Derek Haines's Blog: Just Publishing Advice

May 30, 2023

Watch Out (Check) For Phrasal Verb Redundancy In Writing

Phrasal Verb Redundancy In Writing

Phrasal verb redundancy is a common issue in writing. It occurs when the prepositions after the main verb serve no actual use.

In most cases, it’s easy to fix by removing the extra words or replacing the phrasal verb with a single-word verb.

When speaking, phrasal verbs add color, nuance, and flexibility to our language.

But in writing, they can sometimes interfere with clarity and conciseness.

Understanding phrasal verbs

The phrasal or multi-word verb is unique to English and is one of the reasons our language is so rich.

The Oxford Dictionary refers to it as an idiomatic phrase consisting of a main verb followed by an adverb or preposition.

Simple examples include chop down (adverb) and give in (preposition).

In some cases, there can be two additional words, as in put up with.

The additional words after the main verb are collectively called particles in grammar.

Generally, it’s best to avoid phrasal verbs in formal and neutral writing.

But they are quite common in more informal writing, such as fiction, blog posts, and articles.

When it comes to redundancy, there aren’t any good or bad phrasal verbs; it’s a matter of deciding if your choices are appropriate.

The phrase, look forward to is acceptable in most forms of writing. However, fill up is often better without the particle.

 

How to check for unnecessary particles

The adjective redundant means not needed, not useful, or superfluous.

That’s a good clue when dealing with phrasal verb redundancy.

Here are a couple of simple examples.

Can I sit down here?

We all had to stand up when the prince arrived.

The particles are unnecessary in both sentences and add nothing useful to the meaning.

This is a common issue with verbs that use particles like up, down, or in and out. In many cases, it’s possible to remove them.

When there are two particles, it’s sometimes more challenging.

He said he’ll get around to it later today.

In this example, you could delete one particle or replace the verb.

He said he’ll get around to it later today.

He said he’ll get around to do it later today.

 

Editing possible redundant phrasal verbs

When you are editing, and you come across see a phrasal verb, check if there is any redundancy.

Look at the following examples to give you a guide.

James started out on his new career as a journalist last month.

The verb start can usually stand by itself, so particles are rarely necessary.

I wish you wouldn’t talk down to me like that!

Unless there is a specific need to say that someone is speaking in a condescending manner, you could delete down.

Martha always sets up three reminders for her appointments.

The verb set has many phrasal verb forms, and each use can be different. In the example above, up isn’t really necessary.

It took me hours to set up my new computer.

However, in this example, it’s not possible to remove up, and there is no practical single-word verb to replace it.

Claude drops off the children at school on his way to work.

It’s sufficient to say Claude drops the children at school. Off doesn’t serve any particular purpose.

Parking at the stadium was full up completely two hours before the start of the game.

This sentence has two redundancies because both up and completely mean entirely. But if something is full, it’s full. So there is no need for any addition to the main verb.

 

Replacing phrasal verbs

When writing in a formal style, it’s almost always best to use a single-word verb.

But in more informal writing, you can choose what form you think is the most appropriate.

Let’s look at a few examples.

A little before ten in the morning, a bomb went off near a crowded shopping mall.

In most cases, it would be better to use the more descriptive verb, exploded instead of went off.

Don’t forget to bring back my book when you finish reading it.

Here, the verb return is a better and more precise choice.

I don’t think it’s the best solution, but I’ll go along with it and see what happens.

The verb agree would be better in this sentence.

Our teacher doesn’t put up with students arriving late for class.

This sentence would probably be better using the verb tolerate.

 

Summary

Editing is not only about correcting errors. It’s more often a process of making good choices.

In the case of redundancy, phrasal verbs are always candidates to check.

But using them depends on the style, tone, and level of formality of a text.

Phrasal verbs are an essential part of the English language because they can often capture a sense that would take many more words to express.

However, they are much more prevalent in speaking than in writing.

 

Related Reading: When To Use Mistook Or Mistaken In Your Writing

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Published on May 30, 2023 01:37

May 28, 2023

How To Recover A Lost Book Manuscript After Publishing

How To Recover A Lost Book Manuscript

If you need to recover a lost book manuscript, it’s easier than you think.

Perhaps you deleted your original manuscript by mistake or lost the file when you upgraded to a new computer.

Another possibility is that your original file is corrupted, and you can’t open it.

But if you want to update your book or publish a new edition, you need to recreate your manuscript.

Five ways to recover a lost book manuscript

If you have the technical ability, you could try to locate and restore a manuscript or Word document from deleted and hidden files on your hard drive.

But it is either risky or requires specialized software.

Even then, there is no guarantee that it will work.

You certainly won’t find it if you have updated to a new computer.

However, if you can see your manuscript file but can’t open it, you could try to repair it.

You can try the “open and repair” command if it’s a Word document.

But Microsoft warns that you might be able to recover your file.

So there is no assurance that it will always work.

But if you self-published your book, there are much easier ways to recover your book manuscript.

Here are five different methods you can try.

 

1. Check your emails for attachments

When you were preparing your manuscript for publishing, there’s a good chance you sent it to someone.

Perhaps your editor, beta readers, proofreaders, or even a potential publisher.

If you did, it will be an attachment to an email you sent.

In most email programs, you can often use the word “attachment” in the search function.

But if not, check online to see how to find and list your emails with attachments in your program.

Now you can scan through all the emails you sent that included an attachment.

Email attachments

If you can find a sent email with your Word file attached, you can open it and quickly recover your manuscript.

 

2. Recover a book manuscript from Amazon KDP

You can download your manuscript from KDP, but the link is not obvious.

Start by going to your book on your KDP dashboard.

Click on the three dots next to your Kindle version, and select “Edit eBook Content” from the pop-up menu.

Edit ebook content

The link will take you to the content page for your book.

Now scroll down to the section “Kindle eBook Preview.”

Download a Kindle ebook to recover a lost book manuscript

The link you need is tiny and not obvious. But you can see the HTML link in the image above.

Click on this link to download your entire manuscript. It will be in a Zip file. When you open the Zip file, you will see three files.

KDP files

The HTML file is your manuscript.

You can open it with a plain text editor and usually also with Word. Now you can recover and save your complete manuscript.

The jpeg file is your book cover. You probably won’t be able to open the last opf file as it’s a form of epub. But don’t worry, because you don’t need it.

 

3. Find your book on Smashwords

Even if you have unpublished your book on Smashwords, you can still download your original manuscript.

Of all the self-publishing services, it’s the easiest to recover your files.

Go to your book details on the dashboard, and scroll down to this panel.

Smashwords download files

Click on “Download Files.”

It will give you the following choices.

Smashwords download files

The best choice is “original document,” but there are other file choices if you need them.

 

4. Draft2Digital download

Similar to Smashwords, you can also download your book file easily.

Go to your book details; the download panel is at the bottom.

However, it is restricted to epub and mobi file types that you will need to convert.

D2D download

But it’s quite easy if you use the free Calibre ebook program.

You can then convert epub or mobi to a Word docx file.

 

5. The last resort

If none of the earlier methods work for you, there is one other way if you published an ebook.

This might be the case if you used a publisher that is no longer in business or you don’t have access to the original publishing platform.

It’s a bit slow going, but if you really need to recover a lost book manuscript, it works.

You can use the Kindle app, Apple Books, or most other ebook-reading apps.

Yes, it’s old-fashioned copy and paste.

Kindle App Copy and Paste

Set your viewing to the smallest font size so you can copy as much text as possible from each page.

Then paste the text into a plain text editor or a Word document.

Yes, it’s a very slow process, but if you desperately want to recreate your original manuscript, you can.

 

Summary

With anything online, things can go wrong. But luckily, you can usually backtrack and recover.

The methods I noted above all work. However, if you can locate your lost file in an email attachment, it’s the quickest and easiest.

You probably noticed that I didn’t mention pdf files. It’s because conversion from pdf to plain text or Word is not always very successful.

However, if you can only locate a pdf version of your book, you could try to convert it with Calibre. But there’s no guarantee that it will be accurate or useable.

 

Related Reading: Protect Your Manuscript By Being A Good File Manager

The post How To Recover A Lost Book Manuscript After Publishing appeared first on Just Publishing Advice For Writers and Authors.

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Published on May 28, 2023 03:32

May 27, 2023

Bing Chat Content Creation Is Amazing And Scary

Bing Chat For Content Is Impressive And Scary

As a writer, I know AI (artificial intelligence) is the inevitable future. But Bing Chat content creation is not the future; it’s the present.

While I have many reservations and concerns, there is no point in burying my head in the sand.

I hesitated, but because the tools are so easily accessible now, I had to see what they could do.

The results were both fantastic and frightening.

How to start using Bing Chat

The first thing to know is that you can only access all the tools using the Microsoft Edge browser with Bing Search.

If you don’t have Edge, you will need to install it. It’s available for Mac as well as PC.

When you open Bing Search, there are two links to open the AI tools.

At the top, on the left, is a menu link, “Chat.” Here you can ask questions or start a creative.

The other link is in the very top right corner of the browser. It is a small blue and green Bing logo.

With this link, you open the Composer, where you can generate ideas, headings, or short, medium, or long texts.

As I quickly discovered, both interfaces are easy and intuitive to use.

Like you probably, I have experimented with the free version of ChatGPT. But to be honest, Bing leaves it for toast.

The information is much more up-to-date and can provide links and citations.

But the most significant difference is that Bing can produce AI images in seconds.

 

My quick experiment

Even if I believe AI poses a threat to writers, the only way to find out what it can do is to try it.

So I set about creating an article with the help of Bing.

But what topic should I select?

I decided that Bing Chat was the obvious topic because that was what I was investigating.

My starting point was in the Composer.

I selected the “Ideas” button, and my prompt asked for paragraph heading ideas.

You can see the settings I used in the image below.

Bing Chat Ideas Composer

My next step was to use the list of ideas in my prompt to generate an article text.

I selected “Blog Post,” “Informational,” and “Long.”

My prompt included the instruction to use the headings from my previous result.

Composer generate draft

The result was a text of a little over 800 words.

 

Image creation

My last step was to create an image for the article.

You can do this from the “Chat” link.

My prompt was; Create an image of the topic of AI content writing.

Here’s the first result.

Bing Chat Images

But I would prefer a vector image. So I changed my prompt and asked for a three-color vector.

Bing Chat Images

But I wanted a simpler version, and there was even a pre-applied prompt to do this.

Simplified vectors

So now I had my text and images.

What next?

 

Using the output

My first step was to check the text with Grammarly.

That’s ironic, in a way, getting AI to check AI.

But most writers are comfortable using tools like Grammarly, which says we have happily adopted AI in certain forms.

Grammarly only suggested a few possible edits, but none were critical.

It also came back with a 99% clean score for plagiarism.

But in my view, the text contained too many repetitions, a few contradictions and was a little difficult to read.

Yes, I could have gone back and asked for a rewrite in the first or second-person point of view or a lighter tone.

But for the sake of my experiment, I worked with the original version.

I went to work on some minor editing of the text, but trying to stay with the tone of the output. However, editing the text took me quite some time until I was reasonably happy.

My last step was to use one of the generated vector images in the header image for this article.

So what was the result?

 

A Bing Chat article

The following part of this article was produced with the assistance of Bing Chat.

It is based on AI-generated text with corrections and editing.

 

What is Bing Chat, and how does it work?

AI writing graphic

Bing Chat is a new feature of Microsoft’s search engine that allows users to interact with an AI chatbot powered by GPT-4, the latest version of OpenAI’s natural language processing technology.

It is a large language model that can generate coherent and diverse texts on any topic, given some keywords or a prompt.

Bing Chat uses GPT-4 to understand user queries, provide relevant and conversational responses, and generate content for various purposes and domains.

 

Content generation modes and features

Bing Chat has three content generation modes: More Creative, More Balanced, and More Precise.

Users can choose the mode that suits their needs and preferences, depending on the type and tone of the content they want to create.

For example, the More Creative mode can generate imaginative and original texts, such as stories, poems, or images.

In contrast, the More Precise mode can generate factual and informative texts, such as summaries, reports, or essays.

It also has some features that enhance the content generation experience.

Users can request citations for the facts and sources the chatbot uses and real-time information from the web or give feedback to the chatbot and help it improve its responses and content quality.

 

Generating content for various purposes and domains

Bing Chat can generate content for various purposes and domains, such as education, entertainment, business, or personal use.

Users can ask the chatbot to write an article, a blog post, a review, a resume, a cover letter, a speech, a script, a tweet, a caption, a slogan, a headline, a joke, a riddle, a trivia question, a crossword clue, a recipe, a horoscope, a playlist, a haiku, a limerick, a sonnet, a rap song, a parody song, a meme, a comic strip, a logo design, a portrait sketch, a landscape painting, a collage art, or anything else they can think of.

 

The benefits and challenges

There are many benefits for people who want to create content at scale.

It can save time for writers by generating texts on demand and inspiring creativity by offering new ideas and perspectives.

There is the possibility to enhance learning by providing information and explanations or entertaining by generating fun and engaging texts.

However, it also has some challenges that users must be aware of.

AI can generate inaccurate or misleading texts that may not reflect reality or truth.

It can also generate inappropriate or harmful texts that may offend or hurt someone. It can generate plagiarized or copyrighted texts that may violate intellectual property rights.

There is additionally the possibility that it can generate biased or manipulative texts that may influence someone’s opinions or actions.

 

The ethical and social implications

There are many questions about the responsibility and accountability of the chatbot and its creators for the content it generates.

This raises questions about the privacy and security of the user data and the chatbot data that are collected and stored.

Other difficult questions are about the impact of the chatbot on human communication and interaction.

These issues raise questions about the potential of the chatbot for good or evil.

 

How to use Bing Chat GPT responsibly and safely

Bing Chat is an amazing tool that can help users create content for various purposes and domains.

However, it is certainly not perfect and is definitely not human. Users need to use it responsibly and safely by following some guidelines.

It is for personal or educational purposes only. Do not use it for commercial or professional purposes without proper attribution and permission.

Apply critical thinking and common sense. Do not trust or accept everything it generates. Verify the facts and sources it provides, and check the quality and originality of its texts.

Threat it with respect and kindness. Do not abuse or harass it or anyone else with its texts. Avoid generating texts that are hateful, harmful, illegal, or unethical.

Use it with caution and moderation. Do not rely on it too much or too often.

Balance your use with your own creativity and expression.

End Of Bing Chat Generated Text

 

Analysis of the text

The original text output for the section above was 820 words.

However, it contained multiple occurrences of four or five consecutive sentences starting with the same word.

Another issue was the number of excessively long sentences. I removed or edited many.

But I decided to retain one describing what you can ask the chatbot to produce purely as an example of the poor writing quality it produced.

Another issue was contradictions. As you can see in the text above, it boasts of what you can do but then later warns against doing so.

It was also noticeable that the content for each heading seemed to change the tone and substance.

The fact that the text is produced, copied, or (stolen) from multiple pieces of online content is presumably the cause of these inconsistencies.

In the end, I trimmed the text down to a little over 600 words.

However, the time it took me to edit and correct the text was probably more than if I had researched and written 600 words myself.

 

Summary

In total, my quick experiment took me about seven hours. But without a doubt, had I wanted to, I could have produced a readable text in less than twenty minutes.

That is where the capabilities of AI are both extremely powerful and frightening.

My main concern is that it is possible to output and publish reasonable content on such a scale that it will pollute online content.

Google has said that 60% of content on the Internet is duplicate.

AI is a misnomer because it is only intelligent from the perspective of collecting and using published online content and spinning it together to avoid plagiarism.

At least when people blatantly copy and republish my articles, I can track them down. But with AI, I have no way of knowing if it steals and uses my writing.

If you are a content writer like me, you’ll know how difficult it has become to rank for articles on Google and Bing.

This will only make it harder, even if search engines say they are smart and can differentiate. As yet, I haven’t seen any proof of this ability.

Yes, there is some clearly marked generated content in this article. But I used it to give you an example of its abilities.

However, I wrote most of this article the old-fashioned way. One word at a time from my knowledge and imagination.

 

What do I think about Bing Chat?

It’s here now, so people will undoubtedly use it.

But for me, AI text generation is still not up to the standard that a competent writer can produce. I might use it occasionally for ideas, but that’s about it.

However, the image creation tool is pretty cool, so I might use it occasionally.

As to the future of writing and publishing and AI, the following phrase comes to my mind.

Danger, Danger, Will Robinson!

 

Related Reading: ChatGPT Authors Start An Ebook Frenzy On Amazon

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Published on May 27, 2023 02:29

May 26, 2023

The Ellipsis – Is It Three Dots Or Four Dots?

Is The Ellipsis 3 Or 4 Dots

We all know that an ellipsis is a punctuation mark that consists of three dots (…).

You can use it to indicate a pause, a trailing off, or an omission of text.

But can it be four dots?

Yes, and it’s grammatically correct because you usually need a period (full stop) if it occurs at the end of a sentence.

Dots and spacing for an ellipsis

The spacing of the dots in an ellipsis depends on the style guide you follow.

Some style guides, such as the MLA and APA, recommend inserting a space before and after each dot. For example:

She said, “I couldn’t care less … maybe I won’t bother.”

However, the Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press suggest that you use no spaces between the dots.

She said, “I couldn’t care less…maybe I won’t bother.”

Most guides advise using a fourth dot to indicate the end of a sentence following an ellipsis. For example:

She said, “I don’t know….” Then she left.

But there are some that say you do not require this extra dot. For example:

She said, “I don’t know…” Then she left.

The important thing is to be consistent and follow the recommendations of your chosen style guide.

For omitted text

One of the primary uses of an ellipsis is to show that some text has been omitted from a quotation or a text.

This can help you avoid unnecessary or irrelevant information and focus on the main point.

Here’s an original quote.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

With an ellipsis, it could read like this.

“Four score and seven years ago … a new nation … dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

You can use three dots to indicate an omission when you want to omit text from the middle of a sentence.

To omit text from the end of a sentence, you can use four dots (or three dots without a period) to indicate the omission and the end of the sentence.

You can also use an ellipsis to omit text from the beginning of a sentence. For example:

“He was born in Hawaii, where his parents met while studying at the University of Hawaii. He spent most of his childhood in Indonesia and Hawaii but also lived for a few years in Washington, D.C., and New York.”

With the ellipsis, it could read like this.

“… born in Hawaii … He spent most of his childhood in Indonesia and Hawaii ….

 

Use an ellipsis in fiction writing

An ellipsis can also be used in fictional writing to create different effects.

For example, you can use an ellipsis to show a pause or hesitation within dialogue punctuation, or narration.

This can convey uncertainty, nervousness, or suspense.

“I’m not sure if I should tell you this …” he whispered.

She looked at him with curiosity and fear. “Tell me what?”

You can also use an ellipsis to show that a sentence or a thought is incomplete or interrupted.

This can convey confusion, shock, or surprise. For example:

He opened the door and saw … nothing.

She couldn’t believe what he had just said. How could he ….

 

When referencing quotes

An ellipsis can also be used with quoted material to show that some words have been left out or replaced by another word or phrase.

This can help you avoid plagiarism and make your writing more concise and clear. For example:

Original: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

With ellipsis: Roosevelt said that we have nothing to fear except “…fear itself.”

Original: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

With ellipsis: Kennedy urged Americans to ask, “… what you can do for your country.”

 

Summary

An ellipsis is a punctuation mark that always consists of three dots.

You can use it to indicate a pause, a trailing off, or an omission of text.

The spacing of the dots depends on the style guide you are following.

Many say to think of the ellipsis like a word, so it takes a space before and after. But there are variations, especially when it occurs at the end of a sentence.

You can use an ellipsis to show that you omitted some text from a quotation or a text, to create different effects in fictional writing, or to replace some words with another word or phrase in quoted material.

But always remember to use an ellipsis correctly and, most importantly, in a consistent form in your writing.

 

Related Reading: Gapping In Grammar And How To Use It In Your Writing

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Published on May 26, 2023 01:39

May 24, 2023

Fourth Person Point Of View Explained With Examples

Fourth Person Point of View

The fourth person point of view (POV) is not necessarily new, but it is still rare to see it in writing.

All writers are familiar with the first, second, and third person points of view.

But the fourth allows a writer to narrate from the perspective of a group.

It can also be a tool to use indefinite instead of personal pronouns.

The fourth person point of view explained

Points of view in writing are defined by their pronouns.

The first person uses I, my, me, we, and us, while the second uses you and your.

But the most popular for storytelling is the third person, which uses he, she, they, and it.

However, the fourth person uses only the plural pronouns we, us, our, and ours, which are usually associated with the first person.

That makes it challenging because any use of the singular pronouns immediately reverts the text to the first person.

Here’s a quick example to illustrate the difference.

Our goal was to sell one hundred jars of jam at the market, and we achieved our goal. (Fourth POV)

Our goal was to sell one hundred jars of jam at the market, and I helped achieve our goal. (First POV)

You can see that it’s easy to slip up by using I and returning to the first person.

Let’s look at the possible uses for this point of view.

 

Storytelling from a group’s perspective

Group of people

Writing a story from the viewpoint of a couple, a team, or a group is the ideal use.

The narrator in a story reflects the views and opinions of the group.

Perhaps in the case of a memoir about a couple, the narration would always be from both.

We met in 2005 while we were on vacation in Spain, and we didn’t expect in our wildest dreams that it would be a life-changing event for both of us.

However, it makes it challenging when you want to write about only one of the couple or group.

That would mean sliding back into the first person POV.

To avoid this, you could use the pronoun, one.

Our first child was born in 2010, and I was so proud to become a parent.

Our first child was born in 2010, and one must say how proud it was to become a parent.

You can see why this is a demanding point of view and rare to see in writing.

But it is not a tool you would use for a long story.

Perhaps the best application is to use it in one chapter to set the scene for the rest of the book.

 

The indefinite fourth person

The difference in this view is that it only uses indefinite pronouns.

They are:

Anyone
Anybody
One
Oneself
One’s
Someone
Somebody

It’s a form that is only useable for passages and not for a whole story.

The most common use is to avoid the passive voice by adding someone or somebody as the subject.

One is in disbelief when waking up to find no car in the driveway. Someone stole it during the night, which now means a day one loses making reports to the police and insurance company.

Yes, it can be a bit awkward, but it can have some specific uses.

 

Examples from literature

While it’s not a popular choice, you can find the fourth person point of view in some books.

Here are a few short quotes.

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.

Weightless by Sarah Bannan

We watched her miniature frame as she tumbled across the track – she was no more than five foot two.

Anthem by Ayn Rand

When we were five years old, we were sent to the Home of the Students, where there were ten wards, for our ten years of learning.

 

Trying your hand at the 4th person

There are many literary devices, but I always struggle with this one.

Knowing the structure is one thing, but applying it is another.

If you want to try it, the best way is to experiment with a short story.

But stay with we, us, and our because it is much easier than trying to use the indefinite form.

You are probably comfortable writing in the first, second, and third points of view.

But it doesn’t hurt to experiment and push yourself a little by trying something new.

All you need to do is decide on your narrators. Are they two people, a group, a political party, or a sporting team?

Once you decide, it becomes a little easier to write.

 

Can you write a book in the fourth person?

Books written in the fourth person point of view are a bit of a rarity.

Perhaps, because of the difficulty or maybe because of readers’ expectations.

It could also be reluctance by publishers to take a gamble.

There’s nothing to say you can’t do it, but be aware of the obstacles and maybe the ordeal of writing a book in this POV.

However, interchanging it with the first person point of view would be much easier to write.

It’s interesting to note that some writers believe there is no fourth person POV, as it is merely a new name for the first person plural.

I’m sure it is a debate that will continue.

 

Conclusion

Never say never, but I doubt I would ever try to write a novel in the fourth person.

With the other three points of view, maintaining consistency is never a problem.

However, with the fourth person, it’s a struggle to stay on top of it. There’s always the temptation of, or accidentally, using first person pronouns.

We had a plan to win, and luckily it all came off for us, and I was so pleased to be part of it.

But there’s nothing wrong with that.

Yes, you could use one instead of I, but would it make it read better? I doubt it.

In the end, it is about knowing it’s there if you need it.

Use it when it works, but don’t think that you have to stay stuck in the fourth person for an entire story.

 

Related Reading: How To Use The Second Person Point Of View In Writing

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Published on May 24, 2023 00:47

May 20, 2023

Why Image Links In Emails Don’t Always Work

Image Links In Emails Don't Always Work

Using clickable image links in emails seems like a great way to promote your writing.

For authors especially, including your book cover with a clickable link in an email or newsletter is a logical idea.

You probably receive many emails with images, so you want to do it too.

But before you do, be aware that it might not work as well as you think.

Adding image links in emails looks easy

You use promotional image links on your website or blog. It’s easy and works 100%.

Most email programs like Gmail, Outlook, or Apple Mail also have options to add a link to an image. It’s the same option to add a text link.

Sometimes the option is in the edit or insert menu. You only need to find the option “Add Link.”

Add URL link to an email image

You can add a link to your book on Amazon or any other location you wish to use.

When you look at the preview of your new email, it will look perfect, and the link will work.

But when you send it to your email list, your recipients may see something completely different.

While many people use popular email programs, there are thousands of other email clients.

All of these behave differently and, on top of that, have additional user settings.

So what you see is not always what your recipient gets.

 

What can go wrong?

Email delivery is complex due to malware, spam, and privacy.

You probably don’t worry about the settings in your email program. But you see a lot of emails going to your junk folder.

What you don’t see are emails that your email provider automatically blocks.

One of the most common reasons for failed email delivery of emails with images is the choice of file type.

JPEG and PNG images are usually safe.

But if you send an email to a list of people with DOC, DOCX, or PDF file attachments, they can be considered dangerous file types by email servers.

However, there are more factors that can affect how your image links in emails will be processed.

Here’s a brief list.

 

Factors that can affect email images

Attachments: Some email programs change images in emails to attachments.

Instead of being embedded within the email content, the images are attached separately as icons.

Image Blocking: To protect users from potential security risks and unwanted content, many email clients, including Gmail, Outlook, and Apple Mail, enable image blocking by default.

Some users may need to click a “Display Images” button to view the images.

HTML and CSS Support: Different email clients have varying levels of support for HTML and CSS.

This can affect the display of image links, causing them to appear broken or blank.

Network Restrictions: In some cases, network security settings on the recipient’s end may prevent the loading of external images.

It can be due to firewalls, content filtering systems, or other network policies implemented by an organization or internet service provider.

Content Filtering: Email clients use filters to detect and block spam, phishing attempts, or malicious content.

These filters can mistakenly identify legitimate image links as potentially harmful or mark them as suspicious.

 

How to get image links in emails to work

Any fix you try will depend on your email program and the file type you want to attach.

You can find many articles offering ways to fix images in Outlook, Yahoo Mail, and Gmail.

If you use a different email program, you’ll need to do a search to see if you can find a workaround.

But it can involve a lot of work making all the changes to how your mail program works.

Yes, you can push and shove your way to making your images work, but there is no guarantee that your image links will work.

By far, the best way to send emails with clickable image links is to use an email delivery service.

Not only will your image links work (well, almost always), but you can better manage your subscribers.

Mailchimp is one of the most popular and is free for up to 2,000 subscribers.

This is usually plenty for most people and is what I use.

JPA Newsletter

Other choices include Aweber, MailerLite, or MailJet. But there are many more you can choose from depending on your needs.

Yes, it takes a bit of work to set up at first, but an email delivery service is the best way to deliver image links in emails.

 

Conclusion – Play it safe

Promoting your books, writing, or any other product or service with images is always good practice.

There are so many ways to use image links for social media or on your blog.

But when it comes to email, there are problems and traps, especially when using Gmail, Outlook, or Apple Mail to send to a list of addresses.

One of the most serious problems with using your email program for bulk mailing is accidentally exposing “disclosed recipients.”

It is when the “To” field addresses an email to multiple recipients. Then each recipient can see the email addresses of all other recipients.

I sometimes receive emails like this from inexperienced users, and it’s extremely bad practice.

It not only exposes people’s addresses without their consent but can also result in the sender’s email address being listed on spam filters.

The best approach for email marketing, especially with clickable images, is to play it safe and use a reliable email delivery service.

Then you and your recipients will be safe and secure, and your image links will work.

 

Related Reading: How To Add Links To An Ebook

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Published on May 20, 2023 03:36

May 17, 2023

10 Easy Ways To Find New Topic Ideas For Articles

Ways To Find New Topic Ideas For Articles

You’re always looking for new topic ideas for articles and blog posts.

But sometimes, you might find it difficult to come up with subjects that will resonate with your readers.

You want to stay on topic but find a different angle or a related issue.

Most of all, you want to find something interesting to write about, and quickly.

How to research topic ideas for articles

If you publish articles, you need new topics all the time.

Yes, you can do a Google search or try Google Trends. But what if you don’t have a keyword or subject in mind?

You could try scanning through emails or social media sites like Twitter, Reddit, or Quora.

When you don’t know what to write about, you can waste a lot of time forcing an idea to surface.

Yes, there are premium tools for keyword research, but they are usually very expensive and out of the price range for most bloggers.

Like you, I’m always looking for new content ideas to publish.

But I have found far better ways to research and uncover new topics related to my blog’s subject.

Best of all, they are free, quick, and consistently produce good results.

Here are the approaches I use to find topic ideas for articles in a hurry. You probably use a few of these already, but hopefully, there are some new ones you can try.

So let’s look at the ten methods I use for topic discovery.

 

1. Search engine site: search operator

This is my number one way because I don’t need to have a keyword or topic in mind.

You only need to find a few sites posting content related to your blog’s subject. For me, it’s sites related to writing, publishing, and books.

Use the search operator, site: followed by a site’s URL. It should look like this. site:example.com

Just make sure there is no space after the colon.

Here’s a sample screenshot of the result for my site.

Site search operator

Now you can skim through a site’s content and look for new ideas.

With site: search, the number of results can vary from day to day. But you will find almost all the content on any site, so you can scan through all of it.

Look at the titles, and you’ll find plenty of new ideas to write about.

Now, you’re not going to copy or steal the content. The titles alone are more than enough to give you plenty of new topics and keywords you haven’t written about.

 

2. People also ask

When you have a topic or keyword phrase in mind, this is a great Google search tool for finding questions.

People also ask

One little trick is to click on the arrow on the last question, which will expand the widget to show more questions.

 

3. Topic + alphabet search

When I have a broad topic in mind, this hack works well in uncovering lots of related topics.

Here’s an example using the term electric bicycles.

All you do is add a letter of the alphabet to your search term.

Alphabet search

You will get a new list with every letter that you use.

From the list above, perhaps an electric bicycle conversion kit would be an idea to use.

 

4. Related searches

It’s not always the most productive, but you can sometimes find useful terms.

Scroll to the bottom of the first page on Google search to find it.

 

Related search box

Occasionally there are some terms that can be worthwhile.

 

5. Your blog comments

Comments on your blog are a mine of ideas.

I always scan through them, looking for questions people have asked me.

Sometimes a new comment will give me an instant idea.

It’s one of the best resources for finding topics you haven’t covered yet.

 

6. Answer The Public

Neil Patel has a few SEO tools, such as Ubersugget.

But he also offers Answer The Public, a free tool for topic ideas.

There is a premium version, but the free version gives you plenty of data to investigate.

You get lots of lists or wheels like this with different question forms.

Answer the public topic ideas for articles

It’s a pretty helpful free resource for content writers.

 

7. ChatGPT

I have to say that I do not advocate using AI for writing.

However, tools like ChatGPT are useful for research.

Here’s an example prompt with the results.

ChatGPT title research

One little tip is that you can get more suggestions by clicking “Regenerate Response.”

 

8. Image Search

Google image search doesn’t seem like a practical way of finding writing ideas and topics.

But there is a use that you might not have noticed.

It’s the slider at the top of many search results

Topics on Google Image search

There is often an arrow on the right to give you many more topics.

It’s a quick and easy way to find a new slant on topics on your site.

 

9. Search Console

When I’m stuck for ideas, I always find some quick wins with Google Search Console.

The best way is to select one of your top-ranking pages and then click on queries.

Look through the list for search terms that you didn’t use in your content, and then at the position.

GSC search queries report

Very often, queries with a low position are generated by Google and are not within your content.

These are ideal candidates for new content.

In the list above, the term: best article submission sites for SEO, is not in my content but has a query position of around 40.

When you find ones like this, it’s a clue that it could be a good term to use in a new piece of content.

 

10. What did I learn?

I don’t know how many articles I have written about something new I learned how to do.

But it’s a guaranteed new how-to article anytime you learn how to do or improve on something.

It doesn’t matter what topic you write about; there will always be opportunities to let your readers know about a new or better way to do things.

Change is happening all the time and rapidly now.

So there’s plenty of scope for you to add great topic ideas for your articles.

 

Conclusion

When you need to write new content, finding a topic is sometimes the hardest part of publishing articles.

But it doesn’t need to be a long-winded or time-wasting chore.

With the ten ideas in this article, you will find it much easier and faster to build a list of new topics.

I have to say that using the site: operator is my go-to tool when I’m topic-hunting.

Generally, it takes me less than 30 minutes to find a handful of great new ideas.

But the other methods I use are also productive, quick, and easy. So take your choice.

 

Related Reading: 10 Popular Types Of Articles That People Like To Read

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Published on May 17, 2023 05:46

May 14, 2023

The Safe Way To Write A Book With A Word Processor

Best Way To Write A Book With A Word Processor

Can you write a book with a word processor?

Definitely, and many authors use Word, Apple Pages, or Google Docs.

However, you should take a couple of quick precautions before you start writing your book.

Doing two simple things will keep your manuscript safe and secure and make preparing your book for publishing easier.

Why use a word processor to write a book?

Yes, you can find many terrific apps, programs, and software for writing a book.

But most of them will cost you money or have limitations with free versions.

However, you usually have a word processor on most computers and laptops. So why not use it to do the same job and for free?

The fact that J K Rowling uses Microsoft Word proves that using a word processor works.

But there are two significant differences between a book writing program and a word processor.

One is how your manuscript is filed, and the other is how much formatting is applied as you write.

The big mistake is to have only one manuscript file with excessive formatting.

It is a considerable risk, as it could be damaged, corrupted, or deleted, and all your work is gone.

But it’s pretty easy to set up your word processor to ensure your book manuscript is safe and secure.

You only need to create a new lightweight template with minimal formatting. Then set up a file system to break up your book into chapters.

 

Creating a new book template

All paid and free word processors use templates. But the default template is usually full of styles and formatting you don’t need in a book.

Here’s an example using Apple Pages.

Paragraphs Styles

Too many paragraph styles will increase the size of your files.

The way to solve this is to remove all unnecessary styles and keep only the few you need for a book manuscript.

For each style you don’t need, delete them. Some word processors might ask you to replace it instead of deleting it.

In this case, replace it with the body style. Now your styles list should look something like this.

Limited paragraph styles

You can see that I have only three—one for the book title, one for the chapter heading, and one for the body text.

That’s all you need when you write your book.

The last step is to save your settings in a new template. Go to “save as template” and give it a logical name like My Book or New Book Template.

Now you have your new lightweight template to use for your book.

The important part to note here is that you will format your book after you finish writing it. Trying to format as you write your book can only lead to problems and possible file issues.

Keep it simple and light, and concentrate on writing your book.

 

Setting up your file system

If you write a book with a word processor and use only one document file, you could be in for problems.

It is especially true in Microsoft Word and Apple Pages.

As you write your manuscript, the file gets larger with text and a lot of background code.

It might take you months to write your book, and every time you open, close, and edit the file, you add more code.

The worst scenario is a warning similar to this.

Corrupt file

While file corruptions are one drastic possibility, other things can happen.

You might accidentally delete the file, or parts of your book, but with no way to recover them.

Most dedicated software for writing a book divides a manuscript into smaller parts.

That’s what you need to do to protect your manuscript.

Here’s how to do it.

Open a new document using your new book template.

Add your book title, the first chapter heading, and some text.

Now save it as your master file in a new folder on your computer. You can name it “Book Master File” or similar.

Close it, and open another new document.

This time, only add a chapter heading like “Chapter One” and some text.

Chapter One

Save it as Chapter One in your new book folder.

Now close it and open a new document and create chapter two.

Repeat the process for a handful of chapters. You can always add more as you progress with writing your book.

Check your file manager, and it should look something like this.

File manager to write a book with a word processor

You can see that I have added the master document plus four chapters

Lastly, I added another document for notes. This file comes in very handy as you are writing your book.

You can save your ideas, quick notes, or research material here.

 

Writing your book

Now you are ready to start writing.

Start with chapter one until you complete it.

When you are finished, copy the text into your master document, but keep your chapter file. Don’t delete it.

By doing this, you have two copies in case anything goes wrong.

Continue writing each new chapter, and copy and paste the text of each one into your master file.

Even though your master file will increase in size, it will be less prone to errors because you won’t be working on it continually.

The last safeguard is to back up your work regularly.

If you only keep your files on your computer’s hard drive, you could lose all your work if your computer has a problem.

The best and easiest way is to use a cloud drive such as iCloud or Google Drive for your backups.

But you can also use thumb drives if you don’t have cloud access.

 

Don’t format as you write

Formatting is the last step in publishing a book.

You will need to format your manuscript differently for an ebook and a print book.

So formatting as you write is a waste of time and an opportunity for things to go amiss.

Don’t worry about copyright pages, author pages, table of contents, indexes, or headers and footers.

When you finish writing your book, you can create copies of your master document to complete the formatting process.

And if anything goes wrong, you still have your master copy, as well as all your chapters, in safe files.

 

Summary

Using your word processor to write a book is logical.

It’s free, and you don’t need to spend time learning how to use new software.

But be aware that it is not specifically designed for extremely long documents of 40, 60, or 120 thousand words.

But if you take the two measures outlined in this article, you will reduce the risks of things going wrong.

Using a lightweight template and splitting your book into smaller files is all you need to do.

Then you can have peace of mind as you get on with writing your book.

 

Related Reading: Protect Your Manuscript By Being A Good File Manager

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Published on May 14, 2023 00:46

May 9, 2023

Really And Very Are (Not Always) Poor Word Choices

When Really And Very Are The Right Words

I’m really very sorry to tell you this, but some of the writing advice you may read about really and very is not always valid.

Yes, they are weak adverbs, and it’s true that, in many instances, it’s better to find alternatives.

However, there are circumstances where it is impractical, or you risk using overly complicated words in their place.

All writers use these two modifying adverbs, so don’t think that you have to eradicate them from your writing.

When writing advice can be misleading

Every writer knows this quote by Mark Twain.

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

But if you check his book, Tom Sawyer, Twain uses the word very 49 times.

Tom Sawyer Very

Also, the word really appears nine times.

Florence King was another author who had an opinion on the subject.

“‘Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.”

However, it appears she didn’t always follow her own advice in her book, Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady.

Florence King Failed Southern Lady

There are 29 occurrences of very and 17 of really.

 

When you should avoid really and very

Without a doubt, replacing or deleting weak words and modifying adverbs is usually good advice.

It is especially true with most common adjectives that have a better or stronger synonym.

A simple example is the adjective big. You can always replace very big or really big with perhaps large, huge, or enormous.

Here are a few examples of adjectives that you can use to remove modifying adverbs easily.

Very bad: terrible, awful, or atrocious.

Really clever: Intelligent, brilliant, or talented.

Very hot: Boiling, scorching, or searing.

Really eager: Keen, enthusiastic, or motivated.

Very tasty: Delicious, flavorsome, or scrumptious.

With most gradable adjectives, you can find alternatives that are much more descriptive.

All you need to do is check a thesaurus, and you’ll have no trouble removing weak modifiers.

The other option is to simply delete the modifier when it performs no real purpose.

It was very hot yesterday, so we went to the beach.

You really need a haircut before your job interview on Monday.

As a general rule, yes, it’s always best to delete or replace occurrences of really and very in your writing.

But it’s not always sensible or practical.

 

When to use very and really

The two modifying adverbs serve the purpose of grading or emphasizing without an element of any real sense of degree.

In some cases, this is the best or even the only option.

Here are five quick examples of when you can or might use them.

1. Expressing appreciation

There are many fixed expressions we use to thank people. A lot of them include very much.

Thank you very much, and we really appreciate all the assistance you gave us.

Removing the modifiers in the example above would significantly weaken the sentiment.

2. No better adjective

Sometimes a stronger adjective can be unsuitable or awkward.

Make sure you wear comfortable shoes when you visit the Old Town because some of the small cobblestone lanes are very steep.

One possibility here is to use the adjective precipitous.

But it doesn’t work well in this sense because it means dangerously high and steep.

3. Expressing a high level of priority

This often applies to the word important because there are few logical alternatives.

We have a lot on our agenda, but we have one very important issue we need to address today.

Similar adjectives like significant, consequential, critical, or momentous might not be a good fit in the context of this example.

4. With few and little

The only way to grade these two words is with a modifier.

Very few WordPress users know how to write PHP code.

There has been very little study done about the disease.  

5. Expressing urgency

In this context, it is common to use really, especially with stative verbs.

Look, I’m in deep trouble, so I really need your help.

You could change the sentence to: I need your help urgently. But it doesn’t necessarily have the same meaning or informality.

 

There are no hard and fast rules

It’s true that using too many modifying adverbs, especially really and very, can weaken your writing.

The quotes from Mark Twain and Florence King on the topic are true, but only to a degree.

Like any writing advice or rule, it’s not always practical or possible to apply it 100%.

In the case of really, yes, you can usually remove it and replace it with better choices.

But very is a useful word in some circumstances.

When you check a text, you should always be on the lookout for overuse.

However, don’t think or believe you have to eliminate these two words from your writing completely.

 

Related Reading: How To Avoid Vague Words In Writing

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Published on May 09, 2023 05:48

May 5, 2023

ChatGPT Authors Start An Ebook Frenzy On Amazon

ChatGPT Authors Start A Kindle Ebook Frenzy

ChatGPT authors are self-publishing Kindle ebooks at an astonishing rate on Amazon.

Amazingly, many are not shy about adding ChatGPT as the author or co-author of their titles.

However, it is probably only a minority of authors who admit to it so blatantly.

New technology is always disruptive, and in this case, it’s the trend of using AI (artificial intelligence) to write and publish ebooks at speed.

How many ChatGPT authors are there?

It’s never easy obtaining accurate data from an Amazon search.

But by using an advanced search on Amazon, you can get a few clues. The advanced search button is on the far right of the menu bar.

ChatGPT Authors

You can see that my search is for an author name that matches ChatGPT. The result of the search is not definitive by any means.

Amazon search for ChatGPT ebooks

But it returns a list of “over 1,000” results, so the actual number of ebooks is probably much higher than this.

The result is only for authors who have intentionally listed ChatGPT as the author or co-author. It is perhaps an option many authors using AI writing tools would not like to advertise.

I also did a quick Google site: search of Amazon.

Google Site Search

It returned nearly 18,000 results for books either by or about ChatGPT. While it’s only a rough measure, it shows that AI writing is becoming popular on Amazon.

 

Self-publishing ebooks at an astonishing rate

How quickly can you publish new titles?

Well, rapidly, it seems.

Here’s one example of an author who has published 592 titles on Kindle.

Each title has ChatGPT (Author) appearing on the Amazon sales pages.

592 AI ebook titles

When I checked the publishing dates, it appears that the 592 ebooks were published over about a two-month period.

My arithmetic is not great, but I think that works out to be about ten new ebooks per day.

Yes, it’s a staggering number.

I’ll let you be the judge about the quality offered in these books.

But one thing is for sure, if someone wants to self-publish a ton of ebooks in a hurry, it’s now possible.

However, one big question hangs over ebooks like these.

What will Amazon do about it?

For the moment, that’s a question with no answer.

 

Robot publishing is not new

Yes, ChatGPT is in the news almost every day now.

But way back in 2012, a programmer created 800,000 ebooks and published them on Amazon.

He claimed at the time that he could write books in twenty minutes about specific subjects.

So you could say that what we are seeing today is not new at all.

But the crucial difference is that you no longer need to be a computer programmer because the tools are now available for anyone to use.

 

What does ChatGPT think about this?

While researching this article, I had the idea to ask ChatGPT to offer an opinion.

I’m sure you know that its data knowledge is limited to 2021 or earlier.

So I didn’t expect it to provide much of a response on such a recent trend.

But it did have something to say. Here’s my prompt.

Can you write an article on this topic: ChatGPT Authored Kindle Ebooks Boom On Amazon.

This is only the introduction from its response, which was well over 1,000 words justifying itself and its success.

Chat response

Yes, like most AI writing tools, it’s grammatically perfect, seemingly logical, and convincing.

The only problem is that it is all a waffle with no substance or element of fact.

The term that is often used now is that it was hallucinating.

It has no knowledge about this topic because authors only started publishing ChatGPT books in very late 2022.

So how can it know for sure that “ChatGPT’s eBooks are popular with readers of all ages and backgrounds.”

Or that “ChatGPT’s eBooks have seen a significant boom on Amazon’s Kindle platform, with readers eagerly consuming its works.”

Later in the article, it says, “ChatGPT’s works are well-researched, engaging, and informative.”

There’s no evidence at all to back up these claims. It’s simply a 1,000-word text of made-up piffle and nonsense.

And that’s the big downside and possible danger of this new ebook publishing boom.

Copying text is easy.

But fact-checking and being sure what you publish is accurate and meaningful is not.

 

Will it make money?

Money is the only reason to use ChatGPT to churn out hundreds of titles.

Sure, they won’t become bestsellers, but do they sell?

Amazon search keyword ChatGPT

While it’s only indicative, I checked monthly earnings from related search keywords with Publisher Rocket.

The list was much longer than what I can show you in the image above.

But you can see ebooks about the subject are selling and making money.

However, when I checked the author I mentioned earlier with his 592 ebooks, it was a different story.

This book is shown as his most popular title on Amazon.

Chickens

As you can see, it looks like it sells one copy per month. So it’s not a resounding success.

 

Will the frenzy by ChatGPT authors continue?

Of course, it will because it’s too easy and too tempting.

An ebook is only text, and AI can pump out a lot of text very quickly.

The free version of ChatGPT has a limitation of 3,000 words per prompt. But even with that, it’s possible to pump out text at speed.

Ten prompts, and you have a 30,000-word ebook in around ten to fifteen minutes.

Then it only takes a few minutes to copy and paste the text into a Word document and tidy up the formatting.

It probably takes longer to create a quick and dirty free ebook cover.

Writing a book description with AI takes only a few seconds.

Then add a few more minutes to publish on Amazon KDP.

For someone who is practiced at it, it adds up to less than an hour’s work.

Too easy, too fast, and that’s why many more of these ebooks will be published on Amazon Kindle.

 

Conclusion

You can’t stop new technology, and artificial intelligence writing, especially for ChatGPT authors, is steaming ahead at full speed.

There’s no way to put the genie back in the bottle now.

No matter what you might think or believe, we’re all going to benefit or suffer from it.

The only problem is that we don’t know which one it will be.

 

Related Reading: The Ebook To An Audiobook With AI Narration Is Coming

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Published on May 05, 2023 00:39

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Derek Haines
Just Publishing Advice is a resource for all writers.

Publishing is not only about writing and publishing a book or posting your articles online. There is a lot of work and multiple facets involved in
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