Writers are communicators who have the time to craft their message. Yet, no matter how many times they go through their work after they finish writing, they miss typos and other mistakes. In the era of speedier production and widespread Internet usage, typos have become more common. The results may be affecting other modes of communication as well, because typos have become more acceptable, according to the Forbes magazine article, Fall Of The Grammar Snobs: How Typos Became Okay.
Publications are churning out work so quickly that proofreading has suffered. Even the New York Times and other well-known newspapers have not escaped publishing glaring typos. While established names and informal social media communications do not suffer monetary harm, eliminating noticeable mistakes is crucial for many businesses.
Typos Cause Online Businesses to Lose Sales
In the article, Spelling mistakes ‘cost millions’ in lost online sales, the BBC reported that Charles Duncombe, an online entrepreneur, said that an analysis of website figures revealed that even one spelling mistake reduces online sales by half. Spelling is important for the credibility of a website, and online businesses, he said, have about six seconds to capture a potential customer’s attention and trust.
Customers who are concerned about credibility are most prone to being put off by spelling errors. As more businesses go online, the importance of the accuracy of website content cannot be underestimated. However, it is not only online businesses that suffer from such errors. A Daily News article titled, New York suffers in an era of error: Typos in signs are a scourge of the city, pointed out that spelling errors are widespread in New York and elsewhere. Such errors can make things worse, as these flaws have a viral effect.
There is a Scientific Reason Writers Miss Typos
Tom Stafford, a psychologist at the University of Sheffield in U.K., said in the Wired article, What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos, that when writers proofread their own work, their eyes skim over errors because their mind gets in the way and makes the eyes miss what is actually there. Because writers know what they intend to convey, their eyes read one thing, but their brains translates it into what it should be. Hence, even experienced columnists and journalists are prone to such errors.
The Public Editor of the Toronto Star said, in the article titled, Typos won’t go away, no matter how we try: Public Editor, that he was also prone to such errors because he is a speed-reader and he uses a two-finger typing style.
Even though familiarity trips up many writers, they can help proofreaders and editors by reading over their content slowly and by spell checking and grammar checking their work prior to submitting it for publication. People who write frequently have used various tricks to reduce the amount of errors they make, such as reading their text backwards. Nonetheless, proofreaders and editors are more necessary today because of the new dynamics of communication in our era.
Being a freelance writer comes with it a set of perks. You can work from home, meaning you don’t have to spend any money on gas. You can work in your pajamas, so you don’t have to get dressed up in uncomfortable clothes. There are all sorts of benefits to working for yourself.
But what about the drawbacks? The stress of keeping a client and, in turn, bread on the table? If you work it right, you can keep clients coming back for as long as they have the budget to do so. The key is to run your freelance business like exactly what it is: a company. Here are five tips for keeping your business, and head, above water.
- Turn Down What You Cannot Take On
Never take more work than you can handle, no matter how tempting it may be. Yes, you may need to make an extra $50 to pay the electric bill this month. Perhaps a new client is offering you double what an old, stead client is. None of that matters if you can’t deliver what you promise. Be a write your clients can rely on. If you cannot accept more work, be honest with your requestor and tell them when you can get to work for them.
- Always Meet Deadlines
Emergencies happen and are understandable. However, consistently turning in work late is no different than punching a time clock five minutes past the start of your shift every day. Never fail to meet your deadlines. If an emergency does occur, be honest with your client. Most people are understanding once. Some are even understanding twice. You will rarely find someone who is willing to accept your excuses a third time.
- Charge What You Are Worth
There are people out there who pay poorly for freelance work. There are others who pay fantastically. Do a bit of research and charge your customers accordingly. You should always charge what you are worth. Never try to gouge your clients for money simply because you believe you can. If you decide you are going to charge 10 cents per word, you better be able to explain why.
- Be Consistent
Ask any freelance writer and they will tell you that they have had a day when the words didn’t flow. They made typo after type and constructed entire articles out of run-on sentences. If you find this happening to you, walk away, take a break, and return to your writing later. Your clients deserve your commitment to consistently accurate writing. If you want to experiment with your writing style or voice, discuss it with your client. Not all are open to having fun or witty articles on their site.
Stay in communication with your clients. If you fall ill, you are cutting back on your output, or even if you are thinking of taking a vacation, alert your clients. Advanced warning will give your clients time to find another writer. If you really want to impress them, suggest a writer that you know so they don’t have to spend time and energy hunting one down.
Do not rest on your laurels once you have found and began to write for clients. Clients who enjoy working with you will stick around. Clients who stick around put money in your pocket. It only makes sense that you would want to keep your customers coming back for more.
New English Translations of Frederic Dard’s Books Are Introducing the French Noir Master to a New Audience
Until 2016, despite writing more than 300 novels and selling more than 200 million books in France, Frédéric Dard’s books were not available in English translations. This is unlike the speedy translation of young French author Leila Slimani’s novels.
In 2016, the Vertigo crime imprint of Pushkin Press published “Bird in a Cage” and followed it with ”The Wicked Go to Hell,” and “Crush.” These are the first major publications of Dard’s psychological thrillers in the “novels of the night” or noir category.
Why Dard May Have Been Ignored Before
The books’ editor, Daniel Seton, said in an article in The Guardian that publishers may have thought Dard’s invented slang was untranslatable. But his noir novels are beautifully written and do not use that slang heavily.
As a fan, Seton is very happy to bring Dard to an English-speaking audience. He also thinks publication comes at an appropriate time because the market is publishing more psychological thrillers.
A Penchant for Pseudonyms and Style Similar to Georges Simenon
Seton describes Dard’s style as being similar to that of Georges Simenon. Unlike Simenon, many of Dard’s books were written under 17 aliases, including the name of San Antonio, his Parisian secret police superintendent character. No one knows why he wrote under pseudonyms or how many there were. Only 17 are confirmed, so far.
Although Simenon preferred a third-person narrator, Dard preferred tales seen through the eyes of the protagonist or the villain. Both preferred gritty, unremarkable settings. David Bellos, a Princeton professor of French and another Dard fan, translated “Bird in a Cage.” Bellos told Boyd Tonkin in an article published by The Economist’s 1843 magazine that Dard and Simenon use language with “extraordinary efficiency.” The reader reads their fast-paced novels quickly.
Imperfect Protagonists and Cinematic Plots
Dard’s protagonists tend to be flawed characters; the prolific writer who also composed screenplays and scripts wrote plots that would be easy to use in films. If the Dard books sell well, the San Antonio character alone can provide aficionados with plenty of material as there are 173 books about his adventures.
Born near Lyon, Dard preferred writing in the settings of nondescript semi-industrial small towns. The industrial landscape is more native to his Belgian- born mentor, who was born in the city of Liege. The San Antonio novels offer filmmakers plenty of material.
Writers who want to try their hand at noir crime fiction should check out why Dard has devoted fans. Reading is an essential part of the making of a writer, so aspiring authors should take advantage of a revealing glimpse of a master.
For middle class working mothers, hiring a baby sitter is a necessity. Unfortunately, this requirement sometimes leads to tragedy. On March 1, 2018, the Krim trial began—the case that inspired French writer Leila Slimani’s crime novel “Lullaby.”
The international best-selling novel has already been translated into 18 languages and will be translated into 17 more. Its U.S. title is “The Perfect Nanny,” and it was originally published in France under the title “Chanson Douce.”
The Krim Case and “Lullaby”
In the terrible, real-life story (the Krim case) that inspired the book, a deranged nanny stabbed two young children in 2012. The nanny in the Krim case is a migrant from the Dominican Republic. In Slimani’s book, the nanny is local and one of her employers is an immigrant.
The Krims’ former nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, was mentally ill but had not been treated. The psychiatrist testifying in the case said Ortega didn’t tell the doctor, who had treated her in the past for depression and anxiety, about the voices she heard in her head because she didn’t want people to think she was crazy.
The nanny in Slimani’s book had a damaged past, had found refuge in her employers’ home-life, and feared having to leave after the children grew up. Like Ortega, she first slit the two children’s throats in the bathtub and then slit her own throat in an attempted suicide.
The children’s mother’s first name in the novel is Myriam. The fictional nanny’s name is Louise after another murderous nanny, Louise Woodward, the British nanny convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the U.S. in 1997.
While the former Krim nanny’s trial will reveal whether derangement was the cause for the murder, Slimani’s book explores the motivations of the murderer. The novel is a psychological examination of the killer and other germane issues.
Raising Other Issues
Lelia Slimani raises many important questions in her novel. Can parents trust a nanny? Can parents ever really know their nanny? Should a mother turn her children over to a stranger in favor of a career? The characters’ social, class, and ethnic differences in “Lullaby” touch on many current societal issues.
The contradictions of motherhood, including its demands and sometimes suffocating feelings, are also raised in the book. As a young mother who employs a nanny and was brought up by a nanny herself, the author has an intimate association with the context of employing child caretakers.
The swift popularity of Lelia Slimani’s “Lullaby” indicates that it has touched a nerve with many people in multiple countries. In France and the U.S., movie versions will introduce even more people to the details of Slimani’s book and the Krim case.
The visionary science fiction and fantasy writer, poet, and translator Ursula Le Guin passed away on January 22, 2018. Her extensive fan base among readers and writers, which continues to grow, has reason to mourn being denied the continued gifts of her creative imagination and perceptive intelligence.
An Innovator Who Moved Readers
Le Guin was a trendsetting female author who entered the mostly male-dominated genres of science fiction and fantasy. She added a new range and depth to the formerly masculine-oriented worlds of these genres. In the process, she broadened the appeal and the audience of science fiction and fantasy by discussing human and societal issues through her characters and their worlds.
Unsurprisingly, her work has been translated into 40 languages. An Indian fan, Arnab Chakraborty, expressed eloquently why she will be missed and how reading Ursula K Le Guin changed Chakraborty’s expectations of science-fiction (and dragons).
Chakraborty said as a young reader, “There was a lilt and rhythm to her words, a cadence to her sentences that made you choke with emotions you didn’t even know you had at 10.” This praise explains what writer Neil Gaiman meant when he said Le Guin’s words were “written on his soul.”
A Prolific Writer of Depth and Imagination
Le Guin wrote poetry books, children’s literature, science fiction and fantasy short stories and novels. She also delved into the nonfiction and realistic fiction genres. Among her English translations was the “Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching,” her own rendition of this ancient classic that appears to have influenced her work. She also translated four other books.
A common feature of her work is the inclusion of thought-provoking themes that grab readers’ attention, make them think, and leave a memorable impression with them. Her characters combatted dragons and other enemies without resorting to macho methods. She introduced readers to a distinctive style which encouraged readers to question stereotypes and boosted the critical thinking capacities of readers of all ages.
The Prosaic Reason for Becoming a Science Fiction Writer
In an interview in 1989 she revealed that she began writing science fiction because it was a genre in which she knew she could sell. She is best known for her “Earthsea” and “The Left Hand of Darkness” series.
Le Guin’s fiction challenged readers of all ages to consider the moral issues her protagonists dealt with. This started with her young adult novel, “The Wizard of Earthsea,” where Ged the wizard has to fight his own creation, learn the hard way that one can create something bad, and take responsibility for that by ending its destructive capacity. Read Le Guin to experience writing with depth and beauty.
In crime fiction, location is as important as the plot to make the characters and setting more real for readers. It is rooted in a particular place and time. Most often, crime novels are set in cities; some cities inspire more crime writers than others because of their grit. Belt Publishing’s City Anthologies reveal the grit in each city subject.
The Cities in the Anthology Series
These anthologies cover cities that tend to be less written about and so are venues for creating a writer’s distinctive brand setting. So far, the City Anthologies’ subjects are Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Youngstown in Ohio; Detroit and Flint in Michigan; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Buffalo, New York.
The City Anthologies
The Akron Anthology
This anthology contains 22 contributed essays. Like every volume in this series, the contents include the individual viewpoints of the diverse people who have lived in the city.
The Cincinnati Anthology
This book contains the viewpoints of natives from the many walks of life in the Queen City. Like others in the series, this one helps residents and outsiders get to know the different aspects of the city from the personal viewpoints of local contributors.
Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology
2nd edition ISBN: 978-0985944162
This is the book that started it all. Read to see why it inspired a growing collection of city anthologies.
Car Bombs to Cookie Tables: The Youngstown Anthology
Youngstown has one of the grittiest environments in a state full of gritty Rust Belt cities. Here, locals share the moments that define their city and their experiences with it.
A Detroit Anthology
This book was a Michigan Notable Book of 2015. According to an Ebony Magazine review, it contains an “ethnic array of voices that truly shows the facets of Detroit life.”
Happy Anyway: A Flint Anthology
Flint’s water crisis made national headlines. In this collection readers learn more about the city. Like all cities, Flint is imperfect but has devoted residents. The title of the collection reveals the general gist of what is reflected in the contents.
The Pittsburgh Anthology
This anthology has almost 40 contributing participants. The Pittsburgh collection’s diverse contributions reveal the contradictions in this picturesque city that has had many ups and downs.
Right Here, Right Now: The Buffalo Anthology
This anthology covers decades of history, events, and experiences with the contributions of 65 people. According to the Buffalo News review of its contents, it is an essential book about the city.
Writers looking for the right setting for their gripping crime fiction can begin with the cities covered in the City Anthologies. They will get a feel for any or all of the cities, through the eyes of those who know their cities intimately in their own way.
Khaled Hosseini’s fourth and newest book is inspired by Alan Kurdi, the young child whose lifeless body was found on a Turkish beach. “Sea Prayer” is a short, illustrated book for readers of all ages and follows a virtual reality show of the same title that was scripted by Hosseini.
Acclaimed Novelist and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
Khaled Hosseini, a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador since 2006, will donate his earnings from this book to the UNHCR and his own charitable foundation, the Khaled Hosseini Foundation. “Sea Prayer” takes the form of a letter from a father to his sleeping son. Its press release quotes Hosseini’s statement that his book “is an attempt to pay tribute to the millions of families” that “have been splintered and forced from home by war and persecution.”
Hosseini himself is one of many who have fled their homes “in the midst of a displacement crisis of enormous proportions,” a crisis that is the source of inspiration for his latest creation.
From an Afghan Setting to Other Venues
When his debut novel, “The Kite Runner,” was published in 2003, Khaled Hosseini burst onto the literary scene as a distinctive voice bringing foreign characters to distant audiences. Hosseini writes powerful stories, and his new novel is at least as memorable as the others.
Hosseini followed “The Kite Runner” with “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and “And the Mountains Echoed.” Each of his first three novels had an Afghan character or storyline. This time the father of two writes from the perspective of a father and what Hosseini imagines he would feel in such circumstances.
Although he is a refugee, Hosseini was studying in Paris where his diplomat father was based when the Soviet invasion caused his father to seek asylum abroad. Consequently he had a more luxurious route than the harrowing journey Syrian refugees and other refugee victims of war experienced.
Nonetheless, just three years after the publication of “The Kite Runner,” its author became a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, revealing his commitment to the cause of refugees.
The “Sea Prayer” is a good book to read to your own children or to use to teach school children about the subject of refugees. For prospective children’s literature writers, it offers a fine example of addressing the subject for audiences of all ages. It is fortunate that a writer of this caliber is taking this message to a wide audience.
If you have never heard of Astrid Lindgren, you should correct that gap, especially if you aspire to be a children’s book author. To get started you may want to see “Becoming Astrid,” the recently made movie about the beloved children’s book author. If you visit Stockholm, include a trip to Junibacken, the children’s museum, which has a storybook train that takes visitors through some of her stories.
Lindgren’s Widespread Popularity
Astrid Lindgren’s books have been embraced by readers in more than 100 countries and have sold more than 144 million copies. Her books have been translated into 85 languages. She is best known for her Pippi Longstocking and Karlsson-on-the-Roof book series.
Pippi Longstocking, the Brothers Lionheart, Emil of Lönneberga, and Ronia the Robber’s Daughter are among Lindgren’s characters whose first rapt audience were her children and their friends. Her daughter imaginatively created “Pippi Longstocking” as a name and then asked her mother to tell her a story about this character.
The first book about Pippi was published in 1945. Pippi was a groundbreaking character because she was strong, smart, and more intelligent than adults.
An Unconventional Outlook Created Enduring Classics
As a 17-year-old in 1920, Lindgren applied for a trainee journalist position, an unusual career for a female at the time, confirming her reputation in her small town for being unconventional. She did not become an author until she was in her forties.
In the letter accompanying her original manuscript to the publisher, Astrid Lindgren described her first character, Pippi Longstocking, as “a small übermensch in the form of a child, living in a perfectly normal environment.” A Der Spiegel article about the author,
“Wartime Diaries Reveal the True Astrid Lindgren,” revealed this description.
Her personality, education, reading, children, and World War II all influenced Astrid Lindgren’s books for children. She was a prodigious reader. The Der Spiegel article mentions that Lindgren had said that “Hunger,” a novel by Knut Hamsun, was a source of her inspiration. Bertrand Russell, A.S. Neill, and Alfred Adler appear to have influenced her as well.
In her letter to the publisher she pointedly wrote:
“Bertrand Russell wrote that childhood is dominated by the desire to become an adult, or rather the will to power. According to Russell, a normal child dwells on fantasies that relate to the will to power. I don’t know if Bertrand Russell is right. Judging by the practically pathological popularity Pippi Longstocking has enjoyed over the course of two years among my own children and their friends of the same age, I am inclined to believe him.”
Before she started writing stories, she read many to her young children. Astrid Lindgren’s life and books reveal that becoming a children’s literature author can be inspired by many influences.
The term “rust belt” evokes an image of decay, but Belt Magazine and Belt Publishing want to show that there is much more to the region than the negative, oversimplified term used for the areas that have lost their former manufacturing strength or presence. The so-called Rust Belt includes successful areas like the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, as well as struggling cities in Ohio and in the Northeast.
Belt Magazine is an affiliate of Belt Publishing, which was founded in 2013 to provide a publication venue for writing about the Rust Belt and the Midwest for a regional and national audience. Both publications value quality and complex writing.
Belt Magazine aims to resuscitate long-form magazine journalism with essays and commentary articles by writers, poets, journalists and other professionals. Belt Publishing’s anthologies allow writers the opportunity to write about specific places that offer readers an opportunity to find stories, poetry, and perspectives that resonate with them.
As Belt Publishing states on its website about itself and its sister publication: “We believe in quality over quantity and community over analytics.” So far, most of the published material is about the Midwest.
About Belt Magazine and Belt Publishing
Anne Trubek, formerly Associate Professor of English at Oberlin College, is the founder of Belt Publishing and the weekly Belt Magazine, an online publication. Martha Bayne, the senior editor of Belt Publishing, is a Chicago-based freelance writer.
For more information about the book publisher and magazine read Chicago Tribune reporter Christopher Borrelli’s article, “’Rust Belt,” and City Lab’s article by Alastair Boone, “Stories from the Rust Belt, for the Rust Belt.”
No Shortage of Midwestern Talent
The Midwest boasts a wealth of talent, with some of the best Master of Fine Arts programs in the country at the University of Iowa, University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin These two publications welcome regional voices and provide the students and graduate of these programs with an opportunity to share their talent and specific Midwest experience with their readers.
Writers from the Rust Belt
Many of our well-known classic and current writers have Midwestern roots, and their prose used the Midwestern landscape as the background of their writings. Midwestern writers are as diverse as Sherwood Anderson, Charles Baxter, Saul Bellow, Willa Cather, Theodore Dreiser, Jack Driscoll, Stuart Dybek, Jaimy Gordon, Lisa Lenzo, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Marilynne Robinson, George Saunders, and Richard Wright.
Writers from the Midwest should take advantage of Belt Magazine and Belt Publishing to showcase their craft and reveal their presence to a regional and national audience. Writers published by either or both outlets will reach beyond the niche of literary magazines, because these two publication sources have a more diverse audience than literary magazines.
What 2018 Means for SEO and Content Writing
Writing for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has a history as long as search engines themselves. Like everything, the defining points of SEO have changed as the internet and business needs have grown. It now has different criteria that allow some websites to be set apart more than others by ranking higher in search engine hits.
History vs Today
In the late 90s and early 2000s, keyword stuffing was an effective way to boost a website to the top. Today, the same is considered keyword spamming and will actually get a site ranked lower, if not removed from search results. When search engines were newer, they also weren’t great at sorting out the differences between keyword phrases like “beach rentals,” “rent beaches,” and “beach renting.” In other words, similar keywords that mean the same thing. Smarter search engines now ignore such duplication.
Along the lines of keyword spamming, this also happened within everything from tags, domain names, and subdomain names. (Think: “beachy-beach-rentals.com/beachrentals.”) Ridiculous looking, but it worked. Cloaking was another previously successful concept that meant showing one set of content to searchers and another set to search engines. Today, thankfully, names like these have mostly died out.
New SEO Standards Emerge for 2018
In 2018, the idea of “queries over quantity” takes center stage. The major search engines, including Google and Bing, grew infinitely smarter over the past 10 years. Their focus is now on actually resolving the user’s query rather than simply matching and displaying keyword-based results. SEO writers need to come up with ways to address this. It means eliminating keyword spam and placing the most powerful keywords for the topic in the first paragraph of the page and in H1 and H2 headers.
Another vital ingredient SEO writers should pay attention to is user engagement. Google specifically can track not only the search results people click on but also how long they stay on the page without hitting the back button and going into another result. Users who click on one result and interact further with that page indicate their query was solved. Google wants these pages to be first at bat because longer engagements mean more revenue for everyone involved.
Remember, while websites are created for users, the mechanics of writing and designing for search rankings often take away from the user’s experience. Focus on topics and let Google do the work for the website, but make the content relevant. Searching sites like Quora and Reddit, or paying attention to Google auto-suggest and “related searches” will keep content writers up to date on what users are looking for and help tailor the website to the searches.