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After the publishing world has been dealing with a months-long battle between Hachette Book Group and Amazon, it now has something new in which to find interest: the purchase of Perseus Books Group by Hachette.

Ginger Clark, a literary agent at Curtis Brown, was right on point when she remarked that this sale changes a lot for some publishers:

The purchase of Perseus means that its distribution companies will actually be sold to Ingram Content Group. Hachette keeps Perseus’ imprints AND retains the location from which they operate.

For Michael Cader’s extensive article on the deal, head over to Publisher’s Lunch. Porter Anderson at FutureBooks breaks it down even further, which a three-point list of what the deal means for all three participants (Hachette, Perseus, Ingram):

Perseus imprints will add some 6,000 titles to Hachette’s list, per Publishers Lunch.

Those imprints, according to Jeffrey Trachtenberg at the Wall Street Journal, promise “to boost its nonfiction offerings. Hachette is largely known for publishing fiction writers, such as James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and David Baldacci. It would be the second acquisition struck by Hachette in the past year that has beefed up its nonfiction offerings, including its purchase of most of the adult Hyperion imprint from Walt Disney Co.”

The deal, Cader reports, also “will transform Ingram Publisher Services, which currently has about 90 listed clients…into the largest distributor in the country.” Perseus distributes more than 350 publishers, he writes, and its Constellation “services a comparable number in digital, plus another 100 publishers serviced through their UK joint venture with Faber & Faber.”

The deal was officially announced yesterday (June 24) at 5:30 p.m.

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As a journalist, I strive to make my writing as clear and as clean as possible. AP Style demands that pieces report as much news as possible in the least amount of words. Over the years, I’ve learned how to cut out words that clutter my sentences, replace passive voice with active voice and put the most important information first. These kinds of rules can be adapted for creative writing, which gives more licence for wordiness. The end objective for any kind of writing is to communicate clearly to your audience.

Here are some basic tips for how to improve your writing—no matter your genre.

1. Figure out your audience.

In rhetoric, not understanding your audience always translates to useless words. For whom are you writing? How do these people understand the world? The style and approach in a fashion magazine will differ dramatically from the style and approach in The New York Times. 

Before you even begin writing, do some research. Read the pieces that have been successful in reaching your desired audience. Talk to the writers who consistently write for the audience. And make sure that you’re ready to reach them yourself.

2. Replace is/are verbs with action verbs.

In my freshman English class at Georgia State, the professor looked every student in the eye on the first day and established a course-long rule: no “be” verbs allowed in any paper, or points will be taken away. Fresh out of high school, we had no idea how to adjust to such a seemingly harsh rule. My first paper had red circles around every “be” verb—which turned out to be a lot. My last paper didn’t have one red circle at all.

This exercise turned out to be one of the best ones of my college career, because it became habit. I started looking for a way to rearrange my sentences to include action verbs. Doing this moves a sentence and makes the paper more interesting. Consider this example:

Johnny is playing a video game.

Now get rid of that “is”:

Johnny plays a video game.

The sentence sounds better. And it’s cleaner and easier to read.

3. Omit unnecessary words. 

It’s surprising how many words we use to make sentences more interesting or engaging. Actually, using less words that make greater impact makes a sentence thrive. Take a sentence from your most recent piece and try to scale it down. Start by taking away useless adverbs like “very,” “totally,” “so,” “absolutely.” These kinds of words only clutter a sentence. Then replace your “be” verbs with action verbs.

Johnny is singing a very interesting song to tell a story about his mother, who is turning 50 today.

Look at the difference after getting rid of many of these words and rearranging a bit:

Since Johnny’s mother turns 50 today, he dedicated a song about her life.

4. Write in active voice.

Writers use passive voice to put emphasis on the victim of an action rather than the doer of an action. Sometimes (especially in journalism) this tactic is necessary, and it’s not grammatically incorrect. However, putting sentences in the active voice as often as possible keeps the message clear and keeps the sentence cleaner.

Passive: The nail was hammered by the construction worker.

Active: The construction worker hammered the nail. 

5. Vary sentence structure

No one wants to read a piece with simple sentence after simple sentence. Throw in a complex, compound and compound-complex sentence. Create some variety so that it flows smoothly and sparks interest.

 

What are some ways you make your writing cleaner and more interesting?

Atlanta author Charles McNair released his second book novel, “Pickett’s Charge” on September 20

Eve Bunting’s children’s book The Cart that Carried Martin was released in August, which follows a mule-drawn cart making its way through Atlanta

Melissa Keil’s Life in Outer Space is on tour with Peachtree Publishers, and you can even enter to win the novel.  

Jim Carrey conducted a reading at the Barnes and Noble on Peachtree Road on October 19 while he was in town filming “Dumb and Dumber To”

Both Publisher’s Weekly and Publisher’s Lunch provide information on publishing news and upcoming works daily. Creative Loafing is a good source that covers Atlanta-specific authors and novels, as well as the literary scene.