Book of the Month

Book of the Month – February 2019

The necessity of proper grammar is a blessing and a curse. A blessing for clear communication and consistency in how we communicate. A curse because it can be so complicated—everything from spelling to punctuation to phraseology.

To make matters confusing, there are conflicting style guides. The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook has some key differences from The Chicago Manual of Style (used by all book publishers}. Hayley Jennings succinctly pointed out some highlights in her article “Write the Right Way.”

The vice president, executive managing editor, and copy chief of Random House, Benjamin Dreyer, tackles the topic of grammar and style in his brilliant book, Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style (Random House, 2019) [As of this writing, it is 40% off on Amazon, only $15, and 30% off at Barnes & Noble.] If you like reading about words, grammar, and correct writing, this is the book for you.

He has an entire chapter on commonly misspelled words. For example: “Paraphernalia – that r just past the midpoint tends to fall out.” Or: “Cappuccino – Two p’s and two c’s. Also, there is no x in ‘espresso,’ but you knew that already.”

There is a 20-page chapter on the realities of fiction that is worth the price of admission.

My favorite chapter is called “A Little Grammar Is a Dangerous Thing.” I found it full of great reminders of simple things that may be in our lazy speech but simply not correct when written.

He also has great sections on semicolons, brackets, quotation marks, periods, commas, hyphens, and much more.

His last chapter is called “The Miscellany” and has some entries that made me laugh. #6: “Clichés should be avoided like the plague.” #8: “There is a world of difference between turning in to a driveway, which is a natural thing to do with one’s car, and turning into a driveway, which is a Merlyn trick.” #20: “They’re not Brussel sprouts. They’re Brussels sprouts.”

Happy reading!

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2017 Christian Writers Market Guide Now Online!

The 2017 edition of The Christian Writers Market Guide is officially available in print and ebook (paperback $22.99, ebook $9.99). Check your favorite bookstore or online retailer for a copy. Make sure you have a copy of this book in your arsenal! We are also very excited to announce that all the content …

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In Praise of Slow Reading

When asked what I do for a living I will sometimes answer, “I read.” Then when asked what I do for fun I smile and say, “I read.” That is one of the joys of being a literary agent, the privilege of reading…a lot. As such, the quantity of material …

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Book of the Month – September 2011

Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century by John B. Thompson (published by Polity) is this month’s “Book of the Month.”

I took this 432 page book with me on vacation and was mesmerized by its detailed analysis of the history of publishing and bookselling. Thompson’s chapter on “The Rise of Literary Agents” was, of course, particularly interesting.

I have been a student of this industry for 30 years and thoroughly enjoy understanding its nuances. (It just dawned on me that this means I’ve read nearly 1,500 issues of “Publisher’s Weekly!”) In my opinion, this is the one book you should read if you want an overview of everything that goes into the publishing business. Did you know that the practice of allowing booksellers to return stock for full credit did not start in the U.S. until the early 30s? It was used during the Great Depression as a way to stimulate sales and to encourage booksellers to carry more inventory without risk. Eighty years later that practice still plagues the industry (see my post “Many Happy Returns“).

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Book of the Month – August 2011

by Steve Laube

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs (published by Oxford in June 2011) is this month’s “Book of the Month.” I recommend you pick up a copy and enjoy the experience for yourself.

It seems a little odd to read a book about reading. But for those of us who are in the “business” of creating books it is always interesting to read a wise person’s take on the very lifeblood of our profession.

Many people say they no longer read and yet ironically they are always “reading” their texts, emails, blogs or favorite social network hub. They are not necessarily reading books which means they are truly missing out on the experiences of a lifetime. Alan Jacobs, a professor of English at Wheaton College offers some simple, powerful, and much needed advice:

read at whim,

read what gives you delight,

and do so without shame.

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Book of the Month – July 2011

by Steve Laube

Small Message, Big Impact by Terri L. Sjodin is this month’s “Book of the Month.” I recommend that every veteran and aspiring writer read this book and glean from it.

The key to this book is in the subtitle: How to Put the Power of the Elevator Speech Effect to Work for You. Sjodin defines the elevator speech as:  “A brief presentation that introduces a product, service, philosophy, or an idea.  The name suggests the notion that the message should be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride, up to about three minutes.  Its general purpose is to intrigue and inspire a listener to want to hear more of the presenter’s complete proposition in the near future.”

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