Monthly Archives: September 2021

Answers to Questions About Non-Bookstore Marketing

“Because of high costs, I need to price my book at $19.95, but my competitor’s book is $14.95. How can I compete with that?” George Lascar   The price of your book is a feature; the value of your book is a benefit. Customers attach value to books in proportion to the extent they believe it will help them solve their problems. If your book is more expensive than competitors’ books, your promotional material must translate the price into value for the consumer. One way to do this is to describe the incremental difference and what the reader receives for it. Since your $19.95 book is $5 more than the competition, demonstrate to the potential buyers what they will gain in exchange for paying $5 more. Or, you could appeal to their fear of making a wrong decision and how much they will lose by not spending the additional $5. In either case you will be more effective if you communicate the value your book offers your customers.   You can also use a surrogate indicator, a cue that takes the place of a buying criterion, to demonstrate the benefits of your higher price. These cues include endorsements, guarantees and slogans. Even the way you write the price makes a difference. For example, which looks like a larger figure, $5 or $5.00? If you want to make a price look smaller do not include the numbers to the right of the decimal point. On the other hand, if you want to accentuate the difference, include the decimal point and zeroes.

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The Squinting Modifier

What Is a Squinting Modifier?

When an adverb or phrase is placed in a sentence so that it can be interpreted as modifying either the words before or after it, then it’s called a “squinting modifier.” Take a look at this example:

Running long distances quickly builds my endurance.

It’s a little hard to tell what this sentence means. Is the person running long distances quickly? Or quickly building their endurance? The squinting modifier here is the word “quickly.” Its position in the sentence makes the meaning murky. Here are some more examples:

Taking time to think clearly improves your test scores.

Helping people often brings pride.

I told my grandma this morning I would visit.

Squinting modifiers are always sandwiched in between two words or phrases. That’s why they’re sometimes called “two-way modifiers.”

Other misplaced modifiers don’t need to be in between two words and phrases. For example, take this famous joke from comedian Groucho Marx:

“One morning, I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas, I’ll never know!”

In this case, the ambiguity of the misplaced phrase “in my pajamas” is being played for laughs. But, typically, misplaced modifiers do only one thing — confuse a sentence. They make the meaning ambiguous or wrong and should be avoided, unless you’re Groucho Marx.

How to Fix a Squinting Modifier

When speaking, squinting modifiers are rarely an issue because you can convey the meaning with your voice and tone, but writing is a different story.

It may be hard for writers to spot squinting modifiers in their own work. Of course, as the author, you know what you mean. Readers will get confused more easily. Pay attention to adverbs and be wary of words like “only” and “often,” which can subtly change the meaning of a sentence.

Once you spot a squinting modifier, you can usually fix it by rearranging the words in the sentence.

Bad: Having a baby often changes your life.

Better: Often, having a baby changes your life.

Bad: Beating eggs rapidly creates a whipped foam.

Better: Rapidly beating eggs creates a whipped foam.

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Naming a Character

The most unforgettable fictional characters begin as a glimmer in the author’s mind. Only in writing the novel does the character go on to acquire the dimensions that will make him or her live in the imagination of the reader years after the book has been read.

Sherlock Holmes, Captain Ahab, Huckleberry Finn, Jo March, Dorothea Brooke linger in our memories as if they were real people we have known.

These examples are all from the English classics, but even the writer whose ambitions focus on something less monumental than Moby Dick or Middlemarch needs to give adequate thought to the principal character/s who will carry the story, whether it’s a light mystery, a romance, or a middle school adventure.

The place to begin is with the character’s name.

Some writers, in a hurry to start that first draft, will tack the first name that comes to mind on the main character, intending to come up with a better name “later on.”

Bad idea.

A purely practical objection is the danger that the substitute name will creep into a few paragraphs in the completed draft, creating embarrassment for the author and confusion in the reader.

A more important reason to begin with the most appropriate name is that the name is part of the character’s persona and can inform the developing action. The right name can also send a subliminal message to the reader. Take the name Atticus Finch.

The antique Roman name Atticus suggests formality and is imbued with connotations of law and justice. Finch is the name of a harmless bird and, as such, reflects the title of the book, To Kill a Mocking Bird. Harper Lee may or may not have been aware of the useful qualities of the finch as a destroyer of weeds and harmful insects, but Atticus Finch lives in our memories as a dignified representative of the law doing what he can to protect the social garden from destructive influences.

The very letters in a name can connote characteristics. The k sound suggests strength and courage. Consider: James T. Kirk, Kinsey Millhone, Alex Cross, Brother Caedfal, Kate Beckett.

Other sounds, like those of h and r and the vowels, can suggest such characteristics as weakness, hypocrisy, and—sometimes—evil. Consider: Iago, Humbert Humbert, Professor Moriarty, Dorian Gray, Uriah Heep.

A combination of strong and weak sounds can produce a name that suggests a multi-layered character who possesses strength and courage, together with a willingness to use others to their advantage. Consider: Becky Sharp, Scarlett O’Hara.

The sounds of l and n may suggest sexiness or feminine weakness: Ulalume, Lolita, Annabelle Lee, Anna Karenina.

And, finally, it’s possible to incorporate a suggestive word in the name of a character. Holly GoLightly’s name contains the sexy l ‘s, together with a word that conveys her unconscionable view of life. Bigger Thomas, born in different circumstances, could have had a bigger, better fate. Edward Murdstone has a heart of stone and a murky disposition. Sam Spade digs ploddingly for information, while Mike Hammer gets what he’s after by any means necessary.

Before you get too far into that first draft, take the time to give your protagonist the right name.

 From: Daily Writing Tips

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