It was the third round of editing on a piece I was writing about the autumn harvest. It was all about kale, collards, squash, and Brussels sprouts. The problem was, I had it all wrong.
Instead of Brussels sprouts, I was writing brussel sprouts. No capital B at the beginning, no s on the end of Brussels.
I've cooked and eaten lots of Brussels sprouts, but clearly I'd never written about them.
Lesson #1: Proper names have proper spellings.
When a red line appeared below the misspelled "brussel," I was surprised. So I checked the dictionary.
I found the correct spelling: A capital B? A bit more digging revealed the name comes from the city of Brussels, in Belgium.
Unless you're certain about the correct spelling of a product, a city, a town, someone's name, title, or product, look it up.
That was last year. This year, I have another editing tip courtesy of the Brussels sprout.
Last week I was watching a cooking show when the chef introduced a new segment by saying, "Today we're making Brussels sprouts."
Lesson #2: Ask yourself, "Is that what's really going on?"
Of course the chef wouldn't be "making" Brussels sprouts, as in constructing or creating them. He would be cooking them. Or, maybe he'd be roasting them.
In the context of the show, it didn't matter much. It was a live taping and viewers could watch and listen.
But his word choice caught my ear. I've been writing a lot and that means I'm rewriting and editing a lot.
I wanted to edit the script, to rewind the tape and have the chef say, "Today we're roasting Brussels sprouts."
Roasting is a more descriptive word. Making is vague and in this example, inaccurate.
Every word has a purpose.
Lesson #3: Just because you're familiar with something doesn't mean you know all you need to know.
It turns out eating Brussels sprouts didn't make me an expert. From misspellings to context and relevance, it's important to know what you're writing about. Do some research. Dig around. What you find may not only surprise you, it could add a new dimension to your project.
Feeling the heat?
If you don't like to write, are feeling overwhelmed, or just need a fresh set of eyes to read through what you written, let me know.
Nonfiction book development and design.
Call 207-252-9757 or write today for a free consultation.
Love It or Hate It
Whether or not you like to write, it seems most of us have to do some sort of writing at some point.
Email is ever-present, websites are all about content, content, content, and blogs can challenge the best of us.
When I'm struggling to begin a new writing project, big or small, I remind myself that getting something down on paper is a good first step. It can be an outline, a summary, or a list. Something, anything to get me started.
When Things Get Fuzzy
After two, three, or four rounds of writing, editing, and rewriting, things can get fuzzy. Overwhelm sets in and I'm burdened by the order of things. I worry about what it is I'm trying say, how much to say, and how to say it.
That's when I revisit one of these books:
• Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
• Writing Well, William Zinsser
• Words Fail Me, Patricia T. O'Conner
Revisiting them reminds me what it takes to write well.
• In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott, reminds me that I just need to start. Forget about word choice and form. Just write.
• On Writing Well by William Zinsser reminds me that good writing is all about rewriting and clearing the clutter.
• Words Fail Me is funny. Patricia T. O'Conner reminds me that each sentence has a job to do, that clarity is paramount, and it's OK to lighten up a bit.
I've read each one of these books cover to cover, many times. But it's hard to remember it all. When my writing gets the best of me, I grab one, read a chapter or two, take a deep breath, and get back to writing.
Writing Is Hard
If you don't like to write, are feeling overwhelmed, or just need a fresh set of eyes to read through what you've written, I can help:
• content development
If I can help, call 207-252-9757 or write today for a free consultation.
I don't know about you, but I always thought The Dog Days of Summer were those days when it's so hot, all the dogs are panting.
Well, the heat does make them, and most of us, pant. But that's not where the name comes from.
No, the term comes from ancient forecasters and astrologers who noticed the seasonal alignment of the Sun and Sirius (the Dog Star constellation). They believed the combination generated more heat and called the stretch between July 3 and August 11, The Dog Days of Summer.
My curiosity about The Dog Days of Summer started with the August edition of my Riddle Me Mail project. I was searching for a theme and decided to go with what I thought I knew about The Dog Days of Summer.
Connecting the Dots
So why do The Dog Days of Summer matter? They're a good example of how often we think we know something, but don't know the whole story.
How one thought leads to another, and how unexpected connections can generate new interest in a familiar topic.
What About Your Book?
What information could you share or clarify? Is there a backstory about your business or story people would find interesting?
Are there ways you might simplify your message?
Could you present it in a new format or context that would generate new interest?
If I can help, let me know.
Look like the professional you are
The demand for books continues to grow. Done right, a book can elevate your business and bolster credibility.
Done poorly, it does the opposite.
Make it easy for people
When people grab a book you've published, they want to trust the information you present.
Good writing goes unnoticed.
Poor writing erodes your credibility
If what you present is hard to navigate or poorly written, people will question how well you know what you say you know. Don't let that happen.
You're good at what you do, let's make sure it shows
It can be a challenge to figure out what to say and how to organize it in an easy-to-navigate format. I can help:
Call or write today and I'll help you with your book development and design.
I'm the first to admit to a little DIY plumbing. I've changed a washer on the bathroom faucet and replaced the hoses on the washing machine. But, when it comes to replacing the seal on the toilet or installing a new garbage disposal, I call the professionals.
DIY publishing and graphic design is easier than ever, and chances are, you publish a lot of your own content.
A critical element in content design, and one that's often misunderstood, is font choice. There are so many to choose from and it's tempting to use too many, or the wrong ones.
Here are some tips to choosing the right fonts that will help you attract and keep your reader's attention:
Display fonts are the fancy, decorative styles, and they should be used sparingly. Just a few words. Really. Maybe a headline. Well, maybe not. Definitely not for sentences or paragraphs. They are just too hard to read. Go easy on these. Too much of a good thing is, well, too much. I used a display font above ... for one number and two words. Just two. And it works. Any more than that and it becomes difficult to read.
These are the fonts that have little bits at the ends and tips of the letters; fonts like Times, Goudy, and Garamond. These are great for long passages of text, for books, and reports. They also add a warmer feel to your text. If you're writing a book, be sure to set the text in a serif font. It's easier to read and will look more professional. Not sure about that? Grab a few books from the bookshelf and see what style fonts are used.
These are straight-up fonts, no embellishment, no little bits at the ends or tips of the letters. Helvetica and Arial are common san serif fonts. You’ll see a lot of san serif fonts on the web. They can be easier to read online for blog posts and on your about page, but again, if you have a lot of text or long passages, consider a serif font. Something like Georgia is great for online reading.
Two things to remember.
1) Make it Easy to Read
Your text needs to be easy to read. If it’s not, people will abandon what you've written and your message will be lost.
- Use display fonts sparingly.
- Choose serif fonts for longer passages and a softer, more welcoming feel.
- Use sans serif fonts for shorter entries, technical writing, instructions, and headlines.
2) Use The Two Font Rule
What is the two font rule? Use only one or two fonts on any document or page. Sure, you can use the italic and bold features within the same font and you can combine it with a display font, but that’s it. Any more than that and you risk losing your reader. Too many fonts distract the eye and make it difficult to follow.
I'm here to help. If you're too busy to worry about font choice, send an email, or give me a call. I'd love to help out.
Nonfiction Book Development and Design
Legacy Books • Memoir • Corporate History
Boost your credibility.
Writing a book can boost your credibility as an expert in your field and serve as a permanent record of your achievements, ideas, and expertise.
Make it the best it can be.
If your book is hard to read or lacks a professional presentation, you'll lose readers before they get to the last sentence in the first chapter.
Let's make your book real page turner.
From creative page designs to illustrations, photos, and sidebars, we'll make it a real page turner.
• illustrated biographies
• corporate histories
Get the 5 Compelling Reasons to Write That Book
Call, text (207.252.9757), or write today, for a free consultation to see how I can help you finish your book.
Handouts or Leave-Behinds?
5 Reasons a Leave-Behind is the Better Move
1. Handouts are Distracting Spoilers
2. Reinforce Your Message
3. Leave a Lasting Impression
4. Expand Your Audience
5. A Good Investment
If you're doing a book signing or workshop with your book, you may want to hand out information. It's a good idea, but you need to plan what to hand out and when to hand it over.
1. Handouts Are Distracting Spoilers
If you offer handouts at the beginning of your presentation, participants will flip through them and jump ahead before you’ve even had the chance to say hello. Instead, create a sense of anticipation by telling your audience you’ll have something for them at the end of your presentation.
2. Reinforce Your Message (and don't share your slides)
Leave-behinds give you the opportunity to repeat and enhance your message. But don’t just share your slides. To begin with, your slides will likely (and should) have minimal information—and they won’t have much meaning if you’re not there to explain them. A comprehensive overview of your talk in a dedicated leave-behind will be more effective.
3. Leave a Lasting Impression
Is there too little time to present all you want to cover? Put it in a leave-behind. Your leave-behind is a tangible reminder of who you are, and your credibility is reflected in the quality of your materials. Make it professional. Get help with the writing, editing, and design. Because it matters. (That’s where we come in!)
4. Expand Your Audience
An effective leave-behind is one that will be shared when participants return to the office and meet with associates. Make it interesting and you’ll capture a whole new audience.
5. A Good Investment
A well designed leave-behind continues to work for you after your presentation. You can re-purpose it as bonus content on your website, use it as a mailer, or post it on your blog.