Children of Connecticut (lyrics)

As a parent, I was shocked by the killing spree in Connecticut last week. My first thought was, “Oh my God, whatever would I do if that happened at my kids’ school?”

For Wordy Wednesday, I was moved to write the lyrics below. I had hoped Chantalyne would sing them for you. She said she wanted to, but each time she said so, she set aside the lyrics.

Normally this would be where I would give her a good nudge, to help tip the scales in a pre-teen’s constant struggle between motivation and laziness. But given the delicate subject matter, I decided to abstain this time.

Therefore, I present you the lyrics of Children of Connecticut today without vocal accompaniment.

Need lyrics written?  Click here.

Lyrics to Children of Connecticut

Children of Connecticut
My heart goes out to you
I know that I can never feel
The things you’re going through

The hurt, the pain
The doubt, the fears
The shock, the strain
The eyes filling up with tears…
[pause]

Children of Connecticut
My heart goes out to you
I’m sending you long distance love
It’s all that I can do

Killer in Connecticut
My mind is bent on you
There is no way to understand
What you were going through

You took a gun
Up off the shelf
Shot everyone
And then you shot yourself…
[pause]

Killer in Connecticut
My mind is bent on you
What makes a person lose his head
And do the things you do?

People of the Planet Earth
What are we going to do
Another crazy killer strikes
And leaves us feeling blue

It’s not the first
Won’t be the last
Not quite the worst
Wish this was all long past…
[pause]

People of the Planet Earth
What are we going to do
To save our kids from killing sprees
After all that we’ve been through

Victims of Connecticut
My prayers go out to you
Your lives were cut way too short
There was nothing you could do

You learned, you played
You laughed you cried
You slept, you ate
You lived, and then you died…
[pause]

Victims of Connecticut
My prayers go out to you
May your souls rest in peace
May God’s love be with you

(c) David Leonhardt
All rights reserved.

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Writing assignment – how to describe hair

If you ask the average person how to describe hair, they might mention color and length.

But a writer has to be able to do so much more, because how you describe hair sets the tone for how people see a character.  This applies equally to fiction, biography an any other book (or blog post or article) that involves storytelling.

 

TIP:  Pick up our free cheat sheet to help describe your characters.

 

When you read that a character has long hair, you right away assume that this is a free spirit, perhaps laid back, somebody who is not in authority.  When you hear a man has short hair, you assume that the person is ambitious, someone in authority or a self-disciplined person.

When you read that a lady has long, blonde hair, you assume the lay is fun-loving, probably popular and perhaps not much of a thinker.  “Blondes have more fun” and “dumb blonde jokes” might seem like  outdated stereotypes, but people still make assumptions in line with those old clichés.

Hair is more than color and length

Pop quiz:  What does the hair in this photo tell you about this unfortunate man?

Answer: It tells you that I had spent way too much time ripping apart lathe and plaster walls.  But demolition is fun, so it wasn’t all that bad.

But there is more to hair than color and length.  Consider texture.  Hair could be rough or smooth or shiny.  Or slicked back with gel. It could be frizzy or curly or straight.

What about smell? Yes, smell.  Most often smell is mentioned in steamy romance novels…

He grew dizzy from the soft fragrance of her hair, like lavender carried on a fresh morning breeze,  enveloping his face, stunning his senses…

OK, so now you know why I leave the steamy romance novels to other ghostwriters on our team, but you get the idea. The smell of a person’s hair sets the tone for what the person is like, and even where that person has been.  The arsonist can change his clothes, but isn’t that a slight smell of gasoline I smell in his hair?  Or smoke?

So pay more than passing attention to a character’s hair when describing the person.  You don’t have to say that Jimmy is an auto mechanic, you just have to say…

Jimmy’s hair was slicked back, just as if he had combed oil into it.  Oil?  No, the smell was not that of oil, but of automotive grease.  There is a difference.  Maybe the scent was coming from his hair.  Or maybe it was coming from his clothes.  Or perhaps it was just a part of him, so basic an element that his very skin smelled of it.

Class assignment:  Jenny is a 35 year old, recently divorced, a nature-lover and a bit of a hermit.  How would you introduce her to your readers, using her hair to do so?  Please feel free to write in the comments below.

 

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This book is full of sh*t

What’s in a title?

In this case…poo!

No, honestly. A poo cookbook. Actually, “Poo” is the nickname of Bangkok chef Saiyuud Diwong, and in Thai, it means “crab”, not “crap”.

“Cooking with Poo” is either pure marketing genius, since the book has been talked about (even becoming a trending topic on Twitter) or a dead flop, because all the marketing in the world won’t get me to buy a cookbook that makes me feel queasy.

So what do you think? Marketing genius? Or gross-out flop?

 

What do you think about “Cooking with Poo”?
Marketing genius
Gross-out flop

Create your own poll

For a different take on the issue, perhaps this might be of interest…

 
…and I sure hope those are chocolate chips, and not what I think they are.

 

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What is a ghostwriter?

This question pretty much tops the questions people have about ghostwriting, so let me give a very complete explanation, which I will break down into three parts.

  • Definition of ghostwriter/ghostwriting.
  • What a ghostwriter does – and doesn’t do.
  • Who needs a ghostwriter – and who does not (in what situations is a ghostwriter your best option?)

 Definition of ghostwriter

What is a ghostwriter?  Simply put, it is a writer who is not seen.  A writer who is not credited or acknowledged.  A writer who is invisible – like a ghost.  You read a book or an article and you never know who the real writer was, because it was ghostwritten.

You would be surprised at how much is ghostwritten.

Almost any autobiography of famous people is written by a ghostwriter. Think about it; it makes sense.  Somebody might be a great statesman, or a great scientist or a successful businessman.  But that does not mean he is a good writer and more than a good plumber or a good teacher.  For teaching, he sends his kids to school and lets a professional handle the job.  For plumbing, he calls a plumber to fix his leaky pipes – a professional who knows what he is doing.  For writing, he calls a professional ghostwriter.

Most speeches you hear have been ghostwritten.  Busy political and industrial leaders have neither the time nor skill to write their own speeches, so they hire speech writers.  For important addresses, very often they will edit and send back for several drafts; but most of the writing is done by a ghost.

What does a ghostwriter do?

A ghostwriter does the writing.  The ideas come from the “author” or the speaker – the client.  Done properly, the writer picks the words that best express how the client would write or speak if he had the time and ability to pick his own words.  This is not always easy and sometimes not completely possible.  But it is the ideal goal.

The ghostwriter does not make things up.  OK, sometimes a ghostwriter and/or PR department and/or political handlers do make a lot up.  When I worked for a politician, there was a fair amount of material that I wrote on my own initiative, guessing what my boss would have said.  But in such cases, the ghostwriter has a “regular” client and can make such guesses based on previous experience.

  • The ghostwriter might do research.
  • The ghostwriter does keep in the shadows.
  • The ghostwriter does not reveal her identity.
  • The ghostwriter does not take credit.
  • The ghostwriter does not (usually) get royalties.

When do you need a ghostwriter?

There are three factors that you need to factor in when deciding whether to hire a ghostwriter or to choose some other alternative (which you can probably guess without even looking at the list):

  • Skill
  • Time
  • Money

Skill is the biggest show-stopper.  If you can’t write well, you need to outsource, the same as you probably need to do with plumbing and teaching and growing wheat for your bread.

Skill is not a black and white factor.  It is pretty complex.  There are many people who simply can’t write.  I could show you reams of partially legible emails I receive. And there are many people who write quite well. And there are many people who write passably – they can communicate their ideas, but they do not inspire or pull the reader along.

But one’s skill at writing depends also on what one is writing.  I write good quality blog posts.  I write great how-to and self-help material, and I can write excellent humor.  But if I wanted to write a novel, I would outsource the project.  Yes, a writer hiring a ghostwriter.  I simply do not have the skills required to write convincing fiction.

And then there is speaking.  You might be surprised how many people have difficulty with highly personal speeches, such as for accepting an award of some sort or  best man or other wedding speeches.  They often call on a speech writer.

Time is also a big deal.  Many of our clients are hard-pressed business leaders who simply do not have the time to put all other things out of their heads and focus on writing their business book or autobiography.  Some have the skill, many do not, but none have the time.

Time is money, so if you don’t have the time to spend, it might even be less costly to spend the money.  Better to spend $12,000 in ghostwriting fees than $100,000 in lost time.

Speaking of money, ghostwriting does cost money.  Here is a list of some “typical” pricing.  In real life, plenty of high end ghostwriters charge more, and plenty of low end writers charge less.  But you have to be careful, because you will discover that at the bottom end the quality really suffers.  We try to keep our prices below average, at least to the extent that it does not sacrifice quality.

If you can’t afford the cost of writing your book, your screenplay, your letter or your speech, you might have to spend more time and write it yourself.  You might have enough money to hire a writer to edit your writing, which costs much, much less.

But a word of caution: if your writing skills are not fairly strong, your manuscript might not be good enough to edit.  You won’t save much money if the writer has to rewrite your material from scratch.  So, as I said above, skill is the show-stopper.

If you don’t have the money, you might be able to inspire some wealthy relations.  Maybe they will hire a ghostwriter for you.

 

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Win a free copy of The Frugal Book Promoter

So you’ve written that masterpiece.  Perhaps you wrote it yourself, or perhaps you hired a ghostwriter.  It is destined to become a best seller.  Now all you have to do is get the word out.

But, wait!  What’s this? There is a hole in your pocket?  You have very little money to spend on promotion?

Fear not.  It is not how much you spend that counts, but how cleverly you spend it.  And that is why you need…

…the Frugal Book Promoter, by Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

Whether you have a publisher or whether you are self-published, whether you are trucking around crates of paperbacks or trying to pull in clicks to a website, the Frugal Book Promoter is full of tips on how you can spread the word without breaking the bank.

Read Kristin’s review
of the Frugal Book Promoter,
which we published earlier.

And now, to make things even more frugal for you (in case that hole in the pocket is really getting out of hand), we are giving away three free copies of the Frugal Book Promoter to three lucky contest winners.  The contest runs all through November, and there are four ways you can win:

1. Tweet this contest.  You can tweet once a day, and each tweet is another entry in the contest.

2. Follow us on Twitter. We do blab a lot about everything from website promotion to health, business to entertainment, finance to …well…pretty much whatever. But it’s all good stuff.

3. Follow Carolyn Howard-Johnson on Twitter.  She is somewhat less of a blabbermouth than we are.

4. Blog about this contest.  This is the big one, worth ten points, giving you a much better chance of winning one of the three prizes.

Three winners will be chosen in the first week of December based on the number of entry points they rack up.  The Rafflecopter widget below makes it easy for you to enter and easy for us to tabulate.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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K.I.S.S your writing or kiss your readers goodbye

Have you ever felt the need to use big, long words to sound more authoritative or to fill up space?  In most situations, all you are doing is sounding more difficult to read.  Your writing should be as simple and easy-flowing as possible.

This is a problem our manuscript editors often encounter:  sesquipedalian words where a simple word would do.

Let’s look at three very common words that are overused and should be replaced with simpler ones.

UTILIZE.  Wow, just three syllables to replace one. Honestly, have you ever heard anyone utilize this word in normal conversation, like at in the stands at the ball game or over a mid-week lunch?

“Hey, dude.  Wait up.  I just need to go utilize the washroom.”

“He just wanted me for my money.  I feel so utilized.”

“It’s easy to choose a password, but all the best utilizer names are already taken.”

Yes, there is a much simpler word to use: use.  And “use” is a fine word, even if it doesn’t sound pretentious.

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious!
If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious “

 

PURCHASE.  More pretentiousness, perhaps?  I go out to buy things, not to purchase them.  How about you?  Why do we need an extra syllable?  Because a lot of advertisers think you will spend more money if they sound more educated an fancy?  Or because they want to avoid you feeling like you are being pressured into buying things.  So instead they pressure you into purchasing things.

Phew – that’s a relief.

ACQUIRE. This is the word that inspired this article, after I read the following message that somebody posted on the Warrior Forum :

In one of my titles, I had a confusion of whether to use “get customers” or “acquire customers”.

The former is simple but the later looks more sophisticated.

Google Search Says:

“acquire customers” 283,000 results
“get customers” 1,500,000 results!

So now the choice is obvious. I don’t want to look sophisticated. I just want to CONNECT with the readers with the right titles.

“Acquire” is another laughable word that people just don’t use in normal conversation.  Can you imagine…

“Please, Daddy, can I acquire another candy.”

“The phone is ringing.  Can somebody please acquire the phone?”

“I need to acquire some new light bulbs.  This one is burnt and I’ve run out of replacements.”

Whether you are writing a book or a blog post, you want to connect with your readers.  And unless you are writing a sales page for an expand-your-vocabulary course, it is almost always the simpler word.  Or put more bluntly, the world with the least syllables.   The smaller word, not the littler word.

 

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Are you an original blog writer?

Are you an original?  OK, so I am sure you will say “yes”.  No two of us are the same, and these days movies, songs and personal development blog posts drum into our heads the importance of individuality.

But this is not a personal development blog post.  This is a blog post about your blog posts and your articles.  The question is, “Are you an original…blogger.”

A lot of emphasis has been placed on “original” and “unique” content recently, mostly because people believe (partly correctly) that Google robots will storm your website and emasculate it in the SERPs if they discover that you are publishing duplicate content.

The bad news is that blog owners and blog writers have reduced “originality” to “Can this article pass Copyscape?”  You hear ghost writers constantly promising that their copy is original and unique, just because it is not “duplicate content”.

If you or someone you are guest blogging for is even asking this question, you are not only missing the point – you are missing the boat.

Originality is not about rewording a sentence and adding bullet points.  Originality is about thinking new thoughts.

Now that’s a new thought!

How can I be original?

Let’s be fair.  Not everybody is a creative thinker, not everybody is a born writer, and not everybody is meant to be.  So how can someone be original?  Here are three prompts to help you.

Prompt Number One: Read three or four articles or blog posts on the topic you want to write about.  As you read them, make notes about what you agree about – and, more importantly, take notes about what you disagree about.

If there is something that more than one article says that you disagree with, you have the foundation for a truly original article.  Playing Devil’s Advocate is always a great way to be original.

If there is no common theme you disagree with, review your list of points you disagree with.  Maybe there are three points in the four blog posts.  Maybe just one.  In either case, you have at least one, and perhaps three, blog topics to write about that are your own original thoughts.

Prompt Number Two: Pick a topic you like – the topic might not be original, nor your opinion – and wrap it in a brand-new analogy.  In the case, your idea or topic is not unique, but your presentation of it is very unique.   Here are a few ideas of analogy themes you can use:

  • Animals: Replace people with animals that display characteristics you are writing about.
  • Food: describe your topic as a meal.
  • Recipe: Write a recipe for the advice you are giving.
  • Geography.  I am sure you have seen the maps called “The United States of…”.  You can put just about anything into map form, and you can do so in writing, too.
  • Geology.  Every topic has a hard-to-scale mountain, a vast uncrossable dessert, an ocean, an abyss, etc.
  • Clothes.  How can you dress up your topic? Underwear (you can’t leave those off), regular clothing, outer wear, accessories… now write it.

There are countless other analogies possible.


Prompt Number Three: Interview somebody.  Sure, this is cheating, but when you can’t come up with your own original thoughts, pull them from someone else.  Try to be as creative as you can with your questions, and make sure to ask for original content:

“Can you share with our readers one tip you have not included in your course?”

“Can you give an example of when this has happened to you recently?”

“What was the most successful [whatever] you ever did?”

Originality pays off

There are hundreds of blogs and thousands of articles on almost every topic.  I don’t have time to read most of them.  I will read those that are not just the same old, same old rechurned slop they served up at the last dozen blogs I have visited.

I am not saying it is easy to come up with truly original content, especially in well-trampled niches like personal finance, blogging, nutrition and such.  But the payoff will be a loyal readership that spreads the word for you – a growing audience of engaged fans.

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Anonymous Sources – is it ethical to use them?

Bloggers increasingly like to refer to themselves as “citizen journalists.” However, in spite of the title, some writers might not actually use journalistic standards when they prepare information for others in their blogs and even in books they might write.

As a professionally trained journalist, I’ve learned that if you want to establish yourself as a writer with credibility, whether you are writing for a newspaper, a magazine, a book, or a blog, it helps to observe journalistic standards. And, if you want people to take your writing seriously as a piece of credible information, it helps to be careful when you use unnamed sources.

The Anonymity of the Web

Thanks to the Internet, it’s possible to say just about anything – true or not. While there is good information out there, it’s also possible to run into information that is less than credible. One of the things that makes it hard to determine whether or not you can trust something is the anonymous, and semi-anonymous, nature of the Web.

It’s possible to say almost anything about anyone, and not get “caught.” However, even though the Internet seems to thrive on anonymous name-calling, if you want credibility, you need to watch out for using unnamed sources, especially if that source is name-calling.

One example is a recent post written on The Verge about the new Digg. While there were plenty of sources cited, there was one, unnamed, “source in the aggregation industry” that was quoted. I understand why a source close to aggregators and marketers might want to keep a low profile on this one. And the first part of the quote, “The fact that these folks are pissed off is a good sign,” I don’t have a problem with, per se, even though I think that there are probably other insiders and experts who would probably have shared similar information on the record.

My issue comes in when the source started calling out names, singling out two marketers, and referring to them as “shady online marketing scum who tried their best to ruin the organic Internet.” When you start making those sorts of name-calling accusations, my opinion is that you should have the guts to come clean about your identity. One of the issues with the Internet today is that it is so easy to hide behind anonymity when you want to say something rude about someone else.

When to Use Anonymous Sources

 Of course, there are times when it makes sense to use unnamed sources. The most compelling reason is when the source could lose his or her job, or be ostracized by the community to which he or she belongs. When personal safety is involved, such as getting information from a criminal informant, it also makes sense to grant anonymity to the source. But that anonymity comes with greater responsibility. If you are going to use an unnamed source in the article, it should be accompanied by the following:

  • Thorough research and evidence
  • On the record sources who back up the statement, or information
  • Independent verification of the source’s identity
  • Verification that the source can actually speak to the issue at hand

Most of the time, though, there isn’t much need for unnamed sources. For most stories, you can find people willing to share their names along with their opinions and information.

So, do I trust an anonymous source engaging in name-calling, or do I trust someone that went on the record in that self-same article? Anonymous sources call creditability into question. A named source is always more credible than a non-named source. As a result, if you want to be a more credible writer, it makes sense to avoid using anonymous sources, unless you have verified the information as best you can, and you can demonstrate a compelling reason to keep those sources’ names out of it.

Miranda Marquit is a journalistically trained freelance writer and professional blogger. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds.

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Write when you are inspired.

Much space has been given in the blogosphere to the topic of writer’s block. So many bloggers with so many blogs and they just can’t think of anything to write (or so it would appear).

And they see this as a problem.

So do I, but in a different way.

The bloggers see this as a problem, because they want to write something but can’t think of anything to say. The problem with this, as I see it, is that so many people who have nothing to say, want to speak.

This is generally a great way to create trash.

Speak just to hear your own voice.

Write just to see your own typing.

Hold meetings just to say you have met.

Watch TV just to do something with your time.

Drink because you are bored.

All the most wasteful uses of our time and energy are the things we do without having a good reason to do them. When you write just for the sake of writing, I can almost guarantee that your writing will not be worth reading.

Let me ask you about two blogs.

Blog A publishes occasionally. Every week, every month, irregularly – whatever. Every post is meaty and meaningful. Every post inspires or provides useful information or gives something of real value.

Blog B publishes regularly – every week or even every day. Regularly. The writer follows all the advice of how to overcome writer’s block, and writes lots of articles even though he has nothing of import or useful – or inspired! – to say. Sure, occasionally he does, but most of his posts are already written in different ways on other blogs and don’t really add much to anybody’s knowledge or inspiration.

Which blog will you choose to read?

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Writers Blog Commenting Carnival #1

On our SEO blog we began a tradition of presenting blog commenting carnivals, and we’ll be carrying that tradition over here. I comment on a lot of blogs about writing, and often the comments are quite substantial. Why let those comments go to waste, when I can share them with our readers, too?

Over at Common Excuses For Not Starting A Blog, I tackled the five excuses, one by one…

1. Everyone is a writer.

2. There is no such thing as writer’s block. When you have something to say, there is no block. When you have nothing to say, you should not be blogging.

3. You don’t have to be creative; just write what comes to your mind during a normal “day at the office”.

4. OK, it is true – blogging is too time consuming. But if it is worth doing for your business model, then it is no more time consuming than all the other time-consuming things you do.

5. All the good ideas have been taken…yeah but “so what?” All the best music has been written, and they keep writing more. All the best books have been written, but they keep writing more. Just write what you think and you will find elements of originality in your blog posts.

I expanded on point #2 above at How to Blog for your Business – 4 helpful tips!

Generally some good advice, but I disagree on keeping to a schedule. I have never heard of someone removing a blog from their RSS reader for not having received a post in a while. I can see why someone would remove a blog that posts too often and they are inundated with posts in their RSS reader (making it hard to find posts from other blogs), but there is no reason to remove something for not bothering them. I believe a schedule is a very poor way to decide when to blog. A much better way is to blog when you have something to say. A single really good post is worth more than a hundred on time posts.

And on the fun side, I planted my tongue firmly in my cheek and added to Time Management For Freelance Writers

Oh, not just for freelance writers. Anybody who works from home will be tempted to surf, tempted to keep marketing, tempted to just hang loose and avoid timing himself or handling the bookkeeping. My personal temptation is blog commenting…and…uh…oops, I guess I should be getting back to work.

I was not bored when Martha Griffin told us Why Most Blogs Bore Me. So I responded…

Nothing new is being said. That is the one that makes me cringe. When you spend as much time as I do in social media, reading, partially reading or just suffering through the same repetitive headlines over and over (Do I really want to read yet another blogger’s review of the same plugg-in?), you start to wonder where is the imagination, where is the passion, are they people really enjoying blogging, or are they just trying to fill their page and keep to an arbitrary publishing schedule. Which brings us to the second one that makes me cringe, “The blogger didn’t show up. ” and “Lacks passion”, which really are the same thing in my eyes.

Jane writes at BlogEngage about Why Should You Blog About What You Know .  Apparently, I agree…

Yes, yes, yes. About what you know AND about what you are passionate about. You should never have to worry about writers block or not knowing what to write about. You should only be writing when there is something inside you, something just bursting to get out!

Martha Giffen writes that Keyword stuffing is not a blogging tool.

I am afraid that using common sense is highly under appreciated. Best to write your post for the readers and for yourself – just because you have something to say. Then add in your keywords a couple times where it makes sense …if it makes sense. Then choose a title for your post. If possible, include your keywords in your title – but if the title didn’t attractive and doesn’t draw readers and (ultimately) linkers, there is really no point to the keywords in the first place.

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Are Ghostwriters Really the Slimebuckets of the Planet?

Somebody has written a sales page that most cruelly slanders ghostwriters.  I will not post the URL and give him the benefit of a link, but the challenge cannot go unanswered. My comments are in RED below. Once you have read his sales pitch below, it’s your call whether he is:

  • A demagogue, lying about ghostwriters to make a quick buck
  • The most incompetent person you will ever have the misfortune to meet
  • Stark, raving mad

START SALES PITCH

What do you do if you have a story or expertise to share, but are not a writer yourself or simply don’t think you have the time to write a book? The typical belief is that you need to hire a ghostwriter. You Don’t!

I’ve managed dozens of ghostwriters for clients over the years and now work with best-selling authors and writers at the highest level. Let me share with you what I have learned, and the reasons I no longer hire ghostwriters for my clients. Let me save you from the aggravation, unhappiness and wasted money (Read on to find out why this guy wasted so much of his client’s money!) that I’ve seen too many endure. Then, once you’ve heard the reasons why you should not hire a ghostwriter, stick around and I’ll share with you what I believe to not only be the better approach for your voice and your message, but also the less expensive option!

Remember the movie where the guy hired a hitman to kill his wife? A ghostwriter is kind of like the hitman: they both walk away when the job is over. And they both want the money up front.
Remember when you wanted someone to build an addition on your house?  Remember when you needed someone to sell you a car?  Remember when you wanted someone to fly you across the ocean?  Remember when you wanted someone to provide you with a TV or a computer or a sound system?  Remember when you wanted someone to rent you a hall for a wedding or a baby shower or a 50th anniversary? They also wanted to be paid.  And they all walked away when their job was done, to serve their next clients – the way they are supposed to.
When was the last time you saw a ghostwriter touting his new book in a local newspaper? Never, because he’s a ghostwriter. It’s not his book. He has been paid and has moved on to another project. Where do you think that ghostwriter will be when it comes to marketing, branding, packaging, and publishing your book?
Probably the same place as the marketers, branders, packagers and publishers were when the ghostwriter was writing your book. (I was advised by one of our writers, to resist the temptation to say “Du-uh” here.)

Although some of our ghostwriters do help with publicity and occasionally we do, too, but it is not a service we market. In many cases, our clients don’t want us to be further involved. That’s why they seek out a ghostwriter. In the words of Kristin, one of our top writers, “There’s such a thing as privacy and anonymity that the clients themselves insist in. Some are downright paranoid.”

Ghostwriters don’t need to make nice with publishers or literary agents, but they like to pretend they have a proverbial foot in the door to gain your business. You may be dazzled by their so-called industry connections, but you’ll be sorely disappointed when you discover these connections are nothing more than cousins, friends, and college roommates.
Industry connections? Ha!  We are ever-so-forthright with potential clients that we don’t have many contacts with publishers and even the ones we do are irrelevant, because publishers have in mind what they are looking for, and they do NOT base that on who they know.  And most ghostwriters who contact me to work with us are just as candid.  It makes me wonder under what rock he found the “dozens of ghostwriters” he managed for clients.
Are you a good manager? We hope so. Because that’s part of the role you’ll play when it comes to hiring most ghostwriters. With their “You are not the boss of me attitude”, ghostwriters aren’t particularly motivated by your looming deadlines, pleas for urgency, or even whip-cracking threats.
So…just exactly what rock did he find those “dozens of ghostwriters” he managed for clients. I have yet to meet a ghostwriter that fits any of those descriptions.
Excuses. Tantrums. Drama. Personal problems. You’ll foot the bill for all these little extras when you work with many ghostwriters. Shouldn’t the drama remain in the writing?
OK, I admit – now I am totally baffled. Not only have I never met a ghostwriter with this description, but how would a ghostwriter’s personal issues cost a client more money? Certainly at The Happy Guy Marketing, the price is the price. You don’t pay a penny more, nor a penny less, than what was quoted…unless you change the specifications of what you want us to do. (Are you sure I can’t say “Du-uh”?)
Pull out around $30 grand from your savings. Wait, you don’t have that much expendable cash? How about your 401k? Wherever you get it, you’ll need a boatload of cash just to finish your book using a ghostwriter, leaving you little for your marketing.
Ah, OK. Now we get to something that at least we can reasonably talk about. There are some high-end ghostwriters, such as those who write for sports celebrities and elder statesmen who are used to being paid $30,000 per book. Some much, much more, in fact. Occasionally one of those approaches me, and I just have to tell them that we don’t have work for them. We have regular clients for the most part, and the typical manuscript is written for $8000-$15,000.
Did you grow up dreaming of writing a book that sounds like it was done by someone else? Probably not. But what sometimes happens is the words that end up on the page read like they came from a ghostwriter’s pen not yours.
That is true. If you hire a crappy ghostwriter, the words won’t sound like yours. So again I find myself wondering…if he managed “dozens of ghostwriters”, did he not vet any of them before he hired them for his clients?
When you make a huge life decision, you only ask the opinion of one person you barely know, right? Of course not! So why would you trust your manuscript, the one you’ve labored over forever, to a lone stranger, hoping he can make the words from your soul sing?
So… you go to court without an attorney, because you hardly know him? Smart move. Perhaps you remove a tumour on your own without asking the opinion of a cancer surgeon you barely know? Oh, yeah. Well, this bright chap seems to do things that way (which might explain why he hired dozens of over-priced, tantrum-throwing, attitude wielding writers incapable of adapting to the client’s voice).

END SALES PITCH

At this point, you might be asking whether I have ever had any problem with ghostwriters – whether there ever was a situation where somebody was getting ripped off by ghostwriters.  The short answer is “yes”.

The long answer is that three times ghostwriters we worked with showed gross ethical lapses.  You see, we can easily screen writers for the quality of their writing, and make a reasonable guess as to how well they will attend to our clients….but we do not have a means to know ahead of time if a writer is likely to reveal herself to be two-faced.

In one case, the ghostwriter tried to make a private arrangement with the potential client, cutting us out of the deal – against both the word of our contract and all manner of ethics.  The potential client informed us, and we immediately stopped using that writer.  Pity, because she wrote well.

In two other cases, the writer tried to extort money from the client.  In both cases, once a contract had been signed and work had begun, the writer asked for more money.  A myriad of excuses were given, but the bottom line was greed.  Unfortunately, the entranced clients would not let us replace them with ethical writers.  So the clients paid the extortion money, the writers finished the job (and did an excellent job, I must say), and we simply stopped dealing with those writers.  Good writers or not, we don’t cheat our clients.  Period.

So, back to the original question…

  • A demagogue, lying about ghostwriters to make a quick buck
  • The most incompetent person you will ever have the misfortune to meet
  • Stark, raving mad

Which is it?  What do you think of ghostwriters?  Have a story to share in the comments below?

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Eradonis is published

We are excited that Eradonis: Legend of the Black Rose is published.  This is another book that we helped the author, South African born  Narisha Rajnandan, to perfect.  She calls South Africa “a land where fantasy and reality have often met.”   Eradonis: Legend of the Black Rose is a fantasy lover’s fantasy.

Here is a summary of the book:

When a sorceress in training Odeya visits an enchanted temple in Aradeya Forest, Priestess Haniel presents her with the Lexion, an ancient book of spells. Odeya is about to leave when she hears her name called and notices a strange light under the statue of Adonis, the god of war. Curiosity takes her below the temple where she discovers a powerful staff and a note that reads: “The journey to the Black Rose has begun.” Odeya is mystified. The Black Rose is only a fairytale, isn’t it? The perilous journey she is about to undertake, however, will prove her dead wrong.

The book is now available at Amazon, where you can pick up a copy for yourself (or as a gift for that fantasy-lover on your Christmas list).

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So you want to be a freelance writer…

Last July, one of our writers was featured on PT Money Blog.  Philip interviewed Miranda Marquit, who happens to be one of our freelance writers.  Miranda writes mostly on financial matters, helping our clients with online content and also having written a number of finance-related books for business clients.

The podcast, which I am running below with permission, asks Miranda about the business of freelance writing and what it takes to become a freelance writer. As an aside, when you work from home, you are not working in some antiseptic office environment, where almost everything is artificially controlled. At home, office life and real life collide ion the most unpredictable of ways, especially when there are children running around. In the case of this podcast, you hear the doorbell ring at one point. My comment to Miranda after I had listened to the interview was, “Next time instead of a doorbell, maybe you could have a motorcycle followed by a scream and a crash.” That would be much more entertaining.

Here is the podcast, as it was first published.

Miranda offers much more incredible advice for budding freelance writers, so take a few minutes to listen to the full podcast.

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Thank You to Our Blog Tour Hosts!!!

These Golfing Geese Are About To Ruffle Some Feathers at Penny Ehrenkranz’s Blog

Meet Sami DeMani, a Canada gander with a legendary golf game. He’s on track to win the prestigious Waterfowl Tour — and put his nemesis, the ruthless Pete Swan Lake, in his place once and for all. But right as Sami prepares to take a critical swing, a surprise scare changes everything — ruining the shot and putting Sami in the hospital. What happens next dashes any hopes for golf glory — or does it? No longer able to play, Sami throws himself into coaching his nephew, Myles, in the game he loves. Then the golf pro hatches a plan to help his nephew win a tournament with the aid of the specially designed Gooseneck Putter. This breakthrough device has the potential to change everything — including the confidence of the golf prodigy who uses it. But none of them are prepared for what’s about to occur as the tension rises on the course. Along the way, Sami and Myles will learn a powerful lesson regarding sportsmanship, perseverance, love, and what really matters in the game of life. A heartwarming and inspirational tale, The High-Tech Gooseneck Putter is about the power of golf to boost self-esteem, change lives, and bring a community together.

This is the latest Happy Guy Marketing success–my collaboration with artist, singer and Laughter Yoga leader Samuel DiMatteo. I am excited that Sami listed me as co-author because Samuel is one-of-a-kind. He, along with the colorful cast of golfing geese, sportscasting squirrels and business-minded beavers in the book, has won over several lovely lady authors–and I am thankful to every one of them.

It is Thanksgiving this month, after all!

 

 

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What writing services do people want?

Every now and then, I get asked this question: “What do people want written?” And I usually answer that people come to us for a lot of biographies and fiction manuscripts. But is that the most accurate answer?

I decided to do some number-crunching. And I cam up with three sets of data. First, here are the types of services people seek…

 

As you can see, biographies are the most popular project people seek.  Everybody has a story to tell.  Yes, most “biographies” are in fact autobiographies.

There are a lot of people who come to us with manuscripts – including websites and marketing materials, but mostly books – to edit.  These include biographies, as well as every other genre.

The three other popular genres are business manuscripts, online writing and fiction manuscripts.

 

Breaking it down a different way, 46 percent of people come looking for some form of book to be written.  Twenty percent of people seek some form of editing and 12 percent seek copy for use online.  Everything else is pretty minor.

Breaking down the books into the various types, you can see just how important biographies are – how many people have a story to tell.

 

If you have a story to tell or a book you want to help promote your business or career, we’ll be happy to help you.

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Your career as a slave writer

Rant time! Every day – yeah, pretty much every day – I get an email from somebody seeking to hire a slave. In my mind’s eye, I see them standing there with a whip and an evil laughter. “Muuaahhahahhahahaaaaa!

Here is one of those emails I just received.

I am looking for an article writer who can write quality articles for the keyword and the special instruction that i provide. I need 500 words and 700 words articles meeting the deadline. I give $1.20 for 500 words article and $2.40 for 700 words article. You can take a keyword after submitting an article. Time frame to complete 500 word article is 2hrs and 4 hrs for 700 words article. Let me know if you have any questions.

I was tempted to respond…

“Yeah, and I give $5.40 for a quality transatlantic flight. However, I got tired of the “comfortable” seating in the catapult, and the landing is usually quite rough – especially since I always hit the office tower across the street. But, “Hey”, you can’t beat the price, tight?

I didn’t send that email – what’s the point of arguing with an $%#@%! and starting a flame war with someone whose intelligence level makes him a threat to anybody standing close enough when he sets himself on fire?

A much better way to handle such things is…

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Asim is Published – video trailer

We are excited that Asim: Servant of Two Masters is published.  This is another book that we helped the author, Daniel Smith, to perfect.  It is an exciting adventure set in exotic locations.  Here is how the author himself describes the book:

“In 1453 Turkey, Mehmed the Conqueror has just defeated the Byzantine Empire and a new era called the Ottoman Empire is ushered in. Sending an envoy to open trade routes to Spain and Portugal, Mehmed sends his most trusted bodyguard Asim to look after the members of the envoy. The mission is turned on its head when one of the Islamic members is murdered in her bed chamber by unknown hands.

“Asim is given permission by way of a secret letter from Pope Nicholas to investigate the crime but no allowance of arresting authority of any Christian that may be involved. But his instructions from Mehmed were simple: bring the cowards to justice. How can a man serve Christianity and Islam without offending either?”

A video trailer has been created to help put you in the mood. Sorry, no belly dancers. But if you like a murder-mystery adventure that touches on some of the hot points of today and yesterday, this is one book you’ll want sizzling in your reading pile at home.

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The Genesis One Code is Published

Another client published. Daniel Friedmann’s first book, reconciling Biblical teachings and scientific understanding, has hit the bookstores.

Here is how the book is described:

“Were the heavens and the earth created 6,000 years ago, as the Bible suggests? Or did the universe expand into existence nearly 14 billion years ago from a spontaneous “Big Bang”? Both dates cannot be right – or can they?

“Imagine that there were some medieval manuscripts, written eight hundred years ago, that could help us decipher Genesis to pinpoint exactly when the universe began, as identified by our most up-to-date cosmological theories. Further, suppose that these same manuscripts could help us extract from Genesis the timelines for the development of life on Earth, precisely as identified by the latest scientific evidence from the fossil record.

“The Genesis One Code offers a careful examination of the relationship between scientific theory and biblical teaching. The book targets the origins debate from a fresh perspective informed by scientific and spiritual research. The book demonstrates an alignment between the dates of key events described in Genesis 1 and 2 with those derived from scientific theory and observation. This alignment provides a compelling perspective deserving of thoughtful consideration.”

You can pick up your copy of The Genesis One Code at Amazon.com.

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