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.

Growing Pains: Part IV

Sometimes growing your business can happen from within your own, already existing customer base. Imagine your business as a tree trunk, the branches your customers and the leaves that come off of each branch a good or service bought from one of your customers. The more leaves on the tree, the better and healthier the tree. So how do we get a nice, full tree?

Young plant

Think about it, you already have someone who is interested in your goods or services, they have already decided you have a product worth purchasing, so the key is to keep providing them those quality products or services. Not only to you have to have a supply to both create and feed the demand, but you have to market that supply properly.

Let’s say we’re talking selling books. You have a loyal fan base already. That’s great. Make that work to your advantage. If you’re writing a series, make sure you keep an email list of those who have already purchased your first or second book in the series and alert them when the newest one is coming out. Maybe offer them a loyalty discount to show your appreciation for their support. Better yet, maybe you have older books that they don’t know about! Be sure to clue them in on past work you’ve done and how/where they can find or purchase that as well. That way, while you’re working on creating new material, you’re still able to move products you already have on hand.

Also, make sure you’re following your fans on social media and vice versa so that they can be in tune with developments in your writing and publishing stages. That way, they know you have a book coming out, you can build anticipation for it, and they’re excited to buy your next book. Be active on their pages, let them know that you are just another person who’s not too busy to keep up with their fans.

Keep in mind that the key to keeping a good customer relationship comes from after-sale support and contact. Ask your readers for feedback. Let them know that their opinions matter to you. After-sale support and contact may determine whether or not that customer will be a returning customer. When a customer feels that their business or opinions are valued by a business, they are more likely to support that business.

If you do offer other services, such as editing, formatting, marketing, etc. make that known to your customers. People who are already fans of your work, who find your books appealing or well-written, will most likely value your advice on how it is you produce a professional, quality book. Start by hosting free (or small-fee) webinars where you offer your advice with the option at the end to hire you personally for your services.

Thinking of your business as a living growing entity will remind you that you need to give it the proper care and attention it deserves so that it can continue to expand and grow stronger over time. Keep watering that tree, letting those leaves bask in the sunlight, and you will have shade and fresh air to breathe in for ages to come. Ignore it, or give it too little attention and you will watch it wither away and be left with a lifeless stump.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


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.

Self-Publishing News: 5.15.2017

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this week in the world of self-publishing:

Beginning in March, Amazon began a policy which allowed third-party sellers the right to purchase the “Buy Box” for new books being sold on Amazon. Why is this such a big deal? Traditionally, by default, the “Buy Box” has always been something that belonged to the original publisher of the book. That way, when you purchase a book, 45% of the profits go back to the publisher, and in turn, help pay authors. “This contributes to authors’ royalties,” says Brook Warner, “and also means that your purchase is supporting the entity that published the book, namely the publisher.” Warner suggests that this policy not only favors the largest third-seller parties, but it drastically affects publishers and authors.

Warner is affiliated with the publishing industry, so she has seen first hand the negative impacts of this change. One of the authors published under Warner’s press called her to inform her that her book was no longer being offered at all on Amazon from her publisher. If someone were to search for the title of her book, the only available purchase options were from third-party publishing companies. “Amazon’s policy states that ‘eligible sellers will be able to compete for the buy box,’” says Warner, “but in this case, we had been completely wiped off of Amazon as an eligible seller in any capacity, without being notified.” After more investigation, Warner found that some books published by a company she used to work at, Seal Press, were only offering copies from third-party sellers.

The problem with this new policy, according to Warner, is that it affects publishers’ backlist for books “(typically meaning any book that’s six months or older).” To someone buying the book, it appears as though the third-party seller is the only available purchase option, and if they did click the “more buying options” button, it would only alert them to cheaper versions of the book, not the one for sale by the publishing company which is listed as “sold by Amazon.com,” with no nod to the publishing company at all. Because small publishing companies are especially dependent on backlist sales, and because Amazon is the main source for backlist sales, Amazon is making it look as though a lot of these books are out of print with their publishing companies when in fact, they are not.

What are the biggest takeaways from this new policy by Amazon? For Warner, it is that they are trying to further drive down the value and cost of books, something they’ve already done with their ebooks by encouraging authors to sell their books for under $10 by giving the incentive of better royalties if they do so. Further, this makes it so that authors can’t earn royalties for the sale of their books. Amazon has suggested to people who are upset about the “buy box” competition that they should keep their books in stock which is problematic for self-published authors or backlist authors whose books are only available by print-on-demand, which are only printed to order, i.e. out of stock. “This new third-party seller policy is potentially terrorizing,” says Warner, “in that it can and will literally result in publishers selling fewer copies and ultimately being forced to declare backlist books out of print.”

In order to counter this effort by Amazon Warner suggests supporting indie bookstores, avoiding third-party sellers and always considering how your purchase will affect the authors, especially if you yourself are an author. Driving down the cost of books means driving down the value of your creative and intellectual property, which as authors we should all value very highly.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

KellyABOUT 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.

Growing Pains: Part III

Last week, we explored the ways in which you can specialize in certain key products and services you offer so as to streamline your business and “grow” your sales. This week, I’d like to speak to the ways in which you can expand upon your product line, if you’ve found that you’re comfortable with the level of work-sales ratio you’re receiving with your current products.

    If you plan to expand your product line, it is crucial that the products and services you add complement those you already provide. By this, I mean that you can see a connection between these things and that your marketing efforts can be used seamlessly between one and the other.

   Let’s say you’ve become a prolific self-published author. You’ve gone through the trial and error processes of editing, formatting, illustrating, marketing, etc etc. You’ve seen what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t work. A complementary service you could offer–with this knowledge you’ve acquired–could be assisting other aspiring self-publishing authors.

  By offering copy-editing, formatting or marketing assistance, you would only further those skills for yourself as an author–so long as you didn’t let it replace the time you spend working on your own books.

     Or, let’s say you’ve found great marketing success is hosting events–book readings, poetry slams, etc. Maybe you’ve even found you have a certain knack for planning these kinds of events. Plenty of authors dread orchestrating such things, and you could use that skill to assist them, while simultaneously building your networking platform. A well-planned event is great marketing for you as an event planner, and it may even turn into great marketing for you as an author.

    Another option: you write children’s books and they’ve become rather popular. Consider branching out and creating book themed toys that model characters in your stories, children not only love interacting with illustrations in your stories, but they especially love being able to have tangible versions of your characters to play with in real life! How exciting would it be to have it be an option to add that toy during a check out of a purchase of your book?? This would be especially great during the holiday season.

  With any of these options for “growing your business,” always keep in mind what your priorities are, or what they should be. Don’t let your side projects take over or take you away from what you love. Put yourself and your work first always. Helping someone else market will only help you if you’ve made enough time to market for yourself first and foremost. Editing someone else’s work will only help you if your work is thoroughly edited and given the attention it deserves. Planning events for other authors should never take precedent over planning events of your own.

In summation, if you don’t have the time or energy to offer these other services, don’t. If you find yourself with extra time and motivation, by all means go for it! The sky is the limit!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


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.

Self-Publishing News: 5.8.2017

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this week in the world of self-publishing:

Dr. Alison Baverstock of Kingston University in London was already a writer, publisher, consultant and teacher when she decided to explore the world of non-traditional publishing. Allison ended up with comprehensive enought research on the self-publishing industry that she was able to write How to Market Books, a title that has been called the “bible of book marketing” and which has been translated into 15 different languages.

More than half a million self-published books entered the market last year alone, and that number is sure to keep growing, as it continues to be a more popular option for authors of all types–from the first timer to the seasoned vet.

Baverstock noticed that though self-publishing was originally met with hostility and was highly stigmatized at its onset, it has a growing popularity and acceptance as more and more authors seem to be taking this route for a myriad of different reasons.

Allison is not the only one to have noticed this. Neil White, creative director and publisher at Nautilus Publishing Company in Oxford, said self-publishing was a “huge waste of money 10-plus years ago. In order to make each book affordable, a press needed to publish 1,000-5,000 copies of the book. Most of those are still in someone’s garage.” However, White and Baverstock have both admitted that self-published has transformed a huge amount in just a decade.

The ease of digitization has made self-publishing very popular. You can download programs to edit and format your book from your own computer. You can upload your book directly to Amazon and other ebook platforms, making publishing literally a click away.

Rather than delegitimizing self-publishing, its rising prevalence has made it more respected, with serious authors who have already been through the traditional publishing houses choosing this route because it simply pays better for them in the long run.

Baverstock says, “If you look at the “New York Best Seller” list, there are usually two or three titles in the top ten that started off as self-published books.” Two or three out of ten isn’t too shabby for an industry previously dominated and controlled by the traditional publishing market.

These facts have shown that traditional publishing companies aren’t always as in tune with reader’s tastes and preferences as they thought they were. “There have been several areas of self-publishing that the industry was quite confident that nobody wanted books on, and actually they’ve been proven wrong,” says Baverstock.

This is not to say that all self-published books will do well. White cautions that there are a lot of self-publishing books that will sell less than 1,000, or less than 100 copies of their books. He also cautioned against simply one-click publishing something on Amazon that you haven’t seriously edited or put time and care into formatting. He has four pieces of advice for authors considering the self-publishing route, and they are as follows: “Hire a great story editor. Hire a great copy editor. Hire a talented book designer. Hire a great book publicist.”


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

KellyABOUT 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.