Content, we know you are king, but it is time to meet your queen: Ann Handley. From small blogs to mammoth corporations, Ann Handley has reigned them all. With her eye for empathetic material that is easy to understand and implement, she is justified in her sovereignty.
Handley’s latest book, EVERYBODY WRITES, continues her double-decade trend of sharing techniques to cut the mush and filler and create what your reading clientele yearns to see: an attractive and informative message. The book has everyone’s favorite—short chapters!—that are organized in an accessible manner: how to write better; grammar rules; story rules; publishing rules; things marketers write; and, content tools.
Note from that list: writing better and grammar are two different things. Both are helpful; both stand alone. One of Handley’s most helpful pieces from the section “how to write better” is her writing GPS. She refers to it and expounds upon it throughout the book. In a nutshell, here it is:
1. Goal—what is it?
2. Reframe for the reader
3. Seek data and examples
5. Write to one person
6. Produce the Ugly First Draft (TUFD)
7. Walk away
9. Give a great headline or title
10. Have someone edit
11. One final look for readability
12. Give the reader a “what now”
Here’s a picture showing my own content-creation process about a different book:
As for grammar, Handley explores shibboleths such as avoiding franken-words and the shaming of adverbs (thumbs up for the numerous Steven King ON WRITING quotes). On one hand it is unfortunate that content creators have to be told the difference between “its” and “it’s”; on the other hand it is unfortunate Handley says, “I’d say don’t worry about it” about the differences between “that” and “which”. If you are looking for syntax instruction, I’d say read Steven Pinker’s upcoming book THE SENSE OF STYLE.
Grab this book for one thing: creating better content. That’s where Handley shines and that’s what most of EVERYBODY WRITES is about. She explains it with this formula: Utility x Inspiration x Empathy = Quality Content. For a math refresher, if any variable equals zero, the final product is zilch. You need utility! You need inspiration! You need empathy! Ann Handley teaches you how to achieve all three.
EVERYBODY WRITES is a great resource that is easily accessible and will be often referenced. You will see results.
To help illustrate the idea of reducing rhetoric in order to create meaningful content, I’m going to ask Weird Al to help me out:
Thanks to the kind folks at Wiley for sending this to me for review.
You can find this book’s preview and other reviews on Amazon: Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content