Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Overcoming Rejected Manuscripts

For hundreds of years a handful of print publishers held the lives, fortunes and careers of authors in the palms of their hands. Back then printing was a slow, painstaking and expensive business and publishers wanted to be sure their money, time and effort was expended on a book that would sell many copies.

Times changed but the publishing industry didn’t. Printing became much much faster and cheaper but still a handful of gatekeepers held rigidly to choosing only the few books they were convinced would sell many copies. They also insisted on restricting authors to releasing only one or at the absolute most two books per year, even though the editing, printing and publication no longer took anything like six months to complete.

Even the arrival of digital publishing didn’t change their stance. They insisted digital books weren’t “real” books and it wasn’t until epublishing was a multimillion dollar business that they finally began accepting that it was here to stay.

In the meantime thousands of authors had been published with small digital-first publishing houses, and a significant number of them were making a much better living than mid-list print authors. Not only did digital publishers pay authors every three months instead of perhaps only once a year, but prolific authors were able to release four or even six books a year instead of one. As an author’s backlist grew, readers discovered digital books never went out of print, and began buying the entire backlist of new authors they discovered and loved.

The advent of self publishing has added another range of choices and many print authors have released their own out of print backlists as self published digital works.

But some authors still crave the recognition of a “big” New York publisher. So for those who continue to receive rejection slips, and don’t wish to choose the digital-first method of publishing, here is a list of famous, but rejected authors.

C.S. Lewis was turned down eight hundred times before selling a single piece of writing. Then there was the San Francisco “Examiner’s” response to Rudyard Kipling. “I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”

For a list of other now famous rejected authors see:

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Everything you ever wanted to know about semi colons

Semi colons have a difficult life. They’re halfway between a period and a comma, neither one nor the other. Many readers hate them with a passion. They slow reading down, and when the hero is backed into a corner and fighting off ten bad guys, the reader absolutely detests being slowed down. They also get blamed for horrible run-on, difficult to comprehend sentences. Some publishers rigorously remove every colon and semi colon from each manuscript.

All in all being a semi colon is a tough gig.

But wait. They can be helpful.

A semicolon can be used as a super comma in a list. Instead of wondering if I’m supposed to buy peas, macaroni, and cheese (three items) or peas plus macaroni and cheese (two items), I can use a semi colon to properly break up the list.

They can also replace conjunctions, making the reader see there are two separate ideas in the sentence, without constant repetition of little words like “and” and “but”, or too many short, choppy sentences.

So don’t totally disregard them. Used sparingly and with discretion, they may become your new best friend. (Unless your publisher bans them!)

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What Books Readers Buy: Readers' Survey

Every year Smashwords examines sales data to extract insights about best practices that give indie authors and publishers incremental advantages in the marketplace. This data is probably the only firm facts anywhere about digital sales. The survey is based on over $25 million in actual verified ebook sales data, aggregated across the Smashwords distribution network between April 2014 and March 2015.

1. Preorders. Less than 10 percent of books began as a preorder, yet two thirds of the top 200 bestselling titles were born as preorders.

2. Series with free series starters earn more money.

3. Free still works to build readership.

4. Longer books sell better than shorter books.

5. $3.99 remains the sweet spot for full length indie fiction.

6. 99 cents is still good for building readership.

7. Bestselling authors are more likely to have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and more likely to have a blog.

8. Top Fiction categories during the period: 1. Romance. 2. Erotica. 3. YA and teen fiction.

9. Top Non-fiction categories during the period: 1. Biography. 2. Health, wellbeing and medicine

Anyone seriously interested in making a success of a writing career needs to read the full article and apply areas that relate to them. Here's the link:

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Grammar Myths Revealed

Do you know what a run-on sentence is, and how to avoid it? No, sticking in a couple of semicolons, or sprinkling it liberally with commas is not a solution!

Do you know when it is permissible to use passive voice?

How about i.e. and e.g. They aren’t the same thing. But do you know what they mean and how to use them correctly?

And then there’s one of my favorites, Never Use a Preposition to End a Sentence With.

Grammar Girl herself (aka Mignon Fogarty) explains away ten common myths on Mental Floss. You can read her article here:

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.