How to be creative.

I became creative in December 1995 at the age of 37. The previous May, Forrester Research had hired me as an analyst to write what were supposed to be groundbreaking research reports. I worked for two very smart people, Mary Modahl and Bill Bluestein. My first report turned out great. I loved the process and the result. … Continued

4 ways to publish (or self-publish) a book — and how to choose

If you’d like to publish (or self-publish) a book, you now have more options than ever. You also have a complex set of choices. I’ll walk you through them and finish with a flow-chart for the various alternatives, including Kickstarter. This post is for potential how-to and business book authors. If you’re writing fiction or history, you’ll have to … Continued

The successful cold email: a step-by-step recipe

You need to get help from someone who doesn’t know you. You’ve got their email address, but you just sit there staring at the blinking cursor. What will get the right response? Show respect, then tell the truth. Take the time to do the cold email right. Be short and to-the-point. Build the email step by step. … Continued

A podcast that gets to the heart of writing without bullshit

I recently did a Skype interview with Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman, the coauthors of Social Marketing to the Business Customer and proprietors of the B2B branch of the outstanding podcast For Immediate Release. Paul and Eric gave me a chance to talk about what I’m passionate about: the lack of candor in most business communication, how … Continued

The 4 questions to ask before you write anything: ROAM

Effective writing creates a change in the reader. Whether you’re writing an email, a blog post, or a strategy document, four elements determine your success: Reader, Objective, Action, and iMpression. I use the (slightly skewed) acronym ROAM to keep all four in mind as I write. Readers: Who is the audience? Before writing anything, visualize your readers. … Continued

Verizon just bought AOL’s “global multiscreen network platform”

Holy cow. A phone company bought the original Internet content company. This has to have some broader significance. Look in the obligatory press release and you find . . . nothing. Except for some indigestible chunks of verbiage (thanks to Barak Kassar for pointing this out): . . . the combination of Verizon and AOL creates a … Continued

How to write boldly when you are afraid

When you’re afraid of how people will react, you distance yourself from what you write. This makes your writing weak, which makes you seem weak. Fearful writers use language to evade blame. They: Bury the lead. Flounder around before getting to the point. Use passive voice. When you say “mistakes were made” you conceal who’s responsible. Use weasel … Continued

What it feels like when a post goes viral

Here’s what I learned when last Monday’s writing tips post went viral: smart people stick to their goals in the middle of a viral storm. I’ll tell you what happened, what it felt like, and what I learned. Let’s start with what I’m trying to do here. When I started this blog, my goals were, in order of importance: … Continued