Tag Archives: publishing

What makes a book unremarkable? One author/reader’s views – very well stated!

This link came to me from one of the writer’s in the local writer’s group I used to attend, who I believe follows this blog. The author who wrote this article came up with a way to review other author’s books, and what about them makes him lose interest. He has evaluated those reasons for losing interest in this blog post in a very effective manner, which could give any author an opportunity to look at their own work with an eye to seeing if those flaws are present. Not surprising to me, poor editing is in the top three. Show, don’t tell is another – also not a surprise. The lion’s share of the top issue concerns goes to story building, which is also not a surprise. Here is something that should not surprise us either – good beta or alpha readers can help resolve the first two, a good copy editor or developmental editor can also help with the first two, but no one can help you produce a good book if you don’t have a good underlying plot, strong characters, and consistently believable material to begin with!


Now – being a scientist, I am aware that you can make statistics tell you just about anything you want it to tell you. Also, being aware of the nature of statistics, I am aware that this fellow is working with a very small data pool and using highly subjective analysis. However, given those limitations I believe that he has been forthright in his presentation and representation of what data he has accumulated thus far, and has limited the subjective nature of his research with multiple checks to the point that the material is extremely valuable. 

It will be interesting to see future results with more data available, or to see if the process could be replicated. Anyone else out there interested in trying this? Or know someone using a review process similar to this so the results can be compared?


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Heartland Book Design, HBD

This company is VERY good at book design and I really enjoy working with them. If you are considering self-publishing, you may want to contact them. The website focuses on textbooks, especially mathematics, as they are set up to develop formulaic material better than most design companies – but they really are versatile and can work with most topics as well as with indie authors of novels.




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Work got in the way of blogging – oops!

How important are blogs to someone who is already working? Actually, for the purpose of generating more work or a larger contact base, the networking that blogging promotes as well as the ability to generate an audience that can see what you can accomplish, is extremely important and useful.

Not to mention the practice that comes from drafting, editing, and then posting the blog you write. If you don’t draft and edit your blogs, and simply post your thoughts as they come to you – much as you would in free-writing – they are still useful in giving you insights and potential starting points for further, more intensive, writing. Many can find the beginnings of an article or a story nested in the blogs they write.

Where do topics for blogs come from? Sometimes from personal conversations or virtual chats, sometimes from your own imagination, sometimes as a method of venting your own frustrations or emotions. Sources of topics for blogs can be as varied as the people that write them are, and depend on the purpose of the blog. They can be structured and set to a plan, or they can flow over time as something that is almost self-directed, or anything in-between.

Me, I am trying to network with others who might or might not be interested in my services as a copy editor, but also I am trying to give solid and useful advice to my target audience: authors. Getting information to authors that will help them produce a better product will make my job as a copy editor a whole lot easier, so it is in my best interest to do so. Not to mention that it is a lot more fun to edit a quality product than one that needs a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong – I love giving solid advice and positive input that can help someone create a better final product – but it is even better to be able to do so while I am enjoying the product itself! Then also, if authors write better, then I can buy books that I want to read for enjoyment, which will be more fulfilling to read.


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Add Tension!

If there is no tension in a story, who will keep reading past the first few pages? Other than someone paid to read it, of course…

My thoughts on this, take it or leave it.

Tension can be psychological or physical in nature.

There is no doubt that, handled correctly, throwing your protagonist into a weather catastrophe on page one can be a great tension creator (it can also be passé). The same can be said of a physical altercation, disaster in space, being caught in a house fire, finding a dead body, being lost at sea, or many other physical situations that can create tension. Fights and chase scenes are exceptionally good at introducing physical tension, but they are not the only methods. A protagonist experiencing a mystical event outside the realm of reality, which they treat as either common place or as a platform for wondering about their own sanity (thereby introducing psychological as well as physical tension), is a wonderful launch-pad with a lot of potential.

Developing an antagonist to pit your protagonist against, be it another character or a force of nature, is a great source for tension. If you go that route, be sure to use it fully, with forethought and the intent of working it intricately into the long-term plot. Remember, if your protagonist defeats the antagonist, the series is over – unless there is another antagonist waiting in the wings to step forward and become known. Often, having a vague but exceedingly evil antagonistic presence that is only rarely visited but never really faced during the full series, while having lesser antagonists for each book in the series, is not only a source of tension but also is a method of adding continuity to a series. This has the added benefit of not losing the antagonist totally while still providing the protagonist a chance to prevail against an adversary in each book.

Psychological tension can be more subtle and therefore more easily lost on some of your potential audiences – things like teenage angst, internal conversations of the lead character asking themselves what the right thing is (and do they really want to do it), struggling with major life changes while trying to refuse to accept them, a main character being in love with someone who is somehow unattainable – and not really knowing it even though everyone else around the two characters is waiting for them to get a clue, and so on. These often make great secondary plots, and can add to continuity throughout a series.

There is potential for tension all around you. Find it and develop it into a component of the plot that will capture your readers attention, keep them interested in the plot throughout the entire project, and leave them wondering if there is a sequel in the making.


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What makes a book a salable book? And who should decide?

Second question first: How many people think that the writer is who decides what makes a book salable? The publisher? The editor?  The PR guy in sales? The stores?

I submit that, ultimately, who decides if a book is salable is the reader. WHAT! How can someone who hasn’t read the book yet know how to decide if they should buy it? And furthermore, how would they know what would make it a good purchase? Unfortunately for all of those in the publishing industry (from sales clerk to author) it really is the buyer who makes the decision whether to purchase or not.

This came up recently in discussion with an author (who shall remain nameless but who knows who he is), but it wasn’t the first time the subject had been broached with me.

Psychologically speaking – and having a degree in psychology I can go out on a limb and say that with some sense of confidence and a bit of aplomb – most readers are visual learners by nature (otherwise they would wait for the video to come out). Therefore, the first things they are drawn to are visual things – the cover art, the title, and the blurb (whether it is on the cover, an insert, the advertisement, or the website). Then they may check the first few pages, or maybe they are like me and check a few pages in the middle of the book, to see if the writing style appeals to them. BUT – if they aren’t attracted to the cover and title, you don’t even get them to the point where they will read the blurb; especially in this day and age, where you can flip through hundreds of books in a matter of minutes because they are ‘recommended’ as ‘similar to previous purchases’ on the website where you order your books or eBooks!

My advice to authors, especially indie authors who are trying to be independent and work without the benefit of a publishing company that can market your book in the back inserts of those ‘similar’ books by other authors, is to ask for advice! Ask people what they think of the cover art you choose, and the colors/font/wording of the title. Get a fairly large sample (at least 25 or so) and compare what the people you talk to have to say about it for common themes. Having it relate to the story is a bonus, but attracting interest is the purpose of a cover.

Don’t ask an artist – while art is also a visual format, that doesn’t mean the artist is a reader – and you need to know what a reader is looking for in a book. By all means, have an artist help you design the cover if you can – but get opinions about it from readers!

Have the blurb read by your beta readers, proofreaders, and copy editors AFTER they have read the book, so they can let you know if it is a good representation of the book itself, whether it creates interest without giving away too much about the plot or story line, and if it would be something they would think would be a good lead in to the story itself. THEN have at least a dozen people who are READERS, but have not read your drafts, go over the blurb and see if they would at least find it interesting enough to read. Consider having a one line blurb on the front cover, as well as a full blurb in the insert, on the back page, or in the website or ad for your book.

Until you have a readership and a following, you need to market your book to the buyer in the only way you can. First contact!

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let’s get started!

Well – my first blog here, hope it won’t be my last!

I am here trying to get my face out there into the world and had a hard time finding a photo in which I wasn’t sticking my tongue out at the photographer (usually one of my kids) or where an animal wasn’t more the subject than me (meaning I was filthy dirty from giving a horse a bath or worse, LOL).

I just might have to let someone take some real pictures of me and try for a more professional (and better dressed) me for the images!

I am a copy editor.

I thought I might be a writer, but I found that when I joined a writers group all I wanted to do was check the work everyone one else was writing.

So, bowing to the inevitable I have accepted that I am a reader not a writer, and since I am happier reading than any other time that is fine with me. Heck, I read for work all day, and when I knock off I pick up a book to read, Drives the hubby a little nuts but he knows that is what I do.

Wish me luck – I want to get some more business in the world of fiction since most of my copy editing has been college textbooks and free edits for new writers of fantasy and sci-fi novels, one of whom insisted on paying me for my work and that got me started thinking…

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