Ghostwriting: Having a Book Idea vs. Actually Writing the Book

Back in 2002, the independent publishing services firm The Jenkins Group released a survey that said 81% of Americans feel they have a book in them. To which noted writer and editor Joseph Epstein wrote that he has little faith in Americans’ abilities to do so.

In fact, most people never get that book out of themselves and onto paper. Santoli Communications estimated 97% of people who start a book never finish it. Looked at another way, that’s 30 out of 1,000 people.

If you had a book in you, what would keep you from writing it and completing it?

Go online and you’ll find a wide variety of reasons that book never gets written (I found 12). These include not being able to figure out the ending, deadlines that are too tight, fear or success/failure/vulnerability, a loss of inspiration, writer’s block, naysayers are getting in you head, and you no longer love the story. All are valid, but some make more sense than others.

I have found the real answer is being disorganized or undisciplined. 

Losing inspiration and not knowing how to end a book are reasons people don’t finish a book. But inspiration can (and often does) return, which can help you fall in love with the story again. Or you can take the story into a new direction that rekindles the love. Writer’s block also can (and often does) end. Asking trusted sources how to end a book can lead to ideas that generate the actual ending. Deadlines can always be moved.

As for fear, if you feel the feelings and do it anyway, you’ll find you’re able to finish that book. I’m not saying that’s easy, but it is doable. The same goes for ignoring the naysayers. It’s not easy, especially if you value their opinions, but it’s possible.

But disorganization and a lack of discipline can permanently end things. What I’ve found is people who don’t finish their books often don’t realize that there is a big difference between having the idea and actually writing it.

People with ideas often lack the ability to organize them into a coherent structure that a book demands. Working with a professional helps the idea person stay organized, not go off on unnecessary tangents, and provide a pathway to completing the book.

The bottom line: The more worthwhile and compelling your story is, the more critical it is to have a professional writer give it the treatment it deserves. That’s why it’s so important to partner with a specialist who’s an expert in the art of storytelling. These people go by various names: ghostwriter, journalist, editor. Regardless, your story is too important to leave to an amateur.

Imagine cradling a book in your arms. See yourself thumbing through the pages, reading the words, recognizing that what’s contained therein is your story, laid out for all to see. This symbol of your life is part catharsis and part healing. Your journey is complete, and you’ve reached the people who needed to hear your story.

leebarnathan.com

By |2022-10-25T19:08:13+00:00October 25, 2022|communication, Ghostwriting, Uncategorized, Writing|Comments Off on Ghostwriting: Having a Book Idea vs. Actually Writing the Book

Beware Bad Social Proof in Your Marketing

If part of your marketing campaign includes a newsletter, it’s important to remember the importance of demonstrating social proof. According to the Canadian software company Unbounce, social proof can increase newsletter signups by 20%.

However, not all social proof is equal. There is such a thing as bad social proof. Three ways social proof can work against you relate to testimonials, name dropping; and likes, tweets and comments on social media.

Of course, all three types of social proof have tremendous upsides if done right. If done wrong, they have equally tremendous downsides.

However, which has the largest downside depends on your audience. As I’ve written before, you need to know your audience so you can write your marketing in ways that will reach, attract and compel your audience.

Take testimonials. Who are they from, and what do they say? Do they come from your target market? Does the testimonial say “I love this product,” or does it it give a benefit to the person using it and leaving the testimonial? Is there a photo of a person in the target market using it, or is it a generic photo lifted from the company website?

It’s similar with name dropping. Does your audience care that a celebrity endorses your product or service, for would they prefer some Average Joe raving about it?

Finally, with likes, tweets and comments, quantity matters because the more there are, the more people perceive your product or service matters — and perception is reality.

If you know your audience, you should be able to ensure the testimonials, name drops and social media comment/likes/tweets will resonate.

But here are some tips to further neutralize negative social proof, courtesy of Unbounce:

—Remove share buttons until your site has real traction. How do you know? Online rankings is one indicator, but so is how often your followers share and comment. So, make Twitter, Facebook and G+ buttons disappear for now.  

—Never put those social media buttons on pages that won’t get shared. It’s a waste.

—Don’t show the number of RSS or email subscribers if the number is too low. What’s the right number to start showing? Again, go back to your audience. Chances are, a couple hundred will be too low, but I know a recruiting company whose target is so specific, its audience is 30, so it would be OK to show that number in that case. Generally, when it comes to social proof, higher is better.

—Finally, tweets can take the place of testimonials if you don’t have testimonials yet, or if you do. Embed the best tweets you’ve received from your followers.  

Social proof is a wonderfully useful tool to build your audience, but make sure you do it right so you avoid negative repercussions.

leebarnathan.com

By |2022-10-11T18:27:34+00:00October 11, 2022|communication, Uncategorized, Writing|Comments Off on Beware Bad Social Proof in Your Marketing

The Right CTA Goes a Long Way

Anyone who writes copy online will be familiar with the call to action, those few words that inspire, compel, urge or otherwise convince prospects that they need to talk to you.

According to Hubspot, there are three main types of calls to action, or CTAs: basic, multivariate and personal.

With the basic CTA, all visitors see the same message. Multivariate CTAs are similar to basic, except that there are at least two messages that are tested against the others. Typically, an equal number of random prospects will see one of the messages, and the CTA that converts best “wins.”

Personal CTAs are just that: geared to one person. However, various factors can be used to personalize the CTA. These include location, browser, if the prospect is new or has bought before, if the prospect has downloaded something before, and so on.

One of these three types is 202% more effective at converting. Which one?

Actually, Hubspot calls personal CTAs “Smart CTAs,” but I didn’t want to give it all away.

When you think about it, this makes sense. If you want to differentiate yourself, you need to tailor your message to your audience, and that means you need to know your audience — not necessarily intimately, but with enough knowledge that you can write a message that will resonate with the audience.

In recently querying book coaches. I started with this message: “We work with the same type of client. Your programs help people to write their books, and I ghostwrite books. Would you be interested in a short conversation to discuss how we can collaborate and better serve these clients? Thank you.” But then I would tinker with each message, sometimes mentioning that I edit manuscripts, and sometimes using words in their LinkedIn profile such as “You teach people a specific framework to write their book…”

Of the 20 people I queried, 12 responded, and I set up conversations with five of them, with two others saying they were interested. Of the five I spoke to, two have committed to a working relationship.

I’ve been told that’s a high rate of success, and I attribute that in part to my CTA.

Clearly, CTAs are important, so make sure yours are personal, tailored and smart.

By |2022-09-27T20:33:55+00:00September 27, 2022|communication, Uncategorized, Writing|Comments Off on The Right CTA Goes a Long Way

Why the Headline is So Damn Important

We’ve all been told how important a headline is. Now comes this from Copyblogger: Eight out of 10 people will only read the headline.

Kind of puts the headline’s importance in perspective, doesn’t it?

But what makes a good headline? What makes people claim that “Butt Seized by Terror Police” is a bad headline (and a real one from the British network ITV), and what makes “For Sale: One Used Internet Company Called Yahoo” a good headline (and a real one from NPR)?

If you want more of those eight people to read your words, you’ve got to know what it takes to craft a winning headline that will put the eyes on your prose.

There is only one thing that matters and that’s readers. The headline acts as the first impression that invites people to read on. Some might think a headline should make people care about the story. It doesn’t matter if they care. All that matters is if they read.

So, the reason ITV’s “Butt Seized by Terror Police” is a bad headline is because it makes you laugh and think it’s some kind of Onion headline not to be taken seriously. The real story is that a man named Hassan Butt was arrested at Manchester Airport on suspicion that he recruited British Muslims to join al-Qaeda. The headline doesn’t convey the seriousness of the story.

Similarly, NPR’s Yahoo headline works because it’s easy to understand, is specific, is not overly clever and leads to some sort of reader reaction.

When 80% of readers only read the headline, its importance cannot be overstated. Make sure your headlines lead to your desired results: the story getting read.

By |2022-09-06T16:36:35+00:00September 6, 2022|communication, Uncategorized, Writing|Comments Off on Why the Headline is So Damn Important

It’s In The Writing: Words Still Matter

It’s in the writing.

According to the marketing firm IMPACT’s blog, 60.8% of marketers agree visual content is absolutely necessary.

You can present this information in more than one way.

You could say: A small majority — less than two-thirds — believes in the absolute need for visual content. That means they’re in favor of including photos, graphics and videos to the words already presented.

You also could say: A sizable minority — almost 40%, or almost half — do not believe it. They think the words are far more critical than the photos, graphics or videos you could put out there. 

Or you could simply present the statistic: 60.8% of marketers agree visual content is absolutely necessary.

How would you present it?

The key here is words still matter. Visual content — photos, graphics, videos, charts, animations, etc. — don’t work without the words to start with.

That’s why just presenting the statistic means nothing: There’s no context. What does it mean that 60.8% of marketers agree visual content is absolutely necessary? What kind of visual content? Carmine Mastropierro wrote, “Perfect copy is not enough.” But he acknowledged the need for the copy.

So, which of the other two poll choices are best? You have to know your audience and write to it. Those that say “visual content” is the wave of the present and future probably want “a small majority,” while those that think the words are paramount would respond better to the “sizable minority.”

But the bottom line is that words matter, and you need to ensure you’ve got the right ones.

By |2022-08-24T19:57:41+00:00August 24, 2022|communication, Uncategorized, Writing|Comments Off on It’s In The Writing: Words Still Matter

It’s In The Writing: Combat “Scanners” by Getting to the Point Faster

You’ve written what you think is a solid 1,000 words on a topic in which you’ve an expert. It covers all the key points, you make all the arguments flawlessly, and you post it online where you normally post these sort of articles.

Too bad most of what you wrote will never get read — not because it wasn’t found online, but because people don’t read.

According to the consulting firm Nielsen Norman Group, readers only consume 20% of content on a page. That means only about 200 of your in-depth, thoughtful, priceless words will reach people’s eyes and brains (as for what’s comprehended and remembered, that’s a different issue altogether).

Given that readers only consume 20% of content on a page, what should you do to combat this?

You could write shorter, start with the most important information, or simplify the language. They’re all important, but I would argue the most important is the put the most important information first.

Here’s why: People don’t read online copy the same way they read books or magazines. They do what the website Econsultancy calls “scanning.” They scan the web page looking for the answer to their question. Usually, that question deals with a pain point: Can you solve my pain point? So, start with that I can solve your pain point.

I’m not saying the other two choices aren’t right answers, too. You could make the argument that all of the above is the best choice. Writing shorter increases the odds that more will be read, and using easy-to-understand words also keeps people reading.

So, write copy with scanners in mind. Start with the most important information first. Many people subscribe to this outline: This is what I’m going to tell you, this is me telling you, this is what I’ve told you.

But also consider some of Econsultancy’s tips: using descriptive headlines, bolding the most important info, making your headlines descriptive and to the point, and keeping the paragraphs to 1-2 sentences.

It is still possible to write compelling copy that’s brief and to the point. In fact, it’s becoming required. Make sure you can, or hire someone who can.

#people #content #consulting #readmore #leebarnathan #writing #writeshorter #avoidscanning

By |2022-07-25T18:20:37+00:00July 26, 2022|communication, Website, Writing|Comments Off on It’s In The Writing: Combat “Scanners” by Getting to the Point Faster

Leave No Errors — Find The Eight Contained Herein

It’s all in the writing and editing.

According to the British magazine RealBusiness, 74% of web readers pay attention to the quality of spelling and grammer. This is important because your credibility is at steak with each and every peace you put out there. Granted, there are pimples who won’t care that there’s a mistake here and there, but do you really want to take a Chance and risk it? You put your reputation on the line everytime you comunnicate, so don’t take a chance and make sure no words are mispelled.

As I said in the headline, there are eight errors in the paragraph. Some were obvious, such as a random capitalization in the word “Chance.” Others might be caught if you use a spell-checking machine ( “grammer” and “comunnicate” and “mispelled”). But others require a critical eye because there’s no guarantee an algorithm would catch words that are spelled correctly but are wrong in context (“steak,” “peace” and “pimples”). If you take the time and read what is written, you’ll find all mistakes, including the eighth one, “everytime,” which is two words.

In a poll I conducted on LinkedIn, only 42% of respondents correctly found all the mistakes. This makes me ask, What message are you sending when you see the big picture (the importance of spelling and grammar) but miss some details (the eight errors)? What does it say about your professionalism, competence and attention to detail? Will people think you really care, or are you just mailing it in?

People — and I mean your target markets and prospects — are going to draw conclusions when they see copy you’ve put out that has errors in it. What will it cost you to overlook these seemingly little mistakes? Is it worth that cost? Are you positioning yourself in the best possible way to reach those people?

Some things to think about.

By |2022-07-15T21:07:00+00:00July 19, 2022|communication, Uncategorized, Writing|Comments Off on Leave No Errors — Find The Eight Contained Herein

It’s All in the Writing: Third Grade vs. College vs. Eighth Grade

It’s all in the writing.

According to the blog Boomerang, communication written at a third-grade level receives 36% more responses. Which paragraph speaks to you?

  1. Me and dad hunt for bears and deers. When my dad gets a deer he cuts them. He always hunts. I go with him too and I see him get them.
  2. My father and I spend copious amounts of quality time in pursuit of Ursus arctos and Servus elaphus. When my father successfully eradicates one of Servus elaphus, he carves up the carcass. He regularly seeks to deprive one of these animals of its existence. I accompany him and witness his pursuits.
  3. Dad and I hunt often together. Our targets typically are bear and deer. After a kill, my dad uses his knife to get at the meat we will enjoy for dinner that night.

The first paragraph is written at a third-grade level. The second is college-aged. The third is closer to eighth grade.

It’s all in the writing.

By |2022-07-04T18:42:41+00:00July 5, 2022|communication, Uncategorized, Writing|Comments Off on It’s All in the Writing: Third Grade vs. College vs. Eighth Grade

Word Tip: Shut or Close?

Continuing with my desire to help people use the right words so they sound professional, credible, remarkable and compelling to the people they want to serve, today I discuss whether to use the word shut or close.

The idea came from seeing a post on a LinkedIn group I belong to:

“I don’t know if this is regional thing or perhaps it is just me, but I hear television announcers telling us that a certain company has ‘shut, with the loss of x number of jobs.’ I always thought that you ‘shut a door or a window’ and a ‘company would close down.’”

Close has four entries in my dictionary. The listing that matters here is the first entry, of which there are 18 definitions. Several deal with conclusion or bringing to an end; one says “often used with down.”

Shut has two entries, the first of which has eight definitions. Three of these use close as part of the definition. Two others deal with conclusion, cessation or suspension. Both of these have the note, “often used with down.”

I, too, don’t know if it’s a regional thing, but either word works in this example. A company can close, with the loss of x numbered jobs, as well as shut (often used with down.) You also can close or shut a door or window.

The LinkedIn discussion went off on several tangents: The difference between British and American English regarding “different to” (British) and “different from/than” (American) and then the difference between “gone missing” and “went missing.”

But somewhere among the various diatribes bemoaning the end of civilization as we know it came this from Alison Mahnken: ” ‘Close’ and ‘shut’ (often with ‘down’) are equally acceptable, per esteemed M.-Webster (and definitive resource in American writing/journalism).”

leebarnathan.com

By |2022-06-07T00:13:53+00:00June 9, 2022|Confusing Words, Word tip, Writing|Comments Off on Word Tip: Shut or Close?

Word Tip: Lay or Lie?

I like to say I help my clients use the right words to highlight what makes them remarkable and compelling to the people they want to serve. To do that requires knowing what the right words are.

From time to time, I will publish posts that spotlight issues I see people having with word choice, and I will offer tips to help them use the right words.

Today: Using lay and lie correctly.

Lay is an action word: I will lay  the book on the table. The prosecutor laid all the blame on the defendant. Watch the sheriff as he lays down the law.

Maybe this is where people get confused: “Lay” also is the past tense of lie, which refers to a state of reclining along a horizontal plane. Thus,  He lay on the beach all day. NOTE: He laid on the beach all day also is correct.

Other forms of lie: I lie on his bench because I am homeless (present tense); She is lying down on the bed (present participle).

Here’s another place people might feel confused: “Lie” also means to make an untrue statement. When using “lie” in that sense, the forms are I/you/we lie, he/she/it lies, he/she/it /we lied, everybody’s lying.

I’d love to discuss word choice with you. Feel free to contact me so we can explore how I can help you find the right words to help your business.

leebarnathan.com

By |2022-06-07T00:06:22+00:00June 8, 2022|Word tip, Writing|Comments Off on Word Tip: Lay or Lie?
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