The 10 most common Contributor mistakes


A steady trickle of submitted Profiles are landing on the metaphorical Book Drum doormat so, with just over a month left to complete your entry for the 2011 Book Drum Tournament, we thought it would be helpful to point out the most common mistakes we're seeing.  You've still got time to fix them!


1.  Cutting and pasting pictures from the Web

It's easy to spot: the images have no title or copyright information displayed beneath them.  If you copy and paste a Web picture, all you're actually doing is pasting an embedding link into Book Drum, not the image itself.  If the original image is removed, yours disappears with it.  You'll also find you can't wrap text around pasted images.  That's why we ask you to upload the image file to the Book Drum system.  It takes a bit longer, but it's more secure and gives a much better result.  

Step-by-step instructions are here:


2.  Assuming all Web pictures are copyright-free unless there is a copyright sign

They aren't!  You have to assume images are copyright unless they say otherwise.  Plenty of blogs and amateur websites borrow images illegally - that doesn't mean they are now free of copyright.  We recommend sticking to Flickr and Wikimedia as these two sites make the licence of each image clear.  If you find a great image without licence information, try emailing the site's webmaster or editor for clarification on its status (and, if appropriate, for permission to use the picture on Book Drum).   

For a guide to image licences, see 


3.  Referencing the wrong webpage on the Image Upload form

The three main problems:

for Flickr, don't give the URL of the photographer's profile page (example); give the image page (example);

for Wikimedia, don't give the URL of the upload page, which holds nothing but the image (example); give its description page, which holds both image and copyright information (example);

for Google images, don't give the very long google search URL (example); give the shorter URL of the non-Google page holding the image (example). Click "Website for this image" to reach the non-Google page.

In a few cases, the image owner will give very specific instructions on what URL to use, and these should be respected.


4.  Restating the story in the bookmarks

If you find yourself writing, "Here, Cathy finally realises she loves Heathcliff..." you have missed the point of the Bookmarks.  They are intended to provide illustration and exploration, not interpretation and analysis. Assume an intelligent reader: they can work out what's happening without your help.  Your bookmarks should bring something new to the book, whether it's a photograph of a setting, an explanation of a period custom, or the music, maps and video that can't go on the printed page.  Having said that, the occasional witty or acute observation is welcome. 


5.  Creating dozens of Setting places

Most books have between one and five primary settings (e.g. Yarmouth, Kent, London).  Your Setting page should describe only these.  All other places featured in the book should be illustrated in the bookmarks.  You may also like to have a Setting item on the historical period or a particular aspect of culture relevant to the whole book.


6.  Getting emotional in the Summary

If you've included exclamation marks in your Summary, you're probably going wrong!!!  The Summary should be objective, brief and ungarnished.  Your passion, humour and insightful analysis should be reserved for the Review.


7. Misquoting the original text in bookmark quotes

If you've added quotation marks or a helpful [...] to your bookmark quotes, please take them out.  Check you've copied the text exactly as it appears in the book: extra punctuation, abbreviations and spelling mistakes are discourteous to the author and will confuse e-readers.  Remember, you don't need to quote a long passage - just enough to act as a unique "hook" on which your bookmark can hang.


8. Displaying full URLs rather than neat hyperlinks

A string of computer gobbledygook across your bookmark looks awful.  Give us a simple title for each link, such as Oxford Chaucer Guide

For guidance on creating links, see 

(yes, OK, we should have hidden that URL like this: Contributor Guidelines: Creating Links)


 9. Getting in a tangle with Google maps

These aren't easy!  Well, they are once you know their foibles... 

Inserting and then deleting maps often leaves behind a chunk of hidden code that interferes with any maps further down that page.  So if you find that none of your maps are displaying properly, you may be able to spot and remove the malignant code using the HTML button. 

The other common problem with google maps is their tendency to float over nearby elements.  Put a blank line before and after every map, and position nearby images on the right side of the page to avoid this problem. 

We're happy to help if you get stuck:


10. Front-loading the bookmarks

Some enthusiastic Contributors create hundreds of bookmarks in the first couple of chapters.  That's fine, but it's not necessary, and it would be a shame if your early enthusiasm means you don't have time to cover the rest of the book.  Pace yourself! Get the other sections done first, then create a balanced spread of bookmarks across the length of the book.  You can always add more later (or, indeed, after the Tournament).  Creating a prize-winning profile requires stamina and tactical planning.  Please don't run out of steam because there's a thousand interesting points on page one!


We do hope you find these points helpful.  There are some wonderful profiles emerging, and we can't wait to share them all with you in the Summer!

Next week: 10 tips for creating a winning profile...