Is It All Right to Use “Alright”? Common Grammar Questions and One Very Big Editing Hiccup Courtesy of Your Brain

December 28, 2015

by Cristina Rayne

It’s inevitable that at least one pesky typo or grammar flub will make it into your published book. The laws of the universe demand it (probably).

This truth is something I struggle to accept every time I publish a new book. The fact of the matter is that your brain can be your own worst enemy during the editing process simply because of how it naturally processes information, but more on that in a moment. While everyone’s process is different, I tend to edit as I write, and typos and misspellings notwithstanding, it’s those grammar questions that can really put the brakes on my word count for the day as it takes me out of the zone. It can be a real pain to have to stop and look something up because I can’t remember if I should use “affect” or “effect” or if a certain number should be written in word form or is large enough to be written out as numerals.

To combat the disruption, I keep a printout/checklist of all the words/grammar questions that still give me pause every once in a while that explains their proper usage that I can consult easily and quickly. I then go down this checklist using Microsoft Word’s “Find” function after I’ve completed the book as a final editing pass before I send off the first draft to my editor. I will list some of the items on my checklist here. I also recently polled some of my readers about grammar mistakes they commonly come across, and will list the top few responses as well.

  • So, is it all right to use “Alright”?
    For the moment, all the standard grammar guides say “no,” but as language is always in flux and this particular usage has been popping up more and more in professional publications, this could change in the near future.
  • A while or Awhile
    “A while” is a noun phrase or the object of a preposition signifying “a short period of time.”

“My appointment may take a while.” or “Come stay for a while.”

“Awhile” is an adverb meaning “for a while.”

“Come stay awhile.”

You can test it by subbing in “for a while” or another adverb such as “quietly.”

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How to Make Your Boxed Set a Success

Boxed sets are a great way to boost your visibility on ebook retailers and can be a good source of extra income, but what does it take for a boxed set to find success? I’ve been in boxed sets since the beginning and I’ve had flops as well as wild successes. Here’s how to avoid flopping.


1.High concept drives sales.

Gone are the days of slapping any ol’ group of stories together. For a boxed set to sell well now, it has to have a hook beyond the fact that it is a 99 cent mega deal. There are enough boxed sets for sale that readers can be picky. Give them a reason to pick yours.

My last boxed set (now unpublished) was a mash-up of the Outlander trend with shifter romance. Titled Highland Shifters, the set hit the USA Today bestseller list and part of its success was due to having a very tight concept that was instantly communicated via the cover.

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Vellum – Ebook Formatting for Authors

Interview with the creators of Vellum: Brad Andalman and Brad West by Michelle M. Pillow

Book formatting has improved by leaps and bounds over the last several years for DIY authors. In 2008 I remember staring at html coding to fix book errors, and utilizing multiple book generators to get all the formats I needed for all the vendors who had different requirements. It could be a time consuming nightmare. (Let me just say, zipped html file to make a kindle mobi). Then, I had to hope that the vendor's grinder took the book and didn't mess up the tweaks I'd made. And then, I'd have to hope that a vendor didn't suddenly change a requirement or a device feature that made me have to go re-format backlist all over again. Yes, that nightmare happened on a couple occasions. Nothing like three straight days reformatting 75 gazillion books. (I may be exaggerating a little on the number)


Luckily, times they are a changin'. I've used darn near every program that's come on the market over the years, and (if you happen to be a MAC user) Vellum is one of my favorites.  It's fairly simple to use, has a fast learning curve, and the best part is they continually do updates to the program to keep it up-to-date with vendor standards. So, say Amazon decides they suddenly want all the TOCs (table of contents) to include a picture of a peanut butter sandwich, I'm pretty sure the Vellum guys would make that update happen. Why is that important? Because instead of my having to redo an entire book or mess with html coding, I simply open Vellum and re-generate the book file in a matter of seconds, upload and done!

Another thing worth mentioning about this company: The few times I've had questions or concerns, their customer service has been great about getting back to me with an answer.​

The two creators of Vellum were nice enough to answer some questions about their software.

Thank you, Brad and Brad, for taking the time to talk to us.

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Marketing: The Landing Page – A Tip for Authors

December 7, 2015

WTF* is a Landing Page?

You may have heard this marketing buzz term a lot lately: Landing Page. This has been touted as the go-to place to send your customers to buy what you have to sell. Color me lethargic, but I didn’t get it right away. However, the light has just blinked on for me about this wonderful tool. I’m thinking if I was a little slow to catch on, some other authors might be, too!!

This article will cover how to use landing pages to…

  • Drive people to join a mailing list (we should always be building that mailing list)
  • Cast a wide net to build a diverse reader base
  • Make life easy for your readers, for you and for your marketing efforts

So, what does all this mean? Allow me to break it down for you in pieces.

Mailing List

If you haven’t read my series on Mailing Lists and Why They’re Important, then I recommend you do so at your earliest convenience. I not only describe why it’s important, but I show you how you can create a “reader club” to keep their interest, without annoying the heck out of them. AND I answer the common question: Great…now that I have a mailing list, what the hell do I do with it?

But if you’re pressed for time, I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version of it:

If built properly, a quality mailing list is your pool of fans to whom you can market your books whenever you have a new release or need their participation.

It has to be a give and take relationship, though. That’s where the “reader club” comes in. So read the article linked above to get all the juicy details.

Building a Diverse Reader Base

Amazon would love nothing more than to have all indie authors selling their books exclusively through them. That’s what the KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited programs are all about.


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Give Your Readers a Soft Place to Land

November 30, 2015

by Renee George (with contributions from Michele Bardsley).

Whether you are an indie author, traditionally published, or published with a small press, readers commonly want the same thing from you: more books. Finding your titles can often be a struggle for fans, and if you are an indie author, you understand what a hassle it can be to put distributor links into the back matter of your formatted ebooks.

How do you easily connect readers to more of your books? An easy solution is to develop landing pages for your series.

First buy a domain name that reflects the name or theme of your series. For example, for my Midnight Shifters series, I use A friend of mine, Michele Bardsley, uses for her vampire and werewolf series. Using providers like, and other legitimate domain sellers, you can get an inexpensive domain in minutes.

After purchasing your domain, consider your options for hosting. I currently use Godaddy’s website builder. The templates offered are versatile, along with being web and mobile friendly. However, there are many hosting sites out there (just make certain they allow products with adult themes if you write sensual or erotic romance) for you to choose from.

Another option is to create your landing page within your current website and then forward your landing page domain to those pages (also known as a subdomain). You may also want to consider opening a free hosting account with web services such as or (You can find a starter list of free hosting sites here: I prefer using a paid site for my landing pages because I have experience with building websites, but I know several authors who successfully forward domains to their landing pages.

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So You Want to Try Co-writing?

November 23, 2015

So You Want to Try Co-writing? Great!

Co-writing can be a very rewarding experience. But, depending on the personalities involved, it can also be very challenging.

Before we get into the pros and cons of co-writing, so you can decide if it’s right for you, we first need to go over some of the basics.

What exactly is co-writing?

Co-writing, at its core, is any kind of writing where you share responsibilities with someone else. This most commonly takes one of several forms:

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Instagram for Promotion

November 16, 2015

The Dashboard, to schedule a post.

When I first got Instagram, I was not that interested, because I’m not much of a photo-taker. My husband was the shutterbug in the house, and honestly, I got it so I could see his posts, and “like” all his stuff.

I never knew what to take pictures of. The problem for me had more to do with I was just, well, boring. I can (and do) put pictures of my growing FunkoPop dolls, my seasonal decorations, and sometimes my kids when they cooperate, but really, I just couldn’t think of anything I wanted to talk about all the time.

Well, except for all the books I write.

Then I started seeing fellow authors putting ad-like promo images of their books on Instagram. Some posts had little blurbs, some with tag lines, some with just fun photos about how awesome reading is. I remember thinking, what an awesome way to build a brand!

So I started doing research.

I learned that Instagram isn’t quite like Twitter or Facebook. The biggest one being that you cannot post to Instagram without the mobile app on your smart phone.


You use another program, like or HootSuite.

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Who To Hire For Ad Design & Graphics

November 9, 2015

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to create your own ads to promote your books, you might be interested in working with a great visual graphic designer.  Graphic designers do more than just create eBook and Print covers. They can use the covers they’ve created or different images entirely, to help you advertise your personal books in ways you might not have a imagined.

Here is a list of excellent graphic designers who will work with you to create the ads you desire. Designers, if you want to be added to the original post leave a comment.

*All images are the property of their respective designers/design clients, these are just some examples of their work*

Bookish Publicity

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November 2, 2015

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareEvery October 31st after the trick-or-treaters have stopped knocking or are in bed, after we’ve stuffed our faces with all the leftover (or stolen) candy, there’s another event about to kick off.


I’m sure some of you are squinting and thinking, “What?”

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is a non-profit, yearly inspirational push to get people writing. Way back in 1999 an inspired person named Chris Baty, the founding father of NaNo. There were around twenty participants who wrote for everything they had, with no real goals or word counts in mind. They just wanted to write. Then a magical thing happened, more people wanted to be involved. People set goals, and over time the hallmark 50,000 words in a month goal was established. Now, seventeen years later, NaNo has become a world-wide phenomenon. It touches almost every country and produces thousands of books a year.

But…what is it?

In a nutshell, NaNoWriMo is taking the solitary act of writing a book and making it social. By challenging people to come out to write-in’s and attend writing events, authors are no longer secluded in their caves, tapping away at keyboards that have seen better days.

A participant’s experience is unique person to person. Some sign up on the website and just log their daily word counts with the ultimate goal of getting their winner’s badge. Others attend things called write-in’s at coffee shops, restaurants, stranger’s homes and plug in to write as much as they can during the event. Many regions even opt to do all night writing events. That makes me tired just thinking about it! (Says the girl who just went to one…)

YWPBut did you know NaNo also raises money to fund literacy programs? Their Young Writer’s Program is a tool that goes into schools to teach and foster the love of books and writings with today’s youth. Each year, NaNoWriMo’s goal to spread the power of words to more people in more countries.

In my experience, NaNo is more than an inspirational challenge to push people out of their comfort zone. It’s an opportunity to connect people, make friends, and write that book.

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New Release Book Marketing Strategies that Work Well

iStock_000002973850XSmallThere are many different ways you can market a new release. These are some of the things that I have found that have worked really well, especially for newer authors whose biggest challenge is usually visibility.

When I first started publishing, almost two years ago, I was fortunate to have some great writing friends who shared what worked for them. One of them, Leighann Dobbs, told me about her .99 release strategy. I have since used this for every book.

Each new book is released at .99 for several days and then goes to its regular $2.99 or $3.99 price. This early release discount is only offered to those on my email list (and is an incentive that helps with signups) and posted on my author page (and boosted to fans and friends).

The reason this can work so well is because you get an initial boost of sales upon release that can shoot you onto your genre top 100 lists (or close to it), which helps with visibility. So then a few days later, when you raise to your regular price, you are probably much higher in ranking than you would have been if you’d released at the regular price. Once you are more established, you could experiment with releasing at regular price, but I have found that the initial .99 release works so well that it’s worth missing some potential full price sales and it also is a really nice way to reward your most loyal readers.

When you are brand new and don’t have a list to email, you may want to consider getting the word out in other ways. When I launched a new pen name, I ran some Facebook ads to a simple landing page that had the book cover and blurb about the coming series and a signup link for an email alert when the book went live, with the incentive to get it at the early release discount. This generated about 150 initial signups over about 3 weeks. I also joined a Facebook group in that genre that was full of readers and where promo was limited to new release or sale announcements.

This group was hugely helpful in establishing early readers. I offered an Advance Readers Copy, to help generate some initial interest and reviews and sent out maybe a dozen. A friend recently followed my example but sent out even more ARCs as that group has grown. It is ideal to join a group like this way in advance of publishing. Get to know the readers and other authors and other opportunities may present themselves. I participated in a group sale, a .99 long weekend promo with about 30 other authors and I timed my new release to hit then.

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