Posts Tagged ‘grammar’

Self-Pub Success Story!

This Wall Street Journal article (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204770404577082303350815824.html) opens by saying that author Darcie Chan’s debut novel, The Mill River Recluse, has sold 400,000 copies and has placed her on the best-seller list “next to writers like Michael Connelly, James Patterson, and Kathryn Stockett.” Then the next paragraph goes on to say, “It’s been a success by any measure, save one. Ms. Chan still hasn’t found a publisher.”

Needless to say, a statement like that grabbed my attention (something of an understatement, to tell the truth). And Ms. Chan’s story turned out to be inspirational, as well as instructional–one more light on the horizon for those of us who’ve decided to try a DIY (do-it-yourself) angle or two on our publishing journeys.

If you haven’t read this story yet, I promise that you’ll learn at least one thing you don’t know already about the worlds of self-publishing and e-books. Furthermore, if you’re trying to decide which way to go with your next book, I suspect that you’ll be a little closer to that decision by the time you finish this article. Enjoy!

The Big Reasons Indie Authors Aren’t Taken Seriously

Sometimes we writers have to pull our hands away from our ears and force ourselves to listen to tough words. At least, that’s what we need to do if we’re serious about growing in our craft and eventually finding a wide readership for our work. This article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/30/indie-authors-struggle_n_1242935.html?ref=books) puts some of those tough words right in our faces!

Still assimilating the wealth of information from the 2012 Writer’s Digest Conference two weeks ago, I was drawn to this article for a number of reasons, the most important of which is the subject of editing. Not only were there dozens of references at the conference to this critical element of the publishing process, especially if you’re opting for a DIY avenue. But there are dozens more such references in the first year or so of this blog, as I was bringing my second novel, Separation of Faith, into life. Having learned the hard way what happens if you don’t invest in a book’s editing, I was determined to produce a novel comparable, or even superior, in editorial quality to anything coming out of the traditional world.

Separation of Faith has now placed in more than a dozen competitions. First Place continues to be elusive. But the novel has earned Runner Up to the grand prize winner several times, in addition to multiple Bronze prizes and a list of highly ranked Honorable Mentions. And most recently, even though there wasn’t an associated placement, the 2012 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards produced the following feedback from one of the judges:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “poor” and 5 meaning “excellent,” please evaluate the following:

  • Plot: 4
  • Grammar: 4.5
  • Character Development: 5
  • Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Judge’s Commentary:

What did you like best about this book?

Congratulations on writing and publishing your novel! The cover design and packaging is very professional. The back cover copy does a good job of maketing the book to potential readers. You have clearly done a great deal of research, which shows in the historical details and description that bring the scenes alive for the reader. You have created some interesting characters and brought them to life with strong dialogue and characterization. Good job balancing action, dialoge and narration. Good job with grammar, proofreading and formatting of the interior of the book.

How can the author improve this book? (Cheri’s Note: I decided to include this part as well, because I learned something, and I thought some of you might as well. And, we do need to strengthen our nerves so we can hear the improvements along with the accolades!)

Watch out for the overuse of italics, as this can be difficult to read, dilutes the emphasis, and makes the pages look a llittle disorganized. (Cheri’s Note: This comment addressed letters and journals written as part of flashbacks, several of which I formatted in italics.) Also, the book’s price seems a little high. These are minor concerns for a book that is quite strong overall.

The winners’ list for this contest will be announced by the end of this month, and I’m anxious to see who beat me. But the main thing I want to point out here is how important formatting and interior quality are with any book, but especially with self-published books! And even though Separation of Faith didn’t win a slot in this particular competition, the novel, as I said earlier, has placed in more than a dozen others. And there’s no doubt in my mind that a primary reason for that success is the quality of editing. (That’s also a main reason why I truly believe this entire endeavor will eventually take off! 🙂 )

Enjoy this important article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/30/indie-authors-struggle_n_1242935.html?ref=books) — and have a wonderful Super Bowl weekend!

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May versus Might

This is one we all learned in elementary school. Well … I don’t know about you, but every time this comes up in my writing, I hesitate. So, when I saw this article today, the clarity was deeply appreciated. Hope you find the information helpful too. http://blog.writersdigest.com/qq/May+Vs+Might.aspx

Promotion–Separation of Faith

The promotional train for Separation of Faith is definitely picking up speed, although I need to continue priming the pump (sorry for the mixed metaphor) every day, otherwise things tend to quiet down as quickly as they build up. Didn’t do a lot of priming while in California, although we had a wonderful book event with some wonderful long-time friends, and that night will forever be a treasured memory! Since I got home (five days ago), I’ve been working to catch up (and also finish an editing job for a client) while fitting in a seemingly endless string of medical appointments. (Hope this particular round will be over soon!)

Meanwhile, the Amazon stats have been going up and down in cadence with all of the other activities. At first, the hard cover was doing better than the soft cover, which was sort of surprising. But now that has switched. The soft cover is fairly consistently in the 100,000s or lower (a very, very respectable ranking for a new novel by an unknown writer), while the hard cover has inched up to a million. The hard cover will probably improve by tomorrow, if recent patterns hold. The best ranking so far for the hard cover was 95,000, and for the soft cover 75,000.

The rankings change every hour and are then averaged for the day. Both the 95,000 and 75,000 were hourly numbers that had me right up there with the big shots, even if only for that brief moment. The trick is figuring out how to get there more often (or, better yet, how to stay there 🙂 ). 

This Friday evening (the 29th) I will have another local book event, and those always create some subsidiary activity. So we’ll see happens over the weekend and early next week. Someone will take pictures on Friday, which I will post here shortly thereater.

If you have a minute, I invite you to take a look at the reviews on Amazon for Separation of Faith, which are now starting to dribble in as people finish the book. They’re all quite heartwarming, making me feel very grateful and immeasurably pleased that readers are enjoying what I’ve written. In the end, that’s what we’re all doing this for in the first place–getting our work into the hands of people who then receive a few hours of reading pleasure. Right? If not for that, all this insanity would really seem nuts!

Should you be in the market for a special holiday gift for a reader in your life, you can secure new copies of Separation of Faith (hard or soft cover) directly from me through the book store on my Web site (www.CheriLaser.com), in addition to Amazon and all other book retailers. My prices there are about the same as Amazon, and you get the customized autograph. Just a thought … (And while I love the soft cover version, the hard cover is truly gorgeous, if you’re into that sort of thing … 🙂 …)

The Truth About Cinnamon Second Edition

There is one more short list of changes received from the publisher two days ago that I need to review and approve. After that, we should be good to go for the final. As soon as the the shiny new Second Edition becomes available, you will be the first to know!

Video Book Trailer–Separation of Faith

If you haven’t already viewed this, I invite you to take a look at www.YouTube.com/cherilaserespecially if you’re thinking about promotional elements for one of your own Journey’s projects. The music for this little video (only one minute forty-five seconds in length) is an original song written by the fellow who put the video together. Everything about the way this video was created is special, and I’d love to have you take a look. And please feel free to share the link with your reader friends as well. I’d really enjoy hearing from them too.

Hope all is well with each of you this week and that each day moves you a little further along in your Dreams.

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Hi! I’m popping in quickly with a link to a great article that someone just forwarded to me from today’s New York Times. As I work through the latest edit of Separation of Faith, I know I’m guilty of some of this. Perhaps you’ll find something of value in the piece as well.


Later …


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Hitch a Ride on the Experience of Others

One of the books I purchased at that goal-altering conference last September (see Blog Launch Post from November 4) is Get Known before the Book Deal by Christina Katz (http://christinakatz.com/about/). Ms. Katz was also a speaker at the conference and, although I was thoroughly impressed and anxious to learn from her, I realized just the other day that I hadn’t even opened her book yet. Fortunately, all of my books are now unpacked and on the book shelf in my new office, so I went right to Get Known before the Book Deal and began reading.

The whole experiment underlying this blog, of course, involves learning how to create a presence and establish a following out in the open, with the process fully exposed so everyone watching can learn along with me. Then we’ll learn how to use that presence and following to help leverage publishing success down the road, using me and my two books as a test tube.

Well, Ms. Katz has already traveled a similar road and stresses the importance of establishing and building a platform (there’s that word again) as the foundation for everything else on my particular list. But her book really clarifies the platform concept and offers simple, practical things for us to do to help move our dreams forward.

I haven’t finished the book yet and will report on relevant points in my next post. But one point rang especially clear: When we’re tracking things like hits on our websites and blogs, we need to be looking at numbers in the hundreds per day, in order to record real progress. And the numbers need to be in the thousands per day before our online presence signifies any sort of arrival.

Consequently, I do have a long way to go–but I still believe I’ll get there.

Plan Update

The new chapter I realized I needed to write in Separation of Faith (following the beta readers’ input) is now finished. That exercise was challenging, to say the least because, in addition to inserting a new chapter, I had to make sure that the linkage in the chapters immediately ahead of and behind the new one were smooth and accurate. As I complete the balance of the edit, I’ll probably do more tweaking, but I’m happy with what I see–and I absolutely cannot believe that I originally thought the book would work without that chapter! Thank heavens for those beta readers!

In another week, I hope to be ready to submit Separation of Faith to the publisher. Then, while they’re putting the manuscript through their own editing process (which will take several weeks), I’ll complete the edit of The Truth About Cinnamon. The move and being sick ended up costing me a full month, and I’m now trying to make some of that up. But in the long run, a few weeks one way or another won’t be very memorable twenty years from now … 🙂

Speaking of Cinnamon

Three of the planned seven issues are now available for free downloading (http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/24081497/). Please let me know if you’re giving this a try. I’d love to hear from you!

The existing version of The Truth About Cinnamon will become an official 1st Edition next month, as soon as the re-edited version goes into production. I’m offering huge discounts through the book store on my website (www.TheTruthAboutCinnamon.com), if you’re interested in giving the whole thing a try.


Although I have a long way to go to reach the “arrived” level or even the “making good progress” level, the deal behind this blog is that I will share everything along the way. So, here’s where things stand today:

  • Blog Hits: 847 (last post: 737) This is a nice jump, but I need to figure out how to make this happen every day rather than every week.
  • Website: 35,088 (last post: 34,967)
  • Amazon Ranking: 2,523,108 (2,250,851) I don’t really think this one is going to move until the new version of Cinnamon is released. But I’m going to keep trying. Perhaps the free downloading will help generate a little interest.

Have a great week! I’m looking forward to talking with a lot of you as I’m tag surfing until my next post!

All the best to you–Cheri

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Punctuation Point

Although I’m already diverting from my plan to only show up every three days, I feel compelled to make a quick point. This issue is one I see frequently in my other job as an editor, and I’m seeing the same thing in comments I’m reading throughout the Blogosphere.

So, here’s the rule: Periods and commas always fall inside quotation marks. This is not just true in dialogue but in every situation. For example:

  • This is correct: He told me that he wanted to meet today, with an obvious emphasis on “today.”
  • This is incorrect: He told me that he wanted to meet today, with an obvious emphasis on “today”.
  • This is correct: Sometimes he says “today,” and yet other times he says “tomorrow.”
  • This is incorrect: Sometimes he says “today”, and yet other times he says “tomorrow”.

I know that a lot of writers think the correct versions look “funny,” but that’s the rule. If you look inside any professionally published work, whether fiction or non-fiction, the correct version is what you’ll see. There are rare exceptions within some European writing, but in “American Practice,” according to The Chicago Manual of Style (the style bible for the publishing industry–http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html), the rule again is: Periods and commas always fall inside quotation marks. The concept of “always” makes the rule easy to remember.

The form may vary, however, for the placement of exclamation points and question marks in relationship to quotation marks. Consult The Chicago Manual of Style on the following pages:

  • question marks with quotation marks–pages 5.77 and 10.27
  • question marks with other punctuation–page 5.28
  • exclamation points with quotation marks–pages 5.77 and 10.27
  • exclamation points with other punctuation–page 5.20

The period and comma rule is the most critical, though. Incorrect usage in this area really leaps off the page for agents and editors who are reviewing our work.

Hope this is helpful.

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