Articles tagged "tips"

6 More Grammar Mistakes Writers Need to Avoid

There have been a lot of great showdowns throughout history: David vs Goliath, Yankees vs Red Sox, and…To vs Too?

We’re back with more simple grammar mistakes you should never make in your writing, featuring a whole host of matchups between similar-but-not-quite-the-same words. Take a look at the list – and our previous set of tips – and then give your book an edit to make sure you haven’t made any of these slip-ups!

Don't be like Fry. Know the difference between affect and effect.Affect vs Effect

Are you one of those people who writes “impact” because you aren’t quite sure whether you should be using “affect” or “effect”? Here’s a quick tip that will get you through most scenarios: affect is a verb – so one thing affects another – and effect is a noun. Just don’t get tripped up on “effecting change,” where you’ll use an “e” when you mean “to bring about” something.  Isn’t the English language fun (and sometimes aggravating)?

Insure vs Ensure

This one’s pretty simple. If you’re talking about insurance – as in limiting financial liability – use insure. Both start with an “i.” Ensure, when you’re guaranteeing something, is always with an “e.”

Then vs ThanCan proper grammar make you not sound like a crazy person?

Use then when something follows another thing: “I’ll learn these great grammar tips, and then I’ll proofread my books.” Than is used in comparisons: “Since I fixed all of my grammar mistakes, my book is selling better than it was before!”

I.e. vs E.g.

You might think these are interchangeable when you’re using an example, but there’s a very subtle difference between the two. I.e. mean “that is” or “in other words,” from the Latin “id est,” and you use it when you’re clarifying something. E.g., from the Latin “exempli gratia,” means “for example” and is used for just that – providing an example!

Everything you know is a lie - the fast checkout line at your store uses incorrect grammar.Fewer vs Less

As a rule of thumb, you use fewer when you can count the subject in question individually and less when you can’t. So I can have fewer cups of water than you, but your cups might have less water in them than mine do. And yes, that means your grocery store sign is probably incorrect.

To vs Too (vs Two)

Last but not least, one that you probably know but can slip your mind when you’re writing. Most of the time you’ll use to when you’re talking about a verb or going toward a place, e.g. “I’m going to write” or “I went to the mall,” but when you mean to say “as well” or “also,” or something in excess, use too – “Sally went going to the mall, too, and she ate too much.” And just in case, two is always the number 2. Seems obvious, but you can never be too careful!

That’s it – for now! The English language is a wonderful, complex thing and even the best writers get tripped up from time to time. If you’ve got a favorite tip or a “this word or that one?” that seems to always get the best of you, share them in the comments!

7 Simple Grammar Mistakes You Should Never Make

Don't make these grammar mistakes

There’s no easier way to lose readers – and sales – than by publishing a book full of simple mistakes. After all, if you don’t care enough to catch basic errors, why should readers care about your book? Spellcheck can go a long way, but it won’t always save you from grammar mistakes that might go overlooked.

A good editor is never a bad thing if you’re serious about building your audience. But whether you’re hiring an editor or striking out on your own, you can make life easier by making sure these simple mistakes don’t pop up in your book.

Your vs You're

Your vs You’re

Your is possessive – as in, “That’s your dog.” You’re is a contraction of “you are.”

Its vs It’s

Along the same lines, its is possessive, and it’s is a contraction of “it is” (or “it has”).

Who’s vs Whose

Whose is possessive. Who’s is a contraction of “who is” or “who has.” Are you sensing a trend?

There vs their vs they're

Their vs They’re vs There

Ready to throw in a third option? Their is possessive, and they’re is a contraction of “they are.” There will cover pretty much everything else, from “There goes the bus” to “Put that box over there” to “There aren’t any cookies here.” (Note: pirates may be inclined to throw in “thar.”)

Lose vs loose

Lose vs Loose

This is best with a few examples. You can lose your dog if he gets loose from his leash. Your clothes will be loose if you lose a lot of weight. If you have loose change in your pocket, you might lose it. If all else fails, read your sentence aloud; if the word sounds like it ends with a ‘z’ then it’s lose; if it sounds like an ‘s’ then it’s loose.

Compliment vs Complement

The only difference is an ‘i’ and an ‘e’. So what’s the real difference? Compliment – with an ‘i’ – means you’re saying something nice to someone. Or, as an easy way to remember, “I am saying something nice to someone.” If you complement something, you’re adding to or improving it.

Farther vs Further

Farther refers to a physical distance – long distances are always far. “His house is farther away than mine.” Further is more figurative and means an extent of time or degree, as in “Tom wanted to talk further about the plan.” Farther and further are more readily accepted as being interchangeable than other examples in this list.

Do you have your own grammar pet peeves, or any tricks you use to keep words straight? Share them in the comments below!

NaNoWriMo 2014 Kicks Off: Tips for Success

It’s late. Your heart-rate is elevated. The coffee is still percolating. Your hair, unwashed, is now reaching skyward as you tug on it almost every minute. You look over at your wall calendar, but you don’t need to be told what month it is: it is November. It is National Novel Writing Month. 

Started in 1999 by Chris Baty and “20 other overcaffeinated yahoos,” the write-50,000-words-of-a-novel-in-a-month challenge started with 21 participants and 6 winners. In 15 years it’s grown exponentially. Last year, over 310,000 writers attempted the feat.

The word count threshold, 50,000 words, means that a writer must commit to writing just a little under 2,000 words a day, or, to us writers, A LOT OF STINKIN’ WORDS. While some established authors take months or years to craft a narrative, writers participating in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), have just one month to commit to a draft. Several best-sellers have emerged from NaNoWriMo including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

We could not be more excited to be sponsoring NaNoWriMo again this year and hope everyone will take advantage of our 2014 Wrimo offerings. We also totally understand that finding the time and creative energy for this 30-day challenge is a huge feat, so here are a few ways to make the words flow!

Getting self-published books on store shelves

Compliments of Blogto.com

In an increasingly digital world, it’s still the dream of many authors see their books in print and on the shelves of their favorite bookstores.  Many stores order books from wholesale distributors such as Ingram Book Company, where Lulu authors can get their books listed through our GlobalReach distribution service.  That means that in addition to having your book on popular online retailers like Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, you’re also giving brick-and-mortar stores the chance to carry your book!

But there’s another way to go about it, and that’s by selling directly to bookstores yourself on a consignment basis.  Basically you, the author, purchase copies of your book and work out a deal with a bookstore to get those copies on their shelves.  The catch is that bookstores don’t pay for the books right away: money is only transferred when a book sells, with you being paid an agreed-upon, per-book price.  In short, you’ll need to foot the bill initially and will be responsible for any unsold copies.  Unlike your average print-on-demand sale, where there are no upfront costs to you and books are printed as they’re ordered, you’ll need to spend a little money to make a profit down the road.

Getting Started
The easiest way is to simply talk to someone at your local bookstore.  Each store will have their own practices on ordering books, so you’ll have to ask some important questions before signing any deals.  How many copies will they shelve at a time?  How long is the consignment agreement for?  Are there any fees?  How and when will you be notified of (and paid for!) copies that have sold?  What’s the revenue split between you and the store?  Check out the websites of any places you have in mind; stores often have their consignment policies posted online and you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with them before speaking to someone.

There are a few hurdles you’ll have to get past when selling on consignment – paying to print the books, dealing with the business side of bookstores, and so on – but the benefits make the effort worthwhile.  This method is great for bookstores – it’s less risk on their end since they’re not paying for a book until it’s already sold – and that means more stores will be willing to take a chance on you.  You also stand to make more money per sale since you’ll have more control over the final price of your book.  Overall, the relationships built with retailers and the lessons learned about what it really takes to sell your work can prove to be invaluable over the course of your self-publishing career.

A few final tips:

  • Go Local: You might have better success targeting local independent bookstores rather than big chains.  Small bookstores are generally happy to showcase local talent and might be more willing to work with you not only to display your books but also set up book signings and other promotional events to help sell books.  IndieBound’s store finder makes it easy to locate bookstores near you.  If you do go to a chain location, see if they have a section spotlighting local or self-published authors.
  • Look the Part: Getting your book into bookstores starts well before it hits the shelves.  Unlike online retailers, brick-and-mortar stores only have so much space so they’ll want books that look like they belong there.  Make sure you have an eye-catching cover and that your interior is edited and formatted.  If you don’t want to do this on your own, Lulu has you covered with our professional publishing services.
  • Buy Big: You already know that with Lulu’s print-on-demand model you can print as many or as few books as you like, but just because you can print only one book doesn’t mean you should!  If you have more copies you can make deals with more stores right away.  You also don’t want to find out that a store has sold out and wants more copies of your book and you don’t have any to give them!  With Lulu’s bulk purchase discounts the more you buy, the more you save.  You’ll never find yourself short of books, and you’ll end up saving money in the long run.

Top Web Resources for Writers (Part 1)

There’s a reason why the Internet was called the “information superhighway” in the 1990s. Although the term itself is somewhat out of date, the significance is not. Today’s search engines pull up thousands of web pages in seconds, so which sites should you be visiting and why? Here are some of our suggestions:

Publishers Weekly: Whether you know you’re going to self-publish or not, you should always keep an eye on the pulse of publishing. It’s helpful to know what genres are hot, how authors got their start, and what self-publishing phenoms did to market their titles. Although technically a trade journal, Publishers Weekly presents everything from industry news and deals to author interviews and the latest on the expanding digital market.

Absolute Write: First, check out the blog, which includes helpful articles such as: how to write good web copy and how to handle feelings of frustration. Then head over to the forum, where you can connect with thousands of writers about anything and everything. Engage in discussions on grammar and syntax, specialty genres, e-publishing, and even the freelance market. The site also serves as a place to take, or teach, writing classes.

Critique Circle: If you’re looking for honest feedback on your work then look no further than Critique Circle, which is a forum to help writers connect with one another. This free service allows writers to submit their work to a select few and garner feedback in a private exchange. According to the site, stories receive on average between 7 to 10 critiques each. If that’s not enough there are other handy tools that will help you bring your characters to life (and come up with their names), track your own progress, and write a paragraph a day thanks to the Paragraph-A-Day tool.

How To Write A Great Book Title

Choosing a clever title can be as hard as writing the book itself. Some writers say their title comes to them first, and the story develops from there, while other writers have folders of documents like, “Untitled, fantasy time travel book, name TBD.”

Your title should do three things: Attract readers you want, distinguish your book from others in its genre, and leave a lasting impression on the reader. Here are Lulu’s tips for giving your masterpiece a great name.

  1. Avoid clichéd nouns like “chronicles,” “tale” and “adventure.” Sure, some of the great classics use them – The Chronicles of Narnia, The Handmaid’s Tale and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn come immediately to mind – but usually these descriptors are unnecessary and over-used. Distinguish your book with an original title, even if it is a chronicle, a tale, or an adventure. John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War could easily be described as a chronicle, but doesn’t rely on that descriptor to be memorable and powerful.
  2. How to choose a clever title? Consider an important object, character or idea from the book and start brainstorming. Perhaps a line from the book during a critical scene would make a good title. Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, for example, takes its title from a character’s description of time travel to a child – creating a “wrinkle” in the fabric of time to get to and fro easily. The relevancy of the title may not be immediately apparent, but when the reader finally figures it out within the text, the realization can be just as satisfying as finishing the book.
  3. If your book is non-fiction, consider a subtitle to clarify your clever main title. Readers of non-fiction want to know up-front what they’re going to get from your book. Before it becomes a nationally-known best-seller, a vague title like What Color is Your Parachute? needs a descriptive subtitle (A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers) to appeal to the job-hunters who might need the help this book can provide. The combination of title and subtitle of Deborah Frye and Tracy Mercier’s Our Father Who Aren’t In Heaven: A True Story of a Career Criminal does a great job of telling the reader the subject and tone of the book. (Don’t worry; if you’re using Lulu’s cover design services, we can handle a subtitle, a sub-subtitle and all the authors, illustrators, editors and contributors you want to include on the cover!)
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A Gift from Our Grammar Geeks

There, their and they’re… it’s almost as intimidating as lions, tigers and bears! But no worries – Lulu to the rescue! Consider this poster a gift for our lovely writers. It’s just a few helpful grammar reminders.


A Gift from Our Grammar Geeks

Click on the image for the downloadable PDF version. Be sure to “fit to page” when you print.