Back matter is where the independent publisher can blow their own trumpet. It’s a great PR opportunity for an author to get readers involved and, crucially, buying more of the author’s books. So it’s worth doing it as well as you possibly can.
Back matter is probably the second-last thing an author needs to do before uploading her ebook. (The last thing is to update the Table of Contents.) Before doing back matter, you should have done all in the following list (click to see my previous blogs on how to do them):
In this third and final part of the blog series on punctuating dialogue, we’re back in the magical, fairytale kingdom of Bel Paese with the unpunctuatedRicotta Dialogues [click to download]. There’s a link to the punctuated version later in this blog.
You can find part 2 of the series here, and part 1 is here. The latest version of The Rules is at the end of part 2 but I’ll be expanding them at the end of this blog, and providing a printable version, so you might prefer to wait for that magic rule book to be opened 😉
Punctuating dialogue seems to be a problem for many writers. But it need not be scary. There are conventions (rules) to apply, but once you know them, it’s straightforward. Honest 😉
Come and discover the rules in the company of Princess Ricotta, her dim but impressively ripped suitors Prince Square-Jaw and Prince Six-Pack, and her conniving servants Slack-Britches and Mozarella. The fairytale kingdom of Bel Paese awaits you.
Those of you who are already confident about punctuating dialogue can read the fairytale just for fun. I hope you enjoy Ricotta’s adventures, even with unpunctuated dialogue. For those whose punctuation might need a bit of help, keep reading.
Punctuating dialogue is only convention
The conventions of punctuating dialogue have evolved over many years. Some of them seem pretty arbitrary but rules often are. We just have to accept them. Their aim is simple, though: to make it easy for readers to understand what’s going on. Continue reading →
How often, when you’re writing a blog or preparing something for social media, do you tell yourself you need to include an image? Most of the time, I’d guess. But finding appropriate images can be difficult.
And even when you’ve found one, can you legally use it?
This one on the right, of a glorious beach in north-west Scotland, is fine because I took it myself. My copyright. No problem.
That’s my first tip.
Tip #1 Use your own pics whenever you can. And if you’re worried about other people snaffling them, make sure you mark them as your copyright. (I don’t do that, normally, but in this instance, I have. Note to self: I probably should claim copyright routinely though I’m already partly covered by Tip #2 below.) Continue reading →
Punctuation was invented to help the Reader. And the very first invention was space breaking up text — so you could tell one word from the next. Seriously.
A couple of months ago I was putting the final touches to an online course on punctuation. Not a subject to rock them in the aisles, I thought. Mind you, I love the stuff. But I have learned that, as a subject of conversation, it doesn’t generally draw children from play and old men from the chimney corner.
So when I was preparing the course, I thought I’d throw in a bit of history for context.
Only then, of course, I had to check online whether what I remembered was a) accurate and b) still received wisdom. And found something new to me: Aristophanes, Head Librarian of Alexandria aged sixty. He was sitting there, receiving rolls in Greek, the language of the prevailing empire.
Most people then, of course, would be illiterate. So the purpose of these scrolls was to provide a text for someone else to deliver in the market place or to perform as an entertainment.
BUT they arrived with all the letters in a continuous line. Presumably to save papyrus and possibly time, as they were being hand-copied by scribes.
So Aristophanes thought of a way of marking up copies of the text to help the Poor Bloody Orator who had to read them out loud. Continue reading →
We’ve just passed the submission deadline for the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme. And I’ve heard whispers from some readers that the MSS they are being sent to read are not as professionally prepared as they should be. That’s sad. And unnecessary, too.
Professional layout isn’t difficult. Especially with Word Styles.
Some aspiring writers, I’m sure, tell themselves that the most important thing is to get their pearls onto the page. They can sort out the niceties of formatting later. But that’s a waste of effort. It means doing stuff twice when it could be done once, Right First Time. So this blog is about how to set yourself up to get your MS Right First Time, while you’re actually creating it.
This blog is long—sorry—because I’m trying to explain every step of what you need to do. But it won’t take long to do it, and you only have to set up these Word styles once, so it’s no great chore. In fact, it’s an investment. Once you’ve created them, you can keep using them in every story you write.
Good covers are massively important and buyers, increasingly, rely on visuals (the cover) rather than the blurb. That was the latest advice from an independent bookseller at a Society of Authors virtual meeting in early 2021. The bookseller recommended authors aim for clear, concise, beautiful covers, with fewer words and, hence, more impact.
Professor Snape (left) may not be beautiful—and that’s not a cover, either—but he’s certainly clear and concise. And if he made you feel guilty, he’s had impact, too 😉
Criteria for Good Commercial Fiction Covers
Apart from being clear, concise and beautiful, a Good Commercial Fiction Cover Will…
make the genre clear immediately
represent aspects of the story to draw the potential buyer in
shout out the title
shout out the author’s name
work well in thumbnail
and SELL THE BOOK
That’s a pretty tall order and lots of covers fail it. Not only self-published covers, either.
This blog (based on a recent presentation I did for the Society of Authors) aims to help self-published authors work with cover designers like me to get clear, concise and beautiful covers that will sell the authors’ books. Continue reading →
A while ago, I blogged about formatting ebook text. Quite a lot of people found it useful. So, as I promised then, I’m doing a follow-on blog about front matter—recommendations about what to include and how best to format it.
As with my previous post, these recommendations are based on how I format front matter for ebooks. You—or your book designer—may want to do things differently. Your choice. You have a good reason for doing it your way, don’t you?
Beach Hut Surprise, text formatting by Joanna Maitland
Apart from Beach Hut Surprise, I’ve recently been republishing some of my vintage books on Amazon. In revised (and, I hope, better) editions. I do all my own formatting and I thought I would share some of the approach I use. I’ll add in tips and tricks, too.
For those who’d like to do their own e-publishing, but haven’t yet dared, I hope this will encourage you to have a go. It really isn’t all that difficult. Honest.
Though—shameless self-promo here—if you absolutely can’t face doing your own formatting, I’d be happy to do it for you.
For a fee, of course 😉
Formatting: what it isn’t
This blog is not about editing or proofreading a manuscript. Formatting an ebook starts from the point where the manuscript has already been edited and proofread. A formatter does not normally read the detailed text she’s working on. If she had to do that, the charges would be much, much higher.
The formatter’s job is to take your perfect manuscript and turn it into a file that can be uploaded to the internet. If the manuscript isn’t perfect, your imperfections will be translated into the e-pubbed version. And you don’t want that, do you?
As an aside, I do normally run a spellcheck on manuscripts before I start formatting. And the spellcheck does sometimes point out errors. Does that mean that the author did not run the spellcheck on her manuscript? I hope not. Maybe it’s just that my spellcheck works differently. In the end, if the published ebook contains spelling errors—or any other editing errors that should have been corrected—it is down to the author, not the formatter.