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Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content Hardcover – September 15, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 188 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

If you have a website, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages. We are all writers.

Everybody Writes is your go-to guide to attracting and retaining customers through stellar online communication, because in our content-driven world, every one of us is a writer.

Yeah, but who cares about writing anymore? In a time-challenged world dominated by short and snappy, by click-bait headlines and Twitter streams and Instagram feeds and gifs and video and Snapchat and YOLO and LOL and #tbt … does the idea of focusing on writing seem pedantic and ordinary?

Actually, writing matters more now, not less. Our online words are our emissaries; they tell our customers who we are.

Our writing can make us look smart or it can make us look stupid. It can make us seem fun, or warm, or competent, or trustworthy. But it can also make us seem humdrum or discombobulated or flat-out boring. That’s true whether you’re writing a listicle or the words on a SlideShare deck or the words you’re reading right here, right now…

So you’ve got to choose words well—and write with economy and style and honest empathy for your customers. And that means you have to put a higher value on an often overlooked skill in content marketing: how to write, and how to tell a true story really, really well.

Being able to communicate well in writing isn’t just nice; it’s necessary. And it’s also the often overlooked cornerstone of nearly all our content marketing.

In Everybody Writes, top marketing veteran Ann Handley gives expert guidance and insight into the process and strategy of content creation, production, and publishing with practical how-to advice designed to get results.

These lessons and rules she lays out apply to all of your online content—your Web pages, home pages, landing pages, blogs, emails, marketing offers, and to your posts and updates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media.

Everybody Writes is designed to be your go-to guide for creating or publishing any kind of online content—whether you’re working for a big brand or a small business… or yourself.

From the Back Cover


“Throw the others away because this is the only guide you need to elevate your content to the level of awesomeness! With wisdom and an infective wittiness, Ann shows you how to take your writing from awkward or awful to electric or elegant. She’s your favorite teacher, cracking you up while her tough love gets you to do the work to improve. Even though I’ve written 10 books, I still learned a great deal in these pages and now I’m eager to flex my newfound content creation muscles.”
—David Meerman Scott, best-selling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR

“The alternate click-bait title of Ann’s great new book could have been 73 Ways to Improve Your Writing and Conquer the World! …and it would have been an understatement. We’re all publishers now, and the better writers connect, persuade, and win. Be one of them with this book.”
—Brian Clark, Founder and CEO, Copyblogger Media

“All your shiny new channels, properties, and platforms are a waste of space without smart, useful content. Ann Handley’s new book helps make every bit of content count—for your customers and your bottom line.”
—Kristina Halvorson, President, Brain Traffic

“I just glanced at the table of contents and I’m already a better writer. Ann Handley might just single-handedly save the world from content mediocrity. Really, really ridiculously good-looking content just got an owner’s manual.”
—Jason Miller, Senior Content Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

“Let’s face it, writing is not optional for today’s marketer. Ann’s witty take on what works and what doesn’t will help you master business writing and—more importantly—have fun while you’re doing it!”
—Ardath Albee, B2B Marketing Strategist and Author, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale and Digital Relevance (coming in 2015)

“Useful to the extreme, Everybody Writes is the first must-read book on the subject since Stephen King’s On Writing. Bursting with ways to improve your short and long-form content, it’s too good to be skimmed. This book should be included with every keyboard sold, like a combo pack of communication clarity. You’ll be a better writer by page 15. By the end of this book, you’re thinking about giving Steinbeck a run for his money. I passionately recommend Everybody Writes.”
—Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert, and Author, Youtility

“Finally, a sensible writing guide for a digital age! Everybody Writes is a unique blend of how-to-write rules and what-to-write revelations. Whether you are overhauling your everyday communication or sitting down to write a book, Ann Handley’s irreverent style and inspirational wisdom will transform the way you write. Move over Strunk & White, Everybody Writes is the creative resource for a new generation.”
—Andrew M. Davis, Author, Brandscaping


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118905555
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118905555
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Writing has been my job and passion for twenty-five years, but I needed some "how to" advice that the author promised in her introduction: "... part writing guide, part handbook on the rules of good sportsmanship in content marketing, and all-around reliable desk companion for anyone creating or directing content on behalf of brands." She delivers everything she promised and more.

I found the author's style to be entertaining and insightful as well as practical. One mere example among hundreds is her formula for judging the impact of your writing: "Utility × Inspiration × Empathy = Quality Content." Her point: you have to perform well in all three areas; if you score a zero for any one of these factors... well, you can do the math.

Part I reviews much of what I already knew about the process of writing. She covers not only the key steps in the writing process, but also offers detailed insights into refining and improving your copy. Part I contains great advice for people who don't know how to approach the task of writing, and it's laid out in a way that's easy to understand and remember.

Part II, about grammar and usage, offers lots of "Do this" and "Don't do that" advice. If you're a good writer already, then you'll find this section a refreshing, funny reminder about all the ways that we can go wrong with words. But if you're not as good a writer as you'd like to be, you'll learn a lot about giving your language more impact and power.

Part III is the briefest section, but with some powerful advice about crafting a great story.

Part IV contains lots of practical advice about what to write and how to write it.
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Format: Hardcover
Content, we know you are king, but it is time to meet your queen: Ann Handley. From small blogs to mammoth corporations, Ann Handley has reigned them all. With her eye for empathetic material that is easy to understand and implement, she is justified in her sovereignty.

Handley's latest book, EVERYBODY WRITES, continues her double-decade trend of sharing techniques to cut the mush and filler and create what your reading clientele yearns to see: an attractive and informative message. The book has everyone's favorite--short chapters!--that are organized in an accessible manner: how to write better; grammar rules; story rules; publishing rules; things marketers write; and, content tools.

Note from that list: writing better and grammar are two different things. Both are helpful; both stand alone. One of Handley's most helpful pieces from the section "how to write better" is her writing GPS. She refers to it and expounds upon it throughout the book. In a nutshell, here it is:

1. Goal--what is it?
2. Reframe for the reader
3. Seek data and examples
4. Organize
5. Write to one person
6. Produce the Ugly First Draft (TUFD)
7. Walk away
8. Rewrite
9. Give a great headline or title
10. Have someone edit
11. One final look for readability
12. Give the reader a "what now"

As for grammar, Handley explores shibboleths such as avoiding franken-words and the shaming of adverbs (thumbs up for the numerous Steven King ON WRITING quotes). On one hand it is unfortunate that content creators have to be told the difference between "its" and "it's"; on the other hand it is unfortunate Handley says, "I'd say don't worry about it" about the differences between "that" and "which".
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Format: Hardcover
Here are four reasons why anyone who creates content on behalf of a brand — from the CEO to a blog writer — should keep a copy of Everybody Writes at their desk.

1. All of the answers. All in one place.
A day in the life of a content creator is full of questions. Do I capitalize this? Is this active voice? How long should this subject line be? What should I title this post? Will this appeal to my audience? As a content creator myself, sometimes I Google the answers to these questions or scour the Internet for best practices. Other times, I ask the questions aloud, hoping someone sitting nearby might be the definitive source on well…everything. (Kudos to my colleagues who always try their best to answer my questions, especially the software engineers, who, I’m sure, are largely uninterested). Enter Everybody Writes — a book that really does have all the answers. Problems with grammar? Check Chapter 37. Wondering what the ideal length for a blog post is? Chapter 60. There’s even a full list of words to avoid because they simply aren’t real. (Spoiler alert: contrary to popular belief, “amazeballs” is not a real word.)

2. Learning doesn’t have to be boring
We’ve all taken a course in writing at one time or another — whether it was freshman composition in high school or an advanced business writing class in college. This means we’ve seen the basic writing textbook, packed with rules about paragraphs, grammar, spelling, tone of voice, style etc.
Although useful, these books are boring. Everybody Writes has the same utility as these textbooks, but is far from boring. At times, it’s even laugh-out-loud funny. One of my favorite lines in the book comes when Ann applies the phrase “You can’t rush art” to the writing process:

“But forget that mantra.
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