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Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content Hardcover – September 15, 2014
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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
PRAISE FOR EVERYBODY WRITES
“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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Top Customer Reviews
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. You'll find lots of detailed suggestions, such as how to properly cite others' work within your own. I particularly liked her chapter entitled, "See Content Moments Everywhere," which will open your eyes to the opportunities all around you for interesting stories that will help your brand punch above its weight. (And that's just one example of 15 subjects she covers in this section.)
But Part V – wow! It alone was worth ten times the price of the book. She gives point-by-point guidance for 13 different types of content that marketers create, such as blog posts, tweets, emails, headlines, home pages, infographics, and more. Nearly every marketer will learn something on every page of this section, no matter how experienced you are. I expect to return to this section again and again.
Part VI concludes with a list of pointers to various types of tools and resources that writers will certainly find useful.
With so many wonderful resources available to marketing writers today, especially content marketers, it takes a lot to stand out above the crowd. But in Ann Handley's "Every Writes," she delivers one of the most useful pieces I've seen.
Looking through the praise pages of "Everybody Writes" I was awed by the content creators that heap gushing praise for the book and author. It's a Who's Who of the best content creators of the day, David Meerman Scott author of "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" and Brian Clark who sits atop the Copyblogger empire and Jay Baer President of Convince and Convert are just three of the heavy hitters who love this book.
I am not a heavy hitter, I struggle to find my voice and distill a story down to its essence. During my reading of "Everybody Writes" I found myself putting it down and sitting at my keyboard testing Handley's suggestions. I've tested some (to early to have adopted all of them) and they work if you are willing to put the time in. There is no shortcut for putting your fingers to the keyboard or pen to paper. You just have to do it.
I encourage anyone who writes for pleasure or profit (or hopes to write for profit) to buy this book, turn off the T.V., radio, computer, etc. and just read "Everybody Writes" from beginning to end. Then go back and read it again extracting the strategies and tips that resonate to you. The responsibility to be a good writer then lies with you. The tools have been given to you, sharpen them daily and see how your writing improves.
This is the most practical, readable, and enjoyable book on writing I've read.
Here are a few of the reasons I found the book valuable:
It offers well-articulated rules for the next time I have to explain my edits to others.
Some grammar rules I know by intuition rather than by rote. Ann offers pithy explanations of those. She’s also gathered data on the ideal length for website text lines and paragraphs. You may find this helpful when justifying your ruthless edits.
I learned fun new words and facts
I did not know the terms mondegreen or eggcorn (misheard terms that gain a life of their own). My life is richer for the existence of these two words.
New tools and resources!
Ann has done a great job of curating a collection of tools for writers. I have only started exploring these resources. For example, did you know about the site 750words.com to help you write at least 750 words each day?
Validation and support
The final take-away for the professional writer is this: people do care. When writing for industry, it’s easy to get sucked into jargon and industry-speak. Swimming against the tide can become difficult after a while. Throughout Everybody Writes, the unifying message is that it does matter – because everybody is also a reader.
I’d recommend this book to writers at all phases of their careers and capabilities. Because while everybody writes, we all can find ways to do it better.