Side Effects of Being A Writer . . . may include death.

According to a recent article from Michelle Roberts, the Health editor for BBC News online, “Creativity is often part of a mental illness with writers particularly susceptible, according to a study of more than a million people.”

Need more reasons to stop writing?

“Writers had a higher risk of anxiety and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, unipolar depression, and substance abuse, the Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute found.

They were almost twice as likely as the general population to kill themselves.”

Holy Hollyhocks! Twice as likely?! Wait, what’s the current suicide rate? Check out this statistical map to find out what the rate is where you live.

Overall, it’s 10.7 for every 100,000 people. In Japan, it’s 24.75. In the US, it’s 11.7. In the UK, it’s 6.45. In Brazil, it’s 4.6. In Peru, it’s o.85.

So, in essence, if you’re a writer, you double your odds of suicide. However, if you move to a different country, you can go on writing but actually increase your odds of staying alive!

Gotta love statistics.

So, a Japanese writer moving to the UK just might die naturally! As for Peruvian writers . . . you’d have to move to Egypt (rate .05). As for Egyptian writers . . . just stay where you are. You’re better off doubling to an 0.1 than moving elsewhere.

There are some other pluses (for writers at least) that were mentioned. For instance, “dancers and photographers were more likely to have bipolar disorder.”

Phew! Dodged that bullet!

And . . . “As a group, those in the creative professions were no more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders than other people.”

So, in summary, writers are . . . as crazy as other people. Not crazier. And tend not to suffer from bipolar disorder. Horray!

On the crappy side, creative people “were more likely to have a close relative with a disorder, including anorexia and, to some extent, autism, The Journal of Psychiatric Research reports.

So, the take away here seems to be growing up around “disordered” people makes a person’s worldview a little different and therefore people turn to creative outlets, such as writing.

However, due to growing up around “disordered” people, creative writers have more anxiety (hence the substance abuse?) and depression, which doubles their odds of suicide and puts them in line for schizophrenia.

The study doesn’t say if writing actually makes a writer’s state of mental health better or worse. It also doesn’t say if ceasing to write improves or diminishes a writer’s state of mental / physical health. And then of course, there’s the whole moving abroad issue.

It’s a complicated affair, but we like to think that if Virginia Woolf had eschewed writing, moved to Peru and taken up gardening, she would have lived happy and died old.

So, you now you’ve heard the disclaimer, Go forth and write! Or don’t.

Published in: on October 19, 2012 at 1:56 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Bad sentences can be good reading

Click the photo to find out more about visiting Walden Pond

There’s been several wonderful posts lately on writing, all brief and generally constructive, but we would make a plea for authors to remember that creativity, self-expression, and leaving gaps for the reader to use his or her imagination is what carries a work from good to great.

Consider this sentence Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden

Most of the luxuries, and many of the so called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hinderances to the elevation of mankind.

This lovely triple-negative sentence is proof we needn’t always be perfect, to be brilliant.

  1. He didn’t choose a shocking subject. He got creative with the mundane.
  2. He didn’t use perfect grammar, yet he expressed himself perfectly.
  3. He didn’t name the luxuries and comfort of life. He left that to the reader’s imagination.
Published in: on August 7, 2012 at 12:29 PM  Leave a Comment  
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The Long and Winding Road

To quote Welsh super-crooner Sir Tom Jones, those of you who Try to Remember, will probably recall what happened to Gina, our resident blogger, deep in December. But if not . . . . see the Dec 5th post.

We have been trying to return to the old blog, but it’s been difficult. Turns out, getting back on your feet after breaking a leg is rather a long journey! However, starting in July she’ll be attempting twice a weekly post from her new office . . . .

Lookin’ good, Gina!  Keep that typing hand free.

In the meanwhile, check out this recent AP article on Lighting Source’s Espresso Book Machine, which we’ve been telling authors about for 3+ years, and how well some self-published authors are fairing through its direct hard-copy (paperback) sales.

The Only Mistake


“The only mistake a writer ever makes is not publishing.”

— a FAB copyeditor

Published in: on October 28, 2011 at 1:06 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Making changes to your finished product be it PDF or ePUB

In the past, redoing a book was a huge, expensive project. These days, not so much.  With ebooks one is tempted to tweak endlessly. But there are conditions under which changing your ebook means your ebook must have a new ISBN (if you’ve used an ISBN).

You can check out the Bowker or Library of Congress websites but in a nutshell . . .

Keep your ISBN if you publish your PDF ebook, sell 6 copies, and then decide to

  • change the cover
  • fix some typos
  • do some light editing

Change your ISBN if you publish your PDF ebook, sell 6 copies, and then decide to

  • change the title (or author’s name)
  • change the story (aka a new edition)
  • bring the book out in a different language!

The guideline we’ve heard bandied about is if you substantially change your book, 15% or more, it’s a new book. So, if you write 80,000 words and change 12,000 . . . .

The reason for this change of ISBNs is to make sure that readers know what they are buying and sellers know what they are selling. This is especially true if your books are wildly popular.

You want your readers to have the newest version, and your collectors to have your early goofs!

If all versions of the Mona Lisa had the same ISBN, how would you know which one you were buying?

Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 7:07 AM  Leave a Comment  
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The tab button is not your friend

3 Things your PDF eBook should have:

  1. TOC, bookmarked to chapters so people can navigate it quickly.
  2. A good cover which you can do yourself create cheaply with images from photostock places. Text boxes that will fit into the display window of  e-readers easily.
  3. Page numbers (because otherwise it’s hard to remember where you were or discuss the book with a friend).

1 Thing your PDF doesn’t need: Headers. Headers, as you’d find in a traditional book, or even a PDF, with book/author name? Don’t need those.

Other things to know

Some people find a lot wrong with their PDF after they convert it. Always read through your PDF after conversion. Weird stuff can happen. Usually it is something that you did — unintentionally — because you live in a WYSIWYG world.

The biggest complaint about conversions is paragraph indents. You cannot use the tab button for making paragraph indents. You must use the hanging indent.  This may mean you have to spend a day, or two, going through your book removing tabs. It sucks, but you have to do it.

If you decided you wanted some fancy design that required tabbing . . . you need to go back and set it up with an indent so that the item you tabbed to the far end of the page, now occurs naturally where you want it placed

Another complaint is usually formatted text.  Check to see if your bold/ital/etc is there. If not, did you embed?

You really shouldn’t have any issues with your quote marks.  But check them all the same.

Make sure you have your metadata sorted. Metadata is where you put in the name of your book, author, etc.

And your security (DRM is Digital Rights Management).  Some people like to lock up their PDF so it can’t be copied or printed out — hey, why make it easy to steal?

Reads some PDF Books  If you haven’t read a PDF book, you need to.  Download the free Adobe Digital Editions and then download some free books in PDF  ( or from ADE library).

The download some ePub versions. Look at the PDFs vs the ePubs.  See what qualities and features they have.

You put a lot of work into your book, you want it to stand a chance. Make your PDF the best it can be.

Published in: on September 8, 2011 at 7:07 AM  Leave a Comment  
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More on PDF conversions

Text   All this changing of the Page Set Up doesn’t mean you should change your text size (unless you’re using something like a 10pt or smaller somewhere in the text).  Using a 12pt Times New Roman throughout is probably for the best. We say this only because it’s large enough that people of many visual abilities can read it.  Some people prefer non-serif fonts, we don’t. But if you gotta have it, make sure it’s 12 pt.

Fonts  If you love your font selections, that’s ok. But you need to make sure they travel with the PDF. That sounds strange, but think of your PDF as a little troop of performers.

They can only perform if they have their equipment with them. They may find some equipment where they’re going, but maybe not everything they need to finish the play. So you have to embed that equipment (in this case fonts) in the coatpockets of your players so at the right time, they can whip out the bold or the ital or the Baskerville Gothic.

Most people can make a PDF, but don’t understand how to make to a PDF with embedded fonts. So, the short version is create a PostScript the file first, then open the Acrobat Distiller, then choose open on the Distiller’s drop down menu, and choose the PS file. At that point the PS file converts to a PDF with embedded fonts and you can check that by opening the file in Acrobat and going to Properties.

If you do know how to embed fonts, great, do what you want.  If you’re kind of confused, leave a comment.

With a PDF, it is what it is. Your readers get some of the experience of the physical book because you can duplicate the typography in a PDF. Many eReaders today can change a books font, or allow it to be changeable, but they can’t do that with a PDF on an eReader.  So: It is, what it is.

You want to be sure that you have your PDF version set up to be either a) as useable as possible for E-readers, or b) exactly as you want it in your book, because you’re using it more to send around as a “Galley” version / review copy of a print book that’s coming out soon.

Marketing   People with Nooks and Kindles  and iPads can read PDF version documents.  But, they have to hear about your book before they go to your website and download it.  Since you can’t market your PDF versions on B&N or Amazon or iBooks platforms without converting them to proprietary formats first,  . . . . .

This is the downside of PDFs.

As for somewhere like Google Books? We’ve never put a book on GoogleBooks as for sale Ebook, but we do think it’s possible to do.  And too, possibly, you can have them create a hard copy for sale as well.

More on PDFs tomorrow.

Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 7:07 AM  Leave a Comment  
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