Tag Archives: Kindle Books

Bumbo Learns about Implied Words


The Koan

The teacher went to the platform to give his lesson on commas. He looked at the students, saying nothing. Then he wrote a comma on the wall and left. “Ah,” said Bumbo. “Missing words need commas, too!”

The Lesson

When the teacher stands before the students, saying nothing, all his words are implied. What Bumbo learns is that whether the sentence contains all the words or whether some words are purposefully left out, a writer needs to use commas as if they were all there. The comma left behind by the teacher indicates that comma rules apply even when some words are missing from a sentence. Continue reading

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Calling All Comma Masters


Nearly every day, I see comma errors in texts I read.

I don’t mean the texts clients send us for editing prior to publication. I expect to find comma errors in those documents. Clients send their documents to us at Precise Edit so we can make them right before they are submitted, delivered, or published. We edit the documents so they are well written, and we proofread them so they are correct.

What I mean is I find comma errors in articles, signs, books, and other types of texts that have already been finalized and made public. 

Do you find comma errors, too? Do you find commas in incorrect places or sentences missing commas? Are you a Comma Master?

Now is your chance to show off your comma mastery and have some fun. 

The Challenge 

Find a sentence in a public (i.e., published) document that contains a comma error. In the comments below, provide

  • the faulty sentence,
  • the source of the sentence,
  • an explanation of the error (a couple of sentences will be sufficient), and
  • the corrected sentence.

Any entry that provides this information will be considered a qualifying entry. I will accept only one qualifying entry per person.

Visit the Zen Comma blog to enter. 

You have until 11:59 p.m. (EDT), May 29, 2011, to enter this contest with a qualifying entry. Any entries after that time will not be considered. (This gives you about a week.) 

The Reward 

The person who provides the selected entry can choose any one of our books in PDF form (except Your Writing Companion, which we give away free at http://hostileediting.com). These include

  • Zen Comma: 45-page PDF with examples, instructions, and anecdotes to teach you the 14 major uses for commas and the most common errors;
  • 300 Days of Better Writing: 191-page PDF with 300 strategies for improving your writing, organized for daily study, with a topic index for in-depth exploration of a writing topic;
  • Precise Edit Training Manual: 65-page PDF with comprehensive instruction on the 29 most common editing strategies we use and problems we fix; and
  • Which Word Do I Use?: 18-page PDF with definitions, explanations, guidance on using the words, and examples with discussion.

Visit the Zen Comma blog for more information and to enter this contest.

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Where Does the Comma Go?


Do commas confuse you?

The final stage of the writing and editing process is proofreading: correcting any errors in spelling, punctuation, word usage, and format. Roughly 75% of what I do while proofreading clients’ documents is correct commas.

When I teach university writing courses, I ask the students, “What’s the number one thing that confuses you about punctuation and grammar?” In every class, someone says “Commas,” and about half of the students nod in agreement.

Commas confuse most people. Unlike other types of punctuation, they are used in so many ways. However, if you want to write clearly and professionally, you need to use commas correctly. Continue reading

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How much should my e-book cost?


 Amazon.com and SmashWords have opened the doors for self-publishing authors to distribute their e-books worldwide, and many authors are quick to take advantage of this opportunity. They upload their book files, fill in the book descriptions and other information, and then get to the question of price. How much should an e-book cost?

Many new self-publishing authors are looking for the most readers possible, so they choose a low price. Perhaps the author is hoping consumers will buy the book on impulse because the price is so low. Perhaps the author thinks that the low price will result in massive sales volume, which would compensate for the lower profit per book. I see many books with a $0.99 price tag.

This isn’t always the best approach to setting the price for an e-book. In fact, it’s usually the wrong approach. We can turn to the field of micro-economics to understand why gaining more readers isn’t always desirable, and why high sales volume doesn’t always produce the most profit. We’ll look at sales price from the basis of three concepts:

Continue reading

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Rhetorically Speaking


Day 9: Use the rhetorical action as the main verb.

A sentence may have several verbs. However, the verb in the “verb’s place” following the subject is generally the main verb upon which the rest of the sentence hangs. Consider this sentence:

“Julie thinks Tom is silly.”

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Doing the Right Thing for Your Clients


I’m in a business where I can do what I love: help clients communicate well through writing. If I do this well, and if I provide a service or product that people want at a price they are willing to pay, I make money. My profit, therefore, is a good indicator of the health and quality of my business. As a former accounting professor told me, “Money in, good. Money out, bad.”

Sometimes the money has to go out. Of course, every business has expenses: people to pay, services to contract, supplies to buy, etc. But sometimes, the money goes out because it’s the right thing to do. I’ll give you two examples of this concept. Continue reading

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Top 5 Strategies to Improve Your Writing


When I teach writing classes, give book talks, or generally discuss strategies for improving written communication, I often get this question: “What are the best strategies for writing well?” 

Writers (anyone who communicates through writing) can do many things to improve the clarity, correctness, and impact of their writing. Based on my years of helping clients improve their writing, here are my top 5 strategies. 

1. Use the Rhetorical Subject as the Grammatical Subject. 

The grammatical subject is the word in the “subject’s place.” Sometimes, the “doer” of the main action is not the grammatical subject (the word serving as the subject to the main verb). Consider this sentence: 

“Finding a solution is our greatest concern.”  Continue reading

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