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Entries in writing (13)

Monday
Apr202015

Do Your Think of Yourself as a Writer? 

A couple of situations occurred over the past week which raised some questions in my mind about how people look at themselves, especially when it comes to identifying themselves as writers. First, I received a comment to a recent blog post that I bet many readers will resonate with. Kerry Hargraves' comment talked about how in her various past careers she wrote all the time but never considered it writing. “I love words and their proper usage and used that to great advantage but at no time did it ever occur to me to call myself a writer.”

Now that Kerry has her own business, she still writes all the time, but it is so much harder because it is now about her. “Words that flowed easily now fight me because they are so much more important.” However, interestingly enough, because she struggles to write for herself, she now recognizes that she is a writer. Sort of coming around to it from the back side, but guess what Kerry. YOU ARE A WRITER!

The second situation was when I was at an event where I had a table for Our Little Books. People would come up and chat with me about their writing and potential books. However, I had several people come up and announce, quite adamantly, that they were not writers. I asked one event attendee, Ruby Trammel (who had told me she was not a writer) whether she blogged? “Yes.” Did she write copy for her website? “Yes.” Did she write articles? “Yes.” Did she write sales pages and such? “Yes.” Hmmmmm. Guess what Ruby. YOU ARE A WRITER!

Both Kerry and Ruby really got me thinking about how people think about their own writing. Why is it, when most everyone who has a business definitely writes, people don't think of themselves as being a writer? Of course, I then thought about my own writing and I realized that I was no different. When I look back, I realize I've always been writing. Even in my 30+ years as a successful disability lawyer, I was always telling my client's stories, writing briefs for judges or the courts. Then I wrote my first non-fiction book, The Little Book of Identity Theft, which was actually the basis for starting the Our Little Books Publishing company. Since then, I've written and ghost-written other non-fiction books, blogged, wrote articles, and website copy. I also mentor and coach other beginning and advanced writers with their writing. But despite all that writing, just like Kerry and Ruby, (and this is a confession) I never thought of myself as a writer.

I knew I could write. But somehow, that didn't translate to thinking of myself as a writer. This really surprised me since I actually teach people that they are writers. It is my business! How could I not think of myself as a writer? It wasn't a negative. It wasn't a self-limiting belief that I thought of myself as a non-writer, because if you asked me if I wrote, I would have said, "of course." I just never thought of myself as a writer. What was it that made that disconnect being a writer and yet, not thinking of yourself as a writer?

I recently started my first novel and have written over 100,000 words. Somehow, that changed my mindset. I now think of myself as a writer! But people shouldn't have to write 100K words to get in their heads that they are writers. So I have made it a personal campaign to remind everyone to think of themselves as writers. Do you blog? You are a writer. Do you journal for yourself everyday? You are a writer. Do you write articles? You are a writer. Do you write information for your website? You are a writer. Do you write sales copy for your business? You are a writer. Do you write letters? You are a writer. You don't have to have written a book to be a writer. If you put pen to paper or hands to keyboard and produce written words, then consider yourself a writer. Once you change your mindset, you will be surprised at how much easier writing becomes.

Are you a writer? OF COURSE YOU ARE!!

As a Publisher and Writing Guide, Candace shows speakers, coaches and other service based professionals how to take what they uniquely do and build it into a marketing strategy that builds instant credibility by writing and publishing their own book. For those interested in getting started writing or how to use your words, the next one-day Writer's Workshop will be on 5/16/15 in Alameda, CA. For those of you who would like to work with her 1 on 1 on how to write your book, or would like to explore how you can publish with Our Little Books, please contact her for a free consultation.

Monday
Apr132015

Why is Writing So Important to the Success of Any Business?

Words. We talk, we read, we write. We use words without even thinking about them. Yet when somebody specifically mentions writing, many people freeze up not believing they can write. “I'm not a writer!” they say, truly believing it. Does that sound like you?

If you have a business, you need to understand that you are a writer, despite what you think. Writing does not mean just being an author of a book. If you have a web page or a blog, if you write articles and sales page copy or any other form of marketing for your business, you are a writer. If you are a business person, you need to change the perception of yourself by beginning to think of yourself as a writer and realize the importance of the words you use, especially in your business writing.

As you write, the language you select is very important. The words you choose will make a difference in how your reader perceives what you have written. You can dole out information, express your feelings, tell someone what to do, or just converse. You can make a sale or blow a sale just with your choice of words. You can convince, persuade, cajole, plead or entertain with your words. Your language will make people believe in you or think you are not worth the effort. How you communicate, the language you use, will say volumes about you.

Often time, your writing and the language you use is the very first introduction of who you are to your reader. If your use of language, e.g., choice or use of words, spelling, grammar, etc., is incorrect, then you will not be giving out the professional signals you want to send to begin a profitable business relationship with potential clients or customers. You can always become a better wordsmith. But it does take some work.

Here are some suggestions to improve your use of language which will ultimately improve your writing.
Observe and listen to language experts or just good speakers . Listen to the choice of words and how they use them.

  • Read, read and read. Pay attention to the language and how it is used in what you are reading.
  • Keep a dictionary and thesaurus at your side when you are writing, and USE them!
  • Carry a little notebook around with you and write down all the words you hear that you may not be sure of. Then look them up and use them in a sentence to get practice using them.
  • Listen to the classics being read aloud. Listen to how the authors use language.
  • Pay attention to the words you use. Try to use a new word a day in your conversation or writing. Soon you will find that your vocabulary is increasing and your writing improves.
  • Did I mention, read, read and read? The more you read, the more you will find that you just become a better writer and communicator. Language will become more natural to you the more you read.

Many people do not realize the importance of language, or the words they use. As a result, they may not be presenting the best foot forward either personally or for their business. So, take the time to become a better writer by becoming better at the use of words. You will be glad you did!

As a Publisher and Writing Guide, Candace shows speakers, coaches and other service based professionals how to take what they uniquely do and build it into a marketing strategy that builds instant credibility by writing and publishing their own book. For those interested in getting started writing or how to use your words, the next one-day Writer's Workshop will be on 5/16/15 in Alameda, CA. For those of you who would like to work with her 1 on 1 on how to write your book, or would like to explore how you can publish with Our Little Books, please contact her for a free consultation.

Thursday
Jan292015

How Can Writing Change Your Life?

You want to write that novel that has been rattling around in your head for years. Or, you know you should write that non-fiction book for your business because you understand the principle that it is important to be seen as a business expert and a published author. But the idea of writing a 200-300 page book seems so overwhelming and intimidating that you just can't seem to get going. Besides, your book will be a success only if someone wants to read it, it is well written, and provides enough information that your potential readers want more. How do you do that if you don't even know where to start?

My suggestion would be to take a writing class, or an online writing course or a writer's workshop. Even if you don't think you can write a single word, or don't have a clue of what to write, or think you hate writing, if you get connected to people who know how to write, you will learn tips and techniques that will take your ideas and turn them into something worth publishing and maybe even learn to have fun when you write!

When I run an Our Little Books' Writer's Workshop, I have people set out their intentions for the day before we even start. I feel that if people put what they want to accomplish out into the nethersphere, then they are more likely to focus on what they want to do with their writing all during the day. I always include myself in this intention stating process as my intentions as the writing guide, are small. All I really want to have done by the end of the day is to change everyone's lives, even if just a little! As I said, nothing too big...

I don't expect major life altering shifts (although that has happened), but rather I want participants to walk out of there thinking a bit differently about themselves. I want them to be more aware of their writing and their ability to write. I want them to realize that writing will change them as a person and that what they write will change others. People don't write in a vacuum. You not only write for others, you write for yourself, and that process has to change you in some degree.

In an Our Little Books Writer's Workshop, we walk through connecting to your deeper self because before you can write for someone else, you have to know who you are. We talk about why YOU are specifically the one to write YOUR book. We spend a lot of time on stories because stories are the key to connecting you to someone else. We connect our stories to our passions and what we may be passionate about. We talk about publishing and spend time really defining who we are writing for (and it's not 'anyone breathing'!). We mind map our book, getting at least 10 chapter ideas to start. Throughout this whole process, we write, write and write. It is a writer's workshop after all!

What this process accomplishes is a much better understanding of who you are, how your stories connect you to everyone and how you can change someone's life with your book. That is a very powerful process. Going through that process can not help but change you in any number of ways, certainly the least of which is having you feel like a writer. Then you only have to take the next step and finish getting your book written!

Candace Davenport is a Writing Mentor and Publishing Consultant for Our Little Books. For those of you who would like to work with her 1 on 1 on how to write your book, or would like to explore how you can publish with Our Little Books, please contact her for a free consultation. For those interested in getting started writing, the next one-day Writer's Workshop will be on 5/16/15 in Alameda, CA.

Tuesday
Dec092014

Style Your Writing For Your Target Market

You know you are a good writer. You write and edit and proof and edit again and then proudly post your words. But you aren't getting the response you expected. Why don't people see how brilliant you are? Why don't you get people flocking to your site/blog/products/services? Most likely it is because, despite how brilliant your words are, you are not talking in your target market's language so that they can understand.

We all talk a certain way and we all write a certain way. But if you are writing non-fiction for your business, unless you use words that your target market (the people you are trying to reach) will understand, your words are going to be wasted because the people you are writing for will not get it. Your words will not connect with them and so they won't see how you can help. It's not in their language.

Think of traveling. You are in a foreign country and you try to communicate with the population in your own language. They may get the sense of what you are saying, but they won't understand the underlying concepts. They won't take the time to figure out what it is that you are really tying to say. They won't really connect with you. Your target market is the same way.

Most of the time your target market will not be as smart as you in your area of expertise. That's why you are the expert and why they need you. But they don't want to hear all those big words/concepts that you throw around as the expert. They don't want perfect sentences. They want to know how you are going to help them. They want something that makes sense TO THEM!! So, you need to write in words that they will understand. You don't need to change your ideas. Keep the exact same content, but make it an easier read. This has absolutely nothing to do with content- just writing style.

Remember, you are inviting them to work with you or buy your services. You are not trying to get a passing grade on a thesis. If they don't understand what you want them to do because you are speaking a language that they don't understand, then they will never become your clients. Be very clear on who your target market is, then listen to their language. Find out who they are, how they 'talk'. Then talk to them so they can hear. You are likely to find you will get far more responses if you just listen and style your writing for your target market.

Candace Davenport is a Writing Mentor and Publishing Consultant for Our Little Books. For those of you who would like to work with her 1 on 1 on how to work with writing for your target market, or would like to explore how you can publish with Our Little Books, please contact her for a free consultation. For those interested in getting started writing, the next one-day Writer's Workshop will be on 5/16/15 in Alameda, CA.

Wednesday
Dec032014

How Can Copyright Protect Your Work?

We are very pleased to offer the second of a 2 part blog post from Barbara Ingrassia, Copyright Manager extraordinaire, for Our Little Books Guest Post Wednesday. The first part dealt with what you can do with other peoples' work and this second part is devoted to how you can protect your own work. Remember, knowledge is power!

In the previous post, I discussed how you can comply with copyright law as a consumer of 3rd party copyrighted works.  In this post, I’ll discuss how you as a CREATOR can protect your original creative work.

Imagine, you’ve put your time and energy into this new work. You’ve cleared the rights for 3rd party works, as appropriate, and provided attribution for quotations, ideas, etc. You CREATED a new work. Now, how do you protect your investment?

First of all, you have to understand that copyright does not protect ideas, but the expression of original, creative ideas. So, at the moment an original creative work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression (i.e., down on paper), it is protected by copyright (including print, audio, video, digital).

While it is not required that you include a copyright notice (© Year. Name. All Rights Reserved) in order to establish copyright, I highly recommend that you do. Place it on the title page, home page, at the end of a post, on the label, meaning in a conspicuous location. This is a very simple step, but very important. Why? It signals users that:

  1. the work is copyright-protected
  2. when it was copyrighted
  3. who is the copyright owner, and
  4. what rights are available to the user

Then there is no excuse for a user to claim that they didn’t know that the work was copyrighted. You might also include your contact information (typically email address) to make it easy for users to request permission to use the work.

Consider taking an additional step to increase the protection: register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Again, it’s not required, but there are advantages:

  1. Establishes a public record (searchable online)
  2. Allows the filing of an infringement suit
  3. Makes statutory damages and attorney’s fees available to the copyright owner, and
  4. Allows registration with the U.S. Customs Service to protect against the importation of unauthorized copies. 

It is not expensive to register and you can complete the forms online. There are very helpful tutorials and FAQs to help you complete the forms; in most cases you do not need an attorney to complete the submission process. To register a work go to: http://copyright.gov/ The date your file is complete will be the effective date of the copyright, if granted. Understand that the Copyright Office will not monitor use of your content; that is your responsibility. Search the Internet regularly for use of key, unique phrases from your work, as well as your name.

In the past, many authors have (sometimes unknowingly) transferred all of their rights to another party—usually a publisher. If you are working with a publisher, think about what uses you would like to make of your work, and negotiate to retain those rights. A signed license/transfer agreement trumps copyright law. In your excitement to be published, don’t simply sign the form presented to you. Today, thanks in part to the rise of self-publishing on the Internet, many authors are able to retain their copyrights. (Note from Our Little Books: we support our authors and never take their copyright. Listen to Barbara's advice...check your agreements before signing!)

One last point: when you are planning a joint project, create and sign a written agreement clarifying who will own the copyright. This is particularly important if volunteers, interns, contractors (illustrators, photographers, graphic artists, etc.), or employers may be involved. Don’t just assume that you will own the original creative work of others who contribute to the project. Yes, copyright in the digital age can seem complicated and murky, but you can learn to manage copyright so it doesn’t manage you.

Barbara Ingrassia is a Certified Copyright Manager who provides one-on-one consultations, workshops, and seminars on all issues copyright. To engage Barbara for an audit of your website for copyright issues or for more information about copyright, request the free 16 Page report 10 Biggest Copyright Mistakes Small Business Owners Make AND How to Avoid Them! by sending an email to barb@managecopyright.com with the subject line CREPORT. Manage copyright. Don’t let it manage You!℠

(Information provided here should not be construed as legal advice.)

The content of this post is © 2014 Barbara C. Ingrassia All Rights Reserved.