Why You Need ‘Everybody Writes’

Cover of the Everybody Writes book by Ann HandleyI’ve been having lunch with Ann Handley several times a week for the last two months.  Well, it feels like I’ve been having lunch with her.  I’ve been reading her new-ish book Everybody Writes during my lunch hours.  But now, I’m done with her.  It was a sad day when I finished the last page of her book.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been excited about a writing book.  I can’t get enough of Zinsser’s On Writing Well and I adore eats, shoots and leaves, but everybody needs Ann’s book. It focuses on writing for marketing and business, yet acknowledges the importance of the writing process. It is aptly subtitled “Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.”

If you are doing any kind of business writing – traditional, digital, social, whatever form, this books takes you through the “must-knows” for audience, publication and outlet. It takes you through common projects that public relations practitioners and marketers are writing TODAY. She talks you through each one — like landing pages, infographics, blog posts. Plus Ann addresses content length, tone and style for many social networks. Everybody Writes also focuses on the writing rules which will make your work stronger.

I’d like to buy it for everyone I know, but since that’s unrealistic, instead I will share my favorite things from the book. Then you can buy it too and improve your writing.

My 8 Favorite Things from Everybody Writes:

  • Why you should LOVE your first draft – page 41
  • Rewriting web copy with better customer focus – page 49
  • Looking critically at your opening paragraph – page 56
  • Writing ledes and kickers – page 61.
  • The hassles of writing by committee – page 76
  • Using readability scores to improve your writing – page 82
  • The art of the interview (because you forgot!) – page 152
  • Breaking grammar rules (because someone will take a red pen using what they learned in 7th grade grammar) — page 107

Her book is proof that our language is fluid, that the writing environment has evolved since 7th grade grammar or high school journalism class. It’s time to refresh the knowledge and skills necessary to be a competent writer today. If it’s been awhile since you’ve read or polished your writing, now is the time to take Ann Handley to lunch, or at least her book.  Put it on your summer reading list.