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Archives: Editing

Read Ink

Read Ink

I started a vlog! Many of you have seen my one-off Youtube videos here and there. I love making videos, but until recently I haven’t had much drive to create and ongoing series.

A few weeks ago I went on a passive-aggressive rant on Facebook about some grammar issue or another. Blake Northcott, author of Versus Reality and Arena Mode, suggested that she would love to watch me scream about grammar in videos. While I don’t think shouting angrily would be a good level of passion to sustain throughout an entire explanation of how comma rules work, it did get me thinking.

10 Last-Minute Tips for Independent Publishing

10 Last-Minute Tips for Independent Publishing

About to press Publish on that book you’ve been slaving over for months? STOP! Take a moment to breathe, and make sure it’s just-right. Here are ten last-minute tips for independent publishers.

10. Read it in Another Format

printIf you’ve been staring at the book on your screen for months and you haven’t looked at the book in print, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Your brain, which thinks it is being helpful, is actually being a jerk. It’s filling in what you know is supposed to be there and making it hard to see the errors. Print the book (if you’re really into this self-publishing thing, you may want to invest in a laser printer) and read the whole thing on paper.


9. Read it Out Loud

This is one of the many things I tell my students to do when editing. Read the book out loud. You’ll catch overuse of words and non-parallel structures that way. If something makes you trip or hesitate, you may need some different punctuation.

8. Let Your Sam Read It

My brother, Sam, always catches something that the entire team at Matter Deep misses. Five people read it, and yet we always miss one detail that Sam finds. I used to get frustrated, but now I just send him an eBook for his Kindle a few weeks before release and let him have a go. If you have a friend or family member who always finds the backwards quotation mark or the homonym confusion, let them have it early.

7. Use Edit>Find

kappfinderGot a common mistake, or a made-up term that you might have switched between capitalizing and not? If you think there might be an inconsistency or you know you always mix up lay and lie, use Edit>Find on your word-processing program to jump straight to those mistakes and fix them.

6. Preview it on Kindle

When Nook and Kindle give you those pop-up previews, look through EVERY PAGE. You’ll notice things that format wrong, like extra return spaces, alignment, etc. Use that preview to be sure something invisible on the Word document doesn’t become embarrassingly visible on an eReader.

5. Listen to KDP

Kindle Direct Publishing has added a spellcheck/grammar-check feature to their upload process. Pay attention to it. I know it’s a pain to go back, fix it, and save it again as an HTML file, but it’s better than letting a book go out to your audience with an egregious error. KDP spellcheck is your last line of defense.

4. Check Your Keywords

Make sure you’re choosing the most high-impact keywords for your book. These terms are how users are going to find you when they search in the eBook store. Pick what you think people who would like your book would actually search, and don’t be afraid to go back in and modify keywords if you need to improve them. Your title and author name should already come up in search, so think of some other terms. Example: For Olympia Heights: The Pantheon, I’m currently using: Mythology, Greek Mythology, greek gods, superpowers, zeus, high school fantasy, teen greek gods

3. Leave Comfortable Margins and Whitespace

If you’re trying to cram as many words as you can onto a page to make your book cheaper, you’re doing it wrong. Leave ample margins, a little bit of space between lines, and make sure your font is comfortably readable. A lot of historical reprints come from Createspace. When they have too many words per line, I can tell they’re cheaply made. Don’t be cheap. Be professional. Most of all, don’t hurt your readers’ eyes.

2. End on a Link

insert_linkThe end of your book is a chance for a call-to-action. We all know that feeling, at the end of a great novel, when we’re looking for more. Give your readers something to do. Link them to the next book or to your Amazon page to leave a review.

But Amy, you say, you can’t put a link in a paperback. YES, YOU CAN! Include a QR code to your author site, your Twitter, or your Amazon page so that your readers know where to go next.

1. Order a Proof

Printing a paperback? Always order at least one proof. You’ll find issues with color (cover too dark?), catch typos, and find all sorts of errors you couldn’t see by staring at your layout files. Order a proof, and don’t press Publish until you’ve given it a detailed inspection.


Now that you’ve read this list, you understand that last-minute for publishing actually means last-few-weeks. Take your time. Breathe. It’s better to do it right than quickly.

The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing

The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing

ohposterkickKickstarter This!

The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing is back on Kickstarter. You can get some great rewards, whether you’re a writer or not. Olympia Heights fans- there are signed paperbacks and an exclusive poster. Take a look and see if you can help us in any way. Shares help, too!

Back it now!

Thanks for your support!

Kickstart This: The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing

Kickstart This: The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing


Starting today, The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing is seeking backers on KickstarterThe Indie Guide to Indie Publishing is a tool, a step-by-step guide to publishing your independent book. Each article is written by an experienced authority from the independent world, and the book includes an index and glossary to help aspiring authors and publishers along the way.

This book will have:

  • Nine (9) writers with experience publishing and promoting independent work.
  • An alphabetical glossary of terms you need to know for publishing success.
  • An index for quick reference and trouble-shooting.
  • A list of useful resources and references for further research.

A couple of the writers are people I have interviewed on this blog before (See Blake Northcott Arena Mode and JL Bryan Latest Work) and a couple more I met at Phoenix Festival (Teal Haviland and Bobby Nash.) All of the writers involved in this book have experience, credentials, and bragging rights that make them indie publishing experts.

If you’re interested in obtaining a copy of this book or simply giving us a dollar to help our dreams come true, head on over to the Kickstarter page. We have rewards at various levels, including copies of the book, t-shirts, Google Hangouts, cover designs, and more. For $60, we’ll all tweet your link to over 30,000 combined followers! Take a look and PLEASE spread the word to every writer you know.


My Friend the Semicolon

My Friend the Semicolon

Semicolon_and_Colon_photo_FINALIZEDIf you’ve seen the Lonely Island video, “Semicolon,” you’re probably really confused about the functions of that awesome little punctuation mark that you get if you forget to hold shift while typing a colon. I’m here to explain to you what a semicolon (;) does and why it is my favorite punctuation mark.

The semicolon is like a period and a comma mashed together. Sometimes it can be used in place of a comma. Sometimes it can be used in place of a period. It functions kind of like a period, but with the pause of a comma. Confused? Let me explain it more specifically.

A semicolon has two uses. The first, the more comma-like, is to replace the serial comma a list where it could be confused with other commas. Here is an example:

My brother, Sam, my husband, Kyle, and my best friend, Anna, were all in an Exalted campaign together in college.

You can see that the commas get a little hairy. One way you can use the semicolon, is to distinguish between punctuation to separate the list and the punctuation to separate appositives. Here it is with semicolons:

My brother, Sam; my husband, Kyle; and my best friend , Anna, were all in an Exalted campaign together in college.

That’s the easy use of the semicolon. The one people more often flub up is the one that connects two complete thoughts. This semicolon must separate two independent clauses (each one would make sense as its own sentence), and what comes on either side must be connected. You use the semicolon like a fancy period that says, “Hey, take note of the connection.”

My headlights burned out on the road to Savannah; we had to stop at the shop.

Henry Cavill looks like a renaissance painting; he was the perfect casting for Superman.

Lewis Carrol was eccentric; Lord Byron was eccentric and owned a bear.

If the text on either side of the semicolon forms an incomplete sentence, it’s wrong. If the semicolon is followed by an “And” or “But,” it’s wrong. This punctuation mark is excellent for forming cohesion between ideas, but if you couldn’t replace it with a period and make grammatical sense, you’re doing it wrong.

Now that you know how to properly use a semicolon, watch this video from the Lonely Island and understand why it’s funny. I personally hate it, because it’s going to make my job teaching English grammar so much more difficult for the next five years.