Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Literary Terms You Should Know

Purple prose: Authors oft-utilizing egregiously eloquent, ornate prose possessed of sterling caliber and astronomical romanticism may indubitably find themselves indicted for their "purple prose." There’s a time and a place for eloquence and SAT words, but it definitely isn’t every time and every place. Any text referring to eyes as "orbs" without any sort of irony is automatically guilty of this linguistic sometimes-offense. No matter what. No exceptions. Also, every romance novel ever written. Even if a long-lost manuscript attributed to Bukowski ever materialized and proved a romance novel, it would still be made of purple prose.

Monday, March 7, 2016

All About Glosses, or Brief Definitions

All About Glosses, or Brief Definitions
by Mark Nichol

One of my pet peeves as an editor (and editors are notoriously peevish, and we only become more so with experience) is the presentation of glosses. A gloss, in language, is a brief definition or explanation of an unfamiliar term or concept. (The previous sentence includes a gloss of the word gloss, though a fairly long one; they often consist of a single word, or several at most.)

Two of the more familiar definitions of gloss as a noun can be described as “a concealment of truth” (virtually antonymic to the meaning under discussion here) and “an act of putting a positive spin on something,” which is related to the connotation of deceit; the sense of gloss as “explanation,” however, is more akin to the idea of providing a sheen with a clear view to what’s underneath, as in “lip gloss” or “high-gloss paint.”

One problem with language glosses is that they invite the use of scare quotes, or gratuitous quotation marks that frame a word or phrase to provide emphasis. (That last phrase is a gloss of “scare quotes.” Also, understand that the quotes here, in turn, are not scare quotes but, rather, valid markers of a phrase I want to call out for attention, like a word italicized to emphasize that the word itself, not the thing, is under discussion.)

Note the unnecessary use of scare quotes in the following sentence (formatted as single quotation marks because the sample sentence is framed in double quotes):

“The trend of cross-border reproductive care, or ‘medical tourism,’ is popular in Europe.”

But there’s another, equally egregious issue: The gloss precedes the term. In addition to omitting the scare quotes, introduce the term, then gloss it, not the other way around:

“The trend of medical tourism, or cross-border reproductive care, is popular in Europe.”

Scare quotes are extraneous when introducing slang, too. Look at this sentence:

“I realized she was speaking Singaporean English, or ‘Singlish.’”

The scare quotes are condescending, as if the writer is holding the reader’s hand, patting it, and saying, “There, there, dear. I’ll protect you from any scary words you haven’t seen before. See? There’s one up ahead right now.”

And, again, why explain the term before the reader reads it? Let the reader dance on the precipice of danger for an instant:

“I realized she was speaking Singlish, or Singaporean English.”

Worse yet when glosses are concerned is the absence of appositive punctuation, as here:

“They built the domed snow houses or igloos most people associate with Eskimos.”

Never mind that igloos is not exactly an exotic term, and that the definition precedes it; the lack of internal punctuation implies that the object is “domed snow houses or (domed) igloos.” In fact, the object is “domed snow houses,” followed by the appositive term igloos.

(An appositive is a term equivalent in meaning to another one, as in “the writer Melville” or “the country of Morocco” or “the runner-up, Smith.” Note that common appositives are set off from proper ones with commas only if they’re restrictive, or can apply only to a specific corresponding noun. There — there’s another gloss right there.)

Notice that the first two examples in this post correctly set the gloss off from the defined term with a brace of commas. The correct form of the third example follows:

“They built the igloos, or domed snow houses, most people associate with Eskimos.”

The bottom line: Put a shine on your glosses by placing them after the defined term and framing them within commas (or parentheses or em dashes, if either seems more appropriate).

Thursday, March 3, 2016



What IS a best-selling author?

You have to answer that in your own mind.

Technically, it's any book that makes it into the Top 100 list at ANY online or offline bookstore.

However, what does it mean to you?

Is it someone who sells 300-500 books in a day through online bookstores like and makes the top 10?

Is it only the person who makes it to #1?

Is it the person who sells their book from their own website and makes $10,000 in a few months?

Or does it have to be a specific list... like the New York Times best seller list?

What does it mean to you?

It's a tough call. But you CAN have it all.

Selling your book through an online or offline bookstore will mean less money for you upfront, but will provide you far more leverage in the long run.

Selling your book from your own website and taking your own orders will mean far more money in the bank for you initially, but you'll have to work a little harder on the back-end to get the recognition you deserve.

Both ways work. Neither way is right. It's really what's right for you.

Let's talk about the steps necessary to make your book a bestseller whether you want to do it through an online bookstore or from your own website.

1) Pick the specific day you want to become a best seller.

Focusing on a specific day is what provides you the leverage to sell a large amount of books quickly. Selling 500 books over 6 months is not as impressive as selling 500 books in one or two days.

2) Create your "what's in it for me?" offer.

Your book is a valuable resource for your clients. But selling it alone puts it up against all the other books already on the market for your subject. I don't like those odds.

What you need is something "extra" -- something that really let's the perspective buyer know that you want to help them.

If you were to sell your book (for let's say $20) and then offered everyone who purchased your book on the specific day you decided on in step 1 around $200 in bonuses from experts... do you think they'd be more likely to buy? And buy on that day?

Of course they would.

This is the step where you stop thinking about you and start thinking about the group of people you want to help by writing this book in the first place. Think of everything you can possibly offer to add value to your book and build a powerful arsenal of tools and resources.

When the potential buyer asks, "What's in it for me?" (which they always do)... give them TONS of answers.

3) Use the 12-step method to create a promotional sales letter.

Now that you've answered the "What's in it for me?" question, use the 12-step process to build a sales letter site for your book that explains it to the potential buyer.

They have a problem in their life. Your book is going to give them a solution for their problem... and a whole lot of "extras" if they buy on the specific day you've selected.

Tell them – using the proven 12-step process.

4) Leverage the relationships you've built.

Now, simply go back to the experts who provided you the bonus items for your book promotion, let them know the day you have picked as your bestseller day and ASK them if they would help you promote it on that day.


Don't be stingy. These are experts who have earned the right to be called an expert. You are asking them for a favor. Be generous enough to let them read your book first.

If you can afford it, send them a physical copy. If you can't, email them a digital copy with a short, concise explanation of what you are doing.

Pick a specific day to target your focused effort. Give an overwhelming amount of bonus reasons for people to buy your book on that day; and then leverage the relationships with experts to get them to help you promote your book.

Why would they want to? Some will want to give back for the success they've earned. Some will want to because by doing so their bonus item is getting in more people's hands (and their bonus item promotes them).

What will these experts use to help promote your book?

You guessed it... the "list" of their current clients.

Authors 25, 50 or 100 years ago would buy out their own first printing to make it appear their book was popular. Many "best sellers" used this tactic to get the Best Seller status so publishers would contract with them for future titles.

Tricky? Maybe. Successful? Absolutely.

Now it's your turn.

Now that you know HOW to become a best seller, let's address where to become a best seller.

Right now the 2 most popular bookstores for running best seller campaigns are and (Barnes and Noble).

To get your book listed in you can either:

Purchase the $149.95 option from for Global Distribution. This will get you listed in all major online and offline bookstores or go to and do it yourself.

If you take the "do it your self" route at Amazon, be sure to join's Advantage Program. They will walk you through the process of signing up and getting your book listed in their store.

If you want to get listed in Barnes and Noble (online or offline), then visit will make both of these a simple process because you'll already have an ISBN and you can order just a few books initially to get started with and/or Barnes and Noble.

Let's talk through a few examples of how the Best Selling promotion may work:

1.) Leveraging experts

We've already covered this one.

If I was writing the Pet Name book, I could find experts who are currently providing products and services to pet enthusiasts. Ask for bonuses and/or content from them. Then let them know the day I'm going to promote it and ask for their help.

I would provide them a digital or physical copy of the book to review. I would also ask what I could do to assist them. I've got to make it worth their while to help me.

2.) Leveraging businesses

Rather than relying on 1 sale at a time from individual readers, I could approach businesses that sell pet-related products and see if I could get a licensing agreement with them where they buy a large quantity of books at one time.

I could sell 500 books to 500 different readers or I could sell 500 books to 1 or 2 pet stores.

3.) Leveraging home town support

If it's a localized subject – like a travel guide to North Carolina beaches – you could focus on specific businesses along the North Carolina coast to promote your book.

You could also contact local radio and/or TV stations to get publicity for your book promotion.

The biggest key to your best selling book promotion... don't just go through the motions. Make It An EVENT! And have FUN with it.

Learn how to become a published author! Download Brian's free e-book, Book Writing for Fun and Profit, at Visit Brian's blog, Book Publishing News