Author Archive: Stanley

Grants: Just the Right Words Without Stressing Out

All grants limit the number of words in an application. Therefore, each word must count for something. The decision for a grant writer: what to put in and what to leave out.

When I write a grant, I answer the questions supported with data. I try to use words and phrases the foundation expects to be in the grant request. In the end, I want the reader to come away with a clear understanding of the project and that the nonprofit can successfully complete it. All this without leaving the reader with more unanswered questions.

This is certainly not easy to do and I attempt it with a lot of trying.

Based on the grant application, I use several writing techniques. One of them is like baking a cake. I write an outline (get out the recipe), fill in the data (bake the cake), and put in additional information (icing and sprinkles).

Another technique is to take keywords from the grant application and foundation website, use them as headers, and write a paragraph or two on each keyword. I put the paragraphs together like a puzzle into the correct section of the grant application.

Still another way is to take the grant question, strip out the key words, and focus the write-up on these words only. Afterwards, I put in the words the foundation wants to see. In the end, I make sure I did not duplicate any information or data.

Most important, a grant writer should not feel pressured to put in something about the nonprofit that does not relate to the grant request. Nothing should be forced.

Even after writing many grants, it is still difficult to get the words right in the limited space allowed. I keep trying.

A Checklist for Formatting the Inside of a Book

Since my book has been published (only on KDP so far), I will start to share the steps I took to arrive at publication. If anyone wants to know more details, please email me. This list is something I could not find elsewhere and I hope I captured everything.

The first thing I looked at to prepare my book for publishing was the inside of the book. I wrote my novel in MS Word, which is where we will start.

  • Justify the document so all the words are in an even line on the left and right side of the page (except for paragraph indents on the left).
  • Choose a serif font large enough to be read easily. There are a lot of fonts. To make it easy, I chose Garamond which is in Word. I kept the font size at 12.
  • Put line spacing at 1.5 which makes it readable and does not take up too much space.
  • Turn off window/orphan control so the text goes to the end of each page. Otherwise, words on some pages will not go to the end of the page.
  • Number the pages in the upper right as “Page #.” I also kept the page numbering when a chapter started. I like to know what page I’m on and it’s annoying to me not having a page number. It’s also more complicated taking the page number off one page.
  • After the cover, the first page has the title and author centered on the page. Select “section break” for the next page so this first page can have different formatting from the rest of the book. The title page takes up most of the page with a larger font.
  • The second page will be on the left (after turning the title page). It has:
    • Copyright
    • Place of publication (if not a publishing company, I put my city)
    • “All Rights Reserved” paragraph
    • “The book is a work of fiction” paragraph
    • Credits to anyone
    • Library of Congress control number
    • ISBN for Print and ISBN for ebook
  • The third page, on the right across from the copyright page, starts chapter 1.
  • If the chapters have no titles, do not put in a table of contents. If there is a table of contents, it goes on the third page, next is a blank page, and the fifth page starts the first chapter. First chapters always start on the right page (I don’t know why). Other chapters can either start on the left or right. Ebooks must have a table of contents that can be put at the end.
  • Start each chapter on a new page by using page breaks. Center the chapter title and start the text about one third down the page.
  • Margins at the top, bottom, and inside should be 0.76 inches all around. Outside should be 0.6 inches with Gutter at 0.14 inches. Headers are 0.4 with footers at 0.3 inches.
  • Under “Multiple pages”, select “Mirror margins.”
  • Paragraphs should be indented 0.3 inches. Do not use the tab character to indent. If it is there, do a global search and replace it with the paragraph indent.

The steps in the list can be done in any order. I kept everything as simple as possible since this is my first time. Being creative on fonts, sizes, and other things can be entertaining; however, the point of the inside formatting is to make the words enjoyable to read.

The Changing Criteria for Grant Applications

I have been researching grant applications and found that many foundations are funding only COVID-19 issues. However, I did find some foundations who are not only continuing their regular grant process, but have broadened their acceptance criteria to allow for more applications not related to COVID-19.

As an example, I recently wrote a grant request for a nonprofit who did not qualify a few months ago. The foundation changed the criteria by dropping some of their restrictions. Also, they extended their deadline allowing more time to apply.

With donations down, it is important for nonprofits to find other revenue streams. I always keep an eye out for those foundations that have similarities to a nonprofit’s mission, but do not generally meet the selection criteria. There’s always a chance that these close-but-not-close-enough foundations will change. And many do make changes during upheavals in the economy or other events (like now).

If the foundation’s website does not show any updates, call them. There are some who have changed things around without updating their website. (See previous blog posts about maintaining relationships.)

I usually spend just a few minutes a day researching grants. That way I feel it is less like a job, which is important since I’m supposed to be enjoying this.

Opinion piece: I saw many nonprofits had to close because the government did not consider them essential. Even though the nonprofits were addressing critical social needs in the community leaving people to suffer. What is essential and what is not has not been clearly thought out.

My Self-Publishing Progress – The Book Cover Part 2

In my last post, I said, “There are many blogs about writers trying to self-publish. Unfortunately, this is another one.”

So, I continue.

Part 1 was my issues with getting a book cover. After searching and failing to find a designer, I paid and subscribed to Adobe. I downloaded the KDP book cover template as a .pdf and designed something with my limited knowledge.

I used my cover design to publish the KDP ebook and print version of my novel High School Rocket Science (For Extraterrestrial Use Only). However, the cover could use more work.

So, I researched designers on Reedsy. This time I asked Reedsy staff for recommendations and they provided several candidates. As before, most wanted to design a dark cover with reds and greens because that is in my genre. I don’t like those covers and they were unwilling to change.

Yet, I had hope and I did find someone willing to design a book cover that was bright without using all reds and greens. Like Studs Terkel said, “Hope dies last.”

If I like the designer’s work, I’ll use her book cover to publish my novel on other publishing platforms. KDP will be my learning experience and I’m learning that I need to learn more.

But, hey! I’m a published author.