Marketing Book Worth a Look: Ann Handley's "Everybody Writes"

Why Reading This Book Will Help You Write Ridiculously Good Content

September 17, 2014

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” - Joseph Addison

In the ever-changing world of content marketing, it is important to stay hungry for knowledge. Each time you read a new piece of content, you are exposed to new insights that can spark a new idea for your next compelling marketing campaign.  It could be the smallest influence that will take your next piece of content from ordinary to extraordinary: a story, an insight from an expert, a compelling visual – each of these or a perfect combination will allow you to connect with your audience on a more authentic level.

To help you find that little extra in your content marketing, and to help you feed your need for knowledge, we are launching a monthly book review, ‘Marketing Book Worth a Look’. Today, we kick off the series -- and continue to celebrate Ann Handley Week here on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog -- by reviewing Ann’s new book, Everybody Writes, now available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

This Month's Recommended Reading: Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

One of the things that stood out in our interview with Ann Handley is that writing makes you think. And if we are all dedicated to deeply thinking about our audience, their needs, and the content we create – we will ultimately create better content.

Ann points out a misconception about writing: It’s an art for which only a few are truly gifted.

She goes on to say, “That leaves us thinking there are two kinds of people: the writing haves – and the hapless, for whom writing well is a hopeless struggle… But I don’t believe that, and neither should you. The truth is this: Writing well is part habit, part knowledge of some fundamental rules, and part giving a damn.”

Why Ann wrote Everybody Writes

Simple, Ann identified a need. Although many excellent books on writing are already available, they tend to fall into 2 categories: Advice that exists to inspire and get you started or detailed instruction on the rules of grammar and style. Everybody Writes is specifically for marketers and is part writing guide, part manual on the rules of ethical publishing, and part trainer to help you build better writing muscles. The book covers how to create “ridiculously good content” and write with a strong, unforgettable voice that cuts through the noise of today’s content marketing landscape.

Why you should read it

The short-answer: It's ridiculously good content. The longer answer: Ann calls for content marketers to ‘wage a war on content mediocrity', and who doesn't want to be a part of that? She invites us to join in this cause for the following reasons:

1. Everybody publishes.

According to the 2014 annual survey produced by Marketing Profs and the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of B2B and 90% of B2C companies say they are using content in their marketing mix. That’s a lot of content to compete with. It’s not just about winning the attention of your audience over other competitors; it’s winning their attention over news sites, bloggers, and social media. And attention is won by being the most compelling, the most interesting or, as some might say, the most ridiculously good.

2. We need less meandering.

She says it nicely, but Ann calls out content marketers for the dis-engaging habit of not getting to the point. Your audience doesn’t have time to go down a winding road with you. As a writer, you need to be clear, concise and get them to the ‘so what?’ quickly. Reading Ann's book will help you get to the point and make it a great one.

3. We have the opportunity to tell better stories.

Ann shares a story about why a well-designed guide to dishwasher repair is one of the best pieces of content she’s encountered. Why? It delivered exactly what she needed with clear instruction, inspiration, and empathy for what it’s like to have shattered glass in the drain hose. The book provides a handy formula for creating content that tells the story well, even when your product isn't the most sexy of them all.

What you will learn

Read it through from the beginning or dive into the section that will be most helpful for you. Here’s what the book covers:

  1. How to Write Better: blueprints and structures to use in your writing
  2. Writing Rules: essential grammar and usage rules you need to look smart online
  3. Story Rules: add heart and interest to make your content more compelling
  4. Publishing Rules: ground rules of journalism and publishing
  5. Things Marketers Write: tactics for how to excel at typical content marketing tasks
  6. Content Tools: reference list of resources for content creation

Everybody Writes takes you beyond mechanically-sound content. It is about telling stories in a compelling way, choosing the right words to engage your audience, and writing with economy, style, and empathy for your consumers. And that's something everybody can get behind.

Pick up your copy of Ann Handley's Everybody Writes on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and dive in. I can't wait to read what you write after you do.

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