Writing Improvement Software

Monday, April 28, 2014

Literary Bullies - You Know Who They Are

    Since becoming a published author in July of 2013, I've become aware of a new kind of bully. A literary bully. Maybe they've always been around, but the internet has certainly made them more visible. As a kid you were pretty much guaranteed there would be schoolyard bullies, and as an adult you had about a 50% chance you'd have suffer with one in the workplace to some degree or another. What I didn't expect was the amount of literary bullies lurking in the literary world. I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised, after all, those schoolyard bullies were bound to become adults just as I did. Apparently many haven't changed much.
    I don't recall ever seeing the term literary bully before, and since I may be the first to coin it, let me give you my definition of it. A literary bully is someone who, like most bullies:
  • Believes, and wants you to believe, they are superior to you on whatever literary subject it is they are talking down to you about at the moment. They seem to get some sort of sick personal gratification by making you feel small and inferior compared to their vast knowledge of the subject being discussed at the time. They will constantly litter their posts with dry, bored words to let you know just how far down their nose they are having to look just to see you.
  • Though a part of the Indie world, they assure you they wouldn't be caught dead reading an Indie book. Kinda gives you the sense that maybe one rejection letter too many from the Big 5 has truly made them bitter, or surely they wouldn't be a part of the industry they so obviously despise.
  • They criticize your book(s), or any part of it, in a manner that lets you know they could have done it better. After they rip you in every way possible, they'll then digress a bit once they've accomplished what they set out to do: completely undermine you confidence and enthusiasm. They'll assure that they didn't actually mean it that way, but... Of course, the damage has already been done.
    These people aren't the physical bullies we all recognize from our childhood. These are verbal bullies, and they're every bit as easy to recognize as the physical ones. Verbal bullies tear you down in order to make themselves look better. It is, in fact, the only way they can stand out in a crowd, and they know it. They usually can't shine on their own merit so they feel that eliminating others is the only way they can get the attention they think they deserve.
    We are Indie authors! We've entered this brave new world known as Indie Publishing and are all eager to make our mark. We will make our mistakes, and do our best to learn from them, but we will never give up!
    My advice to any one of you the next time you come across a literary bully? Tell them to piss off and shut them down. Shrinking away from people like this only makes them feel more empowered, but the fact is YOU are the one who has the power. Use it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

How Did I Ever Write Without This?

    Several months ago, I came across a program called Grammarly. I used the 7 day trial by running the first 3 chapters of my first book through it. Oh my... I was a little mortified to see all the errors it brought to my attention. It didn't just point out those pesky little it's or its usages, but overuse of particular words, and everything in between. Since I'm one of those stubborn authors that are determined to be completely self sufficient in every aspect of my work, I knew I had to have this program. It was like having a proofreader and editor at my beck and call 24/7 for a tiny fraction of the cost.
    Now that I have Grammarly, I run every chapter I write through it. I make the necessary corrections, and I'm done. Finished. No more going back over it and fretting. And most importantly, no more missing mistakes. As most of you know too well, after awhile you can no longer see the forest for the trees when reading your work for the 100th time. Grammarly never misses, though. I was practically giddy when I saw all that it was picking up on. Even as I laughed, I groaned to myself, "how on earth did I miss that?!" I don't worry about that anymore.
    As an official reviewer for Reader's Favorite, I read a good amount of books that are still in desperate need of a proofreader. I can't help but think if they had only put their book through Grammarly, pretty much all of those mistakes could have been taken care of. I highly recommend running a test for yourself, you won't believe what you see!

      As you can see on the right side of this screen shot, those are just a few of the things Grammarly searches your pages for. In the red highlighted area, Grammarly has brought to my attention the use of a double negative. This is one of those instances where you'll use your own judgment to correct it or leave it. Grammarly has pointed it out, but the program is unaware that the man speaking that sentence has a hillbilly accent and his dialogue is often over dramatized by using such words. All I need to do is hit the Ignore button and it moves to the next thing on the list. It just couldn't be simpler.
    Click the link below to give it a try, you can test it free for 7 days! I know I won't ever publish another book again without running it through Grammarly first, and plan on putting the two books I have already published through it as soon as I can. It has made such a difference in the book I'm currently writing, and I've learned a lot just from using it.


Chameleon Author              

Monday, April 7, 2014

Is Your T.O.C. M.I.A.?

    I was in an informal roundtable discussion last week with a handful of authors and someone made a comment that they never put a table of contents in their digital books. I couldn't quite keep the surprise from my face fast enough. What ensued was an emotional debate on why any author should, or shouldn't, include a ToC in their digital book.
    I think the fact that numerous retailers like Barnes and Noble and Apple will not include your book in their catalogue if it doesn't have a ToC is reason enough to put one in it. Why would you lock yourself out of reaching millions of additional readers? When I asked the four authors who admitted they didn't bother with a ToC that very question, I got a lot of shrugs and mumbling. Long story short, what I finally found out was that it was too complicated and they simply couldn't get it to work right.
    Admittedly, it can be pretty confusing. The dreaded Meat grinder used by Smashwords is enough to make most authors avoid it all together, and the instructions Amazon gives leaves most aggravated and confused. Just 2 days ago I came across an author friend that didn't have a ToC in his book on Amazon. Shocked, I offered to do this for him. Once I got my hands on his .doc file, it was obvious why he didn't.
    Using Jutoh to do his book, the program was set for automatic format. It was a tangled mess of formatting marks that were so terribly unnecessary. What should have taken me an hour to do, turned out to be 11 hours spent stripping the formatting out, then reformatting it just so I could get the ToC to work. However, his book now looks like a million bucks on Amazon, and he's tickled pink. It was worth it :)
    In light of my experience, I wondered how wide spread this problem was. So far, it looks like about 1 out of 5 authors shy away from using ToCs, and another 1 out of about 8 that have one, it doesn't work properly. These are not hard stats, just a rough estimate on my part from asking around.
    I'd like to run an informal survey. Please scroll down and take this poll. I'll post the results at the close of the poll.
    If you need ToC formatting, or eBook formatting for upload to Smashwords and Amazon, you can contact me at 

Chameleon Author