Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday's Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: Susan Defreitas

By the time your book reaches the final stage of editing, you've read each sentence what feels like a million times. And yet, insidious errors lurk within the pages of this perfect manuscript that you, the author, simply cannot see.

That's where proofreaders (also known as copyeditors) come in. A good copyeditor is not just someone who has mastered every comma rule in the English language (no small feat); a good copyeditor is someone who will find errors that twenty beta readers manage to miss but anyone who paid actual money for your book, somehow, will not.

I'm a freelance editor, and my debut novel, Hot Season, comes out later this year from Harvard Square Editions, so I've experienced this process, as Joni Mitchell might say, from both sides now. Here are a few things that few authors realize (and few copyeditors are willing to admit).
You'd think that because a manuscript has already gone through a line edit, one round of proofreading would be enough to catch any lingering errors. But this is seldom the case...

1. Every Book Goes to Print with Errors

Don't think this is true? Check out those old periodicals dedicated to book collectors; they always listed the typos in each first edition. These errors, once they were pointed out by readers, were eradicated by the next edition.

Those typos were, in fact, used by collectors as a way to authenticate first editions: e.g., if someone claimed this book was a first-edition Phillip Roth, but it lacked a typo on a certain page, that person was lying to you. 

Finding errors in your first print run isn't the end of the world. In fact, it's par for the course, even if your book has benefited from many rounds of editing.

2. One Round Is Never Enough

You'd think that because a manuscript has already gone through a line edit, one round of proofreading would be enough to catch any lingering errors. But this is seldom the case, because proofreading requires such a different focus—sometimes, you have to completely tune out the content of a sentence to see the grammatical structure beneath it. 

That kind of close focus can be difficult to maintain, which is why proofreaders often only work on the same project for a few hours at a time; it's a lot easier to miss two thes in a row when you're caught up in the story. 

Of course, two rounds of proofreading is better than one, but few can afford such luxuries these days (even the big publishing houses).

3. You Are Your Book's Last Line of Defense

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If you missed my latest writing and marketing tweets, here they are again:
Happy writing and running, Kathy

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday's Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: Author Laura McNeill

Authors are often reluctant to give Twitter a try. After all, for those who write entire books, it might seem improbable that we can connect to our audience in 140 characters or less. But Twitter is easy, and a fantastic way to quickly branch out to find new readers!

Getting involved and being active on social media is a must-do when building your author platform! And, sure, it’s easy to put off signing up for Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest until tomorrow … or next week … or next month… but getting started doesn’t have to be scary!

Twitter is a favorite of mine, and I’ve loved the ability to connect with so many other authors and readers. An important note: Though the perception is that authors “sell” books through social media, I believe that smart authors use social media to connect with readers, bloggers, reviewers, and book lovers, and form relationships.

Ready to get started? Here’s a simple 10-step guide to using Twitter.

1. Choose Your Username

Choose your username (or “handle”) wisely. It’s what your readers, bloggers, and reviewers will see every time you Tweet. For that reason, it may be best to stay away from usernames like @fritolover, @luv2getfreebooks, and @crazyaboutguyz.

As an author, you need to keep it short, simple, and professional. Choose a handle that identifies you easily. Mine is @lauramcneillbks.

2. Create a Snappy Bio

Take some time to create a witty and concise bio. Remember that quite a few people on Twitter may have previous knowledge of who you are or what you do!

So, using 160 characters, create something memorable, quirky, and jam-packed with important information.
Here’s mine:

HarperCollins Author. Mom. Tide & Buckeye Fan. Lover of books & all things pink. Represented by McIntosh & Otis. Center of Gravity (7/15) & Sister Dear (4/16)!

3. Choose a Great Photo

Just as important as a great bio is choosing the best photo for your profile. Authors should use a close-up, clear, professional, and well-lit picture. Are you smiling? Do you look approachable?

Scroll through other authors’ profile pictures. Which ones stand out? Which ones are fuzzy?
Don’t hesitate to ask a friend to snap a dozen photos – and chose the best one. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.

4. Go Ahead and Tweet!

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If you missed my latest writing and marketing tweets, here they are again:
Happy writing and running, Kathy

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday's Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: Jeff Elkins

It’s Atticus Finch giving advice to Scout that shows us he is a man of empathy and compassion.

It’s Frank Underwood banging his class ring on the table that reminds us he is in command. It’s Holden Caulfield using phrases like “vomity” and “grow up” that helps us remember that he is an adolescent.

Using indirect characterization can make our heroes and villains leap from the page and come to life in our readers’ minds.

What Is Indirect Characterization?

Direct characterization is when the author tells the reader about a character.
Jack was a rambunctious boy. 
Jill was a clumsy girl.
While it is something we have to do on occasion, when done too often, it can make a story flat and dull.

Indirect characterization is far more fun. This is when the author tells a reader about a character through the character’s repeated words, reoccurring actions, or physical descriptions.
As he did every day, Jack ran wildly down the hill with reckless abandon. 
Jill stumbled on her untied shoelaces for the fourth time that day.
Showing our readers who our characters are through indirect characterization allows our readers to draw their own conclusions about our characters, intensifying our readers’ engagement with our stories.

A Wonderful Example: Harry Potter’s Scar

Few indirect characterizations are more effective than Harry Potter’s scar. J.K. Rowling accomplished an incredible amount with this small mark on her main character’s forehead.

Here are three noteworthy things Harry’s scar does:

1. It Reminds the Reader of Harry’s Past

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If you missed my latest writing and marketing tweets, here they are again:
Happy writing and running, Kathy

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday's Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: Ruthanne Reid

I know, I know: this goes against everything you’ve read online.

If there’s one thing we writers are good at, it’s beating ourselves up. Here are some of the clubs we use on ourselves (and each other):
  • Don’t edit until the first draft is done (but we all do it anyway).
  • Don’t use clichés (even though effective clichés exist for a good reason).
  • Don’t use adverbs (even though our favorite writers all do).
  • Don’t use anything other than “said,” or your writing will be distracting (they said).
  • Don’t use “said,” or your writing will be boring (they warned).
  • Write every day (or you’ll never be serious enough about this). 

There are plenty more, but these are a few of the biggies. I confess I’ve wielded these like

Aragorn whaling on orcs: desperately and without discrimination.

This year, however, has taught me an important fact: you do NOT have to write every day to be a writer.


The ideal reality would be writing every day.

It would involve the delicious beverage of your choice, a quiet morning with sunshine and birdsong (or rain, if that’s your thing), and a thousand words or so before the toast is even warm.

Reality tends to be sloppier. We’re rushed, and our jobs/families/health brook no time for playing. When we do sit down to write, we have nothing left; the day has sapped our strength.

And there are interruptions (how do they always know to when to call, just as the words start flowing?), fears rising from the swamp like zombies, weird computers crashes and other technical issues, and the inconvenience/gigantic terrifying mountain of learning to write well in the first place.

Writing ain’t easy, folks. It’s a true statement (which I heard most recently from Victoria Schwab) that if you can do anything other than writing and find your joy, do that instead.

Or, as Thomas Mann put it, “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”


. . .

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If you missed my latest writing and marketing tweets, here they are again:
Happy writing and running, Kathy 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thursday Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: Jami Gold

Within the writing community, there are just as many articles (if not more) about developing great characters as there are about creating interesting plots. We see blog posts debating how likable a character needs to be to interest a reader, other posts sharing techniques for evoking reader empathy, and still other posts instructing us on methods for showing a character’s emotional arc, etc., etc.

We know as readers that even the best-plotted book will suffer if the protagonist isn’t at least compelling. So as writers, we do everything we can to make readers invested in our characters in some way.

An invested reader is a happy reader, right?

Well, maybe not. Let’s take a look at the other side of character development.

The Danger of Out-of-Character Behavior

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how our genre promises certain elements to readers. And if our genre alone creates expectations in readers, it’s a safe bet that our characters do as well.

As we develop our characters, we establish expectations in the minds of our readers for how that character will act and react in the future. Readers sense their intelligence, what they value or fear, their moral code, etc.

Those expectations are important to understand because insults like “Too Stupid To Live” are more likely when our characterization is broken. We don’t usually see that insult flung at characters who do stupid things in character.

Instead, protests are more likely when a character acts in a stupid way that’s out of character. Readers know they’re acting that way simply because the author needed them to, and a puppet isn’t a full-fledged character worthy of respect.

As readers, we hate to be disappointed by characters, to have our faith in them destroyed. When we think they can and should do better, we can feel betrayed.

That’s not to say characters can’t act in ways that might seem out of character. However, just as in real life, we’re more likely to understand—and maybe even forgive—if we know the reasons for the out-of-character behavior.

Even if we disagree with a character’s choices, we can accept their decisions if we understand their motivations. But if motivation is lacking, the entire plot point feels forced, and readers will rightly blame the writer.

Example: The Comic Version of Captain America

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If you missed my latest writing and marketing tweets, here they are again:
Happy writing and running, Kathy