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Archive for the ‘Writing Tips & Advice’ Category

October 16th, 2016

4 Keys to Self-Editing Your Work


Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and the isolation inherent in being a writer can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing comes from the time you have to yourself to explore the depths of your imagination without interruption.

The curse comes in at those times when you can use a little help, such as when you have moved on to the editing phase. Self-editing is one of the most difficult things for an author to do. Once you’ve created your story, you are often so far inside your work that it is hard to be an effective editor.

Though difficult, following these four keys to self-editing your work will have you on your way to a greatly improved draft in no time.

Don’t rush editing

One of the best tips for effective self-editing is to put your work aside for a bit before beginning your edit. The amount of time you need depends on multiple factors (including how much time you have available).

But being able to step away for a time allows you to put some distance between your writing and your evaluation. This is a great way to ensure you get a more effective edit.

Read your work out loud

It may seem a little strange to sit alone in a room reading your own work aloud. But you’ll soon find that reading your work out loud will lead you to discover mistakes more effectively than simply reading the work silently. This is particularly effective for making sure your dialog sounds realistic and natural.

Check all your adverbs

Stephen King famously said that the road to hell is paved with adverbs. And while the situation may not be quite that bad, it is advisable to specifically look at all the adverbs in your work to make sure they are necessary. Often, you’ll find that adverbs aren’t necessary and clutter your writing.

Don’t self-edit

This final point isn’t a self-editing tip at all, but rather to remind you that, often, the best tip is to get another set of eyes on your work. Even at it’s best, self-editing can only go so far. Have one other person look over your final draft if at all possible. They may still catch small mistakes that you have overlooked during your own rounds of self-editing.

September 7th, 2016

Americans read an average of 12 books per year

Americans read 12 books a year

A new study shows that, on average, Americans read 12 books per year. Nearly a quarter of adults in the U.S. — 73 percent — have read at least one book in the past year.

This information comes from a new study by the Pew Research Center that looks at the book reading habits of Americans.

The study, which has taken place every year since 2011, looks a variety of facets of Americans’ reading habits. As with other research, the new report found that the vast majority of Americans still seem to prefer print books as opposed to digital devices.


August 9th, 2016

Vast Majority of College Students Prefer Print Books to E-books

print book e-book

A new study finds that 92 percent of college students from around the world prefer print books to e-books.

This finding comes from American University linguistics professor Naomi S. Baron and her team, according to the Los Angeles Times. The team surveyed 300 college students in the U.S, Japan, Germany and Slovakia about how they preferred to read.


July 14th, 2016

3 Free Websites for Writers

Free websites for writers photo

As you launch and continue to cultivate your writing career, you’ll learn very quickly that a good online presence is essential these days. And if you’re not Jonathan Franzen, this applies to you regardless of what kind of writer you are.

While social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are a must for many, most writers also need a website of their own. This allows more freedom and also allows you to customize the kind of things you want to post, whether it be a portfolio, a blog or a longer biography than you can fit in the restraints of Twitter’s bio space.

Because there are so many different types of writers out there our list contains three different sites, all geared toward different types of writers. All are free or have a free option. We’ve included a brief description of the type of site you’ll get, as well as a link for more information.


June 1st, 2016

5 More TedEd Tips to Improve Your Writing

Tips to improve your writing

Last year, we featured 5 grammar lessons from TedEd. We thought those great videos were so helpful to writers that we want to revisit the TedEd Writer’s Workshop series for even more great tips to improve your writing.

This time around, we wanted to broaden our scope a bit to reach beyond the focus on grammar. But we will visit our old friend grammar first in a different way than we looked at it last time.

Does Grammar Matter?


May 1st, 2016

Author Pen Names You May Not Know

Author Pen Names Infographic

It’s no secret that many authors use pen names for one reason or another, whether it be for their entire career or just for selected works. But some authors famous by there real names also used a nom de plume that you may not be as familiar with.


April 1st, 2016

5 Great Books for Writers


No one ever said writing was easy. Anyone that’s tackled writing their own book knows just how true this is. And while the best advice may be to “just write,” there are many times that you need a little outside inspiration.

While we’ve delved into individual tips from writers before, today we want to take a look at five great books for writers. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on your writing style and your writing goals, but the following books are great places to start.

5 Great Books for Writers


December 31st, 2015

5 Grammar Lessons from TedEd

TedEd Grammar Lesson

Throughout this year, we’ve found “The Writer’s Workshop” videos series over at TedEd particularly useful for writers. The series has a number of entries, ranging from a refresher on Edgar Allan Poe to instructions on how to become a slam poet.

But perhaps most intriguing to independent authors are the entries on grammar. The videos offer straightforward, simple ways of looking at complex grammar issues.  We’ve collected five of the videos we’ve found most useful here. To see more, also click over to the TedEd Writer’s Workshop page.

How to use a semicolon


June 15th, 2015

How to Set the Margins in Word for Your Book Printing Project

by David Rogers

While Word’s standard one-inch margins are great for many writing applications, they are not usually the best choice for book printing projects since you will need to use mirror margins. Which brings us immediately to our first question:

What are Mirror Margins?

If you open most any novel to a random page, you’ll notice that the outer margins are a different measurement than the inner margins. You’ll also notice that the margins of both the left and right pages mirror each other, having the same inner and outer margin measurements. Hence the term mirror margins.

In a Word document, however, the margin sizes must be adjusted accordingly for even and odd pages to achieve the mirrored look in the final book layout. Fortunately, all versions of Word allow you to easily set mirrored margins.

The margins are different  because the margin closest to the binding of the book (the inner margins) must to be larger than the outer so that the text doesn’t get cut off from being too close to the binding. These inner margins are called gutter margins, based on the gutter-like shape they create in the middle of the book.

Below the following instructions on how to change the margins in your Word Document to mirrored margins, we’ll provide some examples of suitable margin sizes for different size books. We’ve also written a separate article on how to change the paper size in your Word document to match the size of your final book.


February 9th, 2015

Pantone Before Pantone


The Pantone Matching System didn’t come about until the early 1960s, but it turns out there was a similar guide created some 270 years before that.

An artist only known as “A. Boogert” wrote a book in Dutch back in 1692 that sought to explain how to mix watercolors. While that may sound like a simple task, Mister or Misses Boogert was incredibly thorough.

After spending the beginning of the book writing about mixing watercolors, the majority of the nearly 800 page book is painstakingly painted with different tints of nearly every color you can imagine. Also as you can imagine, the results look remarkably similar to today’s Pantone Color Guide.

The process to paint each color by hand would be extremely tedious and time consuming, and it’s hard to believe this was produced at the time it was. The book was discovered by Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel, who notes the irony inherent in the book on his blog.

“It makes sense, then, that the author explains in the introduction that he wrote the book for educational purposes,” he writes. “Remarkably, because the manual is written by hand and therefore literally one of a kind, it did not get the ‘reach’ among painters – or attention among modern art historians – it deserves.”

You can see scans of the entire book here.

Pantone Matching System

Pantone has become known for its color matching system, which provides a standardization of color for a variety of industries. We use the Pantone matching system extensively in the printing industry, and through the years the company has expanded its systems to be adaptable for other materials like fabric and plastic.

Today, there also is a Pantone standardization series for digital RGB color as well, which is often used by graphic designers.