Have you ever written an important email or an assignment and had either been too lazy or so pressed for time that you did not re-read it? I have. And then, as you re-read it after it’s sent or turned in, you see some pretty glaring and obvious typos and grammatical errors. There are few things more embarrassing than making easy mistakes doing a craft that you claim to be extremely well versed in. In our world of spell check, one error could completely throw away your credibility. It’s human nature to make mistakes, but that’s why we need to be both writer and editor in one.
As I’ve said before, I think it is crucial to the flow of your writing process to write drafts without stopping to re-think or edit. But once you have prepared something that will be read by others, you must put on your editing hat and put your best foot forward.
I probably need to take my own advice more than anyone. To me, it is almost painful to re-read my work. I become instantly critical of what I have written, and am always afraid I sound silly. Instead, I live in the fantasy that I just created the perfect piece, and that there could possibly be nothing wrong with it. Arrogant, I know. And obviously, I am human and make a bunch of mistakes. So really, I am just shooting myself in the foot by thinking this way.
I am divulging this embarrassing truth about my poor editing process only because I want you to learn from it. I have made enough mistakes that I should learn from it too. We all are striving to be the best writers we can be, so why not take the extra time to read over what we have written. It might be uncomfortable, but it will save you a world full of hurt after you realize that you would have just sent that text on to a reader without fixing the six errors you just caught after reading it again.
Also, take some time in between when you put the pen down and when you take the time to edit. It is so important to come to a piece with fresh eyes and a new attitude. You will see your writing differently from if you just finished it eleven seconds ago and immediately go back to read it. You will still be in writing mode. Allow your brain to switch to editing mode so that you can focus on reading it word for word, rather than just reading what you know should be there.
If we all take a little more time to edit, we will be able to put forth our best writing possible. No matter what the context of your writing is, I think we can agree that accuracy and mastery of the craft shows just as much talent and dedication as the content of the piece. Do yourself a favor and take the time to edit, you’ll thank yourself for it!
After foraging through the thick jungles of the two part legal guide for writers, I have broken through to new and even more dangerous territory. Equally unequipped, other than with Google and MS Word, I shall attempt to investigate the natives and translate their strange ways.
Welcome to the wonderfully confusing land of Search Engine Optimization!
We are all part of an exciting age in which almost every person with access to an electronic device and the internet has a voice. And on the day every man finds his voice, no one can be heard any longer.
The sheer volume of internet traffic, plus the way the search result display algorithms work, prevent anything but the extremely accurate or frequently visited results to surface high enough on a search to be noticed -to receive the all-powerful “click” on the link.
What this means in a very basic sense is this -
1. The more uniquely phrased your piece is, the lower the chances are that a general search will bring your link up high enough to be seen by the average user - since the search words won’t match.
2. The more commonly phrased your piece is, the lower the chances are that a general search will bring your link up high enough to be seen by the average user - since the bigger sites will populate the first few pages due to their higher traffic.
Do you see the problem here? How do we break through this cycle without selling out and writing for one of the big brands just to get your work out there?
Enter frame: SEO writing.
The Curse of Keywords
Gather around the fire and I’ll tell you an ancient legend.
Once upon a time, SEO was all about keywords. Written pieces with many relevant keywords got placed higher in the search results. Then, some clever clogs started bombing every piece of crap they wrote with endless keywords, to draw in the hungry hunting beasts of the search engines and ride them into glory.
Alas, the people were unhappy, the people wanted actual quality results and not keyword-spammed low-quality high-marketing lies. And so the king told his search engines - this shall be the Age of Clicking. Change Your Algorithms.
And then everyone was happy. Other than millennials, because they lost the ability to feel human emotions back in the late 90’s. The end.
This is not to say you should disregard keywords completely, they are important, and also much more intuitive than you would imagine. However KEYWORD DENSITY is the name of the game. A simple way to make sure you are including good keywords without alerting the spambot patrol is:
a. DO NOT OVERDO IT - too many keywords and the entire thing can be tossed into spam oblivion. 3%-7% (keywords out of overall text in post) is sometimes a parameter.
b. Research the statistics regarding the semantic fields which are relevant to your work in order to locate the best keywords to use writing. (1)
A wrist moves, an arrow hovers above a link and turns into a little hand.
A finger jerks, a button pressed, a new tab blooms across the screen. Click.
Every time this happens, to the link for your result, to a link in your post, from another post through a link there to your post, SEO is fed, and grows, and purrs. We call this PAGE RANKING.
The page rank represents the number of links pointing to a website, the amount of relevant content it contains, as a number between 1 and 10; 1 being the lowest level of rank, 10 being the highest. The higher a page rank, the better chance a website has of appearing at the top of an Internet search result page. (2)
The game of Clicks. It’s all about balance. The thicker your post is interlaced with others, combined with the actual quality of the content, will bring you true Optimization. There are many lists and tricks out there to help you. (3)
After reading many lists for you, I can sum the main points regarding getting the clicks rolling in and create a tangible improvement, assuming the content itself is high quality (For low quality content issues, please refer yourself to another department) as:
I wish you success in the SEO games, may the odds be ever in your favor.
Reading and writing should be a time for relaxation and creative flow. We can never fully enjoy our time if we are in a chaotic setting, or if we are waiting on something, like the boarding of a plane, for instance. If half of our mind has to be still focused on what time it is or if the people around us are talking to us, then we cannot truly abandon ourselves to the literary task at hand.
For your own sanity and enjoyment, I urge you to create a space that is both comforting and calming. Pull up your favorite comfy chair, wrap yourself in a blanket, make a cup of tea, put on some soft music, and then enter into your favorite place; the world of words and stories.
For writing especially, the creative mind cannot work well if its attention is divided. If words aren’t coming, even in this peaceful environment, just sit back and let your mind stew. There is nothing worse for writers block than putting pressure on yourself. You are only stifling yourself. Allow yourself to relax and let your mind wander. It might wander right on to the perfect path.
I find that a great atmosphere greatly improves my reading enjoyment. In the past I have used reading to kill some time before going somewhere, and it is like torture (literary torture, of course)! Keeping one eye on the clock while reading is not fun, and then either you end up not even grasping what you had just read for the last 20 minutes, or you get so absorbed in your book that you are then late. I think it is best to just avoid that situation all together.
There are few things I find more relaxing than knowing that I have a large amount of time to have a good, long read. During these few times that I consider real treats, I strive to put away all technology and other thoughts about my real life, so that I can just enjoy my book and the smell of the nice candle burning on the end table.
You owe it to yourself. You are great, and you deserve to take some time just to focus only on what you love. I think we would all love to sit at home and read all day every day, so why not treat yourself once and awhile. Your heightened sense of creativity and enjoyment will thank you.
What is your favorite way to get the most out of your literary time?
It rarely ever turns out well. I could probably count on one hand the number of movies I have seen that have actually been better than the books they are based on. This means, quite obviously, that 97% of the time, the book is the better version of the story. Because the book IS the story. It was contemplated, written, re-written, and then finally approved as the best story it could be. And if a movie studio has deemed it worthy enough to make a movie out of, then obviously it’s a great story!
So, if the books are great, why do directors, producers, actors, etc. feel that they need to change the story? This drives me up the wall, especially if the writer is on set helping out. I can understand changing costumes or lighting and such so that it produces a better scene, but to blatantly change the plot line? What makes the movie industry qualified to re-write a best-selling story? If the author had wanted that to happen, they would have written it that way!
The most obvious example that comes to my own mind is the sixth Harry Potter movie. I remember being so extremely excited for this movie, because lots of really crazy stuff happened in that book, and I wanted to see it on screen. Now, I know that a lot of avid HP fans have lots of qualms with the movies (which is exactly why I am discussing this subject). I remember feeling actual anger as I left the theater 3 hours later. “Excuse me”, I wanted to yell at the screen, “when did (insert your favorite misconstrued plot point here) ever happen in the book?!”. A movie should not invoke those kinds of feelings.
The plot is all there, in black and white. There are no mysteries or questions. Yet why, WHY, does the story appear differently on the screen than on the pages? I am paying to see a live-action rendering of a book that I liked. If you are going to change it, you might as well call it something else. Obviously I’m talking about major plot differences here, because if the person’s hair color is different, well, that’s not going to make me want to throw my popcorn at the screen.
And please, if you are going to put ‘based on the novel by…’ in the credits, at least add the word ‘loosely’, so that your viewers aren’t completely shocked when you rearrange half the story and change the ending from a sad one to a happy one. I may be exaggerating here, but I just bet I am not alone in thinking this way.
This trend makes me skeptical to see movies of my favorite books. I usually wait until someone I know goes to see it and then rely on their opinion of it to make my final decision. I just don’t like to willingly view the butchering of a great story.
The bottom line is that if movies that are based on books want any more of my money, they will have to stick to the story that is given to them. They picked it for a reason, now show the audience why!
Rant over (for now).
I always feel like I’m missing out on an author if I haven’t read her/his entire collection of work. Whenever I mention to somebody that I’ve read somebody, it is almost assured that they will ask me if I have read “X” and I will inevitably say, “No, I’ve read ‘Y’.” And then they’ll say, “Well you have to read ‘X,’ it’s so good.” It seems no matter what I read it isn’t enough, or at least it’s not the right one. I’ve been thinking, therefore, of choosing a different author each year and trying to read through her or his entire work.
I’m curious, however, in which situations this will really be useful. On the one hand, I’m not teaching a class. I’m not looking to become an expert on any particular author. On the other hand, it could be interesting to read through the novels, short stories, etc of a selected author, in the order in which they were published, to see how an author changed and grew, what were her/his missteps, what her her/his successes. I’m not sure if this will do much to expand my understanding of writing or the writing process or if I’m really just looking to assuage my ego in the case that a certain author is brought up in conversation. It could feel rewarding to say that I have read everything by her/him in such a situation. Maybe I’m just seeking a way to impress people and it has nothing to do with making me a better reader or writer.
What do you think? Is there a point to having a goal of reading an author’s entire collection of work? Currently I am considering Toni Morrison as my selection for this year. I am reading The Bluest Eye and would also be re-reading Beloved, Sula, and Song of Solomon in order to place them chronologically within the context of her other work. If you were to choose an author for this project, who would it be?
We received an email today from Amazon and they said if you sign up for Kindle Unlimited, you can get 30 days free! Hello, 30 days of free reading. Did you know that we offer most of our books via Amazon Kindle (and other devices!).
We suggest you sign up, read without fail for 30 days, and then cancel. Woo Hoo! We provided the link below in case you are interested.
How do you control your creation once you put it anywhere other than the private screen of your own device? How do you prevent yourself from being charged with infringement of copyrights?
A piece is born, the child of skill and inspiration. Wrought into existence by the powers of creation gifted to the worthy. It seek the light, the attention of others, to expose the frailness of from and structure for all to feel. How proud you are, the aching parent, before you even know success, and more so after. I have made a thing.
A month later this begotten offspring shows up on your feed or in your search under a different title, a non-familiar “by” line. No credit. No source. No links to heal your hurts. Claimed. Stolen. Disowned.
What do you do?
1. Preform seppuku as you never registered for copyrights for your work and the metaphorical adoption files have been sealed, thus rendering your soulchild a stranger forever. Sucks to be you.
2. Call a lawyer with a screenshot or a link of your original posting and the repost, and / or send the original file, preferably both dated.
Put the knife away. By U.S. copyright law - Copyright is granted to a content creator the moment an idea is fixed into any tangible form. And yes, that does include words on paper / screen.
“Many people assume that online content, or content found on Web sites, is not subject to copyright law and may be freely used and modified without permission. This is not true. Others think that online content is not protected unless it carries a copyright notice. This is not true either.” (1)
Begin by gathering as many evidence as you can, especially proof of the reposter identity, and file for a “Cease and Decease”. In the case of a fully justified and documented legal win, restitution will be anywhere from $200 (in a case of "innocent infringement") up to $30,000 per work infringed. (3)
Also, contact Google. Using written content search and monitoring tools, you can locate reposts of your OC and get google to remove them from search result. Online content that is deemed “duplicate” or “low quality” can get completely booted from Google search results.
Do not take this for granted. Google’s operating mode does not mean your OC is safe. If someone gets higher ratings on their website than yours has, Google could interpret the situation as though you are the copyright infringer. It is, therefore, always in your interest to monitor your content. (2)
However, before we go out guns blazing crying for the blood of our wrongdoers, try contacting the person involved. Maybe they don’t even realise it’s a big deal, maybe they’ll get scared by being called out, only intending to lie in the safety of social webbing.
Now, what about making sure you can use other people’s materials without infringing upon anybody’s copyrights, or plagiarism? Basically, you can freely use any content as long as:
1. It was published before 1923.
2. The author expressly gave the content to the public domain.
3. It was published and copyrighted before 1989 and the copyright expired.
Do not despair, this doesn’t mean you need to go buy a shovel and go dig through the back storage of your local library for newspaper clipping from 1964. We do have the right for Fair Use!
“Fair use allows for short quotes from another work to enhance your own, as long as your usage does not in any way diminish the commercial value of the copyrighted content. ” and ALWAYS with citations and credit! - Learn more at: http://www.wedowebcontent.com/library/copyright-law-and-web-content-original-web-content/#sthash.r3D3A2oq.dpuf
See? Just like I did up there.
Make sure you give source and credit when you do use anything you’re not completely sure is not copyrighted, and even when you are. It is the right thing to do, wouldn’t you want the same to be done for you, even if someone is using your public domain content?
Feel free to use any piece of this blog post in any way you see fit, as I hereby expressly give this to The Public Domain.
Pic in article is “I made this” from http://nedroidcomics.tumblr.com/post/41879001445/the-internet
Keep U.P. Alive
Unsolicited Press is a beast that runs on good energy and dedicated editors and staff. Your donation helps pay these folks when books don't sell or we just break even. You see, our staff doesn't get paid until the bills and the authors are paid -- and sometimes that means we make pennies...we don't mind it, but your support really helps keep us afloat.
Order a Book, Save AN Author
You can buy our books through our website or from any major retailer in the nation. Some retailers take longer than others to acquire our books.
Subscribe or Die
Listen to Literature
Most of our editors cherish our subscription with Audible. Right now they are offering free trials and a free audiobook. This is a great place to listen to Baxter's "The Art of Subtext." Think about it.