Articles tagged "advice"

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.

 

 

 

Video: What is Lulu?

We’re very excited to show off our brand new “What is Lulu?” video with special thanks to Vance Reeser, co-director, animator and artist and to Noah Smith for storyboarding.

Vance Reeser, a lulu author himself, says he first heard about Lulu a long time ago when searching the Web for a way to collect some sketches into a printed book. “I gave it a shot,” he says, “and was pretty impressed with the results so I ended up using it again for my kids book Edward the Invincible.”

Lulu: How was your experience publishing on Lulu?

Vance: It was fun and very easy. I wasn’t able to turn making children’s books into a career or anything, but that also wasn’t my goal. There’s something very satisfying about having a tangible, very real copy of your book there for people to check out and buy.

Lulu: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Vance: I’d say keep working and power through those early years of work you know is just flat out busted or maybe not quite up to the hazy image in your mind you can’t seem to get on the page/screen. The only way through those hard HARD days is to keep working at it. There are no shortcuts. Stop looking for them – it’s a waste of time. There’s no magic software that makes it easy, no book of tricks… As the years go by and if you’ve stuck with it, it will get better, and what you see in your mind’s eye will slowly but surely refine and you’ll be achieving it on your screen. This is all basically what Ira Glass has said before, but it’s very true!

Lulu: What motivated you to co-direct the “What is Lulu?” video?

Vance: Immanuel (Lulu’s brilliant graphic designer and sneaky nerf gun aficionado) is a friend from my days in college taking design classes, and he gave me plenty of freedom to creatively approach the ideas that needed to be conveyed in the video. That allowed me to take the reigns quite a bit, which is a nice change of pace for me in regard to client work! He made sure we stayed on message and within the style boundaries he had in mind, and I worked out a lot of the visuals with the help of Noah Smith and directed the pacing and how the transitions and elements would move within the “rules.” The initial idea was to do more of a somewhat simple, flat, paper cutout look, but we ended up going into richer, deeper visuals as the project progressed. We did carry over a slower frame rate from the cutout concept, giving it a handmade crafts-y feel I think.

Check out his latest masterpiece, the brand new, “What is Lulu?” video as well as his children’s book, Edward the Invincible. Tell us what you think!

Tell Mom She’s Great!

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, so we invite you to share a few words with us about what makes your mom so great. It’s easy – just write it in the comments below. You can say as little or as much as you like. Here are some ideas for what to write:

  • What was the best piece of advice your mom ever gave you?
  • What is your favorite thing about your mom?
  • What is your favorite memory with your mom?
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Marketing Your Book: How to Get Your Book on a Blog

I’ll be the first one to admit it- I love blogs. They’re resources for information, inspiration, and ideas. Plus, blogs are perfect venues for marketing your book. It’s a great way to get your book noticed.

Why market your book on a blog?
It’s an inexpensive way to get your book out to lots of people in your target market- all at once. If you play your cards right, your book could get quality exposure at a really low cost.

Do your research – and participate.
This is the crucial step—finding the right blogs. Think about your market. Where does your average reader hang out online? Read a lot of blogs (really read them) and figure out where your book fits best. Start commenting on posts, subscribing to feeds, and mentioning snippets you liked in various social media endeavors. Always be nice! Bloggers will be glad to have a new active reader.

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Making Criticism Work For You

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re the creative type and maybe even a DIY-er. If I were to guess, I’d have to say you’ve probably written your own book, edited it, and then designed the cover. Pretty impressive, and you definitely get a pat on the back from me. But you may have noticed that it’s really easy to get stuck inside your own head and become blind or even evasive of constructive criticism when you’re doing it all on your own. The key is to not let your work suffer.

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