An editor’s notebook: How to help authors who get carried away

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One big job of an editor is to provide a perspective from outside the confines of the writer’s head. Writers burble out all sorts of prose that made sense to them when they wrote it. The editor points out what must change for that prose to make sense to everyone else. Today’s examples come from … Continued

An editor’s notebook: When it comes to metaphors, don’t be a slut

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Editors deal in meaning. Metaphors are great for meaning — until they get out of hand. What do you tell an author whose relationship with metaphors has become promiscuous? Today’s example, like yesterday’s, comes from a book I was editing. The author had great ideas and an engaging writing style, but occasionally got carried away. … Continued

An editor’s notebook: Analyzing and untangling sentences

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One of the editor’s primary jobs is to make sentences say what they mean. When the prose gets in the way of the ideas, fix the prose. A focus on the subjects and verbs in sentences can help make prose clearer and reduce the cognitive load on the reader. These examples come from a book … Continued

How to brainstorm the future

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Every strategy book I’ve ever written includes a final chapter about the future. Here’s how I do the brainstorms that turn into those chapters — and how you can run your own brainstorms about the future, whether you’re writing a book or just planning for scenarios. The objective of a brainstorm like this is to … Continued

The ideal business book (with examples from Talk Triggers)

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I work on a certain kind of business book. It’s about a shift in the world, and the shift in strategy that companies and people need to make in response. There is a best way to write a book like that, and Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin’s Talk Triggers is the best example I’ve seen in … Continued

You need Jay Baer’s “Talk Triggers” to make your business spread and grow

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There’s this book called Talk Triggers by Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin. It has alpacas on the cover. And you should buy it, because it’s really useful. If you’re in an agency, or in marketing, you’ve probably heard clients say “We want to create something viral.” It’s practically a meme. And it’s insipid. You cannot … Continued

Doing work that matters

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The best life for a writer is to spend your days writing and editing prose that matters. This is not easy, but it is rewarding. And that attitude should apply to whatever work you do. This year I am getting to enjoy, shall we say, a wide variety of work. For example: The ghostwriting project … Continued

Straight talk about how to come up with a book title

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It’s time to come up with a title for your book. “I want something iconic,” you’re thinking. “Like Lean In. Or The Tipping Point. Or Made to Stick.” You are deluded. And your delusion is leading you astray. These books sold because of huge promotion (Lean In) and incredible ideas and writing. You think they are great titles … Continued