Yo’ Mama Earth. It’s true: the publishing biz is hard on the planet. But there are ways to make it easier on her. One of the best ways is to work with earth-friendly partners. So, how do you tell if a publisher, printer, or paper mill is environmentally conscious? Score them based on these three criteria:
1. Materials. Recycled paper and biodegradable glue are both widely available earth-friendly options. Most of the glues used in book binding today are biodegradable. Some are solvent-free and labeled as nonhazardous—even better! As for paper, due to increasing demand for earth-friendly products, many book printers now offer some recycled papers among their house stocks. However, make sure to ask how much recycled material is actually used in the paper. Recycled paper can also be significantly more expensive than a standard house stock, and a higher recycled content percentage translates into a higher price. Some printers only choose house stocks that have some recycled content. Usually the percentage is relatively low, but the papers are more affordable.
There are environmentally superior options for other materials, too. Many printers also use recycled binding boards, or boards with a percentage of corrugated material, which cuts down on paper consumption. Check out Green Press Initiative for updates on particular publishers, printers, and papers and a good look at the deforestation rate.
2. Tree harvesting. Because of the incredible amount of trees consumed every year for paper production (400 billion per year, according to Ecology.com), deforestation is a legitimate concern for printers, publishers, authors, and even readers. To watch out for all those falling trees, cooperative organizations, such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), have been founded, with measurable success. SFI plants more than a million trees per day, and its members include book printers and paper mills. Find out how your favorite printer is getting involved. You can also contact paper mills and find out which ones use sustainable sources for their paper.
3. Energy use. Paper mills are huge consumers of energy. But many of them use creative methods to boost energy production and decrease consumption. Some mills accumulate the unusable scraps from trees, such as bark and knots, to be burned for fuel. Others have found alternative fuel sources such as used tires, which can provide a great deal of energy. A resourceful average-size paper mill is capable of producing enough surplus energy to power a city of thirty thousand. Though some of these alternative fuel sources can contribute to air pollution, they save on natural resources and space in the world’s landfills.
These three categories represent some of the best ways for printers and publishers to lessen their toll on Mama Earth. Although some of these options are less cost-effective than the tree-hater alternatives, increased demand and increased attention to publishing’s effect on the environment will make them cheaper and more widely available. Doing business with innovative, environmentally friendly printers, publishers, and paper mills will help encourage their practices. It’s one way to make Earth happy, and as everybody knows—if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
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Public relations, or PR, plays an integral role in the success of any author trying to increase book sales and visibility in the marketplace. No longer the ugly stepsister to advertising, PR has changed its image and is on the rise. For the budget-conscious author, PR is usually the most cost-effective solution for maximum market penetration. Use the tools below to keep your money in your pocket and your book on the shelf:
1. Online Alternatives
Everyone has a story to tell, a message to promote, and a product to push—and they’re using online media sources to do their bidding. If you aren’t blogging, vlogging, podcasting, or even Googling yourself on a regular basis, then you need to jump on the bandwagon. Americans create an average of fifty thousand blogs a day. That means every twenty-four hours your competitor may be creating a blog to sell his or her message.
The Internet provides a way to promote your message on a global scale, with the ability to reach an unprecedented percentage of the population. According to Redbooks.com, Coca-Cola spends approximately $2.16 billion a year on traditional advertising around the world. New Line Cinema spent less than .5 percent of that amount to promote its new movie Snakes on a Plane. Starting in January of 2006, New Line Cinema started blogging about their new movie and has created a huge cult following. Consumers have since created external blogs and podcasts, all for a movie that will not be released until August and that no one has seen. This same pre-release hype can be applied to authors. Use the popularity of online alternatives to promote your book before the release date. Start a blog and get your blogging friends to write about your book. If Snakes on a Plane can get a cult following, maybe your book can, too.
2. Wham! It’s WOM!
If you follow trends in fashion and retail, then why not follow trends in the world of PR and marketing? Leading the pack of new trendy services offered by marketing and PR agencies is Word of Mouth, or WOM, promotions. WOM starts by eliciting the help of others, often called WOM agents, to spread positive buzz about your product, ultimately leading to the creation of brand ambassadors. How often have you read a book because a friend personally thought you would enjoy it? Probably more times than you can remember. Creating brand ambassadors will help spread the message of your book through your personal network and the networks of your ambassadors. The eMarketer/WOMMA report stated that 43 percent of marketers plan on conducting WOM campaigns in 2006. Companies such as Microsoft, Volkswagen, and Best Buy have all integrated WOM initiatives into their traditional media campaigns. Entire marketing agencies are dedicated to creating WOM promotions by making WOM agents available for purchase, just like media space. Instead of spending money on agency-created WOM agents, create your own. If you look, you probably already have brand ambassadors. Try checking with your parents, friends, and siblings; they have to like your work, so use that to your advantage.
3. Get Branded
J.K. Rowling. Dan Brown. Both authors represent two of the most powerful brands in publishing. Books, movies, video games, and cross-promotional products are all things associated with them. Creating brands raises positive awareness with any product, service, or message and helps in the creation of positive brand ambassadors. Our culture is built on branding—what’s hot and what’s not. Make yourself part of the hot list and create a brand image that is memorable and lasting. Find where you want your position to be in the marketplace and develop a brand position statement. This way, people will talk about you in the light you want them to when you’re not around.
All of these tools run the gamut of prices. If you’re budget conscious, hire an experienced freelancer to help you. If you have money to spend, hire a full-service agency. It will be more expensive with similar results, but agencies have their own brand awareness and respect in the market. If you want more information about the world of PR, I recommend Full Frontal PR by Richard Laermer and The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR by Al Ries and Laura Ries. These books offer great insight into the modern world of PR.
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Does the foreword belong before the preface? When do the page numbers start? What’s the difference between a preface and an introduction? If you need answers to demystify the front matter of your book, read on.
Books are generally divided into three sections: front matter, principal text, and back matter. Front matter is the material at the front of a book that usually offers information about the book. The principal text is the meat of a book. Back matter is the final pages of a book, where endnotes, the appendix, the bibliography, the index, and related elements reside. Though the front matter may not be as sexy as the main text or as information packed as the back matter, it’s an opportunity for authors to set the tone for their readers’ experience.
Barebones front matter may consist of only a half-title page, full-title page, and copyright page in a work of fiction, and these elements plus a table of contents in a work of nonfiction. A really extensive front matter section might contain the following components (listed in the order preferred by The Chicago Manual of Style): half title, series title or frontispiece, title page, copyright page, dedication, epigraph, table of contents, list of illustrations, list of tables, foreword, preface, acknowledgements (if not part of the preface or in the back matter), introduction (if not part of the principal text), list of abbreviations (if not in the back matter), chronology (if not in the back matter), and second half title.
The name of each component is generally descriptive of the information it provides. For example, a table of contents is a list of the contents in a book, and the half title page consists only of the main title (sans subtitle). The kind of information that goes into a foreword, an introduction, or a preface, however, is less obvious. As a result, many authors choose not to include these elements in their books, which is unfortunate because each of these components could enhance a reader’s experience with a book.
The front matter is the only section where a page can be easily added once the book is in page proofs (printed typeset pages that show all elements as they will appear in a printed book). Because of this, the front matter has a separate page numbering sequence from the rest of the book. All pages in the principle text have arabic numbers, and the first page of actual content is page 1 (this may be chapter 1 or an introduction or prologue). Front matter pages are numbered from 1 through whatever page is necessary, but the page numbers appear as lowercase roman numerals. Some front matter pages do not include page numbers—blanks, half title, title, copyright, dedication, and epigraph—although they are counted as numbered pages.
A foreword is a substantial introduction or statement about a book by someone other than the author of the book. Since someone else is giving your book props just by agreeing to write a foreword and sign his name to it, it’s almost like a very long endorsement of the work minus the gushiness about how great you are. The better the author of the foreword is known, the more helpful the foreword will be in generating interest in your book and increasing sales. Imagine the readers a foreword by Jack Welch or Steve Jobs would attract compared to a foreword written by your neighbor (unless your neighbor happens to be Jack Welch or Steve Jobs, of course). But don’t sweat it if you don’t have access to the big names; it’s unlikely that a foreword by Author’s Neighbor will hinder your sales.
Tell ’Em All About It
A preface could be described as a book’s profile. It includes material about the book that is separate from the book’s subject matter, such as why the author decided to begin the work, the scope of the work, and the work’s intended audience. Sometimes authors use the preface as a place to discuss research methods and to acknowledge assistance, though the latter is usually included in a separate front matter element, the acknowledgments.
Though introductions vary in the type of content they present, they generally should identify the book’s audience, establish a clear sense of the topic and angle the author will develop, tell the reader why the topic has value, and set the stage for the rest of the book by establishing the necessary context and language. Some introductions will describe the function of each chapter in a book, which could help readers decide if they want to read the entire book or only parts of it.
The introduction should be more closely connected to the book than any other component in the front matter. Ideally, an introduction functions as the first couple of paragraphs in a chapter should, by drawing in readers and making them want to keep reading.
Either the author or someone the author deems appropriate and capable to write about the subject can write an introduction. Keep in mind that though introductions can be written by the author or a contributor, someone other than the book’s author must write the foreword.
A big bad review of the order in which the top 10 most common front matter elements should be presented:
Table of Contents
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1. Flaunt a big platform.
Size matters in our industry because a big platform is one of the few things that can minimize the risk all publishers and distributors assume when they pick up a new title. In the book trade, a platform is defined as any means that can be used to reach readers directly and pull significant sales. An author with a big platform may have a syndicated column in popular publications, a speaking network that reaches tens of thousands of people every year, a database of newsletter subscribers, or a large base of clients or contacts that can guarantee a notable number of sales. Platforms not only ensure a base number of sales, but also give books word of mouth power that keep sales through other channels moving faster and for longer periods of time. When you submit a proposal to an agent, publisher, or distributor, be sure to highlight your current platform and what you plan to do to make it even more powerful. This should be a huge part of your proposal—it is the number one way to attract interest.
2. Get people to watch.
Open your mind, even if you’re an introverted writer. Since media coverage can propel books onto bestseller lists and into mass public consciousness overnight, agents, publishers, and distributors are looking for media savvy authors with big publicity plans. Let me be more specific: radio interviews are fine, but we want authors with good publicists who have big contacts and a clear plan to land solid reviews and print features, as well as big, national television hits. When you create a proposal for an agent, publisher, or distributor, consider offering details. Specify which publicist or PR firm you plan to hire, budget details, and strategy information: What are your primary media targets? Will you tour? What are your strongest media hooks?
3. Show me your “marketing” package.
Come on, don’t be shy. To sell books into our key accounts, publishers and distributors need strong support for every title, so let us see what you’ve got. Three simple ways to prove that your book has a hungry market waiting for it are to (1) cite comp titles—books that are similar to yours—with wild sales and loyal readers, (2) offer a notable marketing budget in support of the publishers and distributors’ efforts, and (3) propose a marketing plan that is diverse. At the end of the day, even the most connected publicist is at the mercy of reviewers, producers, and reporters to get exposure for your book. Build in some guaranteed results: maybe an online marketing campaign that includes Google Ads and banner advertising on sites that reach your target market, animated book trailers (like movie trailers) to be distributed via email and broadcast in alternative outlets such as airplanes or movie theaters, or creative seeding campaigns to generate pre-publication buzz.
You may have noticed that all three turn-ons relate to marketing. That’s no coincidence. Though most unagented proposals focus almost exclusively on content, marketing is the best way for writers to attract agents, publishers, and distributors, and it is often the element that determines whether or not you get a contract. These three tips assume, of course, that your book is marketable. Publishers and distributors operate in a consolidated industry with an oversupply and underdemand for its products, so we are looking for books that will sell big numbers in a mass-market retail environment. To compete, we need books that will get readers’ attention, and often it comes down to the marketability of the content and the author. When you position yourself in your book proposal, keep this in mind and you just might get lucky.
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Any statistician will tell you that 50 percent of statistics are incorrect. Of that, 20 percent are pulled from thin air. In the spirit of using random numbers to analyze a complex industry, I’ve compiled a list of important statistics from many different sources. With these little nuggets, you will be able to impress all your friends at the library, just do so quietly.
- 78 percent of titles published come from small/self publishers. —PMA
- Advances from major publishers generally fall into one of two categories: $2,000 to $20,000 or $100,000 plus. But the six-figure advance is an endangered species in today’s market (especially for first-time unknown authors). —Greenleaf Book Group
- POD books sell 150 to 175 copies on average. —New York Times, March 1, 2004
- The industry average return rate is 35 percent. —Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2005
- Barnes & Noble bookstores generally carry 60,000 to 200,000 titles at one time per store.
- Bookstore co-op promotions typically range in cost from $5,000 to $30,000.
- According to preliminary estimates from R.R. Bowker, title output fell 9.5 percent in 2005 to 172,000 new titles and editions. —Publishers Weekly
- There are six large publishers (in New York), 300–400 medium-sized publishers, and 86,000 small/self-publishers. —Dan Poynter
- According to R.R. Bowker, there are 2.8 million books in print.
- Saurage Research reported that for every one book sold online, eight are sold in traditional bookstores.
- 59 percent of customers plan to purchase a specific book when entering a bookstore, according to the Book Industry Study Group.
- On average, a bookstore browser spends eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds looking at the back cover of a book. —Greenleaf Book Group
- 8,000–11,000 new publishing companies are established each year. —ISBN.org
- About 50,000 titles are published each year in Canada. —bookwire.com
- In 2002, 73,000 smaller and newer publishers grossed $29.4 billion. —PMA
- In 2002, five large New York publishers had U.S. sales of $4.102 billion and worldwide sales of $5.68 billion. —Publishers Weekly, June 16, 2003
- 2002 sales of Christian books and products through all channels were just under $4.2 billion, up from $4 billion in 2000. $2.4 billion sold through Christian retail outlets, $1.1 billion through general retail, and $725 million through direct-to-consumer ministry channels. —Christian Booksellers Association reported in Publishers Weekly
- A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies. —Authors Guild
- The top ten U.S. cities by dollar volume of book sales and number of bookstores are Los Angeles-Long Beach, New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, San Jose, and San Diego. —Christian Science Monitor
- Entertainment content is the largest U.S. export. —Wall Street Journal
- Global piracy losses to the U.S. book publishers were estimated at $650.8 million in 2001. —International Intellectual Property Alliance
- Of the top 50 books, fiction outsells nonfiction about 60 percent to 40 percent. Fiction peaks in July at 70 percent, but nonfiction reaches almost 50 percent in December. —USA Today
- Of the authors surveyed by Business Week, 96 percent said they realized a significant positive impact on their businesses from writing a book and would recommend the practice. —Businessweek.com
The most important thing to take away from this is that the book industry is a competitive one. To have a shot, a book must be well written, well packaged, well distributed, and well marketed. Above all, the book needs an audience and that audience must want the book. If you’re looking for more provocative industry revelations, subscribe to the Big Bad Book Blog’s RSS feed. To find more book industry stats, we recommend Dan Poynter’s stats page and BISG.org.
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Decided May 17, 2006
Cases before the court:
Bring v. Take
Like v. Such as
Over v. More than/Greater than
Big Bad Book Blog delivered the opinion. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary occasionally dissenting. Chicago Manual of Style occasionally dissenting.
Common usage has invaded the domain of correct usage. The two parties constantly battle for dominance in the written language. Over time, correct usage eventually accepts certain elements of common usage, blurring the lines for writers and editors. And of course, multiple parties take sides in the dispute—editors, linguists, publishers of dictionaries and style manuals. In the end, the true victim is the writer. How is the writer to determine when common usage is acceptable?
It is the opinion of this blog that it is always better to be more specific than less specific when writing. That rule, as well as solid knowledge of the exact meanings of words, should guide writers and editors. Of course, there are always exceptions, instances when common usage, though not correct, is more appropriate. Dialogue is a good example, as is use of slang to make a point or set a tone. And since the tone and writing style of most blogs is very casual, you will no doubt find some examples of common usage here, too.
Keep in mind that it is possible to be correct and specific without sounding pompous or stiff. Following are a few cases that can easily be decided by the writer and will generally not change the tone of a sentence.
bring v. take: People often use bring when take is more correct. For example, “Don’t forget to bring the book with you on your trip.” The difference between bring and take is all about location. When you are asking someone to deliver something to your current location, you should use bring: “Please bring me a glass of water.” When you are asking someone to carry something to another location, you should use take: “Don’t forget to take the book with you on your trip.”
like v. such as: Like is used in so many different ways in our language; it’s not surprising that it rapidly takes the place of a variety of other words and phrases. However, it is important to keep in mind that like really means similar to. In writing, it’s best to use like when similar to could be used instead. If a better replacement phrase is such as, use such as. For example, “Sheila enjoys period films, such as Sense and Sensibility” (meaning Sheila enjoys Sense and Sensibility and other period films), and “I often go to family dining restaurants like Denny’s, but I never go to Denny’s.” When speaking, you might say “films like Sense and Sensibility” (meaning Sheila enjoys films similar to Sense and Sensibility, but not Sense and Sensibility) and it wouldn’t sound strange or incorrect. But when you write, you should try to be more specific.
over v. more than/greater than: This is a classic example of being specific and a classic example of common usage becoming correct usage. Merriam Webster’s and Chicago Manual of Style will tell you that it is just fine to write, “He makes over thirty thousand dollars a year.” But don’t be surprised if your editor changes that “over” to “more than.” For a long time, it was not correct to use over (a term for direction or placement) when you meant more than or greater than, and more than is still more specific.
In the case of Common v. Correct, the Big Bad Book Blog awards the defendant the point of specificity, but acknowledges the plaintiff’s right to assert itself within the language. It is not our intent to deny the natural evolution of acceptable usage. However, it is best for a writer to err on the side of specificity.
It is so ordered.
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A good fisherman knows that the way to catch a fish is with the right bait, and a good author knows the way to catch a reader is with a great cover. When reviewing concepts with your book designer, be sure to consider my TOP 4 tips that will have your book reeling in readers by the boatload. But first, make sure you’re fishing in the right pond.
When I start a new project I almost always take a trip to the bookstore and spend some time browsing whatever genre I’m designing for. A good cover design needs to fit in and stand out. I make a point to study the new releases. This keeps me on the forefront of trends in the genre, but I also make sure to browse the entire section, to see what trends have lasted over time. Identifying lasting trends is important because it helps me understand what readers expect on a cover. For example, in the mystery/thriller section, some trends include: typography (big and bold), imagery (often a simple object, or a blurred person or scene), color palette (bold, often dark), technology (lots of embossing and ink on foil). Once I identify trends in the genre I think, “How can I create a cover that fits in this group, but stands out as the best?”
Typography is a huge contributor to the overall look and tone of a design. The style, color, and size of typeface you use to communicate the title of your book influences how the reader interprets it. Spend some time exploring type combinations until you achieve the tone you wish to get across to readers. For flap copy, make sure the font is very legible. Remember, you want it to be easy for this fish to bite. If you choose a typeface that is too serifed, too condensed, too scripty, or too screamy, you are preventing your reader from learning about your product—a definite no-no.
In the interest of good flow and balance, I try to keep it down to three typefaces on a cover. There are always exceptions to good rules, but generally a cover using more than three varieties of type can be chaotic and disconnected. For my projects I need a good serif, a sans serif, and sometimes a display font. When choosing a typeface, study the shape of the letters and think about the colors used on the cover. What emotions do they evoke? How do the shapes relate to the content? Is your chosen typeface too masculine or too feminine? Do the edges of the letters taper or are they bold and blocky? All of these factors can affect the tone and mood for readers. I love the new design for Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The typography is soft but strong, and works well with the image. This new design makes me want to chuck my old, beat-up copy and buy the classic all over again.
Finding the perfect image is rarely easy. If an original photo shoot is not an option, stock photography is a great resource for designers. Stock image research works best after you have an idea, but sometimes browsing stock sites helps you explore your concept even further by tossing an image into your search results that makes you see your subject in an entirely new way. Some of my favorite stock sites are gettyimages.com for traditional rights-managed and royalty-free stock photography and illustrations, veer.com for trendier and eclectic images, and istockphoto.com for super low-priced, royalty-free photography and illustrations. Many of istock’s images need work before they are cover-ready, but they are a good start and you can’t beat the price.
3. Spine Design
The spine is an often forgotten part of the book cover, but for most books on the shelf it is the only way to lure in potential readers. The spine should be clearly readable from several feet away. It should also be interesting. When a spine contains an intriguing image, color combination, or type treatment, it is more likely to hook a reader into picking your book off the shelf: the first step to victory. I especially like spines that are a continuation of an image from the cover. I always want to know what the rest of the image looks like, so I pick up the book. One way to discern whether your spine makes the cut is to fold your cover and look at it on a bookshelf. James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, despite all the bad press, has an artful spine design. Everyone remembers the sprinkle-covered hand reaching out across the cover, but when only the spine is visible, the image is sliced beyond recognition, luring the reader into picking it up. The title could be more legible, but the memorable image communicates the designer’s intent, ties the front and back covers together, and is colorful enough to catch a reader’s eye.
Printing technology is that extra pop that attracts your catch. Some common technologies are specialty papers, embossing, using a combination of matte and glossy areas on your cover, and foil stamping. My favorite new technology is printing ink on top of a foil stamp. The foil adds a metallic appeal that is much more dramatic than metallic ink, and the technology allows designers to manipulate the look by printing ink on top of the metallic parts of the cover. Using technologies in fun and innovative ways can really light up your design and communicate your message more clearly.
Don’t let your potential reader be the one that got away. Follow these design tips, and your sales numbers won’t be fish stories.
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Have you ever tried so hard to not screw up that you actually sabotaged yourself with your own effort? In writing, this is called hypercorrection—the fear of error that leads to error. Hypercorrection leads to nasties such as
My friend whom for My friend who
Between her and I for between her and me
Thusly and muchly for thus and much
Though these examples may seem obvious, there are plenty of similar but subtler mistakes that sneak into emails, documents, and letters even in the snobbiest circles. For instance, you know you can’t have one alumni, but do you form false Latin plurals like prospecti (for prospectuses) or octopi (for octopuses)? Do you say as when you mean like, which when you mean that, or I instead of me? Hypercorrection doesn't just induce errors—it induces pompous, embarrassing errors. After all, the writer who uses who for whom makes a clear but pedestrian mistake; however, using whom for who [Whom is calling?] creates a monstrosity and shouts insecurity and confusion from the rooftops.
Insecurity is a major culprit in hypercorrection, and writing with confidence can correct some hypercorrective tendencies. But in tricky cases, confidence is hard to come by unless you know the grammatical rules.
Just to clear the air, let’s review the guidelines for whom and me, drawing from The Chicago Manual of Style 5.47.
Seven word pairs in English change when they’re in the objective case: I/me, we/us, he/him, she/her, they/them, who/whom, whoever/whomever. The objective case is the receiving end of the action (verb) or pointer (preposition); if the sentence is about someone getting hit with a stick, the objective case is for the hittee. [Tell me whom Jack hit with a stick. Jack hit me with a stick.] If the sentence is about exchanging things, the objective case is for the receiver. [To whom did Jack give the stick? Jack gave the stick to me. So I hit him. He’s a jerk.] If you’re confused about when to use whom, make the sentence you’re writing a question, and see if the answer would be in the objective case:
____ is calling? He is calling. Use who.
To ____ should I address it? To him. Use whom.
The person performing the action is not in the objective case, so words that point to him should never be either. Conversely, if the person under discussion isn’t performing any actions but is rather receiving the action on the business end of a preposition, use the objective case [between him and me]. Most native English speakers do this naturally, and are only confused about I/me. Therefore, if you find yourself perplexed, change the sentence to third person and test whether you’d use him/her or he/she [between him and her].
Another big source of hypercorrection trouble is the mistaken application of logic to language. Logic interferes either by suggesting a false rule where there’s only one exception or by “fixing” nonsensical common expressions. For these kinds of grammar issues, it’s better to go with your gut than your head—many rules of usage are idiosyncratic and convoluted, and if you make a mistake instinctually, at least you’re preserving your authentic voice. Choose what sounds right, or restructure your sentences so you have an option you’re sure of. (Have someone read your words before you commit them to final form if you’re unsure.)
As a long-term solution, there’s no substitute for looking up the proper usage of your tricky word. It’s easier than it looks, and you may be, as I often am, surprised at what you don’t know. My sources are the lovely Chicago Manual of Style (5.47, 159), Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary, and The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style (a sharp, fascinating book with the Latin and Greek plurals for my examples, for example, on page 176).
Learn the rules, look up the exceptions, rephrase troublesome sentences, and proofread everything. But remember, there’s no better cure for hypercorrective tendencies than a natural, relaxed manner of expression. Say it the way it sounds natural, and you’re probably saying it correctly.
TIP: All this serious talk shouldn’t blind you to the comedy of hypercorrection and other smuggery. Consider novelist Douglas Coupland’s dismay at the profusion of gray Ford Taurii (Microserfs), or the missing “je ne sais something” of Shelly Tambo’s rivals (Northern Exposure). Letting a conscious or silly hypercorrection stand won’t damage your rep, and it will probably make word nerds giggle maniacally.
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As the number of independent authors continues to grow, more and more writers are looking for expert advice. When everyone claims to have all the answers, how do you sort the reputable from the riff-raff? Well, the Big Bad Book Blog is a good place to start. Our Guru Who’s Who will introduce you to three experts in the field and what they’re up to now. We ask that you, our readers, contribute comments to articles like this to share your experiences with other Big Bad enthusiasts.
John Kremer is the go-to for all things book marketing related. He is the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books and the very useful Book Marketing Update newsletter. Kremer’s website contains enough information and resources to keep you busy reading for days.
Kremer is introducing an interesting program where you can earn a “master’s degree in book acceleration (an MBA),” where acceleration refers to growing your sales and platform. The four courses include Marketing Novels and Creating Fiction Bestsellers; Special Sales, Subsidiary Rights, and Branding; Marketing Books via the Internet; and Book Publicity and Promotion. For more on Kremer’s Book Marketing Masters Institute, click here.
Brian Jud, author of Beyond the Bookstore, just announced a new program: Book Marketing Weekly Teleseminars. The teleseminars will offer tips and strategies for special sales, publishing, and book promotion in general. The series includes guest experts and provides informative handouts and forms. Big Bad Book Blog readers get 20% off when they mention Greenleaf Book Group. For more information, check out Jud’s site. To sign up, send Brian an email or click here.
Dan Poynter’s The Self-Publishing Manual is the bible for many self-publishers. Poynter’s expertise covers all stages of publishing, from planning to writing to promoting. His website is easy to navigate and chock full of resources, articles, lists, and statistics. Poynter’s free weekly email newsletter is a must; it’s equal parts information and idea exchange.
For podcast fans, Poynter also offers Publishing Poynters Radio (PPR). Poynter hosts this program, billed as the “prime time source for self-publishing insights.” There are three episodes currently available here.
If you participate in any of these programs, come back to the BBBB and share your opinion! Leave a comment, and let our readers know how your experience rates on a scale from one to ten.
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What’s all the buzz about? Hopefully it’s your book, and it probably is—if your book happens to be about buzz. “Buzz,” or “word-of-mouth marketing” as it is now defined, has become all the rage in book marketing. Publicity is SO yesterday—so 2005. Today’s book marketers are focused on word-of-mouth promotion campaigns to blast books onto bestseller lists, break sales records, and build loyal fan bases for authors.
If by some miracle you haven’t been smothered by the hype surrounding word-of-mouth marketing, here’s the skinny:
“Buzz” or “word-of-mouth” marketing is the exchange between people about a product, place, service, or company. For example, a friend tells you about a great new restaurant she went to last night and recommends you try it. Since your tastes are similar, you are more likely to go on her recommendation than you are to trust the ad you saw in the local paper for the same restaurant.
At one time or another we have all “buzzed” about something to people we know—and sometimes to people we’ve just met. Book marketers have picked up on this, and now all big promotion plans include buzz marketing strategies.
Ready to accept that brown is the new black and buzz is the new Oprah, but not sure where to start or what to do?
The key is to begin at a grassroots level and enlist people you know to pass the word and make an impact.
- Start a seeding campaign. Send out your book to friends and contacts who would like the subject matter, and offer incentives for them to buy copies for others.
- Speak up. Book speaking gigs with every organization you’re involved with and any group that could benefit from your message.
- Use the Internet! Establish an online presence. Start a blog, or advertise on other book or subject-related blogs and websites.
- Send an email blast to your database introducing your book. If you don’t have a database, start one by developing a weekly email newsletter and building a subscription base on your website or at speaking and networking events.
- Look into buzz marketing companies that can help you develop your campaign, such as bzzagent.com. (In the case of this particular company, you need deep pockets for their services and we have heard mixed reviews on their results, but it may be worth exploring.)
Has the recent buzz hype been a bit overwhelming? You bet. In fact, in the tradition of “Bennifer” and “Brangelina,” we even considered dubbing the hooplah “Buzzarketing” or “Muzz.” But, ultimately, we came to respect the power of word-of-mouth marketing and appreciate that at least when our industry over-hypes a trend, it’s something that is smart and effective.
TIP: You don’t have to be a marketing expert to start your buzz campaign. If you need a little extra help or some good ideas, we highly recommend reading The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rosen. Rosen’s book offers strategies for creating and sustaining word-of-mouth campaigns. Another good one is Buzz Marketing by Mark Hughes, the founder of bzzagent.com.