Marketing guru Ramit Sethi recently said that if you send people a link for something free they may find interesting, most of the time they won't click on it. This may not be true of your family and closest friends; then again, it may apply to them as well.
Why not, when it's free? For example an article, a report, a YouTube video.
People already have so many demands for their attention that it's easier not to click on yet another link, or to leave it for later (= never).
Sethi says these days you have to "sell free." You have to show people that it's something that will benefit them, just as you do when you're charging. In marketing terms that means there had better be a very good prospect that putting in the effort to sell free will result in income at some point down the line.
HOW THIS WORKS WITH EBOOKS
When there were not so many ebooks around, free worked well. If you had several books available, offering one free in hopes readers would like it and would pay for your other ebooks was an effective strategy.
It does still work for some people, but I think it's on the way out. I subscribe to two sites that send out daily emails listing free or highly-discounted ebooks. I very seldom download any of them. I already have enough to read and these books are by unknown authors. They may well be better writers than some of the well-known authors but I don't have time to download and sample these books.
WHAT COMES AFTER FREE?
If I had sure-thing answer I'd be selling it instead of giving it away for free :). However, my guess is that a new author will have to work even harder to develop a platform--to get known by potential readers first, and then offer them the chance to buy his or her books for a reasonable fee.
I believe that in this as in a lot of other things it will pay to be a contrarian. When everybody else is on Facebook and Twitter, those are not the places to be if you want to stand out. If others are still flooding the marketplace with free ebooks, you don't want yours to be considered part of that group.
What are some places most people consider untrendy? Here are a few:
* Newspapers (yes, they're dying but they aren't dead yet). In this category I include feature stories, display ads, and classfied ads.
* Magazines - same as for newspapers
* Local television
Having a website will still be important, but not the typical site that has just the cover of your book, your bio, and maybe a blog about how you came to write the book. This may sound harsh, but nobody cares--that is, nobody who doesn't already have some kind of connection with you.
In future posts I'll go more deeply into some ways that I'm starting to build a platform in Young Adult fiction, which is a new format and genre for me. I'm sure this will include things that don't work as well as things that do. I hope that will yield some information that will be useful to you as well.
In the meantime you may also find it helpful to get a copy of my book, Do Something Different, published by Virgin Books; it contains 100 case studies of people who came up with creative, mostly very low cost, effective marketing strategies. It's not free.
A new series on how to take 5 minutes to do something for yourself and others.
Yes, a physical piece of paper instead of an email, just to make it special.
When we think about getting back in touch with somebody with whom we haven't communicated for a while often what stops us is the thought that we have to do a complete summary of everything that's happened since the last time we contacted them, like those Christmas letters that families send.
Instead, you can send just a "thinking of you" message with one recent thing you've done or seen that the other person would find interesting or amusing. An alternative is to write, "I was just thinking of you and remembered the time we..."
If keeping friendships alive is important to you, take five today!
HELPFUL TIP: Buy a bunch of postcards, stick stamps on all of them, keep them handy and make this a weekly practice.
I have 10,000 (robot) friends
A Korean baseball club called The Hanwa Eagles has installed a cheering section made up of faceless robots. If fans want to be at the game virtually they can send a head shot to the stadium, where creepily small images of their faces are projected onto the robots. The robots can do a rather slow "wave" and I'm guessing recorded cheers are included. You can see them in action in the video below. I wonder whether they could make one for writers, maybe just a few fans who are programmed to cheer when we stop looking at social media and start actually writing something...
How restaurants use psychology
You may already be aware that restaurants are lavish with adjectives and adverbs to raise the perceived value of their food. You know the sort of thing: rich broth...aromatic spices...carefully combined ingredients...a dark hearty roast.
Here are some other strategies used by restaurants:
* Giving the food an ethnic identification to make it seem more authentic;
* Leaving the dollar (or pound or Euro) sign off prices. Apparently they remind patrons of forking over their money so they go for the lower priced items.
* Using .95 rather than .99 at the end of prices. A menu engineer says .99 represents value but not quality. By the way, did you know there is such a thing as a menu engineer? Right now somewhere a Jewish mother is saying, "Yes, my son is an engineer..."
* Putting an extravagently priced item on the menu just so the others seem inexpensive by comparison.
* Optimizing the number of items to choose from. A study at Bournemouth University revealed that in fine dining establishments, customers like to have a choice of seven starters and desserts and ten main courses. More than that can cause decision stress.
* Playing classical music at posh restaurants and French and German music to increase the sales of wines from the corresponding countries.
Waiters also have a fascinating range of techniques to increase tips, but we'll leave that for another Sunday round-up.
The (occasionally) charming language of spam
Most of the time Spam emails are just annoying but once in a while there's one where the curious use of language makes it fun to read:
My Saloon includes the best professionals in Spain (clairvoyants, astrologs and tarotists).Today I am a renowned professional who can practice her vocation with all the facilities. I count within my clients with many politicians, multinational managers, celebrities, actors, models, artists but also mothers, artisans, commerciants and anonymous workers.I realise in person the consultaions by telephone, I work alone, and for me it is a quality assurance. I can afford no to make you pay for my services, if you want to benefit of my esquire you can call me at (number).
I'm pretty sure she meant 'salon' but it's much more fun to imagine it's a saloon where clairvoyants, astrologs and tarotists go for a drink, a game of cards, and debates that sometimes end in a showdown.
If a company charges you for publishing your book, it's not a publisher, it's a printer. Maybe a printer that offers (or forces you to take) additional services, but still a printer. The big difference is that the ones who call themselves publishers promise and charge a lot more.
Green Shore Publishing has packages priced between £300 and £1500. On their site they feature testimonials consisting of three 30-second videos from authors identified only as Clive, Jack and Richard. No last names. Hey, a lot of modern authors go only by their first names like...Madonna...Cher...and Clive, Jack, and Richard.
I highly recommend a quick viewing of the testimonials for their amusement value. "Jack" recites his testimonial in front of a white sheet he's hung on the wall but sadly he forgets to tell us the name of his book. Here is a picture of Jack from that video:
"Clive" (pictured below as he appears on the Green Shore site) sounds like he's narrated a lot of corporate videos over the years. He appears to be sitting in front of a very writerly bookshelf. If you look closely you'll see that it was actually done with green screen. Clive says he's been working with Green Shore for a year and they've even set up some book signings for him. Guess what? He also forgets to tell us the name of his book! Authors can be so absent-minded!
"Richard" tells us how proud he is to have seen his book on the shelves at Waterstones. I'd love to see whether I can spot it there as well, but unfortunately he, too, neglects to mention his surname or the title of his book. Here's a still from Richard's testimonial:
Did you know that on Fiverr.com you can pay people $5 to video
a testimonial for anything you want? You write the ad, they say it.
People like this:
Well, let's look at the real books Green Shore has published. On the site it says,
"Below we’ve included some of the high quality covers from
several of our recent releases."
Here's one of those high-quality covers:
Helpful hint: when designing a high-quality cover, make sure
people can read the title and author's name when they look at
Their website says, "Book sales are very competitive here in the
UK and Ireland, but our books keep succeeding...Below we’ve
listed some of our retail partners and media contacts within
the country. Your book will also be sold internationally, but
if you’re looking to be successful in the UK and Ireland,
you’ve come to the right place."
The retailers' logos include W. H. Smith, Waterstone's
(must be an old copy of the logo, they dropped the apostrophe
in January 2012), and Amazon.co.uk.
Does it surprise you to hear that the two supposed Green
Shore books the titles of which are decipherable are not
listed on any of those sites?
In fact, when I Googled the name of one of these "successes",
The West Devon Mysteries, only two results appeared...one
led back to the Green Shore site, one to a warning about
Green Shore. You'd think the author might have a web site
or a Facebook page for the book, wouldn't you? At least if
the author existed.
What about the Green Shore's London headquarters at
86-90 Paul Street, London, UK EC2A 4NE?
Their home page says "Here at our headquarters in London,
we have established ourselves as the best option for
success in the European book publishing market."
No wonder they need headquarters that cover four
street numbers! I pictured traditional decor but offices
buzzing with editorial activity. Perhaps something like this:
I Googled the address and here's what came up:
Just £20.00 +VAT with same day UK Mail Forwarding. Click
“BUY” to fill in Your Company Name, 86-90 Paul Street,
London EC2A 4NE.
The clever detective work of Victoria Strauss, who writes the
"Writer Beware" blog, revealed that the man running Green
Shore is Adam Salviani, owner of vanity publisher Raider
Publishing International, which has a whole Facebook page
devoted just to complaints about it, as well as a rare "F"
rating from the Better Business Bureau.
It would be funny but you just know that some poor writer
is at this moment writing a cheque made out to Green
Shore. If you belong to a writers' group or have other
ways of reaching writers, please spread the word.
(Jurgen Wolff is the author of "Your Writing Coach,"
and "Your Creative Masterclass," both published by
the highly reputable Nicholas Brealey Publishing and
available from Amazon or your other favourite book
The publisher warned her that boys might be reluctant to read a novel written by a woman, thinking it was intended for girl readers, and advised her to use her initials.
Did it help? We will never know, but we can be pretty certain it didn't hurt.
That got me thinking about pen names. I'm just about to submit my first YA novel to agents and/or publishers and thinking about doing so under a pen name, instead of Jurgen Wolff, for a couple of reasons.
NAMES AND PERCEPTION
Multiple studies show that someone's name influences how they are perceived by others. Dictionary.com references one such study conducted in the US:
"Participants of the study were asked to guess the success of students with various names on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most successful.
The highest scoring names turned out to be Katherine, scoring a 7.42, and Samuel, scoring a 7.20. With a score of 5.74,
Amber ranked lowest among female names while Travis ranked overall lowest with a score of 5.55.
As John Waggoner, a researcher from Bloomberg University, points out: “Katherine goes to the private school, statistically; Lauren goes to a public university, and Briana goes to community college. Sierra and Dakota, they don’t go to college.”
In the UK, Richard Wiseman conducted a study, asking 6000 people about their perceptions of names. The most successful sounding ones were Elizabeth and James, the most attractive ones Ryan and Sophie.
Writers often take this into account when deciding on names for their characters, especially for their protagonist and, if applicable, their villain. They don't usually think of it in terms of their own names.
Research suggests that people decide alarmingly quickly whether or not to pick up a book (or in the case of online listings, whether to click the thumbnail image). They base this on the title of the book, the image on the cover, and the author's name.
I wasn't able to find any studies specifically on the extent to which the name of an author who is not famous impacts sales.
This kind of test has certainly been done on possible titles for a book. Timothy Ferriss tried out several names for his first book. He put ads online that described the book in exactly the same way, varying only the title. The clear winner was The Four Hour Work Week. Since the book wasn't actually available yet, the people who responded where told they'd be notified when it was.
It would be interesting to do the same thing, but varying only the name of the author...If I give that a try, I'll report the results here.
The factor that seems most obvious to me is that it helps if the author's name is congruent with the genre of the book. I'm guessing if one thriller cover featured an exciting image and the author name Mortimer Feeney and another version was exactly the same except that the author's name was Jack Chase, the latter would outsell the former (apologies to any Mortimer Feeneys reading this).
There may also be cultural factors. My first name, Jurgen, is German, and although the recent World Cup win seems to have created a blip of goodwill toward Germans, overall I think there's some negativity associated with German names in the UK, if only subconsciously.
One additional factor based on your surname is that in book stores novels usually are shelved alphabeticalliy by the last name of the author. If your surname starts with W, your books tend to end up on the bottom shelves, where it's less likely to catch the eyes of browsers.
ON THE OTHER HAND...
Of course there are lots of exceptions--authors who have unusual, unpopular, or foreign-sounding names whose books became best-sellers. In fact, it can help to have a somewhat unusual name because it will be more memorable.
IF YOU USE A PEN NAME
Based on a bit of quick research I've done, it seems that the etiquette of submitting material to agents and publishers suggests using your real name in your query letters unless you've already had something published under the pen name.
In a way this is too bad because probably agents and publishers are just as much influenced by names as anybody else. Some sources do say that it's OK to add your pen name on the title page of your manuscript, like this:
written by Mortimer Feeney
(writing as Jack Chase)
THE BOTTOM LINE
Ultimately it's a very personal decision--some authors feel that it's a betrayal to thei family name to use a different one--but compromising paid off for J K--I mean, for Joanne.
In a book called The Creativity Cure, authors Carrie and Alton Barron make an interesting claim: using our hands can help us avoid or alleviate mild to moderate depression.
She is a psychiatrist, he is a hand surgeon. They point out that more than half of the brain's cortex is mapped to our hands, which suggests that activities that involve our hands engage our brains.
painting or drawing
playing a musical instrument
preparing food (using a microwave doesn't count)
building something (birdhouse, shed, etc.)
The book also emphasizes movement, mind rest, reframing your thoughts, and other elements but it's the emphasis on using your hands that I found the most unusual and interesting.
In the Early to Rise newsletter, Stephen Guise, author of MiniHabits, suggested a different way of looking at risk and rewards in order to change your habits or overcome avoiding things you'd like to do.
TWO KINDS OF RISK
One kind of risk involves the possiblity that something everybody would agree is bad could happen.
It would be fun to jump into that lake but you don't know how deep the water is. The risk is that you could break your neck or at least your leg. Clearly the reward is not worth the risk.
Or you can go to a casino and bet a year's wages on black or red. The odds are almost 50-50 (you get nothing if the ball stops on the 0 or 00). If you win, you can take a year off. If you lose, you might have to work two jobs for a year. Whether or not it's worth taking that risk is up to you but again there's a clear downside.
However there are also many things we avoid because they carry the risk that we will feel embarrassed or rejected if we fail. For these, Guise suggests attaching a reward to trying, not to whether or not you gain what you wanted.
WHAT REWARDS ARE EFFECTIVE?
The reward can be whatever you enjoy, ideally something you don't do or get all the time anyway. If Guise was drinking three smoothies a day already, having another one wouldn't have been a very effective reward. I don't recommend using food as a reward anyway, it's likely to lead to gaining weight and to forming assocIations that ultimately are not helpful.
I do find it difficult to think of non-food rewards; maybe I don't deny myself enough normally. So far the ones that come to mind are:
* 30 minutes at a cofee shop or in the park, reading for pleasure
* On DVD, watching an episode of a television show that I like (I'm a few seasons behind on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and two or so behind on 30 Rock)
* 15 or 30 minutes of checking out new music on Spotify
* A blended juice drink from Planet Organic (it's just down the street)
If you have any favorite rewards to suggest, please leave a comment.
ADD THE "TINY STEPS" APPROACH
You can combine this approach with dividing a daunting task into small steps. Figure out some small rewards and attach one to each step of the process. This way you reinforce making at least some progress every day rather than making the reward contingent on achieving the overall big goal.
This also fits in with the fact that research has shown that in training animals (and let's face it, that what we are, too) a reward works best when it follows the desired behaviour immediately.
HOW TO USE THIS FOR NEW HABITS
If you're cultivating a new habit it can make sense to break it down into component parts as well.
The second week you don't get a reward until you've not only gotten up but also have put on your running clothes.
The next week the reward comes only when you've at least left the house.
The next week only when you've run (or at least walked) a quarter of a mile, and so on.
Normally if we got up, put on running clothes, but then didn't run, we'd think of that as a failure. From this new perspective we see it as a step on the road to success and as such reward it.
How could you employ this method to your advantage? Is there something you avoid that you might reward?
"The low level laser used in i-lipo creates a photobiomodulation effect that can break down triglyceride and glycerol molecules. This process now makes them small enough to exit through your prose and be used as fuel by your metabolism."
If you've been been accused of writing flabby prose, now you know why.
"Recently he had to throw a couple of guys out for being too drunk. They called him names. But after losing 152 pounds, they didn’t call him fat."
They were probably too weak from losing all that weight.
"30 Strange Gadgets and Accessories for Babies That Actually Exist"
Can we buy them for imaginary babies as well?
"For the price of a latte from Starbucks, once a month you get 12 issues of Confidential Cures."
You can give copies to 11 friends.
"Watch adorable double-amputee kitten learn to walk, fall down stairs."
I detect a hint of sadism mixed in with that LOL.
(Feel free to use the comments section to share any funny typos or in-print mistakes you've encountered.)
The hot topic these days is quantifying aspects of your life: how far you walk, how long and well you sleep, how many calories you consume, your weight, your heart rate, and on and on. You now can record absolutely everything that happens to you with a camera you wear that takes a snapshot every time you move or somebody or something in front of you moves.
It's getting harder to separate the useful information from the narcissistic navel-gazing.
I confess to having a Fitbit that measures how far I walk but so far that's the extent of my participation in this trend.
I'm sure that some of the indicators of fitness and health will be very useful but in terms of being more productive and creative, what are the key things you might want to measure?
* Your output. For a writer that might be the number of words written per day or week. Obviously the ultimate question is whether what you write (or draw or create in some way) is any good, but often before it's good it's not so good. That's what rewriting is for. But even before it's not so good, it just has to exist, and that's where keeping track of quantity of words is helpful.
I do suggest using that rather than the number of hours as a measure; I know from personal experience that it's all too easy to justify a few hours of skimming articles as research that relates to writing...kind of.
* How much time you spend thinking, daydreaming, and reflecting. This kind of uniterrupted time is essential and harder and harder to achieve. Even ten or fifteen minutes a day can make a difference.
* How much time you spend stepping back from the everyday busyness to consider whether you're on the right track in the different facets of your life, whether some adjustments are needed, and whether you're taking care of yourself as well as others. An hour or so every month should suffice.
I reckon if we give enough time to these, we'll do pretty well!
It's not available yet but he already has a fund of $100,000 to work with and may crowdfund the rest.
While it's easy to see how it could work for certain things, like waking you up or making sure that you stand up at least once an hour, I'm not sure how it could tell, for instance, whether you've written your 1000 words for the day or been nicer to your mother-in-law.
Sethi did have an interesting forerunner, kind of a proof of concept: he hired someone to followh him around at work and slap him if he went on social sites instead of getting to work.
I imagine quite a few people have spouses who would be willing to do that for free--no electronics required.
If you're interested in being notified when it's available you can sign up at www.pavlok.com.
(If you're looking for something to read check out my book, Creativity Now, published by Pearson and available from your favorite bookseller. Or, if you're interested in writing, have a look at Your Writing Coach and Your Creative Writing Masterclass, both published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing.)
At the end of some articles the New Yorker used to fill up the extra space in the column with embarrassing or otherwise interesting corrections. Today I came across one myself, in The Bookseller:
"In the Memoirs section of our Fall Announcements issue (June 23), we incorrectly stated that author Charles M. Blow murdered a cousin who molested him when he was a child. Blow considered murdering the cousin, but did not commit the crime."
I'm sure not everyone will agree, but I think the secret of writing humor is:
Don't try to be funny.
The best humor comes from observing people who don't think they're being funny. The classic sitcom, Fawlty Towers, is a great example. Basil doesn't see himself as a clown or a fool. In his mind Fawlty Towers is a wonderful establishment and he is a masterful hotelier. It's the rest of the world that laughs at him.
When you are writing about a character and putting yourself into his or her shoes, that's when not to try to be funny. If you have given the character a strong attitude, usually one at odds with the rest of the world in one way or another, the funny will come out. Then the dialogue isn't jokes, it's words that are funny only when they come out of the mouth of that character.
I was interested to read in an interview with Quentin Blake in the Sunday Financial Times that he has a similar attitude toward his drawings:
“The humour is a by-product [of the story]. You draw the scene, what people are doing, their reaction to it, and if it’s funny, it comes out. There are certain books where you play it for laughs but it’s always more interesting in a dramatic situation.”
I saw this in action years ago in a black comedy play I wrote that was produced in Los Angeles. The first week the actors played their roles straight and got lots of laughs. Then they began to anticipate the laughs and ham it up a bit. The director was new and unassertive and let it go. The reviews perfectly reflected this development: the ones from opening night were positive, the ones that were written later less so.
(For friendly guidance for your writing, get a copy of Your Writing Coach, published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller. Consider ordering it from your local bookseller--we need to keep them in business!)
The signs: crying easily at movies, often being the first to offer help, getting excited easily by new experiences.
The study, conducted at Stony Brook University, used fMRI scans to observe brain activity when subjects were shown various pictures.
Dr. Arthur Aron, a Research Professor in Psychology, said, "We found that areas of the brain involved with awareness and emotion, particularly those areas connected with empathetic feelings, in the highly sensitive people showed substantially greater blood flow to relevant brain areas than was seen in individuals with low sensitivity during the twelve second period when they viewed the photos. This is physical evidence within the brain that highly sensitive individuals respond especially strongly to social situations that trigger emotions, in this case of faces being happy or sad."
It would be interesting to find out whether writers tend to come from this 20% of the population. It seems logical that you need to be empathetic in order to portray a variety of emotions; on the other hand, the biographies of famous writers suggests that quite a few of them treated their spouses and others rather shabbily...maybe they used up all their empathy on their characters.I hope I'm not one of those but that guy sitting behind you in the cinema, sobbing? Yep, that's me.
Did you know that a third of Americans have been implanted with RFID chips during dental treatment and most are not aware of it?
Did you know that Facebook has a new feature on its smartphone app that will allow them to record all your conversations?
No? That's because these stories are bogus. However, they are making the rounds of the internet, two of many hoaxes, scams, and myths that a lot of people pass along to everybody on their email list, believing them to be true.
I used to consider these kinds of stories junk littering the internet but they could have another use: as the basis of a novel or screenplay.
The notion that people are unwittingly getting RFID implants during dental work at clinics set up for welfare recipients, or at a high-end clinic used by members of Congress or Parliament, for instance, could be the basis of a good conspiracy thriller. So could the idea of a social site recording all the conversations of government decision-makers (or the daughters of the President, perhaps?) in order to blackmail politicians into supporting legislation that gives the company a monopoly.
The fact that these stories have already gained an audience, albeit among people who think they are non-fiction, suggests that they might work well as fiction as well.
PS: A good source of such stories is the Hoax-Slayer newsletter, from which I took the two examples above. The site is http://www.hoax-slayer.com.
(Once you have a good idea you need to translate it into a good book. That's where Your Writing Coach comes in. It's published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing and available from your favorite bookseller.)
I'm not sure how old you have to be to remember fondly the habit of visiting a newsstand and leafing through the magazines under the gaze of the cranky owner until he reminded you, "This is not a library!" I used to read as many comic books as possible before I felt his hot breath on my neck.
Later I'd enjoy looking art magazines too expensive to buy. They were printed on thick shiny paper that felt like silk and smelled of fresh ink.
Now I do most of my browsing online and have switched to digital subscriptions for all but a handful of magazines--i still love looking at Creative Review, Print, and a couple of others in their (expensive) physical form.
The news that prompted these thoughts: Source Interlink, a magazine distribution company, has ceased operation, with a loss of 6000 jobs. There are two other major players left, but the demise of Source Interlnk is expected to disrupt deliveries to newsstands for three months--during which time even more people may turn to digital.
Maybe somebody will come up with an app that notices when you browse digital magazines for too long and remind you "This isn't a library!" Of course that assumes by then anybody will remember what libraries were.
The newest site from satirists at The Onion is Clickhole.com. It sets out to make fun of the kind of click-bait featured on Huffington Post and many other sites. The problem is that it's hard to come up with any headlines that are implausible enough.
Here's a little test. Half of the headlines below are from Clickhole, half from a genuine sites (I use the word "genuine" loosely). Guess which are real. The answers are at the bottom of the post.
1. The Top 12 "Game of Thrones"-inspired Baby Names
2. Just a Photo of Kanye West Sleeping
3. Islamist Fighters in Iraq and Syria Keep Tweeting Pictures of Cats With Guns
4. 10 Kicks You Should Know About Before You Watch the Wold Cup
5. 50 of the Most Important Dog GIFs of All Time
6. 70 Years Later, We Still May Never Know What D-Day Was
7. You Guys, Ryan Gosling Did Not Adopt A Baby
8. This 43-Year-Old Man Won't Let Himself Be Defined By Barbie's Beauty Standards
9. As If Belonging to MENSA Wasn't Enough, This Student Had A Nose Job To Improve HIs Job Chances
10. LeBron James Should Not Have to Go To Jail For Losing the NBA Finals
7. Huffington Post
9. Huffington Post
See what I mean?
Previously I've run across the rejection letter for The Diary of Anne Frank that said, "The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling that would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level" and the one that said John Le Carre had no future, but this one was new to me (courtesy of The Daily Telegraph website):
"First, we must ask, does it have to be a whale?
"While this is a rather delightful, if somewhat esoteric, plot device, we recommend an antagonist with a more popular visage among the younger readers. For instance, could not the Captain be struggling with a depravity towards young, perhaps voluptuous, maidens?"
--Publisher Peter J Bentley, rejecting Moby Dick.
Anybody who has had dealings with Hollywood producers will find these comments have a familiar ring.
Hmm, how might it have ended up if Melville had taken Bentley's advice...
MOBY-DORIS; or, The Voluptuous Maiden
"Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering voluptuous maiden; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.” "
I guess some of it could stay the same: "“Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me..."
No, just as well he didn't listen.
A month ago I wrote about a USA Today article that incorrectly used "awhile" in place of "a while" (link in related posts below). Just to review, Oxford dictionaries.com says:
The single word awhile is an adverb meaning ‘for a short time’, and should not be confused with the noun use of a while, ‘a period of time’: stand here awhile, but we stood there for a while.
Today USA Today had a headline that read, "Amazon-Hachette dispute may last awhile."
"Awhile" is the right choice because it modifies the verb "last."
However, a different word entirely would have been better. The first paragraph of the story reads:
"...Amazon has launched a defense against a rising chorus of criticism about its decision to limit the supply of books from publisher Hachette Book Group and warned that the tussle could be protracted."
Protracted is the opposite of for a short time.
Proofreaders and copy editors, send your resumes to USA Today.