Will you read and critique my manuscript for me?

I get asked this question a lot: Will you read and critique my manuscript for me? Possibly. But not for free. Because this is an editing service—a paid service—that must be completed by a professional editor.

Will you read and critique my manuscript for me?

Will you read and critique my manuscript for me?

I find that many people request this even after they’ve already had two or three friends or colleagues read and critique a manuscript for them. Those people gave it a rave review, and now they’re looking for … what? Another rave review? Or maybe a criticism—a way out?

I always ask these people, “And what will happen if I like the book? Or what if I don’t like it? Then what? Will you bring it to someone else to read and critique? Or will you finally stop procrastinating, finish writing it, have it edited and designed, and publish it once and for all?”

Will you read and critique my manuscript for me?

The only critics who truly matter are your readers—your customers. And the only way you’ll learn what they like and don’t like is to publish it and read their reviews. You’ll grow and learn from there if you keep yourself open to growing and learning.

Every author experiences criticism along the way. It’s okay. I get five-star and three-star reviews, and even the occasional one-star review on my books online. After several years of doing this, I’ve grown a thicker skin and have learned that I have to love me first—I have to support me first—and other people’s love and/or support (whether it comes or not) is extra. It’s not what makes or breaks me anymore. Now, when someone gives me one star with an unflattering review attached to it, I simply thank them for taking the time to read and comment on my book; then I recommend another book that they may enjoy better. End of story. Move on. You’ll learn to do the same over time.

“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”
~J. K. Rowling, 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech

In other words, you fail by default if you never publish your book. But you have a strong chance of success if you go through with it—publish it and then sell it by following these steps.

Discuss Your Book Project Over Coffee

PPG offers Calgary and area writers an in-person book project consultation with a book publisher and fellow author. This one-hour coffee meeting is appropriate for those who have been working on their manuscripts for a while, have at least 30 pages written, are wondering if their projects are viable, and are seeking advice regarding the various publishing options that are available to them. Click here to book your meeting.

Discuss Your Book Project Over Coffee | Have Your Manuscript Reviewed

In addition to the above service, PPG also offers manuscript reviews by professional editors. The writer is encouraged to bring a USB memory stick or flash drive to the coffee meeting. That drive should contain up to the first 30 pages (double-spaced, using Times New Roman 12-point font, roughly 5,000 words in total) of his or her manuscript for review by one of PPG’s copy editors. The copy editor will offer basic advice and guidance on writing style, spelling, grammar, and punctuation to complement the publishing/business advice given at the one-hour in-person consultation. Click here to book your meeting.

Related reading:
Don’t Call Procrastination Laziness. Call it Fear. (PART ONE)
Don’t Call Procrastination Laziness. Call it Fear. (PART TWO)

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Why You Need a Graphic Designer Who Understands Printing

In this post, I want to discuss why you need a graphic designer who understands printing. This is especially true if you wish to print business cards, book marks, and other marketing materials.

Why You Need a Graphic Designer Who Understands Printing

Why You Need a Graphic Designer Who Understands Printing

In past posts, I mentioned the different printing processes and what each one is used for. I also discuss that today’s digital printers can only handle certain paper sizes and weights.

Now I want to take this a step further to discuss specialty “soft touch” papers and soft touch finishes. These are popular choices for those who want to emulate elegance and sophistication. But they have their limitations.

Why You Need a Graphic Designer Who Understands Printing

Graphic designers are truly creative people who can take your author business to the next level. They can design stunning business cards, book marks, trade show banners, et cetera, to complement your books. Many of them are recommending soft touch to their clients nowadays. Feel a soft touch business card or presentation folder just once, and you’ll understand why.

But before you hire a graphic designer to help you produce any speciality marketing materials, ask if he or she has a printing background. If not, ask that designer to vet his or her recommendations through a local printer before presenting them to you. It will save you a lot of time having your print jobs quoted and requoted several times over.

Some of these specialty papers/finishes cannot be run through digital printers. They’ll either get jammed or they’ll melt. They can only be printed on an offset press, which means you’ll have to produce large quantities of them. As discussed in an earlier post, offset presses cannot be used for short runs. This is because the set-up cost is far too high to print only a few copies at a reasonable price.

Related reading: Why Do Authors Need Graphic Designers?

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Economy matters. Above all else? (PART ONE)

Economy matters. It absolutely does. And you may recall that the whole reason our economy is in the state it’s in right now is because of the antics of the last set of Conservatives. Their questionable integrity got them booted out of office and forced an “Orange Crush” vote in protest. That’s proof right there that integrity matters as much as economy.

That’s how I replied to an email from a friend of mine who was disappointed by my recent post about the upcoming Alberta election. He told me to “read the policies and reflect just a little on what the NDP has done to this province.” His final message to me was, “Economy matters.” Then he disconnected from me on LinkedIn. I guess I only get to be his friend if I agree with him on everything.

Economy matters. Above all else?

Economy matters. Above all else?

A lack of integrity can crash the economy.

You don’t only need to read Alberta’s archives from 2015 to understand how a lack of integrity can detrimentally affect the economy. Read today’s news.

Just ask TD Bank about the effect this CBC news story about disgruntled employees had on their stock performance: TD Bank shares post worst day since 2009 after CBC story.

That story was followed by yet another one about thousands more disgruntled employees who replied in solidarity: ‘We are all doing it’: Employees at Canada’s 5 big banks speak out about pressure to dupe customers.

That story was followed by similar complaints from employees in the telecom industry: Former Bell and Rogers employees reveal sales secrets submitted to public inquiry.

And that story was followed by a public inquiry which reported this just last month: Telecom customers face ‘unacceptable’ harm from misleading sales tactics, CRTC says.

Ask all these companies what stories like these can do to their share prices. It isn’t pretty. And it affects us all.

The opposite of integrity is dishonesty.

The opposite of integrity is dishonesty.

Economy matters. Above all else?

When those in leadership place economy ahead of integrity, that economy will only sustain itself for so long. Employees and the public will begin to see through the deception. They’ll start complaining. First in small numbers. Then those numbers will grow larger and larger until a domino effect takes place that not only slows current progress; it causes a recession.

I’m going to a Jason Kenney rally in Calgary this week because I want to hear him speak. I’m still willing to listen to what he has to say. But his policies are not the only things I’m watching. I’m also watching his character—his level of integrity. I long for the Ralph Klein days again. I hope this is the guy. But we’ll see.

Related Reading: Wells Fargo account fraud scandal …Initial reports blamed individual Wells Fargo branch workers and managers for the problem, as well as sales incentives associated with selling multiple “solutions” or financial products. This blame was later shifted to a top-down pressure from higher-level management to open as many accounts as possible through cross-selling.

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Self-Editing Tools for Independent Authors

Self-editing will never completely replace the value of a professional human editor for your books. But these self-editing tools can help you clean up your blog.

self-editing

self-editing (Image by Anne Karakash from Pixabay.)

l recently came across an article written by Amanda Shofner, and further edited by the TWL Team, on The Write Life website. I take the advice regarding these editing tools seriously because of who is giving this advice:

During self-edits on my latest manuscript, I experimented with six editing tools, both free and paid, to determine which could be most beneficial to The Write Life’s audience. Besides being an author, I’m an editor, so I also weighed each tool against what I’d look for when editing.

…An automatic editing tool doesn’t replace a human editor. Because language rules and elements of a good story can be so flexible, human eyes will always be superior to the rigidity of automatic tools. (The Write Life, February 2019)

According to Amanda and the TWL team, each self-editing tool has its strengths and its weaknesses. None can be used for everything.

Self-Editing Tools for Spelling and Grammar

Not surprisingly, Grammarly is first on the list of self-editing tools. We’ve all been inundated with Grammarly advertising lately, so it’s a popular brand. You can download and start using a free version of this tool to help with self-editing your blog entries. Unfortunately, you can expect to be continually bombarded with even more ads if you do so. They won’t stop until you upgrade to a paid version. At the end of the day, The Write Life team recommends Grammarly for basic grammar and spell checking. I personally think you can get this same value from Microsoft Word … and without all the advertising interruptions.

The next recommended tool is called ProWritingAid. This also has a free version available (for a limited time) so you can try it out before buying it. It takes things a step further by helping you catch over-used words and repeated phrases.

After the Deadline is next in line. This grammar tool is completely free of charge, so it’s perfect for bloggers on a budget. That said, the team at TWL cautions “you get what you pay for” here. They recommend Grammarly above it.

Self-Editing Tools for Analyzing Readability

The Write Life team recommends AutoCrit as a great tool for fiction writers. They also speak highly about this paid tool’s ability to analyze and correct one’s common writing issues. More sophisticated than any of the earlier-mentioned tools, it can help in the developmental editing stage of a manuscript.

Next up is the Hemingway App. This free online app needs to be used in conjunction with other grammar and spell checking apps. Why? Because it doesn’t check those things. It appears to be similar to the Yoast: SEO for Everyone plug-in I recommended earlier in that it analyzes your writing to improve its readability.

Last, but not least, there’s WordRake. This one is a fairly pricey add-in for Microsoft Word or Outlook, and with good reason. You get what you pay for in life. And here’s what these editors have to say about this tool: “WordRake is a great tool for the copyediting stage. Verbose writers, authors wanting to cut down on editing costs or editors looking to speed up their editing process will most benefit from WordRake.” It sure sounds worth the investment!

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What is the difference between offset printing and digital printing?

What is the difference between offset printing and digital printing?

What is the difference between offset printing and digital printing?

It used to be that, whenever a book was published, there was automatically a large quantity of 1,000 or more copies printed. All these books were then stored away in large warehouses by the publisher and/or its distributor(s). Long run printing was done because there was only one type of printer available to publishers back then: offset. An offset printing press is “old-school printing” in that it uses liquid ink, is the most cost-effective option for higher print quantities, and offers better colour control than today’s digital printers do. The downside is that offset presses cannot be used for short runs. This is because the set-up cost is far too high to print only a few copies at a reasonable price.

What is the difference between offset printing and digital printing?

Today’s publishers (and self-publishers) have more choices available to them. If you want to print 1,000+ books straightaway and pay the lowest possible cost per unit, you can still use offset printing. Alternatively, you can choose to print smaller quantities of books using two different digital printing solutions: print-on-demand (POD) and short run printing.

A digital printer is what every business has in its office. These printers use dry toner rather than liquid ink and can run smaller quantities at a cost-effective price. The turnaround time for digital printing tends to be faster than offset. This is not only because of the smaller quantities but also the quicker set-up time for each job.

The difference between the digital printer at your office and one you’ll find at a professional print shop is that the latter offers “bigger, stronger, faster” technology. Also, it is run by trained operators who know exactly which settings to use for each individual print job.

What is print-on-demand (POD) printing?

Ecommerce retailers, such as Amazon, utilize POD and short run digital technologies to sell physical books online. In other words, they won’t print and store any physical copies of your paperback book in a large warehouse anywhere. Instead, they’ll store only the digital cover and interior files that you’ve uploaded to their site. And they will print, bind, and ship only as many copies as someone buys from them at any given time. This saves you from having to print any upfront copies whatsoever. If someone buys ten copies of your book, ten copies will be printed, bound, and shipped to that buyer. If another person buys only one, then Amazon will print, bind, and ship only one—hence the term “print-on-demand.”

Related reading:
Is Book Printing a Good Idea for Indie Authors?
Book Binding: What Are Your Options?

Book Trim Sizes: What Are Your Options?

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Honesty and Integrity Gift-Wrapped in an F-Bomb [Ralph Klein]

Honesty and integrity matters in business and in government. It’s not only about a strong economy, albeit that’s an important part of the equation. This is why I’m so torn about which way to go in the upcoming Alberta election. Is it one or the other? Can we actually have both?

Honesty and Integrity Matters [Alberta Election]

Honesty and Integrity Matters [Alberta Election]

I am a Conservative at heart. But I didn’t vote in our last provincial election in Alberta. I was so shocked by the antics of the previous few conservative leaders—Danielle Smith/Jim Prentice, Alison Redford, Ed Stelmach—that I couldn’t see myself supporting anything any of them stood for at that time. In not voting, I inadvertently supported the election of our current NDP Premier, Rachel Notley. Alberta hasn’t felt the same to me since then.

I think the Conservatives needed to be knocked off their throne for a little while, so they could tone down the arrogance that grew from their decades-long reign. I always assumed they would clean up their collective act and return to office in the next election. The longer the NDP has been in power, the more I’ve prayed Albertans will someday restore the “glory days” of the Ralph Klein era.

Honesty and Integrity Matters [Alberta Election]

But Jason Kenney has me concerned. There is a stifling smell of arrogance in the air again, and I don’t like what I’m reading in the newspapers about this man.

I’m not talking about all of the blatant NDP smear campaigns about Jason Kenney’s character here. Any time I see these types of campaigns, I see only fear in the eyes of the people running them. It makes me question their confidence more than the other guy’s character.

I am talking about articles like this one: Kenney, Callaway campaigns collaborated to attack Brian Jean during UCP leadership race, leaked documents show.

UCP executive Janice Harrington says campaign communication was ‘perfectly normal’ and ‘within the rules’ … Following Kenney’s landslide win, it was alleged Kenney’s campaign ran Callaway as a so-called “kamikaze” candidate to attack and undermine Jean, Kenney’s main political rival. Both Kenney and Callaway have denied collaborating in a kamikaze campaign. (CBC News, March 2019)

If this campaign tactic was above board, then why do Kenney and Callaway feel the need to deny it? Why not simply own up to it? If you have to lie about something like this, what else are you lying about? These are the types of character traits I look closely at in other people.

The opposite of integrity is dishonesty.

The opposite of integrity is dishonesty.

We Need More Leaders Like JWR

ln my opinion, our country was shown honesty and integrity through Jody Wilson-Raybould’s recent actions: JWR has evidence, Trudeau has crumbling stories. We were also shown true courage. I agree 100% with how JWR handled that situation after months of being pressured by Trudeau and his top staffers. She knew she had no other choice but to provide evidence of their ongoing pressure if/when she was ever questioned about it in the future. Because she knew who she was dealing with; she knew they would lie. Without a recording, it would be nothing more than a “he said, she said” scenario. With a recording, she was able to prove her honesty and their lies. She had no other choice in the matter.

All our parents taught us that honesty is the best policy. So, why is this concept so difficult for some people? Here’s another person we can all learn from in this regard: Jane Philpott.

“Without malice, sometimes errors take place, but you need to own up to the people who may have been harmed and you need to find out why it happened and make sure it never happens again.” (CBC News, March 2019)

You need to show integrity, Jason Kenney. If you want my vote, you need to own your words and actions rather than deny, deny like Trudeau. Look where that got him?

Honesty and Integrity Gift-Wrapped in an F-Bomb

Somebody once told me a story about Ralph Klein, and it made me smile. He was seated at a table in front of a roomful of angry constituents who were all yelling at him for one thing or another. He sat there listening to them and couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

Finally, in frustration, Ralph stood up and gave them all the finger—that caught their attention!—and yelled back at them, “I did was exactly what I said I was going to do, you idiots!” That’s honesty and integrity gift-wrapped in an F-bomb. I have a ton of respect for that man.

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How to Publish Books for Children

Publishing books for children is similar to publishing adult fiction, non-fiction, and poetry books. There are a series of steps to follow no matter what type of book you’re working with.

Books for Children | Children's Books

Books for Children | Children’s Books

Books for Children: Breaking Down the Elements

Children’s books will have many of the same interior elements and as other books have (e.g., front matter, main body, and back matter). The elements of a children’s book cover are also much the same as adult book covers. So, it’s important to familiarize yourself with each before designing your book for publication. Here are a few other things to consider:

  • If you want to sell a book—any book—it must have an ISBN. “ISBN” stands for “International Standard Book Number.” An ISBN is a unique 13-digit identifier for each edition of your book.
  • Many children’s book authors prefer to create a hardcover version of their book rather than an ebook or paperback. This is fine. But, if you wish to have this book sold online (e.g., Amazon), then you need to understand some of the limitations of print-on-demand (POD) hardcover books.
  • Most children’s book authors envision their book covers and interiors to be rich with illustrations or colourful pictures. If you are unable to create these images yourself, you’ll need to get them from someone else. Here’s where you can obtain illustrations and graphics for your children’s book.

To produce a truly professional result, I recommend hiring a graphic designer to help you. These professionals will be able to aid you with all aspects of your book project from the book’s layout to choosing colours that will print well on both digital and offset presses. This way, you’ll be able to sell your book both online and in traditional places.

Related reading: Why You Need a Graphic Designer Who Understands Printing

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Print-on-Demand (POD) Limitations [Endsheets Endpapers Endleaves]

Some clients come to PPG wanting us to help them design and publish hardcover books they can also sell online. This is possible. But there are limitations with print-on-demand (POD) books, particularly when it comes to endsheets endpapers endleaves. This feature can only be produced using a traditional offset printing press and manual binding process. In this post, I’ll touch on why this is the case. 

Digital Book Printing Limitations [Endsheets Endpapers Endleaves]: taken from https://www.bookmobile.com/book-production/hardcover-book-printing-know-how-printed-endsheets-and-endpapers/

Digital Book Printing Limitations [Endsheets Endpapers Endleaves]: taken from https://www.bookmobile.com/book-production/hardcover-book-printing-know-how-printed-endsheets-and-endpapers/

As shown above, one side of each folded piece of paper is glued to the insides of the front and back covers. This is what creates endsheets. It is a careful manual binding process that must be completed by a person. As such, it can’t be done by a POD printer. Digital POD printers are designed to mechanically print and bind individual books quickly.

POD Limitations [Endsheets Endpapers Endleaves]

Here’s another POD limitation. As I discussed in a past post regarding book trim sizes, digital printers can only handle certain paper sizes and weights. Because of that, you’re limited to certain book trim sizes, binding types, and paper stocks/colours if you wish to sell POD books online (which most of us do nowadays). Digital printers simply cannot handle the thicker paper stock that is used to create printed endsheets as illustrated below.

A Possible Solution to Have it Both Ways

When it comes to your book binding options, it is possible to produce a POD case-wrapped hardcover. But you cannot print anything on the inside of POD book covers. Nor can you insert endsheets with a different (thicker) paper stock than the book’s interior pages.

If you wish to have a traditional case-wrapped hardcover book created with printed endsheets inside, you can have this. A traditional printer in your area can print it for you. You just won’t be able to sell it online. You’ll have to sell those books direct. That said, you can also hire one of our graphic designers to produce a second POD version of your book that can be sold online. It will be almost identical to the traditionally-printed book; but the interior paper will be thinner, and there will be no endsheet included. It’s up to you.

Related reading: 3 Book Printing Tips for Indie Authors: Consider This Before Printing Any Books

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Blogging Progress Report Mar 31 2019

For Blogging Progress Report Mar 31 2019, I’m going to focus on this blog’s stats for the past month. I didn’t post much in March because I was busy setting up my new Mailchimp email campaign. I was busy writing and publishing The Author’s Gold Rush. I’ve also been researching a bit more about WordPress to better understand their reporting capabilities and what each “user role” really means. (And, yes, I also got slightly addicted to Dr. Pimple Popper videos for a while. I’m now a recovering popaholic.)

Blogging Progress Report Mar 31 2019 - PPG Publisher's Blog Traffic

Blogging Progress Report Mar 31 2019 – PPG Publisher’s Blog Traffic

I only published five posts in all of March (before this one). Shame on me. My goal is to publish three per week. Luckily, of the 159 unique visitors who viewed my site, they still average more than three clicks each. So, that’s good for my blog site’s click-through rate. A good click-through rate always helps with SEO.

532 views and 159 visitors to PPG Publisher's Blog in March 2019

532 views and 159 visitors to PPG Publisher’s Blog in March 2019

Blogging Progress Report Mar 31 2019: Subscribers, Team Members, Followers, Email Followers

I’m still trying to get my head around what the difference is between WordPress “subscribers/team members” versus “followers” and “email followers.” My subscriber/team base continues to rapidly grow as shown in the next two visuals.

WordPress stats say I have 15,107 team members

WordPress stats say I have 15,107 “team members”

GoDaddy-managed WordPress stats say I have 15,107 subscribers

GoDaddy-managed WordPress stats say I have 15,107 “subscribers”

That’s an increase of 1,077 new “subscribers/team members” over last month. I have email addresses for all these users, but they don’t actually receive any sort of notification of my new blog posts.

In terms of actual “followers” and “email followers,” I’ve also seen a slight increase this past month as shown in the next two visuals.

Followers of PPG Publisher's Blog: 14 people

Followers of PPG Publisher’s Blog: 14 people

Email followers of PPG Publisher's Blog: 1 person

Email followers of PPG Publisher’s Blog: 1 person

So, I’m up from 13 to 15 official followers this past month. Micro wins, indeed. I’d like to see some macro wins soon, which is why I’ll be much more focused on email marketing in the coming months. I plan to send out a mass invite to all my “team members” to invite them to become email followers. I’ll offer them a free copy of The Author’s Money Tree to join.

What Do All These Different WordPress Roles Mean?

I’m unable to find anything online that tells me what a WordPress “team member” is other than this blog post:

Site Followers

To view your followers, select My Sites → People. You’ll see the following tabs on the next screen:

    • Team: People currently added to your site with a user role, such as Administrators, Editors, and Contributors.
    • Followers: A list of people currently following your site.
    • Email Followers: A list of people who are subscribed to your blog via email only. They may or may not have a WordPress.com account.
    • Invites: A list of outgoing invitations to people for following your site, or invites to add them with a specific user role.

Nowhere on the above WordPress blog page, nor on the accompanying “user role” link, does it reference the “subscriber role” that GoDaddy mentions on its admin page. So, where these users are coming from, I don’t know. Why are there so many new ones each month? I don’t know. GoDaddy is unable to answer that question for me anymore than WordPress is. So, I’m just going to assume I’m an SEO wizard then, and all these people are finding me through my books and the search engines. Until someone tells me differently, that must be the case.

Okay, next month? More blog posts. Better stats. More email subscribers. That’s the goal.

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The Author’s Holy Trinity of Profit

The Author’s Holy Trinity of Profit is your surefire way to sell more books. It requires three necessary components: action, thought, and faith.

The Author's Holy Trinity of Profit

The Author’s Holy Trinity of Profit

The Author’s Holy Trinity of Profit Trilogy

Action: The Author’s Money Tree: How to Grow a Bountiful Readership Organically

Thought:
The Author’s Gold Rush: How to Harvest a Bountiful Crop Repeatedly

Faith:
The Author’s Magic Key: How to Stay on Track and Keep the Faith

 

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