Common Grammar Mistakes

We all make mistakes. That’s what first drafts are for (and second…and third).

Being a self-published author, you might not have the desire or the resources to hire a professional editor or proofreader, so you’ll have to comb through the file yourself with an eye for grammar, spelling, and usage mistakes. Believe me, you should NOT be the only one looking over the file for these kinds of things. But in the end, the responsibility to ensure your book looks clean and professional falls on you.

Here’s a few grammar mistakes that get made often, particularly in early drafts, and are important to  keep an eye out for while reviewing your drafts:

1) Subject / Verb agreement

This one is usually pretty obvious, as the difference will stand out when you read the sentence. If the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular, and likewise, if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

Example:

Incorrect: Proofreading have been the most difficult part of editing.

Correct: Proofreading has been the most difficult part of editing.

2) Commas

We’ll cover two common problems that arise from comma use: the dreaded Oxford comma, and missing commas.

The Oxford is subject to much debate. It is the last comma found in lists, series, and compilations (see the comma after ‘series’ in this sentence? Oxford comma). In general, it is acceptable to use it or not use it as you see fit stylistically, with the exception being any instance when the meaning of the sentence is questionable without it.

Example:

With Oxford Comma: Our book is about music, dance, and culture in the 1980s.

Without Oxford Comma: Our book is about music, dance and culture in the 1980s

The Oxford comma is only critical in a sentence that needs it to make sense:

For breakfast I had eggs, toast, and orange juice – this sentence is a list of what I had for breakfast.

For breakfast I had eggs, toast and orange juice – the meaning may still be clear enough, but this is me telling toast and orange juice that I had eggs for breakfast.

Missing commas are much clearer, and are another little bit of formatting easy to miss in an early draft. Most often it is added after an introductory phrase, to break the rhythm of the sentence, and clue the reader in to the meaning, so confusion is avoided.

Example:

Incorrect: In case you didn’t notice I covered that in chapter three.

Correct: In case you didn’t notice, I covered that in chapter three.

3) Pronoun Reference

Pronoun is defined as: “a word that can function by itself as a noun phrase and that refers either to the participants in the discourse (e.g., I, you ) or to someone or something mentioned elsewhere in the discourse (e.g., she, it, this ).” Because of its use to replace a noun, it is critical that the pronoun reference be clear, lest the sentence cause confusion for the reader.

Example:

Incorrect: When Fred read Jim’s assessment of the draft, he didn’t like it.

Correct: Fred didn’t like Jim’s assessment of the draft.

4) Split Infinitives

Split Infinitives refer to any phrase or sentence with “to” and the associated verb separated by another word. This will usually be an adverb. In general, there is no rule against split infinitives, but it is smart to try rewriting the sentence without the extra word (or with the extra word relocated) to see which reads better. Often times a split infinitive can break a reader’s cadence or throw them off when reading.

Example:

Split Infinitive: I’ve got to quickly read this book.

Non-Split Infinitive: I’ve got to read this book quickly.

5) Correct Words/Forms

English is a tricky language sometimes. There are numerous words that sound the same, but have different spelling and meaning. Be careful to look at these closely to be sure the correct word and form are used in all instances.

Example:

Incorrect: There taking they’re book over their!

Correct: They’re taking their book over there!

Don’t let these and other grammar pitfalls hurt your marketing plans! A clean, correct manuscript is critical to keep readers invested in your book. Readers will forgive a mistake or two, but if your book is riddled with problems that can be caught and corrected in the proofreading process, they may not be willing to buy another of your books.

 

 

 

Independent Authorship for the Senior Citizen

Individuals over 60 years old have a great deal of experience to impart on others, but sometimes they do not have their “visions” shared because of the complexity writing and publishing their stories.  In most instances, the senior has access to word processing software, and the ability to use the software, but after writing their story has to wait for printers or traditional publishers to review and approve their stories.

Chris (center) with Senior Center directors

 

This is where I come in. I’m an independent author with Lulu for almost 20 years (yep, he has been with Lulu almost from the very beginning!), and I teach at local senior centers in Baltimore Maryland about self-publishing and how to format and publish a person’s works so that they may share with others their knowledge and experience.  The course, entitled “Self-Publishing 101 for Independent Authors,” is taught with help from a study guide that I wrote and published on Lulu!  Using this study guide, along with the many different types of books (children’s, fiction, non-fiction, and education) I also published over the years, I aim to make the publishing process simple and clear.

My first class was given at Parkville Senior Center near Baltimore and had several individuals that wanted to learn more about self-publishing.  The students actually had products in electronic form that they wanted published and Chris accommodated them through a step-by-step approach.  As a result, most students have published works with Lulu.  A sad chapter in this story is that one of the students completed his book, and has it published on Lulu and shortly after publishing his work passed away.  His book of poems is available for sale on Lulu, which has been a great consolation for his relatives, who know that he left something for his future generations.

The gift of knowledge and experience is something that is priceless, and knowing that these individuals in the class have the ability to author a book that focuses on something they want to share is also priceless.  The fact that Lulu provides a platform for these individuals to express themselves makes them feel useful.  This, according to author Elie Wiesel, in his book “Night,” is something that can make the difference between life and death.

With Lulu as part of that platform, I’ve been able to make a great impact on the future independent authors; young heart, old smart.


With a combined 35 years of experience as a military officer, federal civilian and private industry combined, along with periodic teaching at the secondary and undergraduate levels, Chris has the perfect combination for writing everything from fiction to children’s books. Take a look at the many different offerings and see if one of these many titles fits your needs. You can contact Chris at chris@grectech.com if you have any questions or special requests.

 

Check out Chris’s Author Spotlight

Pre-Publishing Checklist

Writing a book is hard work. We appreciate just how challenging and time consuming it is to outline, draft, revise, redraft, edit, proof, finalize, and in the end produce a manuscript ready for publication.

And once you’ve finally gotten to that stage, an entirely new set of tasks confront you.

The file will need to be formatted to conform with layout requirements. The basic rule for self-publishing is to layout your book as a PDF, with all front matter and back matter included. There’s a lot of work that goes into laying out your manuscript, like selecting fonts, spacing, inserting page numbering, setting pages to appearing in the correct location (left or right side pages), and orienting all text in the right locations on the page. Most of these elements come down to your personal desires. But there are a few things you absolutely have to do if you want to be sure your book will look professional when you print the physical copies.

Use this checklist to make sure you’ve hit all the critical points for your file prior to uploading:

Print Books:

  • If you create a PDF file for uploading, all fonts must be printable and embedded
  • Pages are sized to match the Book size and are in the same orientation (portrait or landscape)
  • Front matter (Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgment, Table of Contents, etc.) included in file
  • Images sized properly and inserted at 300dpi resolution
  • Margins, header/footer, and gutter are properly set (min 0.5”, 0.5”, 0.3” mirrored)

Once you have your print book prepped and ready, you can easily take the source file and make an ebook. The first thing you’ll want to do is to open the file in Microsoft Word (or your text editing software of choice) and wipe all that formatting you added for printing. All of it can go.

With the file cleared of all formatting, use this checklist to reformat and prepare your file for ebook conversion.

Ebook:

  • Word Files: Remove headers/footer/page numbering
  • Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, are used to indicate titles, chapters, and sub sections.
    • Heading 1 is used for Title (which must appear on the first line of the first page)
    • All heading styles are used sequentially (1, 2. 3) in the document
  • All other text is in Normal Style
  • Automatic formatting turned off, and all automatically created elements removed or added manually (Such as lists or numbering)
  • Images sized approximately 500 x 500 pixels, at 72dpi resolution, and inserted “in line”
  • No text boxes or Borders.

These checklists are not the absolute and final list of things that have to be reviewed when making a book. A number of things can come into play based on the specifics of your project. The best thing to do is to review your files carefully once you’ve uploaded and converted. Then, once you complete publishing, order a copy to review yourself and give it a final look over.

We promise, the first time might seem like an insurmountable job, but with each book you publish, the process gets easier and more intuitive. As always, our support team is ready to help if you run into any problems you can’t overcome on your own.

2017 Book Expo America and Book Con

It’s that time of year again! Book Expo America and Book Con are coming to New York City May 31 through June 2. Come out and get serious about your publishing with a variety of other authors, readers, publishers, and book marketers.

As you would expect, Lulu will have a booth at the Expo, and we’ll be hanging out throughout the event, giving out cool prizes, promoting self-publishing, and enjoying all the terrific events and speakers BEA has to offer.

The Expo includes are range of speakers, including Hillary Clinton on the main stage June 1, as well as Mary Higgins Clark, Neil Patrick Harris, R.L. Stine, and Stephen King throughout the event.

Each day will also feature sessions on a variety of publishing industry. There are so many, I’m not even going to try to list them here. Just head over to the Expo’s Session’s page to find the comprehensive list. For anyone involved in the publishing industry, you’ll find something among these sessions to pique your interests and expand your publishing knowledge.

And if all that isn’t enough, the second half of the event will be the reader driven Book Expo, with their own unique list of speakers, including authors Dan Brown and Bill Nye. Find their complete main stage list here. The two events combine to provide a thorough perspective of the industry from writing and publishing, through to marketing and reading. There is something for everyone at the Book Expo and Convention!

Now that I’ve tantalized you with all those great speakers and expansive list of sessions hosted at the event, I’ve got the best for last.

Of course I mean the Lulu Booth. Come find us at #2258 on the Expo floor. We’ll be there with a bunch of awesome Lulu gear, including notebooks and pens to start planning your next novel, water bottles to keep you hydrated, and an awesome mystery prize for a few of our lucky visitors! Plus we’ll be spinning our prize wheel for give-a-ways and handing out lots of free self-publishing advice.

Please please come see us and help celebrate everything book at the Book Expo and Convention!

 

Maximum Formats

If you’re self-publishing, you have the unique ability to take advantage of all available formats with the click of your fingers.

Most books these days will appear in both print and ebook formats. It’s common to find the newest best sellers showing up on bookstore shelves in hardcover, and some months later in paperback, and later still in the even more economical trade paperback. All the while, the ebook will be available through online retailers.

Oddly enough, this trend hasn’t taken hold in the self-publishing world, despite that producing a book in all format types is astonishingly easy. In fact, you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to take a self-published book you’ve already created, and release it in a variety of formats.

The reason is this: once you’ve made one book, once you’ve prepared the files for interior and cover, you’ve done 90% of the work for any additional versions you might like to make. The real challenging work of formatting, doing layout, designing the cover, and actually editing and proofing the book is already done. All you need to do is make additional projects, perform a few format updates, and publish!

Print

Paperback print books are the most common choice among self-published authors. We see the vast majority of books created in the 6 x 9 or 8.5 x 11 sizes. If you’ve opted for one of these sizes, creating a hardcover project will be simple!

With you Print File prepared, follow these steps to create a Hardcover book:

  1. Adjust page sizes – Make certain to set your pages to make the size of your book. Lulu offers hardcover in 6 x 9 and 8.25 x 10.75 for both dust jacket and case wrap.
    **If you made a 6 x 9 or 8.5 x 11 paperback, you will not need to resize your interior file to make a hardcover book**
  2. Update the copyright page – Your new format will need a unique ISBN, so update the Copyright page to reflect that.
  3. Update the cover – Hardcover books have different margins and bleeds for the cover. If you’re using the same cover as the paperback, you’ll have to adjust it to allow for those changes. Also be sure to update the barcode with your new ISBN.

Ebook

Ebooks did not spell the end of printing as some predicted years ago. Instead, they carved out a portion of the market as an accompaniment to printed books. An ebook is a simple means of presenting options for your readers, and is so easy to do, you should absolutely take advantage and create one.

  1. Open your Print File in MS Word – Select all the contents and clear formatting.
  2. Update the Copyright page to include your new ISBN
  3. Set the title, copyright, dedication, and any other front matter to Heading 1
  4. Set all Chapter titles to Heading 2.
  5. Remove all Header/Footer content. Remove all Text Boxes.
  6. Set all images ‘in line’ with text, and all text justification should be set to the ‘left.’

The cover for your ebook can be the same as your print. Just use the front cover alone as the ebook cover, and resize it to match the ebook cover specifications.

Detailed instructions and specifications.

Diversity is incredible important when selling your book, both online and by hand. Think about it like this: you’ll never again lose a sale because the buyer doesn’t want to wait for shipping. They can order an ebook! And the customer who simply loves hardcover books and is willing to spend a little more to get that can do so!

Best of all, making multiple formats can be completely free, and only takes a minimal investment of time and effort.

Don’t wait, get your book out there now with Lulu’s variety of available formats.

Writing with Purpose

Here at Lulu we talk daily about how every person has a story to tell. About the role of publishing in knowledge sharing. About the importance of text in education and business. About how critical it is that we as a culture write down and retain the world around us.

We write for a lot of reasons, but one thing we don’t think about as much is just how crucial writing is for us as individuals. The simple act of writing is in and of itself a special release,  whether we write fiction for pleasure, non-fiction for memories, or manuals to share knowledge, writing unburdens us of something stored inside of us. And in doing so, we offer that something up to the world. We give a little piece of ourselves so that others might enjoy it or learn from it.

Recently, we were reminded of this by someone who persevered through a difficult time thanks to writing. Here is his story:

About a year ago a lot of intense things happened in my life, and I fell into deep depression, and it caused a lot of problems for me and my family. I was really struggling to get out of it. I started to journal things each day, but it wasn’t the same. And my wife would say how she missed the “old me” before I got really depressed for about 9 months. I decided to do both, write something to help myself, but also write something to help her see the me that she married, not the depressed me. I spent the next 6-7 months writing a little bit each day, as much as I could even if it was just a paragraph. It helped me crawl out of the hole that I was in, and it gave me something to look forward to. I finally finished my book a couple of weeks ago, about 7 months after starting it. I’m not sure how to classify the book that I wrote, as it is more of a “this is me in every important way”, and I only intend for my wife to read it.

Thanks to you, and everyone supporting you, I was able to accomplish my goal, and just this week my book arrived at my house and I presented it to her. She spent the evening reading it, laughing and crying (good cries), and it really had a profound effect on me and her. And I couldn’t have done it without you.

This kind of story inspires us and reminds us how important offering self-publishing tools can be. We must not lose sight of the therapeutic benefit of writing regularly, of unloading our problems, our joys, and our fears onto the page.

The world of publishing is ever changing, and in this near-constant upheaval, it is easy to lose sight of the things that really matter. This matters.

We’d like to thank this author for sharing their story, and extend our gratitude to them and all of our authors for doing us the honor of choosing our service to print your books.

 

Lulu as a Business Partner

As you may well know, Lulu has been the go-to print on demand, self-publishing platform since 2002.

Yet there’s one misconception we run into time and again. Many hear terms like ‘self-publish,’ ‘indie-publish,’ or ‘print on demand’ and envision a fraught author, hunched over their laptop, tapping out their masterpiece. That’s a common perception, and its not entirely inaccurate.

The idea that self-publishing is reserved for fiction authors is just plain wrong. People need books for a variety of reasons. Everyone with information they need to solidify and make accessible has use for books. Authors are not just story tellers. They are information entrepreneurs, they are business owners, experts in their fields, educators, trainers, travelers, cooks, entertainers, storytellers, journalists…this list could go on. I’ll stop short and get to the point.

Lulu is more than a publisher for fiction writers. We’re a print partner, ready to help your business, big or small, with a range of printing needs.

Whether you’re a business owner, or work in human resources, or a motivated entrepreneur, or a public speaker, or…I’m listing again. If you’ve got information you need to share to further your career or to make your business run smoothly, we’re ready to be your partner.

Here’s an example: Imagine you’ve developed a product. It’s a new take on an old idea, and something you know adherents of the old idea will love. You’ve got a market for this product, and you’re transitioning from development to entrepreneurial business person. You’re going to sell this product, and as you prepare to go to market, you also have to establish instructions. Customers will not be happy with your amazing product if they receive it and can’t turn it on!

But manuals aren’t cheap either. If you went with a more traditional printing method, you’d have to order a set quantity of the instructions and have them inserted into the packaging for your product. Not only does this cause you to incur another production cost, you’ll have an instruction manual that can only be updated by getting a new print run.

What if you could make the manual available without including it? Users who need or want the manual can order it (even a digital version if you wanted). The investment goes from substantial (making and printing a number of manuals and including them with each product) to negligible (just the cost to create the manual file). In fact, Lulu already has authors who do just this:

Raymarine UK Limited – Lulu Store

Raymarine makes and sells marine electronics for a wide range of nautical and boating uses. Their electronics require set up and training to use correctly. Rather than investing in pre-printed manuals, Raymarine has their manuals on the Lulu Bookstore, and users who need a manual can come to us and have one printed.

Manuals and instructional material can be important for internal use as well. Does your business use a training manual? Imagine being able to update the manual periodically with ease, and printing out only the most recent version for your new employees. Imagine the cost savings of having only the manuals you need at the ready, rather than stocking a number of them on hand.

Our print on demand tools allow Lulu to be an adaptable, quick means of printing exactly what you need when you need it. Here are some of the many ways a book can be useful for a business or entrepreneur:

  • Manuals/Instructions
  • Internal training
  • Reporting material
  • Advertising tool to promote your knowledge/product
  • Product catalog
  • Education material (custom text books, curriculum specific material, work books)

For years now Lulu has been a dependable business partner for professionals and companies with all kinds of printing needs. We’re ready to help you and your business with easy to use, fast, affordable, and high quality printed products.