I’ve Got ‘Em! or, Five Things to Look for When Hiring a Content Marketing Writer

Good news, people! This article (by someone who’s run a corporate writing agency for 15 years) lists the five things he looks for when hiring content marketing writers and editors – and I’ve got all five covered. Were I to move to Australia, I bet he would hire me.https://www.leslielang.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Screen-Shot-2014-06-20-at-9.55.28-AM.png

It’s all about these five things, he says, which spell WRITE:  Write, Rapport, Interest, Trust and Edit. Click the link to read the whole story, which is from the Content Marketing Institute.

By GRANT BUTLER published JANUARY 8, 2014

How To Hire Effective Content Marketing Writers and Editors

We’ve all heard the theory: It’s easy to hire good content writers because so many are being fired from traditional media, such as newspapers and magazines. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t seem to be the case.

I’ve run a corporate writing agency for 15 years, and hired many writers and editors. During this time, the media industry in Australia (where my firm is based) has been imploding. Australia’s largest newspaper publisher alone has cut hundreds of journalism jobs in recent years. Despite many of those people being among the finest writers in the country, few have become content marketing writers. And there’s good reason why.

How do you evaluate an effective content marketing writer/editor for content “newsroom” positions? How can you determine whether a journalist with a strong portfolio can generate material that’s engaging to customers, appropriate for your organization, and unlikely to create legal or other headaches? I use a methodology I call WRITEWrite, Rapport, Interest,Trust, and Edit. 

Write 

First, be sure your candidates can write. That may sound trite, but you’d be amazed how many people present well and have appropriate resumes, but lack a real aptitude for writing. And be warned, journalists can be published for years and even rise high despite having mediocre writing skills. Their saviors are the bosses and copy editors who fix their spelling, grammar, and even facts.

To avoid getting caught out, ask candidates where they believe their strengths lie; give them short writing, editing and proofreading tests; and ask their references what the person’s first draft copy is like. And be sure to verify they can write quickly enough to meet your needs.

Read the rest.

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Editing: One Of My Superpowers

Day after day, month after month and year after year, I have shaped my life around words. (And my words around life.)

I have taken, and continue to take, many, many courses, classes and workshops. I have been edited myself, and read books and articles about using words, and written and edited hundreds of pieces of writing. I have learned from it all.

And in the course of doing all that, I have become a strong wordsmith.

Editing is one of my superpowers. It’s not as flashy as scaling skyscrapers or similar, but it does come in handy.

Leslie Lang, Writer, Journalist, Author, Family History, Personal History, Memoir, Hawaii, Big Island, Talk Story Press, Editor, Editing

A Truth: If you are self-publishing a book, you must — in order to be taken seriously — spring for two things: professional editing, and professional book cover design.

I don’t do cover design, but I can definitely help with editing.

This article, showing what are purportedly some actual errors that got into print due to a lack of editing, is eye-opening. What if this were your book?

“An Australian publisher has destroyed 7,000 copies of a cookbook after a recipe called for ‘salt and freshly ground black people.’ The recipe, for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto, was meant to call for black pepper, but a typo led a computer spell-checker program to insert the erroneous word.”

That is an over-the-top example of the importance of editing, true, but much less dramatic errors will also cause readers to discredit you and your book.

This Huffington Post article ‘Honor Your Readers, Hire an Editor’ lists some of the comments at Amazon.com about one self-published book that wasn’t edited well. Horrifying.

Your spouse, the English major, or your friend that’s really good with words might help you with earlier drafts. But trust me: Once you’re getting serious, you need to hire a professional editor who knows the business.

From Go-Publish-Yourself:

It’s the Book Editing, Stupid. Why You Need a Good Book Editor

If you don’t spend time and money with a good book editor, everything else you do to publish and market your book won’t matter. A poorly edited book is a waste of time and money. Every dollar you spend promoting an error-prone book might as well be spent in Vegas. Read the rest

From www.forbes.com, Business section:

Thinking Of Self-Publishing? Ben Galley Has Some Advice

…Objectivity and professionism are key, Galley said, emphasising the need for self-published authors to take care over the editing of their manuscript:

Editing is an imperative. It is what will set you apart from other self-published authors out there. Self-publishers think they don’t have to put the work in, that people will be forgiving, but that’s wrong. You have to be as good as, or better than, traditionally published books, and traditional publishers’ editors are very good at their job.

“Editing is the key to being taken seriously. You can do one or two rounds of editing yourself, but then you have to give it to other people because you’re not objective enough to take it to a professional level.” Read the rest

Hawaii self publishing book editor More on the importance of hiring a professional editor herehere and here. I could go on.

I edit self-published books (and other works) often, and am happy to help you with yours. Here are some comments I’ve gotten just this month from editing clients:

• “Thank you for your help on this project! Your work is first class. I think you’re awesome.”

• “I must say I am absolutely impressed with your thorough work. Thank you again for doing this for me.”

Are you self-publishing a book, or working on another type of writing that you want to ensure is as polished as possible?

I’m happy to talk with you about how we would work together. You can reach me at 808 964-1494 or leslie@leslielang.com.

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Post-Hoopla Report

Leslie Lang, Talk Story PressThe hoopla of the holidays has died down, the week-long flu my family “enjoyed” shortly after New Year’s has ended, and here we are.

I enjoy the holidays, but am always ready to get back to Real Life when they are over. (I did not much enjoy the flu.)

We’re on to a new calendar with what always feels like a new, fresh start. The fireworks are over and now it’s about sitting down and achieving. Anything is possible!

I started the New Year – or ended the last one, actually – by reorganizing. I repurposed a couple rooms in my home and switched them, meaning my Talk Story Press office ended up in a new spot and got a major restructuring at the same time. It’s a better situation and I like it.

As I moved things, I cleared through all my office files, while also rearranging them so they are more organized for how my work has evolved. I’m happy to have done this. When my space and work is well-organized, so too is my head.

And now I’m back to it. My plate is filled with:

  • Writing/editing/consulting for businesses (for instance, I still manage and edit the active Hamakua Springs blog, and do ghostwriting/social media/other writing for businesses, as well),
  • Editing (at present I’m editing a memoir for an interesting, long-time Hilo resident, and a small self-help book for another client)
  • Writing the occasional magazine article, and
  • Working on personal and family history projects.

The personal and family history projects are always so interesting and satisfying. I’ve just finished interviews with an older woman whose son and daughter-in-law have commissioned a book about her life. Interviews with her reveal that her father had fought for Japan in the “Russo-Japanese war” before immigrating to Hawai‘i during sugar plantation days; and that her parents always worried about being shipped off to a concentration camp during World War II (fortunately, they were not).

Another project in the works is a book I’m doing for a client whose father died unexpectedly. By interviewing his siblings, mother and daughter, I am creating a narrative of her father’s life; put together with photos, it will end up as a lovely, printed book.

I have a couple projects for my own family in the works, as well. For decades I’ve gathered family stories and pictures and done genealogical research, but it’s no good to anyone if it’s just scraps of paper in a file drawer (or two), right?

That’s why I’ve gone into this personal and family history business with such delight. I find it very satisfying to help a family capture the stories that tell how it all unfolded to get them where they are now.

Because otherwise, anything you know about where your family came from, and how your grandmother came to be the person she is, and all the rest of it, it all just sort of poofs into the air and is gone when you are.

Maybe your father has told you a handful of stories about his childhood; but how many stories? Four? How many of those you pass down? One? None? It’s not too late.

Do you know where your grandparents came from, and why? Maybe your children aren’t interested now, but they might be later in their lives, when there’s no one around anymore to tell them. Or their (future) children or grandchildren might want to know – and even if you never meet them, they will know you and love you for having preserved that information for them.

Taking raw material and turning it into a published book that can sit on a shelf, available to anyone who’s interested as it passes through the generations – this is a delight. Whether it’s for my family or someone else’s, it feels so good to preserve these stories of ours.

If you’d like to hear more about my writing, and maybe read an occasional bit from a current project (shared with permission), please sign up for my quarterly newsletter. There is a Talk Story Press newsletter coming out soon. And never fear, your email address is always safe with me. I’ll never share it.

Also, once in awhile I offer a special deal on a personal history project through my newsletter, so sign up at right to keep in the know.

How about you – are you all organized and rejuvenated for a new year? Is it time to work on a part of your family history, or the story of a parent or grandparent, that needs to be preserved and printed? I’d be happy to discuss how we could work together in 2013.

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Copywriting: ‘Leave My Prose Alone’

An interesting look at copyediting, written by Carol Fisher Saller.

pencil004“Leave My Prose Alone:”
The Resistant Writer

“Please tell the copyeditor to leave my prose alone.” That’s an actual author request I encountered in a newly arrived manuscript. I looked at the first few pages. The content was complex, phrasing idiosyncratic, punctuation random.
A more mature and compassionate person would have recognized a writer who’d been frightened and damaged by a previous copyediting experience. That person would have recommended assigning him to an especially sensitive manuscript editor—perhaps to my colleague who adopts greyhounds. Instead, in a huff, I suggested we fling that puppy to our most junior assistant for a once-over typo check….

Read the rest here.

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A Punctuation Primer: How Do You Use The Demicolon Again?

You’ll be happy to know that there is some new punctuation available for you to use. Which is good, because I was getting a little tired of some of the old, run-of-the-mill stuff.

The demicolon is one of my favorites.
collegehumor69f2716b0d54b94cef748e71f0765dee1

And there’s more. It’s here at collegehumor.com and it was a lot of fun to read. We’re all getting older, but — who knew? — College Humor is still funny!

Thanks to The Copywriter Underground for spotting this.

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Hunt Intensifies for $25,000 Dagger!

 

This press release just arrived about the Stephen Grogan mystery Vegas Die. It’s the previous novel of an author I did some editing for recently.

The editing I did was for his next book, Captain Cooked, which is, of course!, a culinary mystery set in Hawai‘i.

Stephen Grogan Vegas Die

The $25,000 murder weapon is not at the bottom of the ocean near the ship-wrecked Titanic, nor was it dropped in Lake Mead at Hoover Dam. And you can’t locate the hidden dagger by putting the best-selling mystery, Vegas Die, under your pillow and hoping the answer leaks into your brain while you’re sleeping.

But some have made those guesses.

This week, Publisher Addison & Highsmith has released an abbreviated list of the most unusual Questor guesses in search for the elusive dagger worth $25,000, and they can be found at: www.QuestMystery.com

Represented are only a few of the hundreds of official guesses received to date in the search of the $25,000 treasure, the clues located in the book, Vegas Die, by Las Vegas author, Stephen Grogan.  Promoted as a three year ‘Quest Mystery’, the hunt is entering its second year with searchers, known as ‘Questors’, emailing in their analysis of clues to be found in Vegas Die.

The book has garnered positive reviews, and on its way to becoming a cult classic, with a plot featuring the Mayor of Las Vegas as the #1 suspect in mob murders.  Says author Grogan, “My intention was to create an interactive book in this multi-media society, one where you read the book first as a mystery, and see no clues, then as a treasure hunt where clues rise from the pages. And with a 3 year contest time limit the book offers longer shelf life of interest.”

To date, states publisher Addison & Highsmith, Vegas Die has become a favorite of tourists, those seeking a take-home souvenir instead of casino shot glasses or Strip postcards.  The $16.95 mystery is one of the top selling books at Las Vegas McCarran Airport, selling over 700 books at one book store alone since January.

Many of the Questor guesses are reasonable, such as “The Dagger is on Black Mountain, under the letter ‘B’.” Or, “The Dagger is located in the middle of Duck Creek trail, next to Sam Boyd Stadium.”

 Some guesses are a little strange. “The Dagger is located within the large blue elephant at King Putt Mini Golf.”  Or, “The dagger is a rose bush at or around one of these gardens…”

And beyond strange.

“I have another guess,” writes a dedicated Questor, “The mayor has a package for me, and I need to go pick it up. Because he has the Dagger!”

Another writes, “The DAGGER  is a standing microphone used by standup comic Jerry Lewis.”

Then there was the one Questor who wrote a several page explanation of location that boiled down to: “Enough of games. I know what you are looking for. I can prove who I am. I have a birth mark on my inner left leg and the mark in my left hand. I am the dagger. But before you contact anyone and tell them you found me, contact me first.”

Is author Stephen Grogan nervous about the variety of Questors out there tearing apart the clues in Vegas Die, certain they will be the dagger’s discoverer?

“So far, all the Questors have been quite enthused and dedicated,” said Grogan, “and I have made quite a few friends. It is to be expected there will be frustration for Questors if there is no quick solution.  In truth, I hope someone finds the dagger prize. It will validate the Quest Mystery concept, and open the door to the sequel I am writing.”

In these tough economic times, wouldn’t $25,000 come in handy, even it means treasure hunting for a murder weapon? 

Vegas Die (ISBN:978-0-9801164-0-3) $16.95. The mystery is available by ordering through most national bookstore chains or at Amazon.com or signed copies at www.QuestMystery.com 

For further information visit “Press Kit” at www.QuestMystery.com or contact Addison & Highsmith Publishers, (702) 759-0002 or fax (702) 759-0003. Email: AddisonHighsmith@gmail.com.  For author interviews contact: (702) 303-5915 or email: grogan.sp@gmail.com 

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Writer/Editorial Consultant

One of my specialties is that I write for businesses.

typewriterkeys1

Here’s what you’d find if you read my Copywriting page:

These days it’s especially important that your business stands out. That it gets noticed. How do you make that happen?

We work together and make sure your potential clients know your story.

When there are two comparable brands of the same product available, which one do people buy? They buy from the company whose name they remember. The company they know something about.

• The one whose products win awards.

• The one whose president builds Habitat for Humanity homes on weekends.

• The one whose product came about because Grandma won a ribbon at the County Fair when she was a girl.

Let’s tell your story – in whatever way makes sense for your particular business. I can help you figure that out.

As a writer and editorial consultant, I help with your written communications.

I work with some clients occasionally, as needed for a specific project, and others on an ongoing basis. My clients set the pace: Some know exactly what they want. With others, we brainstorm together to find the right mix of keeping their company name out there, showing their products in the best light and catching people’s attention.

Perhaps you haven’t been sending out press releases to announce new happenings with your products, your industry and your employees, and consequently your company name isn’t in the forefront of people’s minds as it could be. I can help you clarify your message, figure out what needs to be written, as well as when and how, and get it done.

Maybe you want to resurrect or start up a newsletter in order to be in better touch with your clients. I can help with that. Do you need:

·      Fresher website copy?

·      A letter to go out to your customers/clients?

·      A media kit?

·      An employee manual?

·      A blog?

May I ghostwrite a newspaper or trade magazine article for you and make sure it gets into the right editor’s hands?

·      Need help crafting a speech?

·      What about a brochure or some other written material?

Because I’ve been doing this for some years now, I have lots of ideas and a good sense of what works and how to do it.

In addition, one of my strengths is taking information and asking the right questions until the details and especially the significance – the importance – are clear to everybody else, too.

It means you may have to answer a lot of questions at first, but I am good at pinpointing the questions that need to be asked and won’t waste your time. And as I get to know your company better over time, our work together will become even more powerful.

One of my long-time clients hired me as a result of Honolulu magazine assigning me to write about his business. After that article appeared, he called me and said that in all the articles that had been written about his business over the years, no one had ever gotten his story just right like I did.

Yet all I did was listen. I didn’t assume which were the important aspects of his story; I listened to what he told me was important, and I shaped the article around that.

I don’t write about his business for magazines anymore; now I write about his business for him. We’ve been working together now for years.

If you could use help with your business’s written materials – and telling your stories clearly and effectively – I’d be happy to discuss how we might work together.

Please call me at 808 964-1494, or email me at leslie AT leslielang.com.

If you know of someone with a business that might need a writer, or your neighbor is a marketing person, or your sister-in-law is a decision maker in a small company, would you please pass on my info? I appreciate people spreading the word.

Connect me with someone needing a business writer/editor and I’ll get you in the next big movie. You know, if I can. Like, if pigs started flying and big movie producers started Twittering with me and stuff  like that.

But let people know about my business and I’d appreciate it, anyway.

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Culinary Mystery Novel “Captain Cooked” by Stephen Grogan

We went to Hilo Bay Cafe for dinner the other night while my mom was here visiting. That is such a great restaurant – inside it’s really got the ambience happening, in spite of its unlikely location in a strip mall adjacent to Wal-Mart, and the food is always so fresh and good.

While there, I talked with them about getting some recipes for an author I’m working with. Stephen Grogan, a Las Vegas author of a previous book called Vegas Die, is, interestingly enough, writing a culinary/mystery novel set here on the Big Island. He hired me to edit the manuscript for Hawai‘i references and history and culture.

Stephen Grogan
Stephen Grogan

He actually found and hired me through this blog, which proves that blogging is definitely worth the time and effort. We did all our business together by email.

Steve’s new book’s title is great: “Captain Cooked.” How could I resist that? I did the edit, and helped him gather up some Big Island recipes to go into the book too. The chef at Hilo Bay Cafe has agreed to provide a couple recipes, too.

There’s an interesting gimmick in Steve’s previous book. He hid a dagger somewhere in the metropolitan Las Vegas area, the book provides (kind of hard) clues to its location, and the person who finds it takes $25,000! 

People have been actively seeking it for quite awhile now. There’s even a forum where they go to discuss clues and such. 

He’s going to do the same thing with Captain Cooked, so stay tuned for how to win your $25,000! I’ll let you know when the book is coming out.

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