Thursday, June 21, 2012

You Can’t Market Bad Grammar

No one can market something, let alone a book, without communicating via press releases, emails, and letters. Aside from having something interesting to write about, you need to present it in a grammatically correct manner. Here are 10 things to avoid:

>1.  Do not say “free gift” – “free” or “gift” will do on its own.

<2.  Avoid saying “complete opposite” or “complete truth.” Opposites are exactly that. There are no incomplete opposites. And when you tell the truth it is either all true or it isn’t. You can’t be a “little pregnant,” can you?

<3. You cannot give an “advance warning” but you can issue a “warning.” When is a warning not given in advance?

<4. If something is “absolutely essential” then it is essential. Avoid redundancy.

<5. You write a foreword but you move forward. You write an afterword but you write the book and then afterward you edit it. See the difference? Use homophones (words that sound alike but are spelled differently and mean different things) properly.

<6. Make sure you have subject-verb agreement. Example: My umbrella and hat are in the closet. If there was one item in the closet, you’d say: My hat is in the closet.

<7. Watch your tense shifts within a sentence: Example: When Ben saw the dog, he gazes into her eyes and begins to cry (incorrect). You should say: When Ben saw the dog, he gazed into her eyes and began to cry.

<8.  Watch your use of apostrophes. Use them for word contractions such as isn’t (for is not), for possession (Jack’s car), and for plural nouns that don’t end in “s” (women’s room). No apostrophe is needed to make a word, not ending in “s,” plural (dogs, chairs), but if the word ends in “s” and you want to use the possessive, you add an apostrophe at the end, after the “s.”

<9. Watch for split infinitives, where a word (usually an adverb) comes between “to” and the verb in the infinitive. Instead of saying: She wanted to quickly go to the store, use: She wanted to go quickly to the store.

<10.  As an added bonus, just use bonus. A bonus, it is implied, is something added or extra.

I majored in English, and write and edit every day, but admittedly make mistakes. Like you, I rush, or I forget the hundreds of rules to this complex language. So don’t feel bad or alone when you screw up. But do try to keep these transgressions to a minimum by rereading what you write and where possible, have a second pair of eyes checking your work.

Interview With Author Jacqueline Mackenzie

<1.     What is your new book about? It provides answers for teachers, medical people, corporate trainers, and other instructors needing to help Spanish-speakers learn in an English-speaking environment.

<2.    What inspired you to write it? Empowering Spanish Speakers, was inspired by my frustration that US public schools fail to graduate Latinos. The teaching methods do not teach Spanish speakers the way they learn; 49% fail to graduate high school. I was born in rural New Mexico, worked in food service with Latinos for 20 years, and lived on the Arizona/Sonora border in a rural area for 12 years. That blend ignited my passion to serve indigenous Mexicans. 

<3.   What was the writing process like for this book? Over 7 years of research went into the book. I took what I learned and compared that to over 200 research reports. My book is laid out like a college textbook but with so many stories that are fun to read.

<4.   What are the rewards/challenges of writing in your genre? I have the opportunity "to be the change I want to see in the world (Gandhi)," but the USA lacks my love of Mexico and her people.

<5.   What advice do you have for struggling writers? If you have the passion, put it on paper. Later, do anything it takes to sell the book.

<6. Where do you see book publishing heading? People are going to expect more from a printed book and accept less from a digital book. 

Have You Seen These Recent Posts?

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How Promoters, Authors & Publishers Get Others to Say YES

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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