I was contacted by a not-so-articulate person who requested my services as an editor for an article. I looked at his document and found a ten-page paragraph that needed plenty of help. I wrote a polite response explaining that this piece would be time-consuming and expensive to edit, but the author seemed intent on having me rewrite it. He readily agreed to my price, explained his 30-day deadline and told me he’d send a check.
If this doesn’t sound suspicious to you, it should.
Hyphens are an important contributor to elegant, easy-to-read typography, especially when text is fully justified as is the convention in book typography. This article explains how justified text works, and how proper hyphenation improves the legibility of your type.
Text justification works by expanding the spaces between words on each line until the evenly spaced words precisely fill the width of the text field. Some typographers hate justified text; they prefer the natural spacing of the type to the artificially expanded spacing, and they don’t mind the uneven right edge. A compelling argument can be made that ragged-right (left-aligned) text is the most legible, but a beautifully proportioned rectangle of text set inside the rectangle of the page is likewise an engaging aesthetic experience. Designers must balance page layout considerations against the need to format text that’s inviting and comfortable to read. Continue reading →
Thanks to K.M. Weiland for sharing this excellent guest post.
When someone mentions the phrase “classic book,” what do you think of? That mammoth copy of War & Peace you used as a doorstop all semester in your junior year? That pile of Cliff’s Notes you borrowed from the library whenever you had to write book reports? All the black and white movies you opted to watch instead of reading the books?
Many of us have negative associations with classic literature, thanks to teachers who “forced” us to read these old books when we were in less-than-appreciative frames of mind. But it’s time to shake off the negativity! Not only are the classics a treasure trove of wonderful stories about our past, present, and future, they’re also a gold mine of learning opportunities for authors.
Ten years ago, I made the commitment to read all the classics, and so far, I’ve worked my way up through the “H” authors (Hemingway and Homer are on my digital shelf at the moment). I cannot even begin to tell you how much I’ve gleaned from this commitment, both as a person and a writer. I got to kick this experiment into high gear when I was asked to write Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic. Analyzing this masterpiece of literature, on more than just a superficial level, taught me more about writing than has any other single reading experience.
Want to join the fun? Here are five reasons all authors should be reading the classics: Continue reading →
Most eBook formats feel like they’ve been designed and coded by someone who’s never read an eBook, let alone written one. Not only has Dave Bricker written novels and a memoir, The Blue Monk, but he has published them on his own platform. In this week’s Author Pitch, he tells us about what he’s done that warranted chronicling and how that changed the way he lives his life.
So many writers get discouraged. This stinks. I quit.
Others are overconfident. They’ve always had “a gift for words” so they fail to submit their prose to an editor’s scrutiny.
I recently shared an email exchange with an editing client in which I gently pointed out a flaw she’d missed. She thanked me for “not making her feel like an idiot.”
Learning to write well is like learning to play an instrument; it requires practice, determination, and a song inside that wants to express itself. Though you’ve been writing and speaking your entire life, if you’ve never gone through the process of drafting and editing a narrative, you’re at the beginning of the long steep path to writing well.
If you can communicate fluidly and fluently on a day-to-day basis, speak eloquently at meetings, and organize emails into cohesive paragraphs, it’s no stretch to imagine you’re ready to “sit down and hammer out a book.” But when your editor takes your “fine work” and bloodies it up with red ink, it’s just as easy easy to feel discouraged. All this time I thought I was a good writer! Instead I’ve been advertising how incompetent I am with every email and office memo.Continue reading →
This article discusses the merits and drawbacks of HTML5 Web-Based Ebooks. It’s really a blog post in eBook form, but why talk about it when you can do it? EBooks on the web are not a proposal or a theory; they’re here. Web-based eBooks are beautiful, functional, easy-to-create, and available now to anyone with an up-to-date web browser.
Are web-based eBooks of value? Or is this another new channel that fragments the market and makes more work for publishers? Every eBook format has advantages and disadvantages. Determining which eBook format(s) are right for you depend(s) on your content, publishing goals, and standards. Leverage popular (ePub) formats to take advantage of the widest possible distribution and easy, third-party e-commerce technology. Use HTML5 eBooks for better presentation, consistent support of enhanced functionality, and building relationships directly with your readers.
Search for “one-sentence paragraph” on the Internet and you’ll mostly find questions about whether writing them is even an acceptable practice. The one-sentence paragraph is not only legal, it’s a useful and powerful literary device.
One-sentence paragraphs are common when short pieces of dialog are being exchanged, but consider the effect of serial one-sentence paragraphs in other contexts. The following excerpt from The Blue Monk describes an ocean crossing in a small wooden boat:
The PubML™ eBook platform combines a web-based eBook format with book design guidance and publishing expertise. EBook publishing is no longer a chore or an insurmountable technical challenge. PubML’s™ holistic approach educates, empowers, and inspires writers and publishers.
PubML™ EBooks – Balancing Tradition with Innovation
EBooks and popular eBookstores have been around for a while; these rely on either the ePub eBook format or some variant like Amazon’s .mobi. Publishers made a huge investment in converting their catalogs to ePub2 format for consumption on dedicated eReader devices. But after the ePub3 standard was released to enhance the capabilities of eBooks, eReader device manufacturers were slow to embrace the new standard. Without ePub3 support, publishers will naturally hesitate to deliver enhanced eBooks that won’t appear or function consistently for all readers.
The PubML™ eBook format (PubML stands for Publishing with HTML) was created to display reflowable, paginated text in the web browser, along with elegant typography, web fonts, rich media, photo footnotes, and other features. The web browser is now officially the most powerful and flexible platform for eBook display. Publishing on the free Internet offers a distribution channel that bypasses proprietary bookstore and app store commissions. PubML™ eBooks can be read online or offline. They can be viewed as hosted websites or distributed as digital downloads for local viewing.
The PubML™ Publishing tools export to both traditional ePub2 format and to PubML™ web-book format. Publishers can choose either or both.
Introducing PubML – HTML5 eBooks in Your Web Browser
The Blue Monk is an IPPY Award-winning memoir about my adventures sailing solo during the 1980s and 90s. As I worked on my manuscript, I thought about ways I could honor the places and people I’d encountered on my voyages. My research contained hundreds of maps, photos, video clips, and footnotes; I wanted to find a way to share these resources without bloating the file size or cluttering the text. As a book designer, I wanted to produce an electronic book that respected classic principles of layout and typography.
The PubML™ eBook format (Publishing with HTML) enables beautiful, rich media eBooks to be delivered where they should be—through your web browser. PubML™ eBooks combine elegant typography with reflowable, paginated text, and they offer a “third stream” alternative to proprietary bookstores and proprietary eReader devices.
The Blue Monk is much more than a demo PubML™ eBook. It’s a vivid account of setting sail in a small boat (named The Blue Monk after the Thelonious Monk composition) to find big adventure, and documentation of the untold history of Miami’s Biscayne Bay. 80 interactive maps allow readers to follow my routes and fly over remote places. 100 Photo Footnotes clarify nautical terms without adding clutter to the pages. 200 photographs and 350 video clips allow the reader to build a personal connection with people who were part of the story. The Blue Monk is a fusion of rich media and literature where hundreds of images, maps, and video are kept subordinate to the written word.