From the Archives: The Book Doctor Weighs In On Apostrophes

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: October 26, 2010 ]

The Book Doctor sets it straight on apostrophe usage for writing on the road to publishing…

Q: When it comes to plurals for last names, which is correct? Hueys or Huey’s or Hueys’? The Robersons or Roberson’s or Robersons’? Microsoft Word always flags these as misspelled. I can never tell the difference.

A: Microsoft Word probably flags them because the words themselves, Hueys and Robersons, are not in the dictionary, plus the computer program cannot decipher whether the name is plural or possessive.

If it is strictly plural, it takes no apostrophe. Examples:
We ate dinner with Joe Huey and the rest of the Hueys.
Mike Roberson said all the Robersons are visiting next week.

If it is plural possessive, it needs an apostrophe. Examples:
We ate dinner at the Hueys’ house.
The Robersons’ dog is visiting, too.

Note that if the name ends in an s, the plural possessive for book style is to add an apostrophe and an s. Examples:
The Jones’s house is painted white.
I agree with all of the Samuels’s suggestions.

– by Bobbie Christmas

quotation marks apostropheApostrophes can be hard work. These busy little signifiers of ownership have a lot to do with how we interpret the texts we read, and it can be disastrous to get it wrong. Consider the following example:

apostrophes

All you have to do in order to get a good feel for how very, very wrong apostrophes can go is to hop on Google and search for “apostrophe errors”–the internet is rife with records of our many mistakes, including signs, newspaper headlines, and more. And of course, there’s always the worst kind of error–the kind which you tattoo on your body for permanent enjoyment/frustration:

tattoo apostrophe mistake

Here, as you can see, this person has made a simple plural into a possessive, which doesn’t suit the grammar of the sentence … at all. So, first of all, have someone else who’s familiar with the laws of apostrophe use look over your writing before you publish … and secondly, have that person read your tattoo design before you commit!

There are two great resources I’d point you to if you’re looking to re-familiarize yourself with apostrophe usage. The first comes from hashtagcritic.com and includes a really handy infographic which presents the information beautifully and succinctly:

From hashtagcritic.com.

You can find the other parts of this infographic (this is just part one!) at the link.

Another great resources is this ThoughtCo article on the subject. Again, the material is delivered in a wonderfully streamlined fashion, this time optimized for those of us who like bullet points or who need to view our apostrophe reminders on a mobile-friendly screen. (Infographics are great! But mostly at higher resolution and on larger screens.)

Long story short:

  • check your apostrophes;
  • have someone else check your apostrophes;
  • don’t tattoo anything on yourself without consulting your editor;
  • and …

apostrophe

That’s it! That’s all you need to remember about apostrophes in 2017!

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

From the Archives: “LOC Acronyms Explained”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: November 1st, 2011 ]

If you are an aspiring author, you’ve probably heard the terms LOC, LCCN, CIP and PCN. But what do this acronyms mean, and which ones are important? Read on to find out.

LOCLibrary of Congress. It is the largest library in the world, and its mission is “to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.” To learn more about the LOC, visit loc.gov.

LCCN– Library of Congress Control Number. This number is similar to an ISBN. It can be helpful when marketing your book to libraries, but it not necessary for publication. To learn more about this number, read Who Needs a LCCN?.

CIPCataloguing in Publication. This program creates a bibliographic record that is printed on the verso of the title page. This program is not available to self-published authors.

PCN – Preassigned Control Number. This is the self publishing alternative to a CIP. This program creates a LCCN prior to publication. Self publishing  companies provide authors with this service.

I’d love to hear your questions or concerns about LOC acronyms. Feel free to leave comments, and I will try to address you questions directly or in future posts.

– by Cheri Breeding

library of congress
Main Hall and dome ceiling, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Honestly, Cheri did such a stellar job with this subject the first time around–short and sweet, just the way we like it!–that I don’t have much to add, except by way of reminder that while the world of publishing and self-publishing is constantly evolving, the Library of Congress (LOC) and its systems remain a steadfast part of our lives. The LOC continues to offer vital ongoing services to authors and readers of all walks of life, and the current Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, is an advocate for marginalized and underserved populations everywhere.

She’s pretty great.

carla hayden

And of course–don’t neglect to file for the various LOC numbers! Booksellers often push back against selling books without them, and libraries will struggle to catalog them. It’s simple and straightforward, we promise! You can read all about it in our post backlist.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

From the Archives: “Using Podcasts to Promote Your Self Published Book”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: September 25th, 2008 ]

Perhaps you’ve heard about podcasts? These are recorded sessions of either music or talking. Podcasts that focus on books are perfect because they are already written (so you aren’t making something up at the same time you record) and they are either entertaining or educational (or both).

Recording a podcast of your self-published book is a great way to promote it. Once your podcast is recorded, you can upload it to popular sites like itunes.com and reach a whole new audience.

Podiobooks.com is a relatively easy way to start creating a podcast for your book. You will find helpful instructions for what you need in the way of hardware and software to make your first recording. They also allow you to upload your files to their site for free, but once you have your podcast file (usually an mp3 file) don’t forget to upload it to other popular sites, too.  You can conduct a search on Google to find sites where you can upload your podcast, and you can submit your podcast feed URL to the iTunes Store here.

Other links that will help you down the road of podcasting include:
audacity.sourceforge.net
mypodcast.com
switchpod.com
blogtalkradio.com

Good luck and have fun!
Kelly Schuknecht

podcasts

Podcasts are wonderful. I don’t know how much you know about them, but I spend a fair bit of every day listening to these wonderful recordings which are streamed via a number of apps and websites–SoundCloud, Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and more–and saved to my phone by default. They cover an endless variety of subjects, but the ones I mostly listen to have to do with science, technology, film and television, books and book reviews, and gardening. There are knitting podcasts, social justice podcasts, music podcasts, and cute animals doing cute things podcasts.

I’ve even tried my hand at starting a podcast, and I can say with confidence that with a little time and effort, this is something almost anyone with a computer and a built-in microphone can do. Audacity remains the best and most widely-available software in which to record, edit, and otherwise “mix” your audio tracks, but a component of the whole process which has evolved somewhat from my original post in 2008 is the importance of social networking to a podcast’s success. Just look at how well Nerdette has done in engaging fans on Twitter, Goodreads, and elsewhere! Science Friday has a great and constantly updated website!

I highly recommend spending a little time exploring the notion, at least. Done well and thoroughly socially networked, podcasts can have enormous reach. And they are also a lot of fun! You don’t have to limit yourself to talking about your book, although that’s certainly an option; you might as well discuss any interesting thing you love.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

From the Archives: “By virtue of the term: Self-publishing”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: October 14th, 2010 ]

Digital democracy. iTunes changed the record business forever. Blogs have reshaped the landscape of traditional print news. YouTube challenged the way television and advertising CEO’s communicated with the viewing public. Who would have thought even ten years ago that a majority of users would value a user-generated encyclopedia over Britannica?

Technology has quickly and powerfully changed the way we think, enjoy, communicate, and create. Across each industry one thing holds – a democratization effect – where artists make the rules.

On-demand and digital self-publishing is equally shaking things up. As the WSJ notes, “once derided as ‘vanity’ titles by the publishing establishment, self-published books suddenly are able to thrive by circumventing the establishment.”

“Playing God” in his book Mickey Mantle is Going to Heaven, former Yankee pitcher opted to self-publish in order to maintain his content control. A wise move that is rumored to have been opted into a movie project reuniting Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

democracy definition

The democratization of self-publishing is a big deal, even seven years after we originally mentioned it. With our current grab-bag of print on demand services, self-publishing companies and vanity presses alike, we have an enormous quantity of titles available to readers for affordable consumption–and while few of them get printed in any quantity, is that really an undesirable thing? I mean on a large scale, not an individual one. Clearly it’s better for the individual to have more money in the wallet than otherwise. But a democratic system is a diversified one, with products and services to meet every preference. And that’s where we are, more or less!

So how does this democratization help authors? As someone who has dabbled in both nonfiction and memoir, here’s one way:

Traditionally, nonfiction authors were required to draft outlines and preliminary chapters, submit these to agents and publishing houses for review, and hope that someone would like that material enough to give them an advance–money to help them do the research required to write the rest of the book. Research, generally speaking, is expensive–especially because for nonfiction it usually requires travel, lodging, meals, and subscription or access fees to information repositories like museums and so forth to complete. Many wonderful nonfiction books have not been written simply because authors weren’t able to give publishers a real sense of what their book was about because the money had to come first in order to really do so….

Self-publishing, however, has co-evolved with a whole host of crowdsourcing options. I have at least one friend who financed her book over Kickstarter with some success, and others who have been even more creative. (But that’s for another post. Soon, I promise.) These alternate revenue streams mean that self-publishing authors don’t have to wait on anyone’s say-so, and they don’t have to sacrifice any creative control over the research, writing, and publishing experience to an institution which will always value its own success over its authors’. So nonfiction authors, in this situation specifically, benefit a great deal from not being dependent on an advance. The same holds true for fiction authors in all of the most important ways, and you only have to follow the career of poet Rupi Kaur to see how self-publishing can indeed be more than congenial to that third great genre.

Of course, the idea and status “commercial author” may be on the way out, or at least these authors who’ve chosen to struggle through the traditional publishing model may have diminished opportunities. Fewer authors each year see the virtue in being one of these so-called “starving artists,” who make their way in the world based on an antiquated publishing model which never treated them well in the first place. This is okay. It’s also okay to be a starving artist, by the way. I just wouldn’t want to be one, and it’s no longer the only model of a successful artist anymore.

Self-publishing still has its flaws. But anything that makes publishing possible for more authors, more affordably, and guarantees them more rights and freedoms, is a democratizing influence. And I love democracy! The fact that self-publishing also makes reading more affordable and a more diverse experience can only lead to good things.

 

Fun Note: A quick foray on Google reveals that as of 2015, at least, Peterson’s book is still under development by Affleck and Damon, so that’s another ray of good news.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

From the Archives: “Self-publishing Ripple Effect Marketing”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: May 27th, 2010 ]

Think of self-publishing book marketing as a marathon, not a sprint. Plan the journey, prepare to work, pace yourself, and not become discouraged when you the bear jumps on your back. Your second wind is right around the corner.

Unlike blockbuster books like Harry Potter, which sell 90% of their copies in the first 90 days of release, an independently published book is often the opposite – not surprising since titles like Harry Potter make up a percent of a percent of all books published. It takes time to build awareness. Sales may start slowly, but can climb over time if you persistently market your book.

If you’ve yet to nail down a specific marketing plan, I suggest starting in your own hometown. Build a Tribe. Attract the interest and readers of people in your inner circle before you focus on your neighborhood. Then, focus on your neighborhood before concentrating on your city. Next your state and region, etc. This is known as the ripple effect.

It applies to both online and traditional marketing tactics.

ripple effect marketing

Thinking of marketing as something other than a sprint, or a laundry list of items to get through (“Poetry reading, check! Social media account created, check!”) is the wisest advice I’ve heard all year. Thinking of your marketing as you think of your other relationships–as more than just the sum of its parts, or the sequence of events–is important. Every action affects every other action, and the changes are cumulative or even, sometimes, exponential! Think, instead, of your marketing strategy as a whole, and a whole which is best contemplated as a web of interrelated components which all touch each other and all affect how the other components play out. Some pieces need to come before others in order for them both to work, and sometimes a misstep with one component will lead to a cascade of problems in the others.

Another great image to keep in mind is the ocean. Yes, the ocean operates under the same physical principles and constraints as a ripple in a swimming pool–but would we really compare their behaviors and say they’re the same thing? There’s more at work than simple scale; the ocean works on its environment in a multitude of ways, and one of its most impressive qualities is its ability to wear anything down–given time. The ocean is interminable, it is unstoppable, and it is unwearying in its work upon the seashore. Wave after wave after wave can lead to an entirely new shoreline, right?

So as we head into a new series of Wednesday blog posts on updating your marketing strategies for the summer, think about ripples and oceans. They are the same thing … except they aren’t. Steal from both. Steal the cumulative effects of the ripple (and the interrelationships of the web) and steal the repetitive unstoppability of the ocean. This is your arsenal against the soporific atmosphere of midsummer.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

From the Archives: “Mailing Lists for Self-Published Book Promotion”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: November 24th, 2008 ]

Don’t you wish there was one single place where you could buy a mailing list that was specific for your self-published book?

You’re in luck! Check out www.listsyoucanafford.com for third party mailing lists that just may be the answer to your marketing goals.

I hope these lists help you get the word out to your specific book audience and just in time for the holiday shopping season to begin!

Good luck and have fun!

– by Kelly Schuknecht

mailing list email

It has been a while since I last talked about mailing lists–approximately eight and a half years, in fact, but I’m happy to report that listsyoucanafford.com is still active. I haven’t personally used their services in a while, however, so I did a little digging around. It turns out that this particular service has about a 44% failure rate, which may seem like a lot, but is actually relatively par-for-the-course when it comes to purchasing email lists. It does, however, exceed the amount they state in their “guarantees,” so if you find that you too are experiencing higher-than-expected failure rates on your purchased email list, I highly recommend contesting your payment.

Of course, buying email lists isn’t exactly a straightforward enterprise. Spend any time on Google with the subject and you’ll come up with articles and blog posts reflecting a range of experiences–both great and terrible and everything in between–and I don’t know about you, but that kind of puts the fear of God into me when it comes to doing my due diligence and using only trustworthy services:

email lists

But the fact remains, reaching people by email is still one of the most effective (and cost-effective) marketing strategies out there. We will address ways to build your own personal email list soon in our upcoming Wednesday series (starting, not tomorrow, but next week), but revisiting this 2008 blog has served as a good reminder that the world has changed a lot, and our priorities with it. Security concerns and legal concerns, wastefulness concerns … and they’re all deeply tied to how we approach this email thing.

Stick around on Wednesdays to hear more!

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

From the Archives: “The Vook? Yes, Vook.”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: January 27th, 2010 ]

There will likely be a good deal of hype this week about a cool new multimedia option called the Vook.

What will this do to the self-publishing industry, and will yours be the first independently published piece available?

Whatever happened to Vook, with all of its big dreams and potential for self-publishing authors?

vook

Well … it’s complicated.

Once upon a time, Vook began as a response to what NYTimes author Motoko Rich called an “increasingly elastic” notion of what makes a book … well, a book, and as publishers began to “mash together text, video and Web features in a scramble to keep readers interested in an archaic form of entertainment.” His words, not mine. (I don’t think books are archaic, at all!) Still, a Vook offers … more.

Take, for example, several ‘vooks’ which Rich details in his article, vooks published in partnership with the traditional Big Five publishing house, Simon & Schuster:

In one of the Simon & Schuster vooks, a fitness and diet title, readers can click on videos that show them how to perform the exercises. A beauty book contains videos that demonstrate how to make homemade skin-care potions.

Not just how-tos are getting the cinematic work-up. Simon & Schuster is also releasing two digital novels combining text with videos a minute or 90 seconds long that supplement — and in some cases advance — the story line.

In “Embassy,” a short thriller about a kidnapping written by Richard Doetsch, a video snippet that resembles a newscast reveals that the victim is the mayor’s daughter, replacing some of Mr. Doetsch’s original text.

And even when he published his article in 2009, Rich was recounting some degree of success, at least on the part of the author, publishing partner, and Vook itself:

Bradley J. Inman, chief executive of Vook, said readers who viewed prototypes of “The 90-Second Fitness Solution” by Pete Cerqua or “Return to Beauty” by Narine Nikogosian “intuitively saw the benefits of augmenting how-to books with video segments.” Mr. Inman said readers then “warmed to” the fictional editions.

Jude Deveraux, a popular romance author who has written 36 straightforward text novels, said she loved experimenting with “Promises,” an exclusive vook set on a 19th-century South Carolina plantation in which the integrated videos add snippets of dialogue and atmosphere.

Ms. Deveraux said she envisioned new versions of books enhanced by music or even perfume. “I’d like to use all the senses,” she said.

So what happened to the Vook? Well, as we reported in 2015, it became something else. Not for lack of enthusiasm or some sense of failure, but after successfully raising financing in 2010, partnering with major publishing houses in 2011 and 2012 to release several popular vooks, launching a brand-new self-publishing platform in 2012, acquiring a digital imprint (Byliner) in 2014, and rebranding itself in 2015 as … Pronoun.

Which was promptly acquired by Macmillan.

That’s what happened to Vook. Instead of becoming something great and unique and a friendly face in the self-publishing community, it took another path. Pronoun still purports to be a self-publishing platform, but the jury’s still out on whether it will make enough of a profit for the Big Five publisher to continue providing it as a service down the road. When it comes to traditional publishers buying out self-publishing platforms, historically, things have not gone all that well. You only have to look to Penguin’s acquisition of Author Solutions in 2012, which got lost in the shuffle when Penguin and RandomHouse merged the following year. It still exists, but authors have seen a steady decline in the variety and quality of services offered, while Penguin-RandomHouse has primarily used the service as an “audition” tool rather than a genuine self-publishing service. In other words, the parent company isn’t all that interested in seeing your book hit the market unless it’s likely to make them a lot of money. And what if you weren’t interested in writing a blockbuster?

Seems mighty limiting to me. So we’ll see where Vook goes from here.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.