More authors self publishing

Penelope Trunk wrote a great article about self publishing. I'm starting to see more and more authors detail why it is easier and more beneficial to self publish.

"Marketing online requires that you have a brand name and a following, and the book industry doesn’t build it’s own brand. But I have my own brand. So I’m better at marketing books than you are. I have a voice online and you don’t."

Now I need to take Scott Berkun's advice and write a book myself...


10 Tips on writing from David Ogilvy

Pick the Brain has a good article with writing tips from the original "Mad Man" David Ogilvy. In an internal memo he writes:

  1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
  2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
  5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
  6. Check your quotations.
  7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
  8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
  9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
  10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

I found this article via @slantback who has a blog you should bookmark immediately.


Iconic writers on truth vs fiction

Brain Picking has a great collection of quotes on truth and fiction:

"Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie." - Stephen King

"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” - Mark Twain

"Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.” - Tennessee Williams


The Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors

Search Engine Land posted a nice SEO periodic table on their site.

It's a nice visual way to remind yourself of the things you should and shouldn't do on your site. Combine this with Google's free webmaster tools and you don't need to pay a big expensive SEO company to help your customers to find you.

SEO periodic table


How to pick a good business name

I recently rediscovered The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier and found these nuggets on how to pick a good business name:

  • Distinctiveness
    Does it stand out in the crowd, especially from other names in its class? Does it separate well from ordinary text and speech? The best names have the presence of a proper noun.
  • Brevity
    Is it short enough to be easily recalled and used? Will it resist being reduced to a nickname? Long multi-word names will be quickly shortened to non-communicating initials.
  • Appropriateness
    Is it a reasonable fit with the business purpose of the entity? If it would work just as well for another entity, keep looking.
  • Easy spelling and pronunciation
    Will most people be able to spell the name after hearing it spoken? Will they be able to pronounce it after seeing it written? A name shouldn't turn into a spelling test or make people feel ignorant.
  • Likability
    Will people enjoy using it? Names that are intellectually stimulating or provide a good "mouth feel" have a head start over those that don't.
  • Extendibility
    Does it have "legs"? Does it suggest a visual interpretation or lend itself to a number of creative executions? Great names provide endless opportunity for brandplay.
  • Protectability
    Can it be trademarked? Is it available for web use? While many names can be trademarked, some are more defensible than others, making them safer and more valuable in the long run.

Use your customer's words

Avoid jargon, acronyms and industry terms when describing your products or services on your website.

When you use the words your customers use they are more likely to find you through search engines. Plus when they get to your site, you'll already be speaking their language.

Not sure what words your customers use? Google has some great webmaster tools that you can use for free.


Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips For Writing Well

Nice article over at Copy Blogger that outlines Hemingway's writing tips. Keep it simple and vigorous!


Simple Shoes speak to their audience

I love these promos over at Simple Shoes.

People are more likely to buy products from people and companies that they identify with and Simple relates to their customers by making fun of the current crop of shoe marketing.


Writing for the web

Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen has done a lot of research on how people read on the web.

If you (like most of your customers) are lazy and only scan stuff, here are the highlights:

  • 79% of people scan pages rather than read them word-by-word.
  • The average user reads around 20% of text on a web page.
  • People scan your site in an F-shaped pattern.
  • Avoid marketing jargon and get to the point quick.
  • Introductory text on web pages is usually too long.
  • Tell your customers what you do and why you're better than your competition.
  • Use meaningful headings.
  • Use familiar words if you want to be found by search engines.
  • User's eyes are attracted by actionable content such as features, links, search boxes and buttons.
  • Bulleted lists are your friend.
  • Links should always describe where they will take the user. Avoid "click here" as link text.
  • People don't like small font sizes.