17 December 2013
Following my earlier post of the book Christmas tree, Linda Lee directed me to the ones she's found online, which you can see below.
Have you found any others, and what are your favourites?
9 December 2013
But I never have been.
Not that I don't understand the appeal or the benefit - in 2011 I spent 6 months in America with my then-girlfriend (then fiance, then wife), and our shared appreciation of books meant we spent a fair amount of time in Barnes & Noble. Buying books. I purchased a few hardbacks and some paperbacks, all of which were quickly enjoyed. Then came the day of packing to board the plane and suddenly those hardbacks didn't seem like such a wise investment - they took up considerable space, but also, worse, valuable weight. Adopting the "We never leave a man behind" military approach I got each book home safely, tucked away into their appropriate places in the bookcase.
Shortly after, I bought my wife a Kindle, as she decided she wanted one. I saw the benefit - especially after that flight - but I wasn't ready to part with real books. I'm still not. Given the choice, I will buy a CD over a digital song purely for the fact that I enjoy the aesthetics and the effort that went into the liner notes and images. Music and books still represent art to me, total products, and increasingly the digital world seemed to be devaluing them to me, reducing the total products to commodities.
Romantic ideals aside, I wasn't ready for a Kindle for other reasons - I like scanning my bookshelf and having a title jump out at me, I enjoy flicking through a book, I like the smell and texture. I like books. The digital copies don't accommodate those facets, and I haven't been ready to sacrifice them for portability and convenience.
I could buy real ones and digital onesI could, but I wouldn't (I am, however, more open to that now). What I never understood is why there wasn't the same solution for books there is for music and film - buy the physical thing and get the option to have the digital files too. Amazon couldn't do it because of the rights, and it seems publishers were too stubborn and felt it would undermine their business model - which has been eroding beneath them anyway. I'm a strong believer that if a consumer buys a product, they should be able to consume it in the way they desire, and not need to buy it multiple times. I was ecstatic when I bought a DVD one day and found a sticker explaining I could watch it on my electronic devices too, just like we've been enjoying with CDs for years
Welcome Amazon MatchbookFinally, the publishing world has caught up. I read this wonderful news last week, and if you haven't yet heard of it, the gist of it is this: Matchbook will let you get digital copies of books you already own for up to $3 (and as little as nothing). It's not quite as good as the way it works with music and films, but it's a leap in the right direction. There's now a solution for people like me - buy the physical book, and enjoy the digital version for convenience (or, if you're very particular, read the digital one and keep the physical one in pristine condition. Maybe one day books will be so rare they'll be hugely expensive collectibles).
The bad news is that this is only in America for now, and most books aren't on it. But given that Amazon is behind it, it shouldn't be long before both of those things change. As soon as it hits the UK, my publishing company will be placing our books to Matchbook, so our customers can enjoy the books in both formats without having to pay out for both.
This new development is great for the consumer, and also great for the industry. With any luck it will end the arguments of whether or not 'real' books will die to digital books, and we can get down to what really matters: enjoying the output of the hard-working authors in whatever format we choose. It could also prove to be a big boost to the publishing industry - an indication that it will stop seeing digital books as the enemy and embrace them as a way to sell more copies, reach a wider audience, and increase its bottom line.
As I see it, writers, readers and publishers have a shared interest of appreciating literature, and Matchbook makes it easier for all three to come closer together.
5 December 2013
Much more often -- every couple of weeks at least -- I get the same basic thing but in email form:Subject Line: AUTHOR REFERRAL!
Hi Agent, I'm Random McNoname, and I'm writing to reffer [sic] my client Author Sapsucker to you. Sapsucker has a pHd in Neurocathology [sic] and 78 followers on twitter so he's the real deal. The manuscript is attached, I look forward to hearing from you by next week.
If you're not quite following, this is the gist: Jennifer is an agent. Authors need agents to send their manuscripts to publishing companies that won't deal with unsolicited submissions. Agents are easy to get hold of - they have to be, because their livelihood depends entirely on having authors to represent. Somewhere along the line,
Jennifer further explains:
These are what I call "agent-agents" or third-party queriers. They convince authors that their "services" are necessary to query (aka spam) literary agents*. Authors who are totally new and/or desperate will take the bait and pay, in the hopes that it will give them a leg up on the competition.
Remember, budding authors, agents represent authors. By virtue of that fact, they need to hear from you, get to know you, and communicate with you and you alone. Querying is a step that authors need to take for themselves, and authors are already being represented - by their books.
Querying can be time consuming and tedious, but it isn't hard. It's made much easier by agents, because they post visibly on their websites how to approach them and clear instructions on what to include with a query. Paying someone else to do that for you isn't just expensive, it's alienating.
29 November 2013
27 November 2013
Before going any further, I'll admit that I didn't get around to writing a book with Dragon. I didn't even write a letter with it. I learned shortly after installing it that I think and write much faster through my hands than my mouth - meaning dictation software just slows me down. Colour me crazy if necessary, but the words flow much easier when I'm not thinking about them, and verbalising everything required definite thinking.
That being said, I understand that there are people out there who would prefer to use a dictation program to get their words done - and if I ever break my hands or find my hands too cold to type, I'll be doing the same.
So, if you're wondering if Dragon is worth the money, and you're sure you'll use it, I can confidently say it is worth the money, in the sense that it is excellent at what it does. It has a superb training section where it gets to learn your voice and how you pronounce certain words, minimising the chances of typos. It also can control your entire computer, from opening programs to shutting down, with Dragon, you won't need to touch your keyboard again (so extreme germophobes may also be interested in a copy).
Dragon also has mobile apps, so you can record your thoughts on the go and then sync it with the computer version later. The usefulness of that is without question - if you get an idea as you're drifting off to sleep or while cooking dinner, you can get it noted without having to write or go to the computer.
Dragon also allows editing, so you can tell it where to place the cursor and then input new words, or delete as necessary.
Dragon's downside is the price: coming in at £149, it's on the steep side for casual users. If you're not interested in controlling your whole computer with your voice, it may be worth exploring other options.
If you're a Mac user, you can stop looking straight away. Mavericks, the latest system update, improves the native dictation ability tremendously. You can now create entire documents with your voice, using a hotkey command (by default you active Dictation by double tapping the Fn key, but this is configurable in System Preferences). The program understands commands like 'New paragraph' and gets to know your voice to improve accuracy. In my own testing of this, it works very well - certainly good enough to not require spending money on a different program.
The downside of course is there are no apps that sync to it from on the go, but that's not necessarily a problem - you can use Evernote to sync between mobile and desktop, or create notes using voice commands on your phone and copy them to the computer later.
Is Writing a Book This Way Possible?
21 November 2013
Earlier in my career I was quite surprised at the number of requests I had from people asking me how much it would cost to "edit my ebook", or who spoke about them as their own entity - "I want to write an ebook" for instance.
I've also experienced people asking whether they should write an ebook, and being baffled at the technological advances.
Actually, I think my confusion was comparable to that, and it was simply a case of "Why is there this extra, boundary-defined category?"
That's not to say ebooks shouldn't have a name, but rather let's not create confusion where it need not exist. Ebooks are documents, that's all there is to it. In the case of books, they're manuscripts just like any other book. The only difference is the final format, and saying "I want to write an ebook novel" is no different to saying "I want to write a hardback novel". In reality, you want to write a book, and publish it digitally. Isn't that clearer?
But What If It's Not a Novel?
Words are words, stories are stories, documents are documents. Don't get caught up in the technicalities or you'll get dragged down by the technicalities.
As I said to my clients at the time, "Editing an ebook will cost the same as editing any other format of book", and "Writing an ebook is no different to writing a 'regular' book, it's just available digitally".
What About Marketing?
14 November 2013
11 November 2013
What is a Content Mill?
How Cheap are Content Mills?
Cheap Content - Low Rankings
7 November 2013
It's been a long time since I discovered a writer as talented and engaging as Glen Duncan, not to mention criminally overlooked.
I won't give too much away, but if you've ever wondered what would happen should the devil get the chance to take on a human form and walk the streets of London, here's your chance. God gives Lucifer the opportunity to get back to heaven if he spends some time being good first.
A tremendous book that will frankly leave every writer lamenting their own skills in comparison to Duncan's. His religious knowledge (and unique insights) presents some intriguing and hilarious ideas to ponder, and between explaining that he invented rock n' roll and what a dullard Adam was, a sublime story is created - and in its wake leaves everyone else realising the total artistic freedom writing as the Tempter of Mankind affords the writer, and wishing they had done it first.
Get your copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/0743220137/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1383867868&sr=8-1&pi=SL75
25 July 2013
An example for punctuation around speech marks and brackets could be:
With with brackets/parentheses:
While an example for the use of apostrophes could be:
Because phonetically there is no difference, many writers assume no apostrophe is needed, yet that is a mistake just as it would be if it were missing from a name:
"Ross coat is upstairs" is wrong; rather, it should be: "Ross' coat is upstairs"
Although the rules themselves are actually simple, they can trip up even established writers because there is no way of knowing what to do based on how it sounds. So, to make it simple, apostrophes go after the existing 's' (Rolling Stones) if it's possessive. A good way to remember it is by imagining a name without an 's' at the end and determining if it would need one in this context. For example, "Coldplays new album" would obviously need to be "Coldplay's new album". Thus, if it's a noun with an 's' at the end, add an apostrophe afterwards - "The Rolling Stones' new album". Simple, right?
It's no more complicated with punctuation with quote marks. Simply put, if the quote actually included it, add it within the quote; if not, add it outside. For example, if you quote a person to the end of their sentence, the full stop goes inside:
17 April 2013
Society today largely revolves around children, and perhaps too much. In the entertainment world, children are restricted from certain themes or content, but whereas films have age restrictions and music has parental guidance stickers, books lack any external content information system. Yet are we protecting them too much anyway? An audience member commented that the idea of keeping children in a protected bubble is an adult construct with no grounds in reality - in other words, children are already exposed to 'adult' content far more than is often admitted. C J validated this with tales of her own experience - when researching her books, she spent a lot of time listening to teenagers in public, and said it was "an education". They are discussing themes and using language that many parents would like to think they are ignorant of. She also made the point that ratings are really for the parents rather than the child; they exist so the parent can be aware of what the child is consuming, but kids will read, watch and listen to things regardless - if their friends are doing it, they'll do it too, with or without an age restriction.
|C J Daugherty and Dinah Hall discussing a ratings system for teen fiction|
8 April 2013
22 March 2013
The following image should help clarify when to use a semicolon:
So, if a clause is dependent, meaning it could not be a complete sentence on its own, then a comma should be used. If a clause is independent, a semicolon should be used.
19 March 2013
As a brief overview, that includes ghostwriting, copywriting, editing, proofreading, consultancy, book promotion and social media management.
Word Edit caters to all types of clients - authors, businesses, students and private individuals. Of course, the services for each group are available to everyone.
Whether you need professional manuscript editing or your business blog maintained, get in touch before midnight on Sunday, March 24 and you will be guaranteed a 25% discount on all work agreed on. That's the important part - the discount applies to all work agreed to, not just all work completed by the 24th.
12 March 2013
6 March 2013
If you're one of the offenders of this crime against literature, here's a funny image to help you next time. (Alternatively, think of finite, as in, something that has an end. That's how it's spelled.)