Friday, December 9, 2011

Around the Word

Self-pub superlatives: Highlighting the recent trend of self-published authors striking it big, the Wall Street Journal ran a story on best-selling author Darcie Chan today. Like other self-pub standouts, Chan had a great novel but no publisher. She turned to e-books to find and outlet for her work and has sold 400,000 copies, putting her on par with other successes like Amanda Hocking and John Locke.

A showroom of one's own: We wrote earlier this week about a recent poll finding that 24 percent of online book buyers purchase a book after seeing it in a brick-and-mortar store first, a practice referred to as "showrooming." In Time magazine this week, Emma Straub, a bookseller at Brooklyn's BookCourt, gives her two cents about this alarming trend. Though Amazon offers access to books for many people who aren't lucky enough to have a local bookstore, Straub takes issue with people who use BookCourt as a showroom. "We’re talking about the people who do live close enough to independent bookstores to stroll their aisles," Straub writes. "Because this story is about those people selling the bookstores out for a better deal." What do you think? Are showroomers soulless or just savvy shoppers?

Vital visibility: Online writers often struggle with a difficult challenge: how do you make your writing audible over the noise of the rest of the Internet? Author and content marketing expert Rebecca Lieb gave an illuminating interview to GalleyCat with tips on how to make your work stand out. For example, she says that writers have a leg up, given that search engines traffic in the written word. What tips do you have for writing attention-grabbing content?

Greatest gobbledygook: The Plain English Campaign is on a mission to end pretentious jargon and confusing public communication in the UK. This year, the organization has awarded the UK's Meteorological Office their Golden Bull "booby prize" for the worst offense in public discourse: The Met Office began predicting "probabilities of precipitation" instead of the chance of rain last November. The Plain English Campaign describes their motivations to the BBC: "Even though most people agree that plain English is plain common sense, our government needs to make it a legal duty that public communications are crystal-clear." Do you agree?

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