Trademarks in books and other prose: how to mark and when to claim them

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Trademarks confuse writers. Here are some tips on how to address trademarks in prose — and whether you ought to protect your own special names for things with them. Start with this: I’m not a lawyer. I hope you find this helpful — it’s based on decades of experience as a writer — but if … Continued

Why every edit I do is a “close read”

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Sometimes people request that I do a “light edit” on their document, book chapter, or book. “Just give it a read and let me know what it needs,” they say. I can’t actually do that. I only know how to do a close read. How I do a developmental edit There is a switch in … Continued

What it means if I ask to share book revenue with you

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I charge what I’m worth. Whether it’s a book proposal, book editing, or ghostwriting, I figure out how much work it will take, multiply by my hourly rate, and price accordingly. My price is fixed. I don’t charge by the hour, I charge by the job. If you propose to pay me out of your … Continued

Don’t capitalize Random Crap

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Even if you feel a need to make your favorite magic words more important, don’t capitalize them in running text. It makes prose look uneven — and makes you look like an eighteenth-century pamphleteer. Do you write to impress? I edit a lot of prose intended for that purpose — including “thought leadership” blogs, business … Continued

Nonfiction writers: Start every chapter with a story

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I don’t care whether you’r writing a memoir, a historical narrative, or a business book full of advice. You should start every chapter with a story. Why? Because stories draw people in. It’s that simple. Here are the starts of some chapters in my first book Groundswell. Would you want to read these chapters? When … Continued

For editors, it pays to specialize

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There are a million editors out there. If you aspire to make a living as one, you can’t just be “an editor” — because only those who specialize will be paid what they’re worth. (Author’s note — I’ll now resume posting mostly about writing, editing, and books. Thanks for your tolerance of my political posts … Continued

The three questions agents and editors ask about your book proposal

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If you’re writing a nonfiction book, your proposal is crucial. It’s a complicated and diverse document. But for the acquisitions editor at a publishing house to make you an offer — or for an agent to represent you — you need only answer three questions: Is your idea a good idea? Can you write? Will … Continued

Was Bob Woodward wrong to keep his book interviews quiet until now?

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The author and former Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward interviewed Trump 18 times for his new book Rage. In a February interview, Trump revealed that he knew how serious a threat there was from COVID-19. Many commentators say Woodward should he have said something as soon as he learned this. I disagree. What Woodward knew … Continued