The Don't Panic Success Guide to Sentences

Save Our Sentences: Join the Revolution!

Why Me?

Why I’m the person to write this

Because I’ve stood in front of that first class of students who appeared to know more than me, and because I have read and read and read and read almost every book there is about sentences, then taught the same course many times. I know this. And, perhaps more importantly, I still remember life without this knowledge.

I am still dazzled by the way understanding sentence types and sentence problems has changed my understanding of writing and my confidence.

Above all, I feel like I have a secret to share — the answer to the many questions I had as a student, I now have. I love those ah-ha moments that I see when students and friends realise that what I’ve just told them really could make a difference to their writing. Being able to do the same for the Brits would really make my day!

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Market and Competition

The Don’t Panic Success Guide to Sentences follows on from Truss’s bestseller, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, which has sold over nine million copies since its release in 2003. Eats, Shoots and Leaves opened the floodgates for oodles of similar ‘things I’ve forgotten or was never taught at school’ books and showed a burgeoning market that has grown annually for the last nine years.

Nielsen BookScan reported that adult non-fiction accounted for £722,094,661.39 of 2010’s book sales, with £2,659,046.28 made up of the 291,957 writing and usage guides sold. Nine years after its release, Eats, Shoots and Leaves still holds a solid place in the top 5 in this category.

It’s an odd category, spliced between fun gift book types (like mine), the English as a Foreign Language types and the professional writing guide types. When I contacted Nielsen last, of the Top 20 titles in the Usage and Writing Guides Nielsen BookScan 2011 YTD (year to date) chart, six also appear in less academic areas of bookshops:

– #2 Eats, Shoots and Leaves (now published by Fourth Estate) #11,379 on Amazon Books
– #3 My Grammar and I (Michael O’Mara) #4,970 on Amazon Books
– #7 How to Sound Clever (A&C Black) #13,569 on Amazon Books
– #11 How NOT to Write a Novel (Penguin) #21,135 on Amazon Books
– #18 Queen’s English, The (Michael O’Mara) #24,214 on Amazon Books
– #19 I Used to Know That (Michael O’Mara) # 5,390 on Amazon Books

My Grammar and I , which has topped the charts for two years in a row, The Queen’s English and Everyday English fall under the same genre and were in the position-of-sale spotlight in three of the Waterstone’s I visited last summer.
Evidence at the London Book Fair 2012 showed that Profile Books, Michael O’Mara, A&C Black, Summersdale, Penguin all believe in the size of this market enough to not only release updated backlist editions, but also to introduce new series of books–easy reading, fun and accessible books–that follow the ‘things I didn’t learn or wish I still remembered’ theme across a very broad range of subjects.

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