A Visit From The Book Designer (and Good News for Self-Publishers!)

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Regular readers of this blog or those of you who have ploughed your way through all 120,000 words of Self-Printed will know that I’m a big fan of The Book Designer and the man behind it, Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman on Twitter). It’s a fantastic resource for self-publishers and it always makes for interesting reading too. Joel also runs monthly e-book design awards, which offer a sometimes wonderful, sometimes… um, not so wonderful (ahem) insight into the world of self-published e-book cover design. Recently he launched Book Design Templates for self-publishers, and he’s here today to tell us more about them. Welcome, Joel! 

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Me: Please explain to us what exactly are your Book Design Templates, and how self-published authors can use them. 

Joel: They are Microsoft Word template files specifically designed for authors who want to do their own book formatting. A template file is simply a pre-formatted layout used to make new documents with the same design. There are 9 different designs, and each is available in standard book sizes as well as in ebook versions.

The templates allow you to quickly create a book interior because all the basic work has been done for you. The templates are sized properly and contain all the Word style definitions needed to format the text in your book. Not only that, they come with the fonts you need as well as an extensive Formatting Guide that walks you through the process of getting your text into the template.

M: You know there are self-publishers reading this now who can’t imagine why they’d need to use one of these templates. Here’s your chance to convince them… 

J: Well, let me tell you Catherine, that there are a lot of authors who need something like this. The reason I say that is because I see a lot of self-published books, and most of them contain formatting errors. And I don’t mean errors like forgetting to put in your chapter title, I mean errors in book construction.

Now there’s no reason an author can’t do the same thing herself. What the template accomplishes for you is to make sure your file is set up properly, that it looks good, that you’re using appropriate fonts, and that your book will conform to industry standards. So we’ve taken care of most of the work for you, and at a very reasonable price. I think that’s pretty cool.

M: Your website, TheBookDesigner.com, is a treasure trove of advice for the self-publishing author (that I recommend to other self-publishers all the time). What do you think is the ONE thing self-publishers need to know about producing a professional-looking print book? 

J: If you want to create a package that gives your book the best chance of success, there are things you can do. First, for your cover, I strongly recommend hiring a professional cover designer, and this expense will be well worthwhile.

For those authors who plan to produce their own book interiors, you’ll need to learn about how books are put together, where each part is supposed to be in relation to other parts of the book, how we separate sections and number pages, and all the minutia of book construction.

Your other choices are to hire a book designer to format your interior, or you might want to take a look at our book templates, which take care of most of this stuff for you.

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M: Once upon a time I didn’t understand why self-publishers would start Chapter 1 on page 1 when, presumably, there were traditionally published books on their shelves at home that they could pick up and refer to for guidance at any time. But since then I’ve made mistakes in my own paperbacks (such as not realizing that using MS Word’s sections feature, I can ensure that my blank pages are actually blank) so I can see how it happens. Why do you think it’s so difficult for self-publishers to get their print interiors right, especially considering that there are also—hopefully—avid readers? 

J: Yes, it’s curious, isn’t it? I think I know why this happens, too. Almost all of us have grown up with books, and we were introduced to them even before we could read, when Mum or Dad would read us to sleep.

Consequently, we pretty much take books for granted. They seem like such dead simple parts of ordinary life, we can’t imagine that there’s anything complicated about them at all.

It’s only when you try to create a real book yourself that it slowly dawns on you that the apparently simple object actually has lots of parts, many details that need to be decided, and a whole raft of centuries-old conventions that need to be followed if you don’t want to create uneasiness in your readers.

M: Anyone who has ever tried to format their manuscript for upload to Smashwords or KDP knows that MS Word is indeed the devil. But why is it so difficult to make a good looking paperback interior with it? What are the biggest hurdles? 

J: That’s pretty funny, Catherine. Of course, Microsoft Word is a brilliant program when it’s applied to its intended uses, mostly in an office environment. It makes it easy to create memos, reports, flyers, and many other common documents.

But it was never designed as a typesetting program, or intended for book layout. I can’t tell you how many self-published books I’ve seen with really horrible errors, like running heads on the title page, blank pages with page numbers, text that floats around the page, and formatting inconsistencies throughout.

Our templates were designed to get authors over those hurdles without them having to become Word ninjas. The template makes it easy.

M: The reaction to the Book Design Templates, from what I’ve seen, has been amazing. Has this surprised you? And what’s next for The Book Designer? 

J: Right away it was obvious that we had hit on something people really wanted. Instead of struggling with Word for hour after frustrating hour, and not even getting the result you want after all that work, authors saw right away that the template would free them from the drudgery and mistakes. I love that.

What’s on the horizon? We’ll keep expanding the template line, since we’re getting regular requests for sizes and styles we haven’t had a chance to develop yet.

And I’ll break some news here too. My next business will go in the opposite direction. I’m working right now on setting up a business to provide done-for-you professional-level book interiors based on the outstanding typography produced by Adobe InDesign and employing my own award-winning book designs.

I can’t say any more about that yet, but I’m pretty excited about it. This way, no matter how an author wants to get their book done—by themselves using the software they already own and know how to use, or with professional typesetting—I’ll be able to help them get into print.

For over 25 years I’ve been an advocate for self-publishing, and I love helping authors get their books done and into the hands of readers. That’s my mission, whether it’s on my blog, with these templates, or any of the other ways I try to help authors realize their publishing dreams.

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Thanks so much Joel! And if you’re interested in these templates, I have great news: Joel is offering Catherine, Caffeinated readers a whopping 46% off until April 30 on http://www.bookdesigntemplates.comJust enter the coupon code template46 at checkout.

joelIf you don’t want to go the template route, there’s also the very helpful Book Construction Blueprint, a fantastic resource for anyone creating their own books, and it’s available for free on the template site. You can find that here.

Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) is an award-winning book designer, a blogger, and the author of A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish. He’s been launching the careers of self-publishers since 1994 and writes TheBookDesigner.com, a popular blog on book design, book marketing and the future of the book. Joel is also the founder of the online training course, The Self-Publishing Roadmap.

Notes from ChipLitFest

You may have noticed I’ve been missing for a few days. Well, for the first couple of them I was strolling around Oxford’s cobbles with my brother, wondering how I could possibly get the entire stock of Whittard’s home on Ryan-‘ONE piece of cabbin baggage’-air, and hoping that the strolling was at least contributing to the burning off of the calories consumed at afternoon tea. After that, I was at ChipLitFest.

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May contain cucumber sandwiches. 

With big names splashed all over the program, military-level organization (in a good way!) and five-star accommodation for authors, it’s hard to believe that this was only the second year of ChipLitFest. I was delighted to be invited to do a ‘ChipLit Chunk’ — a two-hour workshop on self-publishing followed by half an hour of coffee and cake with my participants afterwards — and since my big regret at Waterford Writers’ Weekend was not having enough time to attend anyone else’s sessions, I made sure to grab some ChipLitFest tickets as well.

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The main house at Heythrop Park.

ChipLitFest are famous for looking after their authors, which is how I ended up at the stunning Crowne Plaza hotel at Heythrop Park. On 400-hundred-and-something acres, it was like waking up on the grounds of the palace of Versailles in the morning—especially since on Saturday it was all clear blue skies and warm sun. I checked in at the (well-stocked!) authors’ Green Room, collecting my ‘Author’ badge to wear for the day. And there was a even little thank you card from Clare Mackintosh, the founder of ChipLitFest, who invited me. Such a lovely touch!

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No, thank YOU!

My event, The Art of Self-Publishing,took place in one of the most adorable bookshops I’ve ever been in: Jaffe & Neale. In my daydreams about one day opening my own bookshop/cafe, it’s the interior of Jaffe & Neale’s that I’d hope to recreate: plenty of books yet plenty of space, and coffee tables not collected in a far corner but actually dotted around the bookshop. I couldn’t help myself; I picked up Stranded by Emily Barr and We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver while I waited for the previous event to finish. (It being one of my all time favourite novels, I already have a copy of Kevin, but all my books are piled in boxes in a storage unit at the moment and I fancied a re-read.) Then the lovely staff took my coffee and cake order for later—coffee, cake and sunshine? Can’t all book festivals be like this?—and then it was time to start.

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Jaffe & Neale bookshop & cafe, Chipping Norton.

The event went really well, mainly because I had such a lovely group, and afterwards I ran around the corner to the theatre because I had tickets for Lionel Shriver’s talk about new book, Big Brother. Shriver has long been a favourite writer of mine so it was thrilling to see her in the flesh, but honestly: there’s clues in her books, but I didn’t appreciate just how clever and fascinating she is. The hour flew by. I would’ve happily sat there and listened to her for another two after that.

I also had tickets to Peter James, in conversation with the lovely and hilarious Jane Wenham-Jones. James has amazing access to seemingly all branches of the criminal world and the authorities who strive to put a stop to them, and his anecdotes were worth the ticket price alone. Another truly fascinating hour. I snapped up Wannabe a Writer? by Jane (again, another copy, since I have it already—this one was so she could sign it for me) and Perfect People by Peter James, who signed it and wished me luck with my writing.

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A souvenir and great reading for the journey home…

Heading back to Heythrop Park I had a bag weighed down with books and a heart full of love for all those who write them.

Thank you to Clare Mackintosh for a wonderful weekend!

Bit of housekeeping: due to a recent surge in spam, I’ve reverted to the comment moderation setting that means first time commenters must be approved, and thereafter will have their comment published immediately. So sorry if this is a bit annoying but waiting to see your comment appear is better than me having to delete tens of spam comments per post—trust me! 

London Book Fair: The Writer’s New Year’s Eve

Since Monday I’ve been studiously avoiding my London-based Twitter friends. There’s stacks of unread blog posts in my Google Reader account* including a series from one of my favorite writerly advice sites that under normal circumstances I’d gobble up immediately. And every morning, my ‘Morning Briefing’ e-mail from The Bookseller is getting deleted without being opened.

Why? Because the London Book Fair is on, and I just can’t stand to hear about it.

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Not because I don’t like the London Book Fair. On the contrary, I’d love to go. A hall filled with publishers, agents and authors chattering excitedly about books, meeting up with Twitter friends in real life, perhaps even being one of those crazy people who sidle up to agents in the bathrooms and casually slip USB sticks with their manuscript on it into a pocket or a bag… What’s not to like?

The fair itself is not the problem.

I am.

Once upon a time I had never even heard of the LBF, but since I entered the publishing world (through a back gate that Amazon took a crowbar to on my behalf, i.e. self-publishing e-books) four of them have gone by. Four of them! And each one is a reminder that I haven’t got published yet. I realize that I’ve achieved lots of other things, and that’s great, but they don’t add up to getting published. If anything, they make me feel worse, because I look around at all the people I know—and there seems to be lots of them—who are signing with top agents and getting amazing deals and just generally having fantastic publishing-themed things happen to them, and I wonder what the hell I’m doing wrong, because finishing a novel is the only thing on their writing CV while mine, between self-publishing and media appearances and speaking engagements and working with publishers, is running to two pages—

And then the penny drops.

They’ve finished a novel.

I have finished writing one novel in my entire life, and that was back in 2010. It actually coincided with the first LBF I paid any attention to.

I don’t generally talk about my non-self-publishing endeavors on this blog, so here’s a recap: since 2010 there’s been stops and starts, feasts and famines, and two entirely different genres. But due mostly to the fact that self-publishing—and talking about self-publishing—has really taken off for me, I haven’t finished a novel. And because my plan is to use this novel to get an agent, I’m stuck. Stuck and succeeding, at the same time. Amazing things are happening to me because of self-publishing, but my ultimate goal, that of getting a novel published, is getting nowhere.

And every time a LBF comes around it’s a reminder that I’ve somehow let another year go by without finding a way to balance the two. It’s just like New Year’s Eve: a reminder that you haven’t done all the things you said you’d do this year. Only this one is especially for writers, and everyone else at this New Year’s Eve party seems to have just signed a six-figure deal, despite the fact that it wasn’t even on their list of goals this day last year. Hell, they didn’t even make goals last year! This just happened! It all came as a complete surprise!

LBFs past serve as markers in my book deal pursuits. In April 2011, I’d decided to to ditch the new novel I’d started following the ‘we don’t love this but can we see something else?’ feedback that first novel had got, and focus on self-publishing for a few months instead, releasing Self-Printed and Backpacked only a summer apart. In April 2012, I was working on a chapter-by-chapter outline for yet another novel following a meeting with an editor who liked the sound of the idea but wanted to see it worked out, but I was only a few months away from ditching that too in favor of writing something completely different, the thing I (I’d just realized) really wanted to write. And today, April 2013, I’m a third of the way into that Something Completely Different, but busier than ever. I just sent 30,000 words of Travelled: Episode 1 to my copyeditor, I’m doing freelance social media work for a major publisher and ’tis the season of speaking engagements—I’m off to ChipLitFest in the morning and still need to finish my presentation.

I’m not complaining. Not at all. What I’m doing is berating myself for not getting a handle on this. I actually have loads of time. I have oodles of it: I don’t do anything else except this. And all those people I know who’ve signed deals? Almost all of them have full-time jobs. In terms of how much time self-publishing, etc. takes, I work maybe 4 full days a week. That leaves the equivalent of 3 just for writing. So why haven’t I finished? It might be fear, or it might just be plain laziness. It might be all those Scandinavian crime drama box sets. All I know for sure is that I haven’t finished writing a novel I really want to write and am really excited about yet.

I have a drastic plan on the horizon though. And the entire month of May is as yet mercifully free of events. And I’ve watched all three seasons of The Killing, two of Borgen and the only existing one of The Bridge, so I’m out of those for now.

I saw a quote on Pinterest last week: do something today your future self would be proud of. I’ve written it on a Post-It and stuck it to my Mac, and when I read future self I think of me a year from now, and how I’ll feel if I still haven’t finished the novel.

Because I just cannot face another LBF.

What do you think? Are there any milestones that send you hiding under the duvet? Or do you think events like the LBF make good goals to work towards, e.g. by the next LBF, I’ll have finished my novel? Let me know in the comments below…

*I know it’ll be gone soon—I’m moving to Feedly in baby steps.

Social Media for Publishers

I’m just popping in this Monday afternoon to tell you that on Friday 26th April, I’ll be in Dublin talking Social Media for Publishers.

Self-publishers are publishers too, and all the same general principles, ideas, strategies, etc. apply, so I thought I’d share the details here in case any of you lovely blog readers would like to attend.

Here’s the pitch from Publishing Ireland:

Tw€€t This: Social Media for Publishers Half-Day Seminar

Ever wondered what social media is all about? Ever wondered how relevant it really is for your business? Ever asked yourself how far all that tweeting and facebooking would actually get you in terms of sales — real sales? How can publishers best take advantage of the wealth of opportunity this new world holds? How can they identify these opportunities? And in an environment where information is everywhere and attention is short, how can they create the kind of content that will stand out and get shared?

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Self-published media expert Catherine Ryan Howard is here to tell you that social media for publishers really IS that important! Word of mouth is more important now than ever and using social media tools right can not only turn your recommendations into sales but also raise your profile in a very real way. Come join us on Friday, 26 April as Catherine takes the jargon and the mystery out of what has become the fastest and most efficient sales tool ever developed.

When? Friday, 26 April, 12-4pm.

Venue: Publishing Ireland offices, 25 Denzille Lane, Dublin.

Price: €100/€75 for Publishing Ireland members. Tea and coffee will be provided.

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As this is a Publishing Ireland event, please note that although anyone can attend, only Publishing Ireland members can view the full website. So if you’re a non-Publishing Ireland member and you’d like to attend this event, please e-mail Stephanie at stephanie@publishingireland.com.

And if you ARE a Publishing Ireland member, you can read an interview with me here.

Follow Publishing Ireland on Twitter

Did You Win? (And Another Chance To…)

Thanks to everyone who entered the Mousetrapped in hardcover/Self-Printed in paperback giveaway by leaving a comment on one or more of the Mousetrapped Madness posts, which were:

And the winner is…

(Drum roll, please)

Esther E. Hawkins!

Please let me know whether you’d like Mousetrapped OR Self-Printed, and what name should go in the inscription. You can contact me through the Contact page.

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And if you didn’t win, you have one more chance. I’m using Rafflecopter to run a Mousetrapped giveaway on Facebook. Technically it’s only for Mousetrapped but the winner can have any book of mine they want; I’m nice like that.

ENTER THE FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY HERE

In other news, ChipLitFest is just two weeks away and a little bird tells me there’s four tickets left my ‘The Art Of Self-Publishing’ workshop (or there was three days ago, anyway!) Tickets are £25 and you can book them here.

There’ll be no Sunday Reads this weekend, so I’ll see you next week. Have a good one!

Structural Editing For Self-Publishers

Following on from last week’s very popular guest post, Why Hire An Editor?, Robert Doran, editorial director at Kazoo Independent Publishing Services, is back today to tell us about structural editing. While copyediting and proofreading are absolute musts, I don’t think a self-publisher’s money is always put to best use by getting a structural edit for their book. So today Robert gives us some tips on, first of all, what a structural edit is, and secondly, what we can do ourselves to ensure our book is structurally sound. Welcome back, Robert!

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Structurally Sound

Structural editing (sometimes called developmental editing or substantive editing) is the most complex and time-consuming stage of the editorial process. As a result it’s also the most expensive. Nevertheless a structural edit is something that most manuscripts can benefit greatly from. So what’s a self-publisher to do?

I know you’re expecting me to say, ‘Hire an editor!’ and if you can afford to do that, it’s probably the best option. But if paying for a structural edit means you won’t be able to afford a copy-edit, you need to consider other solutions. A copy-edit, to my mind, really isn’t optional, and it will always be the most effective way to spend your budget.

We’ll come back to how you can best handle structural editing in a bit, but first let’s look at what it actually is. Structural editing is looking at the big picture. It’s evaluating a manuscript as a whole and analysing how well its constituent parts contribute to the central message or narrative. Whereas the copy-editor takes a micro view, drilling into the detail, the structural editor goes macro and asks, ‘Does this work as a book?’

In fiction, the main areas that a structural editor will address are:

  • Plot: Does the plot make sense? Is it believable? Is it satisfying or does it leave the reader frustrated?
  • Themes: Are the themes effectively handled? Are there so many that the book lacks focus? Do they interfere with the plot or complement it?
  • Characterisation: Are your characters well developed and believable? Are they cast in a role that fits their personality? Do they sometimes behave out of character?
  • Point of view/voice: Is the voice consistent or is it sometimes confused? Is the voice authentic? Are you using too many or too few POVs?
  • Pace: Does the plot move forward at an appropriate pace? Should you cut that preface? Should the action happen sooner or should the tension build more slowly?
  • Dialogue: Do your characters sound real when they speak? Is your dialogue cluttered with adverbs and beats? Do you use clunky dialogue to move the plot forward?
  • Flow: Is the narrative interrupted by dead-ends and tangents? Is there so much back story that the main plot is dwarfed? Are there missing plot points that would give the narrative greater integrity?

In non-fiction, the principle is the same, but the specific issues are slightly different:

  • Thesis: Is your thesis relevant? Is it clearly defined or is it lost among marginal issues?
  • Exposition: Are your arguments clear and cogent? Are they well researched and properly supported? Do they have a clear relationship with your thesis?
  • Content: Are all the necessary topics sufficiently dealt with? Are the chapters weighted correctly? Is there superfluous content?
  • Organisation: Is the information organised logically? Are tables and illustrations used appropriately? How many levels of subheads do you need and how should they be arranged?
  • Tone: Is the tone appropriate for the audience? Do you need to eliminate jargon? Is the text accessible?
  • Pace: Are there passages that are bogged down in detail? Do you spend too long on detail irrelevant to the main thesis? Are there areas that need further exposition lest they be skipped over?

Although a structural editor may do a little copy-editing as they work through your manuscript, that is not what they are being paid to do. Their focus is much broader, and they will return your manuscript marked up with constructive comments and suggested rewrites that will in any case render the corrections pointless.

So, if you’re saving your money for a copy-edit, what do you do about structure?

Leave it alone. Put your manuscript in a drawer for a few weeks and forget about it. When you come back to it you’ll see it with fresh eyes and you’ll be in a much better position to read it critically. Then cut ruthlessly. Strip it out. Spike anything that you think you might use later or rewrite. You’re likely to find that your cuts have resulted in a tighter, more readable, and more enjoyable book.

Join a writing group. Creative-writing groups provide a great forum in which to have your work critiqued by people who are as passionate about writing as you are. Some opinions may be more informed than others, and you may have to sift through some personal prejudices before you get to the useful pointers, but there are bound to be people whose opinion you value. Keep an open mind and always thank people for their feedback, even if it’s unjustified criticism. If you’re seen to react badly, people with a real talent for spotting problems might choose to keep their comments to themselves. Critiquing sites and internet author forums can also be a great source of feedback and support, especially if you’re the sort of writer who doesn’t like to leave the house. Harper Collins set up Authoronomy.com as a novel way of finding new talent, but it’s also a great place to connect with other writers. YouWriteOn.com offers a similar service. You can read about Irish author Bob Burke’s experience with the site here.

Read books on writing. There are hundreds of books out there on writing. There are books on plot, dialogue, point of view, editing, and every other aspect of crafting a good book. The information is there for you to apply to your own manuscript if you’re prepared to spend fifty quid and a couple of weeks studying the texts. It might not be the same as having a fresh pair of eyes tackle your MS, but if you put a bit of distance between you and your work, you should be able to put your new skills to effective use.

Read the competition. It’s great to be original, but unless you’re Joyce or Kafka it’s best not to be too different. Your competition represents a good guide to what’s expected from you. You should aim to produce something better, extra or novel that adds to the canon, but don’t stray too far from the beaten track or your book won’t fit on any shelf. Read books published in your category in as critical a manner as possible. It helps if you’ve read a few books on writing first – you’ll find that issues to which you were previously oblivious suddenly come into sharp relief. Try to deconstruct the books and analyse how plot, characterisation, pace, etc., are handled, chapter by chapter. Many authors in your category will have faced similar dilemmas as you, and it helps to analyse their results.

It’s true that none of this entirely replaces a professional structural edit, but you can bring your manuscript a long way by investing just a few quid and some reading time. After you’ve done all this, it’s worth having a chat with your copy-editor to explain how you’ve edited. If you show them that you’ve put in the effort and, if you’re extra nice to them, they’ll be glad to watch out for any remaining structural issues. They may not deal with the problems in depth, but they’ll flag them, and, with all that reading under your belt, you’ll have no trouble sorting them out.

Robert Doran is Editorial Director at Kazoo Independent Publishing Services (www.kazoopublishing.com), a one-stop shop for indie authors who want to publish industry-standard books. He has nearly twenty years’ experience in bringing books to market and has worked as an editor, project manager, sales manager, and bookseller in Ireland and in the UK. He is a big fan of the Oxford comma. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEdits.

[Catherine’s note: Back in February I got to listen to the lovely Sarah Savitt talk about editing at Faber Academy, and she said, ‘The editor’s job is to ask the questions.’ She gave us some editorial notes to look at, and they were things that would be going through a reader’s head in a few month’s time if Sarah hadn’t raised them. Like: Why would this character forgive him? She’s no reason to, and But two pages back he said he didn’t agree with that! and I don’t understand why she doesn’t leave the car there?? A structural edit means that these questions get asked—and answered—in private (among other improvements!), before the book hits the virtual shelves, and not on Goodreads and Amazon customer reviews. Haven’t we all seen reviews where readers said something like, ‘I just didn’t get why he/she did that’? It’s like an English essay I wrote when I was in Sixth Class (age 12). The teacher, who usually championed my attempts, made me read out my mysterious character-being-chased-through-the-woods-at-night story (I was big into The X-Files then), before saying in front of everyone, ‘Catherine, you are the only one who knows what’s happening in this story.’ It’s a lesson I never forgot!)

How To Get People To Read Your Blog

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Following on from The Author Platform: Are You Being Cautious… Or Just Lazy?, a few readers commented that they’d like to know more about how to go from blogging into the void, i.e. me three years ago, to having ten thousand followers and 25-30k views a month, i.e. me today.

I’ve avoided doing this thus far because I don’t think you’re going to like my answer. It’s:

  1. Write good blog posts
  2. Don’t over-think it
  3. Wait.

That’s it.

(Sorry!)

Write Good Blog Posts

I tell writers considering self-publishing that the first thing they should do is make sure their book is good, because there’s really no point doing anything else unless it is. When I use good in this way I don’t mean the ‘Oh, the Booker prize judges said that book was really good’ because that’s mostly subjective and we all like different things. I mean good as in has appeal. As in someone else is going to want to read this. Lots of someone elses, preferably.

The problem is that we all think someone is going to want to read what we’ve written. I mean, of course they are. Why wouldn’t they? We’re fascinating! But in the real world, that’s just not the case.

So this is where I tell you how to write blog posts people want to read, right? I really can’t do that. We’re not talking about a checklist, or a template, or a recipe of keywords and search topics that has been proven to work for others. You can either do it or you can’t. Like writing books, I believe you can learn to do it better, but ultimately you can either do it or you can’t.

It’s the same with all aspects of social media: you either are the type of person who does it well, or you’re not. If you’re the former, you can learn some tips that’ll help you improve, and you might pick up a few tricks that make your use of it more effective, but if you’re the kind of person who hates the idea of tweeting, thinks Facebook is for teenagers and has their blog posts set to private, then I can’t help you.

Let’s just all cut the crap and admit this, once and for all.

The only good things about the Irish version of The Voice are what Bressie, one of the judges, looks like, and what Eoghan McDermott, one of the presenters, says. A couple of weeks ago he told the contestants, “remember, if you don’t get through… it’s because you weren’t good enough.”

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Behold: The Bressie.

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