Wednesday, July 20, 2011

There Are Opinions, and Then There Are…

Regarding book reviews, I keep hearing: “Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion…” and “All opinions are valid, because you can’t argue with subjectivity.”

No, not everyone is entitled, and no, not all opinions are valid.

Everyone is allowed his or her feelings and beliefs. Opinions, on the other hand, need to be informed, well reasoned, and stated intelligently. If they are not, they are less than useless, they are harmful, and shouldn’t even be given a forum in which to be expressed, much less listened to and taken to heart.

Or this, posted on Twitter:

“I hate when people give your book a 3-star review because they don’t like the digital formatting. Was it a good book or not?”

Hey, Buddy! If you expect us to care about your words, you have to care about our total reading experience, and that includes the formatting!

The strongest and most lasting appeal of any story arises directly from only one source: the unified effect of the totality of the words. Distractions from that story, however, can come from several individual but interrelated sources, that also, interestingly enough, have to do with the words:

• bad spelling
• bad grammar
• incorrect punctuation
• inappropriate word usage
• incorrect information
• anachronisms
• bad storytelling involving
     - character development
     - setting
     - plot

Any of these can jolt the reader out of the story and into the “here and now” and, as a writer, that’s the very last thing that you want to happen. My teen-aged daughter, Hope Edwards (author of The Adventures of Dough Girl), will even stop reading a book in disgust if there are too many misspelled words.

If you—as the producer of the words, as the creator of the story—if you do not understand that fact, if you think that we who speak of the importance of spelling and punctuation and grammar are “nit picking” or are being “too fussy,” in short, if you just “don’t get it”… then no, you are not a good writer and, no, yours was not a good book.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New covers for “Memograms”

I have redesigned the front and back covers of my book, Memograms. I think that they now have a fresher, more professional look to them, and I have added review blurbs from Liz Alexander,The Book Doula (especially look at her Birth Your Book on Amazon), Steven Lewis of Talelist (a great site for Kindle publishing info), and from Kathleen Maher (author, Diary of a Heretic). I did a little tweaking of the front matter, also.

After I get it uploaded to the Kobo online store soon, I will be doing a more directed marketing campaign to increase exposure and sales. I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What Would You Like to See In a Formatting How-To Book?

I am working now on my next book, From Idea to eBook: a 1-2-3-Easy Guide, and (since it’s an e-book itself) it’s relatively easy to add things as I go along, and that got me to thinking: I remember what I wanted to know as I was doing the formatting for the two books that I’ve published so far (Memograms and The Adventures of Dough Girl), and that’s what I’m putting in my book, but what would someone else want? What special problems have other people had? What really drives you guys crazy when it comes to getting your e-books formatted and ready to publish?

I ask that because I want my book to be as useful to as many people as possible. I’ve paid for and read a number of other formatting guides, and there have been bits and pieces of each that I have found useful, but no one of them completely addressed my particular needs. I had to find some answers in this one and some answers in that one. It was difficult and should have been unneccessary.

I want my book to be as complete and thorough a guide to basic e-book formatting as I can make it. So, I’m asking you now: What do you want in a formatting book?

Give me your answers by commenting, or by email. I’d love to hear from you.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Contest Winner

Our recent contest winner is fiction author Kathleen Maher, and her web site is called, “Diary of a Heretic.”

Her answer:

I’m popping by to say I looked up the quote: it’s from a 1950 movie, “Harvey,” with Jimmy Stewart. My mother used to love putting together “treasure hunts” for us kids; it sounds like something she might have said when we were begging for clues.

Kathleen’s prize was a free copy of my wordplay book, Memograms, for her Kindle.

Kathleen is a little unusual in that she doesn’t make you pay to try her writings. She posts her fiction, chapter by chapter, story by story, right there on her web site, for all to read and comment upon. I’ve started reading her and I find her opening sentences absolutely intriguing:

From Motivations:

From The Battered Child:
A month after his Emergency Contraception escapade, he still couldn’t guess.

From Plan B:

If those openings don’t make you want to know more, then you should just stick to reading soup can labels! Check out her work. You just might find yourself to be a fan.