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Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content Hardcover – 4 Nov 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (4 Nov. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118905555
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118905555
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

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


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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 12 Feb. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're looking for a book with good rules and lots of examples, this isn't it. This is more like a collection of articles from various web sources collated and packed into one e-book. The subtitle is more important than the title - this is far more about writing for new media than about writing per se. You're better off going to the original sources quoted here for well written, explicitly argued advice on writing: Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style" and the Economist style guide are both excellent and cheap (the Economist guide is available free online).

For a book on writing, it doesn't grip, and comes across as superficial as much internet writing. The book consists of a large number of chapters, each containing a rule. While the rules make sense, there is far too much telling and not enough showing. A lot more examples would really help to guide writers in what to do or not to do.
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Format: Audio Download
This is my first foray into the world of non-fiction audiobooks. Call it an experiment. I'll try anything once.

As a first try, this probably wasn't the best Non-Fiction book to pick, and it's been a learning experience listening to it.

Let me clarify - this is an excellent book. It has loads of great tips, loads of really useful, easy to action advice that could help elevate anyone's writing, whether you're a newbie, or a seasoned veteran. Handley painstakingly lists resources, tips, dos and don'ts, for a wide range of purposes and platforms. Want to know the optimum number of characters to make your tweet perfectly retweetable? Handley's got you covered.

The problem is, hearing all this as I'm driving to work in the car isn't very helpful. Hearing it at all isn't very helpful, because I want to go back through it, review and recap what I've heard, reference the lists and checklists. Which isn't easy when you're scanning through an 8 hour long audio-file, trying to find the exact point where she starts talking about your particular area of interest, with no indexing of any sort to assist.

About fifty times during my listening to this audiobook, I wished I had the print version. Or even the ebook version. Which is a testament to how good the content is, and how well Handley presents her information in a way that's digestible and aspirational. Which has just left me a tad frustrated by the whole experience, to be honest.

Well narrated, well written, but just not the sort of non-fiction book to be 'read' in audio. I'll go for a biography next time my non-fiction itch needs scratching, I think.

Rating: 4/5 (just get the print version)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs P C Halpin on 28 Jan. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent for those who want to improve their writing skills.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 75 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Ridiculously valuable reference for the marketing writer with lots of specific "how to" guidance 5 Sept. 2014
By PG Bartlett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Writing has been my job and passion for twenty-five years, but I needed some "how to" advice that the author promised in her introduction: "... part writing guide, part handbook on the rules of good sportsmanship in content marketing, and all-around reliable desk companion for anyone creating or directing content on behalf of brands." She delivers everything she promised and more.

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.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A great resource that is easily accessible and will be often referenced. You will see results. 15 Sept. 2014
By Ryan J. Dejonghe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Content, we know you are king, but it is time to meet your queen: Ann Handley. From small blogs to mammoth corporations, Ann Handley has reigned them all. With her eye for empathetic material that is easy to understand and implement, she is justified in her sovereignty.

Handley's latest book, EVERYBODY WRITES, continues her double-decade trend of sharing techniques to cut the mush and filler and create what your reading clientele yearns to see: an attractive and informative message. The book has everyone's favorite--short chapters!--that are organized in an accessible manner: how to write better; grammar rules; story rules; publishing rules; things marketers write; and, content tools.

Note from that list: writing better and grammar are two different things. Both are helpful; both stand alone. One of Handley's most helpful pieces from the section "how to write better" is her writing GPS. She refers to it and expounds upon it throughout the book. In a nutshell, here it is:

1. Goal--what is it?
2. Reframe for the reader
3. Seek data and examples
4. Organize
5. Write to one person
6. Produce the Ugly First Draft (TUFD)
7. Walk away
8. Rewrite
9. Give a great headline or title
10. Have someone edit
11. One final look for readability
12. Give the reader a "what now"

As for grammar, Handley explores shibboleths such as avoiding franken-words and the shaming of adverbs (thumbs up for the numerous Steven King ON WRITING quotes). On one hand it is unfortunate that content creators have to be told the difference between "its" and "it's"; on the other hand it is unfortunate Handley says, "I'd say don't worry about it" about the differences between "that" and "which". If you are looking for syntax instruction, I'd say read Steven Pinker's upcoming book THE SENSE OF STYLE.

Grab this book for one thing: creating better content. That's where Handley shines and that's what most of EVERYBODY WRITES is about. She explains it with this formula: Utility x Inspiration x Empathy = Quality Content. For a math refresher, if any variable equals zero, the final product is zilch. You need utility! You need inspiration! You need empathy! Ann Handley teaches you how to achieve all three.

EVERYBODY WRITES is a great resource that is easily accessible and will be often referenced. You will see results.

Thanks to the kind folks at Wiley for sending this to me for review.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4 Reasons to Buy Everybody Writes 26 Sept. 2014
By Alexandra Barca - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Here are four reasons why anyone who creates content on behalf of a brand — from the CEO to a blog writer — should keep a copy of Everybody Writes at their desk.

1. All of the answers. All in one place.
A day in the life of a content creator is full of questions. Do I capitalize this? Is this active voice? How long should this subject line be? What should I title this post? Will this appeal to my audience? As a content creator myself, sometimes I Google the answers to these questions or scour the Internet for best practices. Other times, I ask the questions aloud, hoping someone sitting nearby might be the definitive source on well…everything. (Kudos to my colleagues who always try their best to answer my questions, especially the software engineers, who, I’m sure, are largely uninterested). Enter Everybody Writes — a book that really does have all the answers. Problems with grammar? Check Chapter 37. Wondering what the ideal length for a blog post is? Chapter 60. There’s even a full list of words to avoid because they simply aren’t real. (Spoiler alert: contrary to popular belief, “amazeballs” is not a real word.)

2. Learning doesn’t have to be boring
We’ve all taken a course in writing at one time or another — whether it was freshman composition in high school or an advanced business writing class in college. This means we’ve seen the basic writing textbook, packed with rules about paragraphs, grammar, spelling, tone of voice, style etc.
Although useful, these books are boring. Everybody Writes has the same utility as these textbooks, but is far from boring. At times, it’s even laugh-out-loud funny. One of my favorite lines in the book comes when Ann applies the phrase “You can’t rush art” to the writing process:

“But forget that mantra. Because at some point, you do have to rush your own art. Otherwise, your art sits on its butt on the couch eating chips and salsa.”

Later, she urges content creators to establish a voice for their brand, or as she puts it, “an expression of your company’s personality and point of view.” She lists examples of brands with unique voices such as Wistia and Burger King. However, it’s clear that one of the most unique voices to draw inspiration from is Ann’s.

3. A humanizing look at content curation
Ann offers up some great advice on how to make the often-automated process more personal. She urges readers to add context, commentary and a human element to each curated piece. This is valuable guidance for many content marketers who tend to curate content without adding any value for the reader.

4. Inspiration
For almost every tip or fact that Ann provides, she also includes a specific example of how this tactic worked (or didn’t work) for a well-known brand.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Absolutely fantastic book for everyone who writes...so, everyone! 10 Sept. 2014
By Kerry Gorgone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Writing is like breathing: everyone has to do it. I've followed Ann's work for years (even before working with her at MarketingProfs), and used her previous book, Content Rules, as a textbook in my graduate class covering New Media Marketing. Her writing style is informative, irreverent and fun, and every piece of hers I've read over the years has taught me something.

If the idea of writing intimidates you, this book will set you at ease. Ann offers encouragement, along with a detailed, helpful explanation of the writing (and editing) process.

This is not a grammar book. To be sure, there are helpful tidbits and guidelines for writing, and the book necessarily covers certain elemental rules, but the advice Ann offers goes well beyond syntax, and arises out of her own extensive experience crafting brilliant, engaging stories.

Get this book. You will find it beneficial, as well as highly entertaining.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Everybody Writes: Your go-to guide for writing killer marketing content 29 Jan. 2015
By Gary Teagarden - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you had two days to learn everything about how to write killer marketing content, but could only choose one resource, glom onto Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes.

Everybody Writes: Your Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content is Handley’s second book, following Content Rules, the New York Times best seller she coauthored with C.C. Chapman. She’s also the chief content officer of MarketingProfs, the well-known training and education company.

Full disclosure: I’m a big fan of Handley’s work, having read and used her first book as a resource for a master’s thesis a few years ago. I also saw her deliver a memorable keynote at a content strategy conference. That said, I’ll keep my viewpoints as objective as possible, but I bet this book makes it on to your “must read” list.

If you’re a marketer and create content for a living, this book should be mandatory reading. Why this book? Handley wants to “wage war on content mediocrity.” She says “Ninety-three percent of business-to-business companies are using content in their marketing mix. Yet, nearly half of B2B companies struggle to develop content that engages.”

Today, content marketing pundits harp that we all need to be storytellers. And why not? Readers (customers and prospects) easily forget facts, but recall a good yarn in the right context.

Handley offers this raison d'être for all content marketing pros: “What matters now isn’t storytelling: what matters is telling a true story well.”

The quintessential how-to

This is one of the most useful books on writing I’ve read. You’ll be able to put its principles into action immediately and improve your writing. Handley’s predilection for how-to books was one of the reasons that drove her to write this book in the first place. She says there are already many excellent books on writing, “but they aren’t very how-to or prescriptive. (Which is always my bias. I like how-to advice. I don’t know what to do with more high-level, other than to wish it were more how-to.) Alternatively, much of what passes for writing advice gets too deep in the weeds of writing construction. Great if you’re looking to up your score on the SATs, not so awesome if you just need some guidance on how not to sound like an idiot when you craft this week’s customer mailing.”

The author followed her own writing advice in how she organized the book. It’s chopped into pithy, short sections and chapters with colorful titles, and digestible paragraphs. Plenty of graphics and Handley’s casual, sometimes funny style, make the 300-page book easy to plow through. Everybody Writes is divided into five parts:

Part I: Writing Rules: How to write better (and how to hate writing less)
Part II: Writing Rules: Grammar and Usage
Part III: Story Rules
Part IV: Publishing Rules
Part V: 13 Things Publishers Write
Part VI: Content Tools

In the first few parts of the book, the author teaches you how to be a better writer by urging you to ditch your bad habits and get started on good ones. Some of her advice is not that new—active vs. passive voice—but remind us what the tenets are of good writing.

She reminds us how marketing writing differs from most other genres in a chapter titled Develop Pathological Empathy. “Empathy for the customer experience should be at the root of all your content.” What matters most, she says, is the content must solve customer problems.

Handley’s book is brimming with aphorisms, titles and tips that are just too numerous to name them all here. Here’s a list of my favorites:

• Writing is a habit, not an art
• Show, don’t tell
• Shed high school rules—Yes, you can begin a sentence with and or but.
• Utility x inspiration x empathy = quality content
• Ban frankenspeak (buzzwords) like solopreneur, ginormous, etc.
• Ditch weakling verbs
• Be rabid about readability—use bulleted lists, subheads and short paragraphs
• Use analogies to make your writing more colorful—instead of the leaves of the pumpkin plant are huge, say the pumpkin leaves are the size of trash-can lids, covering pumpkins the size of beer kegs.

Another one of my favorite sections of the book is Part VI: Content Tools. Think of this as an enormous toolbox stuffed with dozens of gadgets and tools:

• Research and knowledge management tools
• Writing tools
• Productivity tools
• Editing tools
• A few great style guides
• Non-text writing tools
• Blog idea generators
• Google Authorship
• Image sources (Or, stock that doesn’t stink)

Finally, when it comes to telling true stories well, Handley implores us to speak from the heart (and get rid of buzzwords). She quotes author Neil Gaiman who says “Start telling the stories only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that—but you are the only you.”

“What sets you apart? What’s unique about your story?”

Read this book …write killer marketing content and start telling true stories well.
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