Learning my punctuation mistakes is more of Lesson #5!

Betas (unpaid editors) can be a blessing and a curse: some have taught me my best tricks, and some have taught me their own mistakes. One told me the wrong rules for punctuation for dialogue. This is not that complex. As in Lesson #6, look it up!

A recent survey complained that authors over-use the em-dash, and I believe it’s because many writers don’t take the time to learn to properly use the colon and semicolon and to understand when commas can be used for subordinate and parenthetical clauses.

I like semicolons, as they join two similar ideas; however, they are rarely used in fiction, so take care when deciding to use one as opposed to a conjunction or a pair of separate sentences. Colons are great for elaboration, explanation, or clarification of a thought, but they’re not used in dialogue.  Commas should be used if the “aside” statement is of less importance than deserves dashes. Parenthesis are not used in fiction, so commas or the em-dash are the best alternative for this type of situation.

The em-dash should be saved for “WOW” situations or important “asides.” That is, this punctuation is best used for abrupt changes, clauses that are far more important than the rest of the sentence, and to add drama to a clause. Otherwise, learn to use the appropriate alternative punctuation or consider rewording your sentence to make it simpler.

How to make an em-dash in MS Word: Consider a pair of words that you want an em-dash between. After you type the first word, leave no spaces, type two hyphens back-to-back, type the next word with no spaces. When you hit the space bar after the second word that frames the em-dash, it will appear. In other words, you replace the space between the words with two back-to-back hyphens.

I have trouble with too many commas, and a future post will be on some easy tricks to remember some situations for this. I bought a few books on grammar and punctuation, and I’m learning. And an editor cuts the extra commas I still include!

Learning from my mistakes would recommend taking advantage of outside reviewers like betas and editors to check punctuation!

 

Disclaimer: I’m not a writing expert. I’m just a writer who learned some stuff other writers might like to know instead of learning the hard way. My approach is pragmatic, and my posts are not professionally edited!

 

 

Save

What caused the Escalating Interest in Austen-Inspired Novels?

51B0ZBnqzlL._SX363_BO1,204,203,200_The latest JAFF fuss is about some kind of “bubble” and suggestions that soon, the “meteoric” trend of Austen-inspired novel sales will reverse itself. The belief is that the 200th anniversaries and the adaptations drive the market. I’m not the only blogger who disagrees, but I propose a different reason for the escalation in Austen-inspired books.

The oldest JAFF novel listed on Austenesque Reviews is Old Friends and New Fancies by Sybil G. Brinton from 1914. It’s fairly well documented that P&P ’95 was a big influence on the proliferation of unpublished JAFF. Several web sites started for that purpose, and at one time, there were a good dozen multiple-author forum sites. But it wasn’t easy to get it published back then.

damask_wallpaper_seamless_background_pinkFrom Austenesque Reviews‘ lists, between 1995 and 2005, the total number of JAFF books published was less than in a month today, which according to Meredith Esparza at Austenesque Reviews is around 30. That’s in 10 years! They were mostly paper, as the attitude towards e-books was “Why pay when you can read on your computer for free?” Vanity publishers like Lulu charged around $60-$100 to convert and host your e-book.

First Generation Amazon Kindle, 2007

First Generation Amazon Kindle, 2007

 

E-readers hit the market in late 2007, but didn’t become popular immediately, as they cost $299 and were only available in the US.

In each of 2008 and 2009, the number of Austen-inspired novels published was similar to that published in a month today. Sourcebooks published a few JAFF novels each year, and starting in 2009, so did Meryton Press. The odd book was published by various other publishers, just as they are today. The number published slowly increased so in 2012, 62 books were published.

The biggest boost to published JAFF came when Kindle changed its input format for self-publishing. In 2011, Rafe Carlson had to program An Unpleasant Walk into Kindle format herself to publish the JAFF novel as an e-book on Amazon in September of that year. By the same time in 2012, I could put my formatted MS Word document of Alias Thomas Bennet directly into Kindle and have it pop out an e-book, complete with interactive TOC. In 2013, the number of JAFF books published nearly tripled from the previous year. When I scan Amazon, it appears that most Austen-inspired novels are self-published.

Now for my original point—is this about to end any time soon? From reading blogs of romance authors talking about how to set their price points, I discovered that a JAFF novel is a cash cow. An unknown JAFF author can sell more copies of their first Austen-inspired novel in the first month, with no marketing, than most newbie self-published romance writers sell in a year. JAFF novel sales are no longer the best-kept secret held by a handful of authors, but by no means will the market be saturated any time soon!

References:

  1. A Comprehensive Guide to Austenesque Novels on Austenesque Reviews.
  2. Amazon Kindle, Wikipedia.