The D.M.C.A.

A lot of writers had their copyrighted works stolen before the Internet. Sadly, many more have had the misfortune of finding their words stolen since the advent of the World Wide Web. Why? Because it's so easy for a thief to do so.


On October 28, 1998, the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty and Performances and Phonograms Treaty, commonly called DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), was enacted by the 105th United States Congress. This was supposed to provide protection to creators of original content as well as to websites that might unknowingly illegally publish protected content.

The problem, of course, is that the DMCA has no teeth unless the creative content victim has pockets as deep as Viacom which sued YouTube. Jack and Jane Writer supposedly have recourse to get plagiarized or stolen content removed, but I've yet to see any positive results for ordinary writers unless they have the power of a large organization like Authors Guild or Romance Writers of America et al behind them.

Book Pirates

Every day well-known authors find the contents of their books scanned into pirated book sites and posted free for all the world to read. If you're not a writer dependent on royalty money for income, this might sound good. However, I ask you to think about it for a few minutes. When you download and print out an author's book which might have taken a year to write, you're taking money from a writer. Would you hold up a WalMart employee or a secretary or an accountant and demand they hand over their year's salary? It's the same thing. Writers depend on royalties in order to earn a living.

Dim Future For Artists

What's a future where everything is free? It's a future without writers, artists, photographers, and musicians because how can you create something new if you have no means to make a living at it? We'll all be out there in 9 - 5 jobs because we won't get paid for creative endeavors.

On a daily basis, blog thieves or scrapers, steal content from blogs all over the Internet. That happened so often to me on another blog that I just quit writing that blog and opened another. It still happens though it's not as blatant, and it's harder for me to find. I guess that translates into ignorance is bliss.

Each time it happened, I took the necessary steps according to the DMCA. It didn't do any good, but I at least felt as if I were doing something rather than just bitching about it.

On the right side of this blog under Writers Resources: Part 1, click the link to Plagiarism Today which is written by Jonathan Bailey. Jonathan has sample letters on his blog with instructions on where to send them as well as detailed info about the DMCA.

Legitimate Free Books

There are plenty of websites that offer free books legally. My latest The Trouble With Love was purchased by and publishes a chapter a month, free for visitors to enjoy.

Online-Novels is a great resource of links to free books. They have a link to both my serialized romance novels Moonlight On Snow and The Trouble With Love.

Support legitimate sites, and stay away from illegal sites that seek to take away the livelihood of writers. We creative types have doctors' bills, mortgages, utility bills, car insurance, etc. to pay - just like all of you. Learn the DMCA. Follow the procedure. If more of us did it, then we might actually make an impact.

Takeaway Truth

Sir Edmund Burke said: "All that is necessary for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing." Is stealing the work of an author, a photographer, an artist, or a musician evil? It is in my book if it's preventing a creative professional from making a decent living.


Quote For The Week

"I am a restlessness inside a stillness inside a restlessness." Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle, 1948.

What do you think that means? Somehow, that Zen-like quotation describes the way I feel in the spring. I'm possessed of a restless spirit, hidden from the world by a facade of serenity which poses as an assertive go-getter. Kind of reminds me of Oma who said: "The tall man cannot hide in the short weeds."

Now, if you know who Oma is, then you'll understand I'm engaging in a one-sided conversation illustrated by the esoteric and obscure. I suspect I'm not the only one who feels restless and in need of change around the Vernal Equinox; otherwise, the term spring cleaning would not exist.

Takeaway Truth

Clearing out the dust and must of winter along with the clutter inhabiting closets and cupboards has a cathartic effect on the restless malaise afflicting so many at this time of the year.

News From The Front

Sorry to be MIA this week. My computer is still being held prisoner by my husband. His new one has been delayed in shipping and won't arrive until April 15. Wonder if that's an omen of sorts?

Anyway, I've been spring cleaning and generally making myself miserable since I can't sit at the computer all day.

At the moment, I'm getting ready for the hordes of garage sale shoppers that will descend at the appointed time. You see, I foolishly signed up to participate in our annual community-wide garage sale. Got up this morning at 6AM and found a cold front had come through. The temp? A chilly 48 degrees. Un-fraking-believable. Wonder if that will keep the bargain hunters at bay?

Takeaway Truth

The best laid plans of mice and men and garage sale planners often go astray.

Writers Should Not Assume

Don't assume! Remember the old joke about what assume makes our of u and me?

Don't assume what?

Don't assume that everyone who reads your blog is an expert or professional blogger. I tend to make that assumption when in reality the reading audience here is composed of those who wish to become expert bloggers as much as well as those who are old pros.

Content That Sparkles

If we are to provide editorial sustenance for all readers, we must create content that speaks to all levels of proficiency. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Ah, as the Bard wrote, "That's the rub." Like so many things in life, it's easier to say it than do it.

Here are ways I think a writer can create content that educates the beginner AND entertains the pro thus keeping both the beginner and the pro glued to the page, rather the screen.

5 Ways To Educate And Entertain

1. Write with a compelling voice that makes the reader feel as if they're having a great conversation with the writer. That way, they read the words, not skim the copy, because they're afraid they'll miss something entertaining.

2. If possible, punch up the copy with something unexpected. In the article above, I quote Shakespeare. That's a bit unexpected for a blog about blogging. You might throw in a humorous quotation, something that will pull a grin from the reader.

3. Use numbered lists. Readers love this because psychologically they feel as if they're getting step by step help in an area. Even pros will read lists because they're always looking for new ways also. Both groups are right. Sometimes, another writer's numbered list really knocks the old ball over the fence!

4. Use metaphors and similes that speak to the audience's cultural experiences. In #3 above, I used a baseball metaphor because it's springtime which is baseball season and just about everyone understands a baseball home run. Sports allusions are great for male readers, but female readers understand them too. So don't be afraid to use sports, literary, political, or whatever-floats-your-boat metaphors and similes.

5. Reference what others have done. Don't be afraid to refer to what others have written on the same subject. Acknowledge the body of work that has already been created. Give links if possible. Honor your fellow writers.

Always Remember

Different writers present the same information in different ways. Maybe you've read 100 articles on how to write captivating blog posts, but number 101 is the one where you really "get it." So don't be afraid to tackle a subject that's been done over and over because the way you write it may be the way that speaks to someone who really is looking for an answer.

Takeaway Truth

Grow a loyal audience for your prose by aiming for the best content you can deliver.

Call of the Mild

You don't have to twist my arm to make me confess that I have shirked my daily blog duty this past week. It's not my fault. I'm helpless and in the throes of spring's enchantment.

Since I've had so many computer problems, and I'm waiting for the Dell fairy to pay a visit, I decided to give in to the siren call of spring.

No longer can I block the mockingbirds' songs with a computer's electronic buzz. No longer can I hide my eyes from the azaleas painting the landscape with vibrant colors like an inebriated artist with a rainbow palette. No longer can I resist the ripening fruit of the loquat tree whose taste is sweet and exotic.

I yield. You'll find me outside enjoying the abundance of blooms. In back, are magenta fringe flowers, pink variegated amaryllis, yellow Louisiana iris, pink Indian hawthorn, and red Knockout roses. In front are fuschia azaleas, old fashioned lantana, and yellow iris. I love my yard!

Takeaway Truth

If you're going to play hooky, enjoy it in every way.

Simon & Schuster Contest

I wanted to bring this contest to your attention. I saw it in Cynthia Sterling's Newsletter.

New Author of Children's Books Contest

Simon & Schuster and Cheerios Cereal is sponsoring the 3rd annual New Author Contest for previously unpublished authors of children's books. Entries
are being accepted through July 15, 2009. The winner will be announced March 2010.

No entry fee.

Grand Prize: $5000

2 First Prizes: $1000 each

Submit: original story for children ages 3-8.

Contest Eligibility: any United States resident who is age 18 or older and who has
never received payment for a work of fiction in any format.

Complete Rules or enter online.

Takeaway Truth

Someone has to win. It might be you. Go for it.

Computers Obey Murphy's Law

Quote for the Week

In 1978, the Farmers' Almanac published this: "To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer."

Oh, too true. Too true.

One of the things computer users should be advised against is replacing all equipment at the same time in a household. Space it out because it seems certain pieces of hardware tend to fail about 3 years after purchase. If you and your husband both buy new computers or peripherals at the same time, Murphy's Law seems to suggest that you each will experience computer failure at approximately the same time.

Recently my Western Digital hard drive failed creating chaos in my office. I managed to recover most of the data, but the failure messed up some registry files on my computer's internal hard drive that still aren't corrected, and may never be.

Friday night, my husband's computer went to the big electronic junk yard in the sky. After an expensive house call, an unorthodox attempt based on forum advice to get it to boot up, he succeeded in getting it running though the mother board (replacement cost $300+) is corrupted and unpredictable.

He's backing up all his data files then we get into the even more expensive process of replacing his computer or other options, all involving another house call from the computer tech.

So my Internet presence etc. may be limited this next week while we share my PC until he's back up and running.

Takeaway Truth

I'm beginning to think we should have heeded Ken Olsen, President of Digital Equipment in 1977, who said: "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.

Winner For Mystery Is...

On one of my author lists, everyone was talking about who won at Left Coast Crime's recent conference. (Congratulations, Kelli Stanley, recipient of The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award for your Nox Dormienda, A Long Night For Sleeping published by Five Star.)

On another list, all the talk is about who was nominated for a prestigious romance genre awards. (Congratulations, T. J. Bennett!)

I did a little research, just in case you're interested, and came up with a long list of awards for just about every genre. I thought I'd start with mystery since Left Coast Crime just finished their annual conference. Here are a few of the major mystery awards.

The Edgar® Award

Since 1946, the Edgar Allan Poe Awards® (the "Edgars®") have been given annually by the Mystery Writers of America to authors of distinguished work in various categories of the genre.

The CWA Dagger Awards

Since 1955, the Crime Writer Association (CWA) Dagger Awards have been given annually to celebrate the best in crime and thriller writing.

The Nero Award

Since 1979, the "Nero" has been awarded for literary excellence in the mystery genre. The award is presented at the Black Orchid Banquet, usually held the first Saturday in December in NYC.

The Shamus Award

Since 1982, the Shamus Award has been given by the Private Eye Writers of America to honor excellent work in the Private Eye genre.

The Anthony Award

Since 1986, the Anthony Awards have been given each year at Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. Winners are selected by the attendees. The award is named for the late Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White) who was a well-known writer and influential critic from the New York Times. He also was one of the founders of Mystery Writers of America.

The Macavity Award

Since 1987, the Macavity Award, named for the "mystery cat" of T.S. Eliot, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, has been given each year by the members of Mystery Readers International organization who vote for their favorite mysteries in several categories.

The Agatha Award

Since 1988, the Agatha Awards, named for Agatha Christie, of course, have been given to the best in traditional mystery books, or cozies. They are given annually by Malice Domestic, Ltd.

The Benjamin Franklin Award

Given since 1991 by the Independent Book Publishers Association to recognize excellence in independent publishing, with awards given in many categories including Mystery/Suspense.

The Hammett Prize

Given since 1991 by the North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers for literary excellence in the field of crime writing.

The Dilys Award

Named in honor of Dilys Winn, the founder of Murder Ink which was the first specialty bookseller of mystery books in the United States, the award has been given since 1992 by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association to the mystery titles of the year which the member booksellers have most enjoyed selling.

The Gumshoe Award

Given since 2002, the Gumshoe Award is selected by the editors of Mystery Ink to recognize the best achievements in crime fiction. Winners are selected from titles published in the previous year.

The Best Books Award

Since 2004 the Best Books Awards have been given to outstanding books from mainstream and independent publishing houses. These awards are sponsored by USA Book News, and there are over 150 categories with mystery and thriller included.

The Thriller Award

Established in 2006, these award winners are announced at ThrillerFest, an annual event hosted by the International Thriller Writers organization.

There are many more awards for mystery, suspense, thriller given on a regional and national basis. I didn't even touch on the Canadian and Australian awards just to mention a couple.

Takeaway Truth

Awards are nice, but the ultimate reward is having readers love your work.

Big G's New Advertising

If you have Big G's AdSense on a website, you probably received an email about their new interest-based advertising which launches April 8, 2009. They admonished all of us to change the privacy policy on our sites to warn visitors that they would be shown ads based upon the visitor's previous Internet cruising.

Privacy Concerns

I think this is a big invasion of privacy. I mean where you choose to cruise should be your business. If you visit ladies' lingerie, I don't want ads for ladies' lingerie popping up on my blogs. I take pains to make sure the content on this blog is related to writing or to my writing life. I would never write about ladies' lingerie, except perhaps as the example herein, so I don't want ads for it or Boston Red Sox souvenirs or Michael Jackson concert tickets or God knows what, popping up here.

No Way Out

I opted out of having user-interest-based ads appear. I discovered that if a visitor to Sling Words has interacted with an advertiser, ads targeted to that site will still appear in the AdSense here.

Only Recourse

I gave a lot of thought to this situation. I decided that the pennies I earn from AdSense aren't worth another blow against the right to privacy. Therefore, I will be removing AdSense from this blog before April 1.

Big Brother isn't just watching you. He's keeping more invasive computer statistics about you than you ever suspected. If you don't like it, there's little you can do if you want to continue using the Internet. Unless you use an anonymizer which I suspect more people will begin to use.

Takeaway Truth

Our right to privacy is as endangered as copyright protection.

Truth In Trivia

I've been catching up on my biz reading this week. Thought I'd share some of the more interesting tidbits with you.

Book Publishing

This is a $35 billion/year business. If that's true, why are there so many starving authors?

Stripped Clean Classics

New versions of old classics like Moby Dick and Vanity Fair, revised and slashed by a razor-wielding Sweeney Todd of an editor, have been produced for a British publisher. Why? So they're fast and easy to read - for a younger MTV attention-span audience, I presume. Oh, dear. Does that mean the new Moby Dick is Die-Hard on a whale? And Vanity Fair? One can only imagine how they've pared it down.

Write What You Know

You probably heard about this, but I thought it was worth repeating. In 2003 in Poland, Amok by Krystian Bala was published. It was about a murder victim whose body showed signs of torture and starvation, and the corpose had a noose around his neck. Obviously a policeman who was a reader thought it was amazing how similar the story was to the body of a businessman found in the Oder River in 2000.

Eventually, Bala was convicted of planning and directing the murder. It seems the man was having an affair with Bala's estranged wife. Or at least that's what Bala thought. Of course, his thinking was obviously flawed because he also apparently thought: "Why let a murder go to waste? It's book material."

Takeaway Truth

I guess truth really is stranger than fiction.

Published Vs. Well Published

A short while back, I received an email from a writer at the end of the persistence rope. She'd sold to an ePublisher, but she was hurt that other members of her writing group didn't accord her the same respect and admiration they did for authors published by big NY traditional print publishers. She wanted to know why they didn't.

Touchy Subject

No hate mail please. I'm not trying to insult anyone. I'm just answering that question in an open forum.

Sometimes, writers just get worn down by the process of submission and rejection. They want so desperately to see their names on a book cover that they lose perspective and start rationalizing. All they want is to be published. So they'll take any kind of publication whether it pays them a dime or not. Then they're published, and they want the same ego strokes that a writer like Nora Roberts gets. When they don't get it, well, it sometimes gets ugly.

Dream Bigger

I'm here to say to you, writers, amend your dream. Don't just want to get published because you probably can be by some vanity pub or by some ePub without a track record. What you should desire is to be well-published. Trust me, there is a big difference between the two.


In today's world, just about anyone can claim to be published. I see hoards of people who call themselves published. These range from people who plunked down a chunk of cash to a vanity press to those published by online ePublishers to those published by legitimate small presses to those published by the big boys in New York.

Heck, I know someone who had a letter to the editor published in a newspaper, and she added that she was published in a major print periodical to her resume. She called it creative marketing. You probably don't want to know what I call it.


Ah, to be well-published means you got a decent advance, probably negotiated by an agent, a royalty schedule specified in your contract, a publication date, and the knowledge that when your book hits the stores, you'll be proud to shout: I'm published. You won't have to go around defending your publishing credit and attacking anyone who even looks as if they're thinking "that doesn't count."

Viva La Difference

What's the difference between the two? Money. They pay you, not the other way around. Publishing is a business. You're a business because you write with the expectation of making a buck. In business, you keep score with money.

Decent royalties that keep earning. Respect from your peers. Respect from publishing professionals. You get taken seriously by the pros in the business, and that's far more important than impressing your Aunt Matilda or the bunco club or any others you may think of.

Getting published is nice, but if you're a pro then you should want more than ego gratification. Getting well published is everything in the business of writing. That's what we should all strive for - getting well published.

Hard But Rewarding

Sure, it's hard. Yes, it sometimes takes years before you write something good enough to capture an agent who will be on your team. Even then, it may take more time before you find the editor who loves your writing and wants to offer you a contract.

But hold on. Hang tight. If it were easy, everyone would have publishing credits. It's not easy to get well-published with a quality ePublisher or a traditional print publisher, but it's what you should strive for.

Now, I'm sure some of you have written great books and had them self-published so please don't send me nasty emails or ugly comments that I'll have to wear out the delete button on. Save your creativity for your novel. Don't take the easy way out. Hang tough, baby. The wait is worth it. After all, you'll be writing and writing so the time will pass. You'll be improving because practice makes perfect.

Takeaway Truth

Just the accomplishment of writing a book is something to be proud of. If you want an even bigger pride symbol, then scorn being "published" and go for well-published. The payoff is immense.

A Nip Here, A Tuck There

Ah, to be young again and be able to look in the mirror without pulling the slack skin of your throat back. Come on. Confess. You know you do that quick test to see how you'd look with tight skin again. If you're over the age of forty-five, you've probably started thinking about a little nip/tuck, formally known as cosmetic surgery.

One of my best friends recently moved to the land of sunshine and oranges. No, not southern Cali, but Florida. She was telling me how everyone there seems to have had plastic surgery. Of course, we all know that if it's obvious someone had participated in the mid-life ritual of nip/tuck, the patient probably didn't have a great plastic surgeon.

Here's a good site to visit if you want Cosmetic Surgery Advice. The MYA in the site name stands for Make Yourself Amazing, and that's exactly what a great plastic surgeon can do for you. On the website, you'll find details about the procedures they do as well as personal stories from patients. The forums have great discussions that will educate you. Of course, there are photographs since the site is designed for adults with serious decisions to make.

Takeaway Truth

If you're considering cosmetic surgery, educate yourself so you'll know how to go about making yourself amazing, the way you were before Father Time came calling.

How Old Are You?

Quote for the Week

Satchel Page, the baseball great is often quoted. I was reminded this week of something he said that is so profound. I'd heard it before, but this week, I heard it in a movie Write And Wrong starring Kirstie Alley as a middle-aged screenwriter, once nominated for an Oscar, but who now can't get arrested in the youth culture that is Hollywood. She's bemoaning how she's too old blah blah blah. (Good flick by the way.)

In her black moment when she's thinking all is lost, her brother repeats the quotation from Satchel Page: "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?"

Take A Moment

That's a really good question for all of you who think you're too young to be taken seriously or too old to be appreciated.

You know the old cliche: Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. To that I'll add, live like know one knows your age. It's just a number. Don't get bent out of shape over that number because it only means what you tell yourself it means.

Go For It

If you're young and have a fire burning in you to make it as a writer, then go for it. If you're old and have that same fire burning in you, absolutely go for it. Don't say" "Yeah, but I'll be forty (50, 60, pick your number) in five years. What if I don't make it?"

What if you don't try? How old will you then be in five years?

Takeaway Truth

You are only limited by your ability to dream, to believe, and to act.

Writer's Viewpoint Vs. Reader's Viewpoint

The other day I was in a discussion about suspension of disbelief. This sounds self-important - I don't mean it that way - but I was impressed with what I had to say. (Funny huh?) I realized my on the fly opinion held a lot of truth. At least, in my opinion it did so I thought I'd throw it out her to see what y'all thought about it.

Writer's Viewpoint

I think as writers we always look at situations from a writer's viewpoint. I don't think readers look at things the same way.

For instance, if a writer is trying to create a situation in which the protagonist does something most people wouldn't do, the writer agonizes over how to make it believable to the reader. The writer jumps through all kinds of mental hoops to create a situation in which readers will suspend their disbelief and get involved in the story.

Reader's Viewpoint

Actually, I don't think most readers (who are non-writers) ever really think about that. They don't shop for books, picking up one after the other, with the thought, "No, I won't read that because it's too unbelievable." Or, "yes, I can suspend my disbelief and read this."

Otherwise, there would be no paranormal sales whatsoever. Probably a lot fewer romance sales too. Likewise for mystery. When a reader wants a mystery, the reader probably doesn't pick up a book, read the blurb, and think: I don't believe the reason this sleuth is involved in the story.

Bottom Line

Regardless of the genre, readers follow the thought process of: "ah, this sounds intriguing." Or it doesn't sound interesting and they don't buy. Readers don't buy books based on whether the reason that the sleuth becomes involved suspends their disbelief. They buy based on the way the story or the character resonates with them.

I think this is true for every genre. I also think, as writers, we lose sight of that fact. We get caught up in the mechanics of building a better mousetrap in hopes that the world of readers will beat a path to our door.

At least that's my two cents.

Takeaway Truth

Ultimately, suspension of disbelief is achieved by being carried away by a story and its characters.

Website Update Highlights: March 2009

All the news about what's new on my website.

This month we celebrate Renewal. That's what Spring brings, along with Daylight Savings Time, Spring Break, and allergies.

The Pleasure of Reading

An Interview with newly-minted author Amy Clipston who is head over heels in love with her writing career. How nice to hear someone so enthusiastic about the writing life.

The Joy of Writing

I continue the Internet Presence articles with: Websites.


My website subscription newsletter has details each month about the update and an entertainment piece. This month it's a web floater that's thought provoking. We all need that every now and then, especially when we're mired in bad news all the time.

The Archives

An article usually appears on its originating page for two months. After that it's moved to The Archives.

Work In Progress has Opus 3 of 12 for 2009: Time to Assess.

Previously Published has Know Your Contracts.

Written Wisdom

March's theme is Renewal. Look for quotations from Henri Frederic Amiel, Christina Baldwin, Wendell Berry, Emily Dickinson, Maria Konopnicka, Steve Perry, and Charles Dudley Warner .

(By the way, if any of you out there have websites or blogs and would like to exchange links, just let me know. Send me an email at joan @ with REAL LIVE PERSON - LINK EXCHANGE in the subject box.)

Takeaway Truth

Every month you'll find entertaining and education articles on the art, craft, and business of writing on my website.

Create Your Favicon

A favicon is that tiny graphic image that appears in the left of the address bar. If you're on Blogger, then the white B in the red rounded-edge square is the Favicon.

By default, Blogger's favicon appears. However, you can customize this and create your own favicon. I encourage you to do this. Why? Because it's another way you can "brand" your website. As you see, my favicon is a pen point between J and R, my initials.

Creating your own favicon is easy with the help of IconJ, Dynamic Favicon for Blogger and Webmaster.

Here's How

1. Visit the website, read the FAQ, and register for a free account.

2. Decide on the logo, image, or design you wish to use.

3. Use a square format image with the sizes of 32 pixels x 32 pixels. Yes, you can upload something larger which will be scaled, but you may lose the resolution you need. The max upload size is 1MB.

The 32p x 32p size works only on Mozilla Firefox. Internet Explorer only supports a 16 x 16 pixel size so your 32 x 32 pixel icon won't be displayed in IE. Therefore, the website provides standard 16x16 format. If you want your favicon to be locked in 32p x 32p, this will convert it.

4. Save the image in one of these formats: GIF or PNG if you want a transparent icon and use transparency background; JPG, BMP, ICO or TIFF if regular icon.

5. Go back to the icon website and upload your file. The website's software will generate the HTML code for you.

6. Copy the HTML code and paste it in the head of your web pages. If using, Blogger, just add to the Blogger Template.

Adding To Blogger

1. Go to Dashboard, click Layout, click Edit HTML.

2. So what you're looking for in the code is this: NOTE: I had to create graphics because HTML won't display if I just type in the string.

3. When you see that, you'll paste your HTML code for your favicon after that and before this piece:

Basically, you just insert the new piece of code in between those two tags.

4. It will look like this format, in this order:

That's easy, isn't it? At least I hope you understood my non-tekkie instructions. Good luck!

Takeaway Truth

Never pass up an opportunity for branding.

Print Writing Vs. Web Writing

A lot of writers think that if you can successfully write for print publication, then you can write for web publication equally well. In fact, some writers think that Internet writing is of lesser quality so it's less demanding. They think it's something you can slog together and so easy that a dog can do it.

Of course, those writers dip their pens in the arrogance inkwell, but many writers really are ignorant of the differences between print writing and Internet writing. And I don't mean a difference in quality because you can find inferior and superior print writing just as you find inferior and superior web writing. Lack of knowledge about the differences may keep someone from succeeding at web writing no matter how well-published they are in print.

Web Reading

People who read online actually read differently than if they were reading a printed book, magazine, or newspaper. Online reading is tiring to the eyes.

When reading online, one doesn't usually read every word. The eye skims across the presented text, picking out the most interesting part and reading that. Most people don't read every word of online text. They just go for the interesting parts.

Therefore, the text must be formatted a little differently as well as be a little different in content.

5 Web Writing Rules

1. Don't write flowery prose. Web readers want to find what they came to the webpage for. Give them the facts. Sure, make it creative and interesting but don't get bogged down in minutia or too much description or the reader will just move on.

2. Don't write like an erudite college professor. Save your twenty dollar words for your thesis. Use the words everyone uses. In other words, keep the tone casual as if you were having a conversation with someone.

3. Don't create huge long blocks of text. Write short paragraphs.

4. Break up the flow of text with Sub-headings.

5. If possible, give bullet or number lists. Short lists are best.

Give Them Value

Rather than get bogged down with explanations about some things you may mention or reference, insert links into your text. That way the reader can click the link and follow it straight to the horse's mouth if they want more in depth information about something.

Similarities In Both Types of Writing

Of course, there are similarities between web writing and print writing.

1. Both forms call for creating content that will hold a reader's interest.

2. Both demand good grammar and spelling with an adequate vocabulary.

3. Print and online both require absolute integrity so that the work you present is your work, not stolen from another writer.

4. All writing requires excellent research skills, not just looking at one source online i.e. Wikipedia. Don't forget there are real library books, periodicals, encyclopedias, and so much more that can be accessed. Don't depend only on Google for finding information.

5. Good writing is still good writing, whether you do it for print or online.

Takeaway Truth

Set high standards for yourself so that you never let readers down, but more importantly, so you don't let yourself down.

Copyright Vs. Registering Copyright

I find there's a lot of confusion by beginning writers about copyright. Some think that they don't own a copyright to the work unless it has been published and their name appears on the inside with that little circled C and a date.

Copyright Misunderstandings

Some think they own the copyright, and they never have to do anything else about the matter.

Some think when they sell a book, the copyright is automatically, legally posted as being theirs, and the publisher does something, they really don't know what, to ensure that this is true.

Copyright Facts

Just to clarify, there are two issues here: copyrighting a work and registering a copyright.

From the moment of creation, the creator of the work is vested with the copyright. By virtue of that fact, your creative work is yours to "sell" to whomever. Actually, you're not really selling it. You're selling the right for another party to publish it or produce it. There are many, many rights, and you own them all if you created the work.

I won't get into defining all the various rights inherent in a created work. I'll just give one example. My recent contract with for them to publish The Trouble With Love as a serial novel involved Internet Publishing Rights. All other rights are retained by me. I licensed the rights to that novel to them for a period of seven years.

Contracts are written because a coyright is a legal asset. They always specify which rights you are selling and the time period for which you sell them.

So, if you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write something original, you are the copyright owner.

Registering a copyright means you've paid a fee to have your copyright legally registered by the authorized governmental body. In our country, that's the U. S. Copyright Office which I've linked in case you want to go there and file a copyright registration.


Some people think that only amateurs, in some paranoid frenzy of fearing their work will be stolen, register copyright. Wrong! By no means is registering a copyright an amateurish thing to do. It is the legally responsible thing to do and is the mark of a professional. So why doesn't everyone do it? The expense involved. For one book, filed online, $35.00 isn't much. For a dozen books, it adds up.

You see, back in the old days, publishers wrote it into their contracts that they would register the author's copyright. They paid the fee. Then, in the late 1990s, many traditional publishers ceased doing this as a cost reduction effort.

My first contract was written like that, and the publisher provided the certificate of registration to me. Then contracts began stating that registration of copyright was the author's responsibility. Since so many people are unaware of the difference as well as the importance of doing so, copyright registration fell by the wayside.

Recent History

For a period of a few years, Harlequin stopped registering copyright. They started again only after a very public outcry from Romance Writers of America called attention to the issue.

Why register copyright? If you ever wish to sue for copyright infringement, you must have it registered. If you don't, then the burden of proof could become difficult plus the damages that can be awarded are substantially reduced. Actually, if you had to sue, one of the first things an intellectual rights attorney will want to see is the copyright registration.

For more on the copyright issues, visit my friend Jonathan Bailey's Plagiarism Today blog.

Takeaway Truth

Educate yourself about the business standards if you want to be a professional writer.


Quote for the Week

Ellen Glasgow, 1958, Letters of Ellen Glasgow said: "The share of the sympathetic publisher in the author's success - the true success so different from the ephemeral - is apt to be overlooked in these blatant days, so it is just as well that some of us should keep it in mind."

If only Ms. Glasgow could see the blatant days we live in! Publishing was once called a gentleman's business. One was a woman or a man of letters, rather than just a writer.

One thing that hasn't changed in fifty years is the partnership between an author and a publisher. If you're succeeding as a writer, then you probably have a good partnership with your publisher.

Today, I'd like to toast I feel as if they're a sympathetic publisher who has a share in my success. Romantic4Ever is the website (or publisher) serializing my brand, spanking-new romantic comedy The Trouble With Love. (Brand, spanking-new sounds better than just new, doesn't it?)

This is my second project with Romantic4Ever, and I couldn't be more pleased with their professionalism and expertise. They're friendly, and they treat me the way all writers long to be treated. And just take a look at the fun, flirty and sexy "cover" art they've designed for this novel! Isn't it fabulous? Just like the story.

Takeaway Truth

In our rapidly changing world, fabulous novels - like mine - are being published online.