Why you should produce a Large Print Edition of your book

I am in the process of producing large print editions of as many of my books as possible. Some people have asked me why I bother.

I did a quick search of LP editions available on Amazon UK – there were only 7 pages worth (109 results) , and most of those were calendars/planners.

Of the rest I found:

The Karma Sutra

Frankenstein

The Picture of Dorian Grey

Siddhartha

The Crimson Cryptogram: A Detective Novel

Dracula

Pride and Prejudice

Great Expectations

Emma

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Prince (Machiavelli)

Razor Sharp

The Yellow Wallpaper

The Importance of Being Earnest

Final Justice

Moby Dick

A Patricia Cornwell book

A Christmas Promise

Give Me Death

Eight Days to Live

Southern Lights

Capital Crimes by Stuart Woods

Most of these were via 3rd party sellers and may or may not have actually been available.

There may have been more which were incorrectly marked.

Abe books has a large print section https://www.abebooks.co.uk/docs/LargePrint/ and better accessibility than Amazon however Abe charges sellers to sell on its site – so that may exclude indies and small presses from considering it as an option.

https://www.wfhowes.co.uk/browse/formats/large-print – has a reasonable catalogue

W.F.Howes Ltd is the UK’s leading audiobook, digital services and large print publisher, releasing around 100 new unabridged audiobooks every month under a number of imprints including ClipperJammerAvidLamplightNudged and Jammer Teen.

Our digital arm provides eAudiobook and eBook lending to the library market through the RBdigital platform, alongside several other platforms specialising in same-day newspapers and magazines, adult learning and language tutorial programs.

But unless you know that is there, or are accepted by them you’re book won’t be available in this accessible format. 

Why do I do this?

My father was partially sighted, having lost some of his sight serving in the army. He enjoyed reading but struggled to read printed books for any length of time unless they were large print. In his later life he could barely read regular print books at all. What a shame – he loved to read. Why should a person miss out on literature because they cannot see well?

It is easier now with e-readers and audiobooks, but these are not suitable for everyone (especially older technophobes like my dad), and audiobooks are pretty expensive. Listening to a story read aloud is a very different experience to reading the printed word. Surely the joy of reading should be available to all?

Our local town library (when there were such things) had a small assortment of LP books, but not many.

It’s better now than it was but lots of indie authors with great books simply don’t offer then in large print – maybe because they don’t think about it much, or don’t know.

How easy is it to produce a book in large print?

RNIB states large print is font 16-18 and giant print is anything larger than this. Regular print is 10-12-point font, so there is quite a difference. And some people really struggle with smaller fonts.

Amazon will allow authors to produce book in large print, there is a little box to tick stating it’s in large print format. Other than that it’s a case of formatting the book for a larger trim size (8×10 or above). KDP will provide a template of all of the trim and cover sizes. It’s relatively easy to copy the text into this template and use MS Word styles to change the font size (and pick a font like Times New Roman or Arial) and the chapter headers etc. The cover would need to be enlarged – but most of the image design programmes can do that, or you can use the cover creator and select the appropriate size for the book.

That’s it. There’s no extra cost, other than ordering a proof copy.

There are restrictions on expanded distribution for some trim sizes but there are a few which are suitable. ED puts the price up – and as LP books tend to be meatier they will likely be more expensive than the regular sized one. KDP print only caters up to 400 pages – so anything longer than that will need to be split – again this raises the cost to the buyer. I am going to investigate the logistics of that at some point soon.

So why not produce a large print edition when you produce your paperback? All it takes is a little extra time. Everyone should have access to books, and it’s easy to produce.

https://www.rnib.org.uk/information-everyday-living-reading/large-and-giant-print

5 books that Manipulate the English Language – Guest Post – Desiree Villena

Today we welcome Desiree Villena for a guest post.

5 Books That Manipulate the English Language

The scattering of words and phrases in fictional languages is not an unusual concept in fiction. Fantasy worlds, such as Tolkien’s Middle Earth and George R.R. Martin’s The Known World, are so fully realized that they not only come with their own history, topography, and mythology, but their own languages too. And I’m not just talking about the odd memorised Game of Thrones quote; I’m talking 4000 word Dothraki lexicons and university courses in Elvish.

Languages are an exceptional way of capturing the soul of the culture that spawned them — which is why fantasy authors aren’t the only ones to have dabbled in lexical invention. The limited vocabulary and sinister staccato rhythm of ‘Newspeak’ was used in Orwell’s cult classic 1984 to show how the totalitarian state kept original thought at bay. Meanwhile,  Roald Dahl used the ‘frothbuggling’ (silly) but ‘hopscotchy’ (cheerful) language he called ‘Gobblefunk’ to make his exuberant world even more playful.

But what about books that go a step further? Those written entirely in a constructed language or dialect? Though they can initially be a little daunting, these books take the immersive experience of reading to a whole new level. So if you’re up for the challenge, they’re not to be missed!

1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Burgess’ dystopian novel is narrated by Alex — a nightmarish teen who thinks and talks in Nadstat. If you’ve never heard of Nadstat, don’t worry, you haven’t fallen behind the times; Burgess constructed it himself by amalgamating Romany, Cockney rhyming slang, and a Russian-English hybrid lingo. Along with white cricket codpieces and dark eye make-up, Nadstat is part of the performance of a violent youth subculture.

For readers, this street-slang acts like a screen, blurring our understanding of the brutal ‘ultraviolence’ they commit. If the words for blade, guts, and scream weren’t shrouded in Nadstat, we’d have to abandon the book within chapters to throw up or find a priest. Instead, a kind of rapport develops.

At first glance, Alex’s narrative may seem incomprehensible, but with a little bit of context, the meaning soon becomes clear. I bet you can figure this sentence out pretty easily (though the squeamish may not want to): “to tolchock some old veck in an alley and viddy him swim in his blood.” If you’re still having trouble, you can check out this dictionary. Before long you’ll be slipping Nadstat into conversation; though don’t let that lead to tolchocking old vecks in alleys!

2. The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

Paul Kingsnorth doesn’t get on with historical novels written in contemporary language. To travel back in time, he argues, you need to speak the language of the era. You can debate the truth of this among yourselves; but whether or not you agree, The Wake is not to be missed.

It’s composed in what Kingsnorth calls a ‘ghost language’ — a language that aims to reflect a historical setting. In this case, England during the wake of the Norman conquest. As Alex points out in this post, the English language has changed a lot: to reproduce a version of Old English, Kingsnorth had to scrap any words that came over with the French and reintroduce words of Anglo-Saxon origin. The result can be a little disorienting:

“aefry ember of hope gan lic the embers of a fyr brocen in the daegs beginnan brocen by men other than us. hope falls harder when the end is cwic hope falls harder when in the daegs before the storm the stillness of the age was writen in the songs of men”

However, if you persevere (and maybe sound the words out loud), the language will soon come naturally, and you’ll be rewarded with a gripping story.

3. Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

The language of Hoban’s dystopian novel, though it’s set in the distant future, is uncannily similar to that of Kingsnorth’s distant past. Riddley Walker imagines a world 2,000 years after nuclear war has obliterated civilisation as we know it. Living in a nuclear wasteland, humanity is more or less transported back to the Iron Age, where the language is as broken as the landscape.

Our narrator is 12-year-old Riddley Walker, who lives in Kent, ‘Inland’ (England). However, it’s not just the regional accent and Riddley’s awkward pre-teen slang that shapes the dialect in which the novel is written — it is also injected with Hoban’s invented post-apocalyptic vernacular. Here’s a little taster: “Every 1 knows about Bad Time and what come after. Bad Time 1st and bad times after. Not many come thru it a live.”

Though that sentence may look like a text message with one too many typos, as the story unfolds, you’ll realize just how important this language is to Hoban’s vision.

4. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Unlike the other books on this list, Trainspotting isn’t written in a language constructed by the author. Welsh’s novel follows in a noble line of literature (including Wuthering Heights and several works by James Kelman) composed partially in Scots’ dialect — but Welsh takes things one step further.

If you’ve seen the cult movie starring pre-Obi Wan Ewan McGregor, then you might recognize the name Mark “Rent Boy” Renton. Alongside other drug-addled junkies living in Edinburgh’s inhospitable outskirts, Mark narrates Trainspotting in a thick Scottish dialect. The novel is written phonetically, so it can end up looking a little opaque:

“Ah sit frozen for a moment. But only a moment. Ah fall off the pan, ma knees splashing oantae the pishy flair. My jeans crumple tae the deck and greedily absorb the urine, but ah hardly notice. Ah roll up ma shirt sleeve and hesitate only briefly, glancing at ma scabby and occasionally weeping track marks, before plunging ma hands and forearms intae the brown water.”

But, if you start by reading it aloud, it’s much easier to understand; not to mention, you’ll instantly nail an Edinburgh accent.

5. The Policeman’s Beard is Half-Constructed

This collection of prose and poetry is written in a language that is essentially alien. In 1984, William Chamberlain and Thomas Etter created a computer program called raconteur (Racter for short) to answer the question: what kind of language would a machine, with no knowledge of the human experience, come up with?

I suppose getting a computer to do all the work is one way to deal with writer’s block. And honestly, the results could give Anne Carson a run for her money:

BILL. I love a child.
MARCELA. Children are fortunately captivating.
BILL. Yet my love is excellent.
MARCELLA. My love is spooky yet we must have a child, a spooky child.
BILL. Do you follow me?
MARCELLA. Children come from love or desire. We must have love to possess children or a child.
BILL. Do we have love?
MARCELLA. We possess desire, angry desire. But this furious desire may murder a child. It may be killing babies someday.
BILL. Anyway let’s have a child.
MARCELLA. My expectation is children.
BILL. They will whisper of our love.
MARCELLA. And our perpetual, enrapturing, valuable fantasy.

Influenced by technology and the merging of cultures, language is constantly shifting. Maybe one day we’ll all be talking ‘Textspeak’, or regional dialects will die out completely, leaving some standardised form of language. The possibilities are endless. Which is why novels like these, that explore the evolution of language and the effect it has on a consciousness, are so uniquely fascinating. Granted, they aren’t for everyone — some people will simply conclude that these books are in serious need of a professional editor. But, if you have the patience to scramble through a rough few pages, then they’re not to be missed!

Weird Words and Freaky Phrases – Part 1 – Etymology and Monkeys

The English language has a lot to answer for. It’s a polyglot of corrupted Latin, Anglosaxon, Germanic, Celtic, Frankish, Danish – with input from Indian languages and other sources. It’s illogical, contradictory and, in some cases, bloody odd. Britain has been invaded and influenced by celtic tribes, Jutes, Danes, Normans and Romans.

Usage and meaning change with time, misunderstanding, common usage, dialectic differences and many other factors.

Language is mutable and the study of it infinitely fascinating.

Any non-native speaker has their work cut out learning the nuances (Latin – origin ‘nubes’ meaning cloud’, to Middle French – nue/nuer to make shades of colour), dialects (also Latin – Middle French) and phrases or sayings that many people use but don’t understand.

Etymology (/ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒi/)[1] is the study of the history of words.[1] By extension, the phrase “the etymology of [a word]” means the origin of a particular word. For place names, there is a specific term, toponymy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology

 Origin of Etymology

‘late Middle English: from Old French ethimologie, via Latin from Greek etumologia, from etumologos ‘student of etymology’, from etumon, neuter singular of etumos ‘true’. –

https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/an-introduction-to-etymology-eight-great-word-origins

Don’t get this mixed up with ENTOMOLOGY – which is a branch of zoology studying insects.

Freaky phrases:

Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey – meaning – it’s really cold (in case you hadn’t realised)

Origin – The story goes cannon balls on ships used to be stored in a brass tray called Brass Monkey – and in very cold conditions it would contract and spill the cannon balls out.

However

  • The OED does not record the term monkey or brass monkey being used in this way
  • Cannonballs weren’t stored on deck on the off-chance there would be battle (they’d roll around everywhere in rough weather. Shot was stored in the gun spars or shot garlands into which round shot was inserted ready for the gun crew to use).
  • Shot would not be left to the elements, where it could rust, potentially causing explosions of the cannon when fired.

Being the sort of person I am I looked up how cold it would have to be –

‘The coefficient of expansion of brass is 0.000019; that of iron is 0.000012. If the base of the stack were one metre long, the drop in temperature needed to make the ‘monkey’ shrink relative to the balls by just one millimetre, would be around 100 degrees Celsius.’

At which point cannon balls rolling around is probably the least of your worries.

However, a ‘monkey’ was a gun or cannon dating from the 17th century and the Monkey tail was a lever used for aiming it [Source: The Oxford English Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press, 1933.]

And the sailor who collected the powder for the cannon was a ‘Powder Monkey’ (not a nice job, don’t get a spark in that area)

It may also have referred to the three brass balls that were a pawnbroker’s sign.

Early usage in the 19th century reference other parts of the ‘monkey’ – cold enough to freeze the tail, nose, whiskers, toes etc. off and possibly referred to brass monkey statues from China which were popular imports. The ‘balls’ freezing is a variant – because humans will be humans. That part of the anatomy did not appear in print until the 1930s. It’s possible the naval origin is a sanitised origin

Author Herman Melville (Moby Dick), uses the phrase in Omoo.

See also:

https://www.wordorigins.org/big-list-entries/brass-monkey-cold-enough-to-freeze-the-balls-off-a

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brass_monkey_(colloquialism)

Guest Post – Mary Ann Cherry – It Isn’t Just About the Verb

Today we welcome Mary Ann Cherry – author of the Jessie O’Bourne Art Mysteries

ALOHA!

IT ISN’T JUST ABOUT THE VERB

My short talk is about adding excitement to your writing, not about the difference between active and passive verbs. To use active words instead of passive, you must first know the difference. so even though most of you are old hands at it, I’ll give a short explanation.

Recognizing passive voice takes attentiveness. The biggest giveaway is some form of the to be verb in a verb phrase. The “to be” verbs are essential in writing. But with overuse, they can also be an enemy of the novelist or short story author.

So let’s first go basic.  In passive voice, the subject receives the action such as: This scarf was made by my grandma. Or…the building was demolished by the storm. Sometimes, in the passive voice, you can’t even tell who is performing an action. For instance: The building was demolished. (By what?)

In active voice, the subject performs an action such as: My grandma knitted this scarf. Or…the storm demolished the building. Or better yet, get some action going:  The scarf twisted under grandma’s knitting needles, growing and stretching like the beanstalk in that old fairy tale.

Phew. That’s done. Now let’s talk about how to use words to activate scenes, characters and descriptions that don’t bore the reader. Active writing isn’t just about the verb. It’s about engaging the reader. So when I talk about active words, I am talking about words that elevate a story from the mundane to the exciting—or at least to the interesting. Choices between boring and exciting can be as basic as what your character is eating or drinking. Words should be painting a picture in your reader’s mind. They should bring taste, smell, and color. When you are writing fiction and have a choice between active and passive verbs think physical. Think “show don’t tell”. It helps to start with the basic sentence and then reevaluate the words.

  • She was drinking apple juice
  • She drank apple cider
  • She sipped hot cider with mulling spices

Okay, there you have the basic. Now, think physical. Think Aloha moment…that which is different will always stand out…

  • She lifted the mug to sip steaming cider, redolent with the heady smell of cinnamon and cloves and hot enough to burn her tongue—badly. That can show rather than tell…another way to show rather than tell.

 

She lifted the mug to sip.  Now give the CIDER a personality – “The amber cider burnt an angry path down her throat like flowing lava.”

The steam, the heat, the smell, the burnt tongue all bring the reader into the moment. It’s about engaging the reader. Active words overhaul a boring story the way exercise shapes and sculpts a flabby body.

Does it have to be verbs that make a story seem to rumble with action? It is certainly better to use verbs that show action instead of the boring passive verbs. However, I have found those can be overdone easily as well.  To augment those words that move, that suffocate, that rejoice, use words that entertain—that DO something to the reader’s experience.

When someone picks up a book, they want to be entertained. They want to be sucked into the story until they become part of it. They want your hero or heroine’s life to become their alternate reality, if only for a short time.

What makes that happen?

Let’s talk people. Fabricate a character readers love, or a character that readers love to hate without making them look in the mirror so often, or have their ex-wife tell about what a jerk they are. Instead, do most of it with—and I’ll repeat it–action!

DESCRIBING YOUR CHARACTER: Description of the character doesn’t have to be dull. A description can be active, and inanimate objects can be given life.

  1. She looked in the mirror and saw freckles, red hair, and her favorite blue shirt– okay, we’re describing the woman…but it’s a bit dull.
  2. Freckles and red hair run in the family – she hated both… a little more active.
  3. Her red hair curled about her face and freckles peppered her nose and cheeks. With an action verb, notice that the freckles have become a living thing? They participate in the story.

If you want more drama, then think more physical. The freckles are alive, but give them something to do.

  1. Freckles didn’t just run in her family – they stampeded through generations of O’Bournes like the running of the bulls in Pamploma.

Character traits: You can describe your character’s personality the same way, but usually it is better to give examples of what the character does to SHOW true character rather than describe it.

  1. Adam is selfish
  2. Adam is a penny pincher – too clicheʼ
  3. More active – Adam pinched pennies until they squealed like piglets.

Or think show don’t tell…

  1. Adam lifted the heart-shaped box and flipped it over to look at the price. Would it take the twenty-dollar box of truffles to make her forgive him? Or could he buy the ten-dollar box of assorted candies and have the clerk gift wrap it free? He took the smaller box off the shelf and handed the clerk his platinum card.

 

LOVE SCENES – of course passion should be active. At least one hopes.

  1. John is passionate about Carrie… informative but boring
  2. John kissed her
  3. John swept her into his arms and kissed her passionately – better

Think physical…think action

  1. In the middle of the sidewalk, John yanked her to him as though saving her from an oncoming bus, then kissed her until traffic stopped.

DESCRIPTION – How about scenic descriptions? They can be active as well.

Tumbleweeds rolled across the dry ground and settled against the fence like waves rolling in from a brown ocean. The clay soil crunched and cracked under Jason’s feet.

Instead of “The sky was cloudy grey ”  anthropomorphize… The wind grew in strength and the oppressive grey clouds trembled like goose-bumpy teens slipping into a haunted house.

FEELINGS AND MENTAL ACTIVITIES are not exempt from action…from page 132 of WRITING the THRILLER by T. Macdonald Skillman…

“…Comprehension swept away denial, eroding her self-control, allowing the fragmented thoughts swirling about her to tumble out.”

Example two – show, don’t tell…from Cherry –

She stood slightly bent, the broken thoughts swirling about her weakened body like the serpent hair of Medusa. She put her hands to her pale face and heard a feral muttering, realizing the sound burbled from her own mouth. The truth will out.

ANTHROPOMORPHIZE: How does the “humanizing” of inanimate objects, the sky, a kitchen table, a random thought or a tumble of nut-brown hair make your writing more exciting and active? Readers spend their days sitting, watching, listening. They yearn for something exciting to do but either haven’t the time, the money or the inclination. The elderly live sedentary lives. The ill are bed-ridden. The activity of words used in extraordinary ways pulls them into the story and gives them an experience. It doesn’t have to be monumental—just different from hum-drum. The story doesn’t have to be outlandish. It just needs to be told in a manner that gives the couch potato a sense of something happening. Let them experience movement and delicious description vicariously.

Colors can be active. The correct color gives personality and mood in a scene. We all know this but seldom think about it.

Which one brings a love scene to life?

Example one: Her billowy dress was low-cut and in his favorite color—a pale, baby’s breath pink (makes you think right away of babies and diapers, doesn’t it?)

Example two: Her billowy dress was low-cut and in his favorite color—a blast of erotic red (red is erotic, aggressive, demanding…

EMOTIONS have color. You may hear “red-hot anger” – you never hear “pink anger”. Any shade of color that would have white added to it, pink, pale lavender, light blue, denote weaker emotions. The primary colors vibrate in your writing. Make sure you use them in ways that are appropriate. Use variations such as crimson for red, ultramarine for blue, etc.

COLORS—especially in a scene: Think about things you like to do and places you like to travel Each one should have a color that comes to mind. We seldom think about that but it part of the way our world works. Morning starts with white bread that becomes brown toast or a blackened charcoal slab fed to the birds.

Color affects mood in our daily life and will do so in the book. A grey drizzly day, a happy sunshine-filled blue sky, etc. Make yourself set the stage. Color can do that in a similar manner of the active verb without having to elaborate. But when you join both together they rock!  A noun that has some latent action will help…

A shimmer of pale-blue draperies –where are we? A bedroom? A B&B?
A blast of Navy-blue – are we at a military parade?
Green –we can’t think green without thinking “nature” and grass OR envy, depending on the scene
A riot of yellow sunflowers – we can almost see them waving in the breeze
How about an explosion of crimson? – we immediately think blood

Colors that sound like food or include food activate two senses—vision and taste—without the reader even realizing it: Nut-brown, candy-apple red, caramel, coffee-colored, creamy white and so on…

Again, let color be active by humanizing the tint or shade and making it DO something…

Black erupted across his vision…
Sea-green rushed in, hammering the beach with wave after wave…

ALOHA!

COLOR SENSE: Excerpts from How Color Affects Our Mood by Rachel Bender
“…
There are several reasons why colors influence how we feel. …There are social or culture levels as well as personal relationships with particular colors,” explains Leslie Harrington, executive director of The Color Association of The United States, which forecasts color trends. …You react to color.”

  • RED – Red is the hot, crazy girl of colors, evoking powerful emotions such as fear, anger and passion. The mood red conveys changes dramatically when you lighten it (sweet and innocent pink) or darken it (sophisticated burgundy).
  • GREEN – associated with the environment, it puts you in a relaxed or refreshed mood
  • YELLOW – Yellow carries both positive and negative connotations — from sunshine, which conveys a joyous, happy mood to jaundice and sickliness
  • BLUE – Psychologically, blue is the opposite of red — it lowers blood pressure. Red picks you up and blue takes you down, but not down to depression level. That may be because if you look to nature, such as the sky and the ocean, blue conveys tranquility. That’s also what you project when wearing the shade. Blue is also associated with trustworthiness, strength and dependability — hence, the blue power suit.
  • ORANGE – Orange evokes action. It is said to stimulate enthusiasm and creativity and symbolize vitality and endurance. It’s a little “edgy”

PASSIVE VERBS –  The forms of the verb “to be”

When? Who? Form Example
Base form   be It can be simple.
Simple Present I am I am here.
You are You are here.
He/She/It is She is here.
We are We are here.
They are They are here.
Simple Past I was I was here.
You were You were here.
He/She/It was She was here.
We were We were here.
They were They were here.
Simple Future I will be I will be here.
You will be You will be here.
He/She/It will be She will be here.
We will be We will be here.
They will be They will be here.
Progressive form   being He is being unusual.
Perfect form   been It has been fun.

Check out the info for the blog tour.

Guest Post – 14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets – Kathy Steinemann

14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets

Don’t press the Publish button until you read this post.

Whether you self-publish or work with a traditional publisher, you should perform a thorough check for hidden codes that might hinder your book’s conversion.

Even if you’re not at the publishing stage, a professional-looking document will impress agents and slush readers. A haphazard mess will have them reaching for antacids.

Save yourself the embarrassment.

This article discusses a few common formatting blunders and how to fix them in Microsoft Word. If you prefer a different word processor, you can still use the information here to isolate the same problems in your software.

Before we begin, open your WIP in Word.

You’ll need to activate the function that allows you to see paragraph marks and other invisible symbols:

Navigate to the Home tab of Word and press the ¶ icon.

Tip #1: Never copy and paste from a website.

If you’ve already done this, you might be in for a bumpy ride.

And I’m not talking about legal issues if you’ve hijacked information from internet pages. You’d never do that, right?

No matter what you copy online, you could pick up weird spacing, tables, headings, undesired page breaks, non-standard colors and font sizes, tabs, highlighting, special characters, et al. These unexpected anomalies could prevent conversion to eBook format.

Tip #2: Select a standard font such as Times New Roman or Cambria.

Comic Sans MS won’t impress an agent or an editor. But if you’re self-publishing a printed children’s book, go for it.

Tip #3: Avoid tables.

Some eBook aggregators or programs won’t accept tables, or they do a sloppy conversion job. If you need a table, one option is to produce a graphic instead. It’s beyond the scope of a short article to explain the mechanics, but for guidance, you can search online for how to take a screenshot.

Tip #4: Remove non-breaking spaces.

These spaces, which require a Ctrl-Shift-Space key sequence in Word, mysteriously appear in some documents and will make them fail EPUBCheck validation.

Non-breaking spaces create sentences that look like this:

The°quick°red°fox°jumps°over°the°lazy°brown°dog.

instead of this:

The·quick·red·fox·jumps·over·the·lazy·brown·dog.

To replace them:

Search for [space]
Replace with [space]

Word is smart enough to replace all spaces, including non-breaking spaces, with regular ones.

Tip #5: Eliminate double returns after paragraphs.

Do you see something like the following in your manuscript?

The quick red fox.¶

Tsk, tsk. That’s what styles are for.

Search for ^p^p
Replace with ^p

If you want extra room after each paragraph, access the style you need to change and modify its spacing:

Modify -> Format -> Paragraph -> Spacing: After

Not sure how to use Word styles?

Microsoft provides how-tos for several versions of Word at the following link:

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/customize-or-create-new-styles-in-word-d38d6e47-f6fc-48eb-a607-1eb120dec563

Tip #6: Delete linefeeds, and replace them with paragraph returns.

Linefeeds eliminate extra spacing between paragraphs. They’re produced with Shift-Enter, and are helpful when writing articles for blogs. This post contains a few, because they work well in WordPress. However, they don’t belong in manuscripts.

Word expects all text joined by linefeeds to be part of the same style. An added annoyance: They hinder edits to hyperlinks and bookmarks.

Search for ^l
Replace with ^p

[That’s ^ell, not ^one.]

Tip #7: Replace double spaces with single spaces.

Double spaces between words were the norm when everyone created manuscripts on typewriters. Nowadays they’re unnecessary, and they can cause spacing anomalies.

For instance, if a line break occurs in the middle of a double space, you’ll end up with a single space at the end of the first line and another single space at the beginning of the next. Given the number of double spaces that would occur in a typical manuscript, the probability of several such anomalies is close to 100%.

Search for [space][space]
Replace with [space]

Tip #8: Remove extraneous spaces at the end and beginning of paragraphs.

No matter how careful you are, these spaces appear as you write and revise. They’re easy to replace.

Search for [space]^p
Replace with ^p

and then

Search for ^p[space]
Replace with ^p

Tip #9: Edit apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Consider this sentence:

“But I don’t trust ‘im,” he said.

Note the punctuation that replaces the missing h at the beginning of ‘im. It looks like a quotation mark.

Here’s how you would fix it. Type:

[h][i][m][cursor left x 2][‘][cursor left][backspace][cursor right x 3]

This is an excellent reason to avoid words that drop initial letters.

Instead of: ’E’s doing it again.

Try: He’s doin’ it again.

Instead of: He’s going with ’em.

Try: He’s goin’ with them.

Instead of: I’m not against ’t, honest.

Try: I’m not agin it, honest.

Plan your dialect before you write your story, and keep a file with the quirks for each person. Characters should have unique speech characteristics that enable readers to differentiate them, but the dialogue should be easy to read.

Tip #10: Replace tabs.

Search for ^t
Replace with [nothing]

Tabs don’t belong in a manuscript. Neither do multiple spaces. If you want to indent the beginning of each paragraph, set up a style for that.

Indented paragraphs function well for novels.

Block-formatted paragraphs work better for books such as cookbooks and instructional manuals, where special formatting like bulleted lists, block indents, and hanging indents often appear.

Tip #11: If you’re preparing your document for eBook conversion, find and replace these codes with [nothing]:

^b (section break)

^m (manual page break)

Tip #12: Never do this.

Do you remember the tip about double returns after paragraphs?

Here’s a practice that’s even worse: multiple presses of the Enter key to reach the top of a new page, to insert a blank page, or to set up for a section break.

In eBooks, free-flowing text, font changes by readers, and varying screen sizes will transform extra lines into a mess. You might get away with it in a paperback or hardcover edition, but a minor edit before you print could alter your paging and introduce other glitches.

Instead, on the Insert tab, select:

Pages -> Blank Page

or

Pages -> Page Break

Tip #13: Search and replace cautiously.

Why?

Consider the following, for example. Sometimes authors want to replace all ‘s (straight quotes) with ‘s (curly quotes). This is how they do it:

Search for ‘
Replace with ‘

However, when they do this, all words such as ’e’s, ’em, and ’t end up with apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Can you imagine the time-consuming mess you’ll have to clean up afterward?

Always, and I repeat, always double check your entire document after performing blanket search-and-replace operations. Yes, it takes time, but quality is worth the effort.

Tip #14: When all else fails …

Are you receiving obscure errors from EPUBCheck or your book aggregator’s conversion process?

If you can’t locate the problems via Word’s Find function, you might have to:

  1. Copy the text from your manuscript into a text file.
  2. Begin a new manuscript.
  3. Select the contents of the text file, copy, and then paste into the new manuscript. This removes all formatting.
  4. Start at the beginning and reformat the @#$%&! thing.

Imagine how long that will take. The painless approach would be to avoid the errors in the first place.

A program like Jutoh, which contains EPUBCheck and works well in tandem with Calibre, provides meaningful errors. Jutoh also allows direct edits, saves your project, and converts to multiple file formats.

Don’t give up if you experience formatting difficulties.

And remember: Today’s words are tomorrow’s legacy. Keep writing.

© Kathy Steinemann

Kathy Steinemann, Grandma Birdie to her grandkids, is a parrot-loving grandma involved in a passionate affair with words, especially when the words are frightening or futuristic or funny.

As a child, she scribbled prose and poetry, and won public-speaking and writing awards. As an adult, she worked as a small-town paper editor, and taught a couple of college courses. She has won or placed in multiple short fiction contests.

If you were to follow her around for a day, you might see her wince when a character on TV says “lay” instead of “lie” or when a social media post confuses “your” with “you’re.” And please don’t get her started on gratuitous apostrophes in pluralized words.

Her popular books in The Writer’s Lexicon series are touted by writers as “phenomenal,” a “secret weapon,” and “better than a thesaurus.”

You’ll find her at KathySteinemann.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Guest Post – Are Character Interviews Worth the Effort? – T R Robinson

Are Character Interviews Worth the Effort?

Guest post by T. R. Robinson

I first came across character interviews here in Alex’s Library of Erana blog. There have been a couple elsewhere but the majority have been here. Now for a bit of honesty: My initial thought? ‘Silly and pointless.’ As a consequence, I simply glanced (not even sped read) through a couple and thereafter ignored them. I now feel a little ashamed. It is not usual for me to make such determinations prior to fully investigating the validity and seeking to comprehend people’s motivations. Why I did not do so in this instance I am not sure. I suspect it may have been I was new to authoring and probably, as most when first setting out on a new career, felt under pressure to complete a work and to interact in social media. Time pressure in other words: there never seems to be enough for all we want to do. Of course, this is no excuse but I hope it helps readers understand.

Character interviews appear to remain a rarity. I certainly see few. Nevertheless, I now take more note of them. One question that occurs: Who are these interviews for? The author or the reader? I would say both. I will consider them in reverse order.

The Reader

Of what interest are character interviews to readers?

  • (Perhaps with the exception of some self-help or scientific books, the majority of readers are looking to be entertained.)
  • (Usually provide further idea of the character’s true nature, aims and goals.)
  • (Provide some backstory details which will enhance the eventual read. Assuming they do go on to read the book the character is in.)
  • (Build interest in and expectations for a story.)

 

The Author

What benefits do character interviews provide for authors?

  • Display writing skill. (Readers do not readily pick up books by unknown authors. These free interviews provide them with an idea of what they could expect from the author’s books.)
  • Avoid ‘padding’. (Able to fill-out character personalities with additional information that would not fit or be appropriate to include in the primary manuscript.)
  • Know characters. (Authors are advised, for best results, to fully know their charters by writing biographies. Interviews go part way, probably a long way, toward this aim.)
  • Refreshed mind. (Continuous writing on the same theme can lead to fatigue and some degree of stagnation. Writing something different usually breaks the trend.)
  • Marketing/Publicity. (Done right, interviews may set a story’s scene and create intrigue and interest in it.)

Of course, the above are by no means the full extent of what readers and authors may gain from these interviews. Everyone is different.

Worth the Effort?

Back to the original question.

Having now admonished and corrected myself, I may unequivocally state, as far as I am concerned, character interviews do have their place in the reading and authoring world. Now, with respect to Alex’s own books: Fantasy is not a genre I usually read, or if I am honest, really enjoy, at least that has generally tended to be my past experience. Nevertheless, I have read and reviewed Alex’s Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends and have to say I enjoyed it. That was in December 2017. I have not read any others since but admit some of the character interviews here have intrigued and inspired me to contemplate reading more in the genre.

So far I have not undertaken interviews for any of my own characters. This is primarily due to the fact I write in the memoir and biographical fiction genre where, most frequently, who the person is forms an integral part of the tale. However, in view of how much I have enjoyed Alex’s character interviews, I may consider undertaking a few for some of the fictional charters I have utilised to enhance the real events within the biographical fiction and short story collections. There, see, I have been inspired. From sceptic I am now a believer.

Thank you Alexandra for giving me this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with your readers.

 

*********************

 

In addition to authoring T. R. Robinson provides free guidance, tips and ideas for both authors and readers.

T. R.’s Primary Website and Blog: https://trrobinsonpublications.com

T. R.’s More Personal Blog: https://trmemoirs.wordpress.com

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Adventures in Self-Publishing – 1.3 – the basics – Smashwords 1.1

https://www.smashwords.com/

I like Smashwords – but uploading the MS is a bit of a pain. The meatgrinder as it’s known is notoriously fickle. On the plus side, it will throw the MS back and tell you what to fix. It can take several attempts before it goes through. The help pages on Smashwords are good and will offer advice.

One of the benefits of SW is the Premium Catalog https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/channelManager/

You can submit your book, and have it distributed to a multitude of other sites – including Barnes and Noble, Kobo, I-books and many others. The most useful aspect I have found for Smashy is the coupons. You can produce a coupon to reduce a specific book, for a specific time. It’s great for gifts, review copies etc.  Smashwords pay monthly (sort of). But the distribution stores pay at different times so it’s a little fiddly to keep track. That said it all goes through Smashwords and they pay via Paypal in USD.  Or you can just stick with SW.

SW add your book.PNG

https://www.smashwords.com/upload

I have only added the pic for the first bit (as it’s quite long), but pretty self-explanatory.

You can also have a publisher account with SW. So, if you write under a pen name or publish on behalf of others then that works out nicely. It’s far more awkward on KDP – where you can publish under a pen name. The publisher account is helpful.

The dashboard for SW is reasonably easy to fathom and it’s easier to make changes to a book than on KDP and it’s better for readers as it offers Mobi, Epub and other formats (Amazon only offers the Amazon Mobi and it’s Kindle/Kindle app only).

SW Dashboard.PNG

sw dashboard help

Smashwords requires an ISBN but will provide one free if you don’t have one. This is required for access into the premium catalog, but not solely publishing on SW.

If you can manage the meatgrinder then Smashwords is a great way to get that wider reach.

It’s more accessible than KDP (see the other posts about this).

Adventures in Self-Publishing – 1.2 the Basics cont. KDP.

 

So, your book is written, edited (hopefully), and you have sourced a decent cover. What are your choices?

KDP – Amazon. The biggest slice of the pie BUT they are known to be a little picky and have the usual issues with big business (don’t care about the little guy – you). Some authors don’t like the big bad Zon’s business practices – but they ARE the biggest marketplace. They are also issues with authors getting account bans because of content violations, multiple accounts or other, vaguer issues.

READ THE FAQ and TOS. You can ONLY have one account. ONE. You can have an account for buying things, and a different login and password for KDP but only the single KDP account. KDP is hot on this, they will close your account. I’ve heard of people sharing computers with separate accounts being caught out. I assume it’s done partially on IP address. There’s a regular feature on people forgetting their login, and accidentally set up a new account. There’s a post on the forum about this at least once a week. Keep your original log in safe – if you do inadvertently set up another account, contact KDP and explain, asking them to remove the duplicate.

There are lots of password safe programmes and apps – you can save your logins there and only need remember the one password to log in. I googled password storage and at least 10 pages of links came up.

Watch out for KDP Select. If you want to sell your e-book anywhere else do NOT join Select.

I will talk about print books in another post.

Content violations: This is a vague term but usually means:

The type of smut – (some erotica is allowed but anything ‘illegal’ or ‘dubious’ will end up in the dungeon (pardon the pun). Amazon is a bit foggy about what is and isn’t allowed so erotica authors do get caught out. You have to tick the ADULT CONTENT criteria. On the subject of covers.- Amazon is pretty lenient but they do not allow nipples, genitals or bare backsides on covers. If you write that sort of material then have your images with a bit of modesty,

Public Domain – PD books are allowed but there are strict criteria. Your version has to be substantially different to what’s already out there. I’ve seen ‘authors’ with hundreds of titles get banned – because they uploaded some version and put the odd comment in here and there. Public domain is a minefield – tread carefully.

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200743940 – public domain

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200672390 – content guidelines

Plagiarism  – GRRR don’t get me started on this. Basically – did you write what you are submitting? Do you have the copyright? Yes – good then go ahead. No – then crawl off somewhere and stop stealing other authors work.  Just because it was available on the web, or you found it on one of the plethora of pirate sites doesn’t mean it’s yours.

Complaints – if your work is not up to standard and lots of readers complain you MIGHT get a content violation. Usually, Amazon will contact you about this and let you rectify it/remove the book.

Amazon does usually send an email if a book is taken down, or there is an account issue. Check your spam filters too. Respond to what they say promptly, politely and they MAY rectify the issue.

Uploading to KDP is fairly easy. You can use a Word document. It converts it to mobi (or if you have a mobi generator I think you can use that. Check through on the previewer and fix any issues. It usually takes a few days to permeate the stores.

There will be later posts on SMASHWORDS, DRAFT2DIGITAL and LULU.

Reading for the Blind – Interview with Matt Jenkins

Reading for the Blind interview

Name: Matt Jenkins

I understand you are involved with one of the services providing spoken word material for the visually impaired – tell us a bit more about this work.

Yes. I am the “technical editor” for the local Talking Newspaper charity.  Every two weeks we take the local newspapers from the past fortnight, pick out the 30-or-so most interesting and relevant pieces, and record them to audio CD. My job involves the technical aspects of the work – the recording, editing and mixing of the audio.  I rarely get to do the actual reading – there is usually a team of 4 or 5 readers that do the reading – although we do also provide audio recording facilities to a couple of other local services – the local housing association and the support services for carers – and I get to read on those, which is nice.

How did you become involved with this?

A friend of the family is one of the trustees of the charity. She heard me reading at my parents’ church one christmas (yes, I sometimes get roped in for that kind of thing…) and said “We need you!” so I went along.  I rapidly progressed from reading to editing (by rapidly I mean instantly) since they had a lack of anyone with any skills whatsoever in that regard. Now I’m in charge of that side of the operation.

Why is this an important part of your work?

It’s what got me into audiobook reading. A friend at the charity mentioned ACX one day and said I should read audiobooks – so I did. And now here I am. Without the talking newspaper I’d never have heard of ACX and never got into reading audiobooks.

Do you think there are enough resources available to support those who are visually impaired enjoy books, newspapers and magazine? What more can be done?

Yes, I think there probably is enough. With the likes of Audible and iTunes making it easy and cost effective to get audiobooks while at the same time always increasing the library of available books, enjoying books has never been easier.  Magazines and newspapers, on the other hand, are a different matter. Most areas in the UK have a talking newspaper service, but certainly, more rural areas are somewhat lacking. Magazines, however – I am unaware of any commercial publications that provide any audio formats for their magazines, but RNIB do provide some of them with thanks to third-party readers. But, with the advances in speech synthesis and screen reading, if you’re online you can get most articles read for you by your computer. It’s not quite the same as a real human voice, but technology is going a long way to filling the gap.

If a person wanted to become involved with this kind of work how would they go about it?

There is a good chance there is a talking newspaper in your area. The best places to go to find out about it would be your local newspaper (all the papers we read from are donated by the local newspaper), or speak to someone at your local council services offices or library.  If there are any local visual impairment charities they may also know of (or be instrumental) in your local talking newspaper.

The RNIB also provide a service for national publications (http://www.tnauk.org.uk/) if you want to get more involved at a national level.

How does this differ to narrating an audiobook?

It’s a lot more rough-and-ready. We have limited time between the papers being published on Thursday and the CDs being dispatched on Friday. We get about 3 hours to do all the recording and editing. It’s more important to get the news out on time than to make it sound studio-quality perfect. Although we do strive to get it as good as possible, we don’t mind the odd mistake and stumble over words – to edit out and re-take all that would take longer than we have available (we rent a room from the local Royal Volunteer Service to do all our work).

Anything else you wish to add?

Talking Newspaper societies are always looking for more readers. And if our society is anything to go by they’re crying out for people with technical audio production skills.

But thanks to the internet and technology our listenership has dwindled away to a fraction of what it was. There is still a demand for our services, and we will keep going until the last subscriber cancels.

Where can we find your work?

The Talking Newspaper is not publically accessible – it’s a subscription service. And unless you’re a carer in my local area (and it’s not just people that with visual impairment that like audio versions of documents – there are those that can’t, or have difficulty, reading, or don’t read English well enough) you won’t have access to the material we record.