Mark Allen, NAIWE’s AP Stylebook Expert

We wanted to get to know Mark Allen (NAIWE’s AP Stylebook Expert) better, so last month we sat down with him. Here are some things he shared.

What is one thing that you learned about style manuals the hard way, and what benefits have you received from it?

Style manuals keep changing because language keeps changing. There was a time when I felt that I knew all the quirks of the Associated Press Stylebook, and then I found my convictions were no longer valid because they changed the book! There are plenty of shibboleths in the AP Stylebook—things that only AP adherents really care about but that cause consternation when AP makes a change. “More than” and “over” are now mostly interchangeable. The word “collide” no longer assumes that both things are in motion. These are minor things, but no one wants to be enforcing a usage guideline long after it’s dead.

What do you associate with style guide proficiency?

Proficiency with using a style guide is a bit like proficiency with editing in general. We can’t know everything, and we shouldn’t tell ourselves otherwise. Proficiency with a style guide means knowing what we need to look up and sometimes even looking up things we know we are right about. Proficiency is a bit of a false concept. There are many guidelines, many exceptions, and many gray areas where we need to look elsewhere for guidance and ultimately apply common sense. It’s possible to memorize most key points in a style guide, but our memories sometimes fail us, and guidelines do change.

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You can join in this conversation on July 24, at 7 pm eastern, when NAIWE will host a discussion some of the most important changes of 2019.

The Associated Press Stylebook, the essential guide to style and usage for news, PR, marketing, and corporate communication, is now updated for 2019 with its most substantive changes in years. NAIWE AP Stylebook Expert Mark Allen will discuss the important changes in a 90-minute webinar complete with humor and handouts.

The cost for NAIWE members is only $10! To register, send an email with your name and telephone number.

Mark Allen is an editor, writer, and teacher focused on helping people communicate with clarity and honesty. He has trained hundreds of editors and writers on a variety of topics, including the latest and most important elements in the Associated Press Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style. Mark has led conversations about copyediting and writing at conferences and workshops in Detroit, St. Louis, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland, Columbus, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York City, and York, England. He was the first freelancer elected to the executive board of ACES: The Society for Editing, and Mark currently teaches advanced copyediting for UC San Diego Extension’s copyediting certificate program.

Robert Moskowitz, NAIWE’s Professionalism Expert

We wanted to get to know Robert Moskowitz (NAIWE’s Professionalism Expert) better, so last month we sat down with him. Here are some things he shared.

What is one thing that you learned about your craft the hard way, and what benefits have you received from it? Can these benefits be broadened to include professionalism?

The most important thing I learned the hard way (I learned most things the easy way) is not to sign a contract indemnifying a publisher for “claims” against me—such as plagiarism or copyright infringement. “Claims” need not be proven in a court of law, and publishers are happy to make these “claims” go away by settling—which settlements come out of my pocket via the indemnification clause. I now insist on eliminating the word “claims” or including language that claims must be proven in a court of competent jurisdiction. I lose some work with this stance, but I avoid getting badly burned a second time.

I believe it’s professional both to know about this wrinkle in contract language and to have the guts to insist on avoiding it, either by changing the contract or by refusing a dangerous contract. Part of professionalism, of course, is taking steps so you don’t get hurt and so you live to work another day.

What has been your most rewarding professionalism technique, and how was it rewarding? Self? Monetary? Clients?

My most rewarding professionalism technique has been working strategically and tactically to increase my pay. I do this by calculating how much I need to earn from my work, by seeking out high-priced jobs, by avoiding low-priced jobs, by ratcheting up my rates with established clients, and—perhaps most important—by delivering work that is worthy of the rates I seek.

This has been rewarding both psychically (I feel good about myself and my work) and monetarily. I have been able to support a family, send my kids to school, and generally live well.

What do you associate with professionalism?

Professionalism is the distinction that separates wannabees from actual professional writers. It allows me to call myself a writer and not have to qualify that description with excuses or explanations. It means I have worked hard to be among the best at my craft and have succeeded. I can walk into any room and feel confident I am among the best or I am one of the best wordsmiths in there. It means I can accept almost any writing challenge without fear of inadequacy. It means when the going gets tough, I can gather my wits and my skills to get going. It means I have fulfilled my potential and made full use of my gift for writing. My professionalism is a source of pride and satisfaction.

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You can join in this conversation on June 22, at 3 pm eastern, when NAIWE will host a one-hour discussion on exercises to help you know yourself better, business lessons for the professional writer, opening the pipeline to your creativity, turning good ideas into finished material, and how to more fully trust your talent and your know-how.

Almost everyone can write. Heck, nearly every high school graduate can cobble together some words and call it writing. Some people can even earn a few bucks as a writer. But if you really want to pursue the writing life, you’ll find you can do it only if you succeed at becoming a professional. Many years ago, I had a dream of writing professionally. I even got a job as a writer. But it was just a job. Two years later, after too many job interviews in which pretty much every 9-to-5-er I met expressed massive regret at having to give up their dream of writing in order to earn a living, I found myself undergoing a three-month epiphany that helped me transform and commit to the writing life. This webinar is informed by that transformation, as well as by my decades of successful professional writing. It will help you determine just how much “fire in the belly” you have around becoming a professional writer and will help you make the adjustments and develop the attributes you need to get there. We will leave the writing itself for another time and emphasize the professionalism involved in a successful professional writing career.

The cost for NAIWE members is only $10! To register, send an email with your name and telephone number.

Robert Moskowitz is an award-winning independent professional writer who has written and sold millions of words in just about every format over five decades. He instinctively sees the big pictures, breaks each one down into coherent slices, meaningfully prioritizes and sequences those slices, and then executes the tasks inherent in each slice in very productive ways. Put more simply, Robert knows how to succeed as an independent writer, covering all the bases from soliciting assignments to delivering polished work, from pricing jobs to budgeting and managing personal finances, from organizing a conducive office environment to establishing and following sensible guidelines regarding life, work, and productivity. Having done all this, and having paid attention to how he did it, Robert is now in a position to pass along what he knows to others.

Brian Schwartz, NAIWE’s Self-Publishing Expert

Webinar: Building a Content Promotion Strategy to Promote Your Message and Sell More Books!

We wanted to get to know Brian Schwartz (NAIWE’s Self-Publishing Expert) better, so last month we sat down with him. Here are some things he shared.

What is one thing that you learned about your craft the hard way, and what benefits have you received from it?

I’ve learned that consistency is key and to stay the course and continuously build relationships. The self-proclaimed gurus make their living on selling this as something that’s easy to do (if you just buy their courses). You might get lucky and your timing plays a large part. There isn’t a single book out there that can teach you everything you need to know, nor enough time to learn it all. It takes a team and you have to take some risks. It’s never too soon to start building your personal brand, and you need to keep turning over rocks.

What I’ve discovered is that things aren’t often what they seem. It’s good to better understand what you are up against.

Can these benefits be broadened to include marketing?

Absolutely. I’ll provide attendees with actionable steps as part of a long-term plan to help them reach more readers, and I’ll explain the benefits of approaching marketing like a marathon, not a sprint. Successful marketers work from a training plan that allows them to consistently and incrementally increase their mileage through increased visibility followed by sales.

Tangible results come from planting many seeds and thinking like a farmer, rather than a hunter. I find that authors who take the long view can do very well if they stick with it and give the seeds time to grow.

I’ll cover specific tools authors can use to manage the content aspect of their marketing plan and how to create a marketing dashboard to stay on track.

What has been your most rewarding marketing avenue, and how was it rewarding? Self? Monetary? Clients?

I appreciate the opportunity to share what I know with people who have a shared interest. I know of an author who is also an artist who sold her artwork (to the tune of over $30,000) to someone who discovered her through her books. This event also led her to get a deal to have her artwork featured in a Broadway play. I know another author who is being paid to blog for a company. Many authors’ books have led them to paid speaking gigs and workshops. For a non-fiction author, a good book can become their most effective marketing tool.

What do you associate with marketing?

Marketing is the act of generating awareness for your work to your target market (those who can benefit). It’s about leveraging and amplifying word of mouth for your mission, book, or business. It fuels a continued effort to refine and improve your work based on the feedback from your fans (readers, students, and colleagues). Another less common perspective of marketing is to view it as creating an opportunity to gain feedback from your users (readers) to guide you toward how to improve your product and tune your pitch.

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You can join in this conversation on April 25, at 7 pm eastern, when NAIWE will host a one-hour discussion on creating a marketing toolkit.

Getting your book found is a matter of having the right content in the right place at the right time. The good news is that it’s less about driving traffic to your own site and more about being visible where your target audience already exists. It’s wise to choose a few platforms to master before you spread yourself too thin, but which ones produce the highest return-on-investment? Learn to create content that gets the clicks on high-traffic sites including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Medium, LinkedIn, YouTube, Quora, Flickr, Huffington Post, and more.

The cost for NAIWE members is only $10! To register, send an email with your name and telephone number.

Ruth Thaler-Carter, NAIWE’s Networking Expert

Webinar: The Value of Networking: How It Can Build Your Business

We wanted to get to know Ruth Thaler-Carter (NAIWE’s Networking Expert) better, so last month we sat down with her. Here are some things she shared.

What is one thing that you learned about your craft the hard way, and what benefits have you received from it?

The importance of having a clearcut contract/agreement that’s as complete as possible, because that’s the only way to protect oneself against problems with a project or a difficult client. It would be nice if all business interactions could be conducted on a handshake, virtual or in person, but that sadly isn’t always possible. The benefits of using even an informal agreement via email include peace of mind, control over scope creep, and reasonable assurance of receiving payment as expected.

Can these benefits be broadened to include marketing?

Providing and working to contracts could be considered a facet of positioning an independent editorial business as a professional venture, which would contribute to marketing the business as one worth working with.

What has been your most rewarding marketing avenue, and how was it rewarding? Self? Monetary? Clients?

Doing good work that leads to being referred/recommended by current clients to new ones, even though that isn’t technically or formally marketing; at least, it isn’t a conscious marketing process. More in the way of actual marketing has been active participation and visibility in professional associations and online groups such as on Facebook, which has led to inquiries from prospective clients and recommendations/referrals from colleagues. The rewards have been new projects/clients/income for myself, as well as deep gratitude toward colleagues and clients who value my efforts, whether in terms of work or networking. Clients have benefited from receiving high-quality services; colleagues have benefited from advice and resources I aim to provide through various channels.

What do you associate with marketing?

Association membership and active participation, sharing resources, providing advice, announcing services and news, supporting colleagues and causes, doing public speaking/presenting webinars/teaching classes, hosting events, sending newsletters.

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You can join in this conversation on March 18, at 7 pm eastern, when NAIWE will host a one-hour discussion of growing your business through networking.

We hear about networking all the time, but what is it and why is it valuable to independent writers and editors? Networking is simply interacting with colleagues to exchange information, resources, and support. Done right, it can create credibility, provide leads to new projects and clients, and bolster an independent business in many ways. Networking is a two-way process; it goes beyond joining a professional organization.

The cost for NAIWE members is only $10! To register, send an email with your name and telephone number.

Greg Smith, NAIWE’s Agile Writing Expert

We wanted to get to know Greg Smith better, so last month we sat down with him. Here are some things he shared about novel writing.

What is one thing that you learned about your craft the hard way, and what benefits have you received from it?

More than anything, EDITING MATTERS. My first book Agile Writer: Method was compiled from my seminar notes. I passed it out to friends and family and got a lot of good edits from them. But it wasn’t as good as a professional editor. I begged my readers to put reviews on Amazon.com and they were all really positive. But there were two or three reviews that said, “although the content is excellent, the book could use a good editor.” Considering that my goal was to have a bound book to hand out or sell at my seminars, and I was broke at the time, choosing not to hire an editor was the right choice. However, once someone puts your bad spelling and grammar in a review, there’s little you can do to take it back. I am currently working with an editor to revise my book, which is scheduled for next month.

When you consider that getting reviews that are of high quality is part of your marketing, you want to make sure they’re quality reviews. While editing is not directly a part of marketing, having a product that is clean means you’re more likely to get a good review. Certainly, you won’t have to back pedal and fix your book if you start with a clean copy.

What has been your most rewarding marketing avenue, and how was it rewarding? Self? Monetary? Clients?

So far Facebook has proven to be the best resource. While it takes a while to understand their systems, the benefits are worth every penny. I am currently waging a marketing campaign to acquire a quality email list. The ideal measure of a campaign is customer acquisition cost (CAC). You want to keep the CAC as low as possible. I’ve been able to keep my CAC down to $1-$2 and sometimes even under a dollar.

What do you associate with marketing?

Marketing is the whole enchilada. Many confuse marketing with advertising. But advertising is just a portion of marketing. You have to create a brand and a following (or platform). So, the parts of marketing include brand (color scheme, logos, photos, headshots), presence (website, blog, Meetup.com, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn), platforms (email, Amazon, B&N, iTunes, iBook, Audible), organic advertising (SEO, Google search, Bing search, Yahoo search, Facebook groups/pages, Twitter), paid advertising (Google AdWords, Google AdSense, Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, display ads, YouTube ads, Amazon ads), podcasts (both yours and guest appearances), personal appearances (talk shows, seminar presentations, conference panels, workshops, conference sales tables), and networking (collaborating, socials, workshops).

You can join in this conversation on February 25, at 7 pm eastern, when NAIWE will host a one-hour discussion of novel writing and the agile writing method.

The cost for NAIWE members is only $10! Non-members pay just $30; or you can become a member and get the member price for this webinar! To register, send an email with your name and telephone number.

Claudia Suzanne, NAIWE’s Ghostwriting Expert

We wanted to get get to know Claudia Suzanne, NAIWE’s Ghostwriting Expert, better, so last month we sat down with her. Here are some things she shared about her craft of ghostwriting.

What is one thing that you learned about your craft the hard way, and what benefits have you received from it? Can these benefits be broadened to include marketing?

The one thing I learned about my craft the hard way is how little my personal accomplishments matter. Coming to terms with that and letting it go elevated my standing from freelancer to professional, changing both my and potential clients’ perspectives and allowing me to command (not just charge) serious fees for my services. How can that be broadened to include marketing? With that revised stance—which, of course, requires a handful of other mindset transitions and self-perception adjustments—I no longer compete with the vast market of editorial freelancers. I’m in a high-end class of my own.

What has been your most rewarding marketing avenue, and how was it rewarding? Self? Monetary? Clients?

My goal was always to attract clients, not have to seek them, so I developed the Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program theories, psychology, skill sets, knowledge base, and mindset transitions to not only achieve that, but also teach it to other aspiring ghostwriters so they can do the same. As a result, my previous career (I am now retired from active ghostwriting) helping authors fulfill their literary dreams was personally and financially rewarding as well as satisfying for my clients.

What do you associate with marketing?

Everything, from casual emails, LinkedIn responses, myriad web presences, personal and online appearances, and all the myriad things one does every day when one is running their own business. A more succinct answer might be in that comment, in fact: everything changed when I stopped freelancing and started running my own business. It may seem like a subtle change, but it’s not as easy as it sounds, and the ROI can be profound.