second successful circumnavigation of the world—and one of the most profitable pirate voyages of all time. Drake changed the name of the Pelican to the Golden Hinde just before the fleet entered the Straits of Magellan in late August, 1578. He did so "in remembrance of his honorable friend and favourer," Sir Christopher Hatton, a major backer of the expedition and an intimate of the queen, since Hatton's family crest was a "hind trippant or." Drake felt the need to flatter Hatton because he feared the lord—one of his employers—would be displeased with him upon learning that Drake had executed Thomas Doughty in July for reasons that are…

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Editing by Ellie

How to Be a Better Writer #1: Don't Count on Spell-Check Greetings, authors! I'm Ellie, an editor by day and a voracious reader by night, and I'm thrilled to be a new member of the indieBRAG blog team. Each month, I'll be sharing tricks and tweaks you can use to shine up your writing. I've been reading books for indieBRAG for quite awhile and have discovered so many talented authors this way. But sometimes it's hard to ignore my inner writer-editor so I can relax, have fun and just read (I'm sure you can agree!). Sure, it's annoying, but that little voice has led me to some helpful insights into how we can all improve already good writing. One biggie has to do with spelling. Not the basics; more like spelling 2.0. Poll your Facebook buddies about their biggest writing pet peeves, and you'll see a lot of gripes about there/there/they're or to/too/two. Makes perfect sense. Homonyms -- sound-alike words that mean different things -- are tricky stuff. Even so, readers tend to notice when they're misused. Your book could have a fantastic storyline that uses an impressively diverse vocabulary, but if you flub on words like the ones above,…

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