Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Amazon values writers

If you're a published author, you should be using the free tools available through The word "tools" implies you'll need some skill to use the sales-tracking system, and you don't - it's that user-friendly. So if you're an author, and you're not using Amazon's author-central sales tracking tool, get out of here. Go sign up and start using it. Nuff said.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Watch Your Words, and Not Just on Facebook

What's in a word? Maybe clues to your personality, how many friends you have, and the future of your business.

Sure, this is partly to remind you of the value good writing ;)  but wait, there's more - in this great article about marketing and your approach to Facebook.

The article will sound familiar to those who have really read How to Win Friends and Influence Peoplehowever, this article is based on analytic data, most of which was complied by folks at Facebook to analyze that site's business marketing opportunities. (Ad revenue makes the world go 'round, you know.)

The lesson in a nutshell? The words you choose matter, so choose carefully - and think before you share.
(Want to share this on Facebook? Click here - and thanks!)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why Copyeditors Are So 2011

Artificial intelligence just ain't good enough to replace good copyeditors. Not yet, anyway. Do you know what copyeditors do?

The job description goes way beyond spell-checking and perfecting punctuation. An errant ellipse or  extra space can be forgiven when what you're reading makes sense.

That's what copyeditors are supposed to do: make the reading make sense. That's why copyeditors are still relevant today, and why they probably will be for years (or decades) to come.

And here's a newsflash: copyeditors don't necessarily need to know the subject to do a great job. Case in point:  once I caught a math error (me!) in a user manual I was editing on Chromospectography. And the wonderful copyeditor who has vastly improved the second edition of my hiking guide, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Cleveland, managed that not-so-small task while sitting in her office in Birmingham AL. (Thanks, Amber!)

The self-published book business is booming, without copyeditors. But can you name a self-published best-selling novel? I'm pretty sure that's not a coincidence.

No matter what your business, you could probably improve it by hiring a copyeditor - or proofreader. Sure, there are differences between the two, but they're both important to readers (and writers) and quite relevant in 2011. Perhaps even more than ever, as our reading environment changes. (Ever heard of Google Reader, Kindle, or an iPhone app?)

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Is there a typo in your sales contract? You'd rather hear about it from someone on your payroll, instead of a former customer's lawyer, right? What about your new employee handbook? Your website privacy policy? Who actually reads those? Well, copyeditors and lawyers... and really upset customers who can make your whole staff miserable. Copyeditors are relevant, and not nearly as dorky as you might think. Find out what one can do for your business

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Philosophical look at plot, fiction, and real life

The Highlights Foundation published a mini-interview with editor Stephen Roxburgh (who has edited the works of Madeline L'Engle, among others) and I found this little ditty particularly interesting:

Highlights Foundation: How critical is a strong plot to the sale of a novel? ...
Roxburgh: ... A strong protagonist won't exist without a coherent plot: what happens and why it happens (i.e., the plot) makes the protagonist strong. Plot is the crucible in which character is formed.  

~~~~~~~ hmmmm; not unlike real life ~~~~~~~~ 

Roxburgh continues, "you can't know where a plot begins unless you know where it ends, and unless you know the beginning and ending, you can't know what must come in between." The analogy fails here, of course; we cannot rewrite our own lives. We can, I think, revise them. As Roxburgh sees it, the key is "'re-vision,' seeing what you have written in a new way."

Can you revise your life story? I think so. Can you revise that novel you have in a drawer? Not until you take it out of the drawer! If you're a philosopher, consider your 2011 re-vision carefully ;) and if you're a writer with a plot stuck in a drawer (or your head) consider the Highlights Foundation's pricey-but-possibly-worth-it workshop, Plotting Your Novel.  The registration deadline is January 31. 

DISCLOSURE: I am NOT advertising or recommending Highlights Foundation. This is not a paid promotion of any sort, just a mention that the opportunity is nigh. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dear Governor-elect Kasich: Call me next time

File this under writer as image consultant:

About 8 hours after every newspaper and website in Ohio (and quite a few outside the state) broke stories about governor-elect John Kasich's edict excluding the media from his inauguration, the guv reversed his decision. 

And that was the right decision. But. There's always a but - and a good writer knows what to do with it. 

Because Kasich intended to hold the inauguration at his private residence, rather than the governor's mansion, there were undoubtedly many important issues (security) that may- just may- have warranted the closed ceremony.

Had he handled the message a little (okay a lot) differently, Mr-about-to-be Governor could have not only kept the media at bay, but won (more) friends and influenced (more) people at the same time. For example, how 'bout a press release stating, "These are dire times for Ohio; our budget is severely strained. Because of this, I cannot justify the expenditure required to hold a traditional, large, very public inauguration ceremony. The (show big dollar amount here) savings will go directly to the state's bottom line, and in doing so, I hope to show every other state worker I mean business."  

It certainly would have given me a different perspective on things. As it is, I'm just left wondering, what's this guy's real agenda? Of course, we would have wanted the media to verify the dollar-savings claim, but as long as it was legit, Kasich would have gotten his private inauguration and had the attention of the entire state when he got to work on Monday.*

The words you choose can set the tone for everything. Much as I hate to put it in these terms, I'm afraid it's appropriate in this case: Media 1, Kasich 0. (Mr. Kasich, feel free to call me.)

*John Kasich gets to work as Ohio's governor January 10, 2011