Archive for July, 2011

Who Really Wrote Your Piece?

Do a search on almost any set of words and you’ll find multiple sites that quote them exactly. I was trying to find the originator of a quote one of our authors wanted to include, so I typed in the first few words and got a listing of multiple sites that quoted that exact quote. The problem is not one of them gave attribution to the originator.

When I see that, I wonder who really wrote the quote (or blog entry, essay, or article). Anyone can copy other people’s stuff, but it takes skill and ability to write the original.

I suspect one reason people don’t give credit is they haven’t done enough research to find out who credit belongs to.

Another reason might be the source isn’t deemed influential enough to matter. Some people think you need alphabet soup after your name to be credible. Or you need a fancy title. Or you must be famous. Or (pick your criteria).

Some writers have good sources but are concerned readers won’t accept those sources as credible enough. Don’t let that stop you from giving credit where due. Organize sources by whatever credibility criteria¬† you select (title, awards, fame, credentials, etc.) and give attribution to each source in your writing.

Your sources do matter to your reader, so make sure you offer your good sources in the best possible light. When you do, everyone wins–you, your reader, and your source.

And that brings me to facts versus opinions. If you can back up your writing with facts, by all means do so. But don’t hesitate to also quote opinions–as long as you clearly identify that what you’re writing is an opinion. An example is: “Sarah Anderson, co-founder of Widgets, suggests people are more creative in the early morning hours because their minds are uncluttered by the day’s activities. John Jones, a creativity coach, believes the opposite is true because people draw on the events of the day when they create.”

The bottom line is make sure you are the one really writing your piece, and if you’re including other people’s information in your text, give credit to the originator.

Happy writing!



E-book Tips

Expert Publishing’s newest series, 20 Things Every Successful ______ Knows ™, waited ten years before finding the perfect format–e-books.

The first in the series is 20 Things Every Successful Writer Knows, written by yours truly.

Why did it take us ten years to launch the series? Print books typically require 50 pages to graduate from booklet to book. If you write 20 tips in your field of expertise, you’d have to write at least two pages per tip (plus the front matter and back matter of your book) to reach 50 pages. Sometimes you don’t have two pages of useful information to go with a tip you want to share.

We realized no one wants to read filler, so we never launched the series.

E-books changed all that because e-books don’t have a page number requirement. As we worked on the series, we found some things you might find helpful as you write your e-book.

  • Readers are interested in information, not in how long the book is. Spend your energy writing good content.
  • E-pub surfaced as the primary format for e-books. If you use the old-fashioned .pdf format, chances are your e-book will get forwarded without you getting paid (or even knowing about it being passed around). If you don’t mind that, that’s okay, but most authors want to be paid for their books.
  • Make sure there’s an audience for your book by looking critically at keywords. For example, there’s a bigger interest in being a successful writer than in being a successful author, so writer is the word I chose.
  • Graphics don’t work well in e-books. In fact, the Kindle doesn’t like them much at all, so concentrate on the words, not the graphics.

E-books are great fun to write and once you’ve gotten hooked on using your e-reader, you’ll think they’re great fun to read too.

Happy writing!