Book Review-Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

By Ann Handley

From the inside flap

"If you have a web site, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages. We are all writers.

Yeah, but who cares about writing anymore? In a time-challenged world dominated by short and snappy, by click-bait headlines and Twitter streams and Instagram feeds and gifs and video and Snapchat and YOLO and LOL and #tbt. . . does the idea of focusing on writing seem pedantic and ordinary?

Actually, writing matters more now, not less. Our online words are our currency; they tell our customers who we are.

Our writing can make us look smart or it can make us look stupid. It can make us seem fun, or warm, or competent, or trustworthy. But it can also make us seem humdrum or discombobulated or flat-out boring.

That means you've got to choose words well, and write with economy and the style and honest empathy for your customers. And it means you put a new value on an often-overlooked skill in content marketing: How to write, and how to tell a true story really, really well. That's true whether you're writing a listicle or the words on a Slideshare deck or the words you're reading right here, right now...

And so being able to communicate well in writing isn't just nice; it's necessity. And it's also the oft-overlooked cornerstone of nearly all our content marketing."

My take

I don't know about you but I hate writing. At least that first draft. It sucks. Rewriting? Editing? That's fun. But the first draft? Like Hemingway said, bleeding. 

The point is, I need the reminder that first drafts are difficult and they usually aren't any good. Everybody Writes is a book that reminds us that yes, the first draft will suck, but you can fix it on the rewrite. 

In addition to reassuring writers that it's ok for us to write an awful first draft, Handley covers other topics related to writing.

There are six parts to the book. Part I is Writing Rules: How to Write Better (And How to Hate Writing Less). Part II is Writing Rules: Grammar and Usage. Part III is Story Rules. Part IV is Publishing Rules. Part V is 13 Things Marketers Write. And Part VI is Content Tools. 

All these topics combined make for a good reference-type book. I didn't really learn anything new, but it did remind me of things that are always good to hear, such as first drafts suck. It would also be a great book for someone who doesn't have a lot of experience with writing. Say a small business owner who wants to create a blog to generate interest in their products.

My advice would be to read it through—it's a quick, easy read, with small sections that lend themselves to reading bits and pieces as you're waiting in line, waiting on your kids, etc. Then set the book aside for times you want to reference it. Writing the About page for your blog? Check out page 244 in Everybody Writes for tips. Want to make use of Twitter but not sure how? Page 188. Responding to potential customers via email? Page 219.

Have you read Everybody Writes? Did you find it useful? I'd like to know what you think. Let me know in the comments.