Book Review: Everybody Writes


Well, we’re a month and a half into 2015, and my New Year’s resolution to read 12 books this year that’ll help me be a better marketer is still going strong. I just finished book #2: Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. I saw Ann Handley at Content Marketing World last September – and I’m a big fan of MarketingProfs – so I was eager to dig in.

I find many books about writing to be dry, boring and hard to get through. That wasn’t the case with Everybody Writes. Ann has a fun, light writing style (she definitely practices what she preaches), and I was able to polish off this book in just a couple sittings. It wasn’t just informative — it was entertaining!

The book is broken up into six sections, each one chock full of practical advice and tips.

1. How to Write Better (and How to Hate Writing Less)
A pep talk from Ann about how to be a better writer, with practical tips like “set aside time [to write] every day when you’re freshest.” Some tips were kind of obvious, but they were good reminders.

2. Grammar and Usage
A nice overview on how to use words better, with reminders to use the active voice and avoid needless buzzwords and jargon.

3. Story Rules
Stories aren’t just for kids. This section provides advice for telling your brand’s story – in other words, who you are and how you’re making people’s lives better.

4. Publishing Rules
This section was a great reminder that writers must think (and act) like journalists. Remember some of the things you learned in your college journalism classes. For starters, always be truthful and have a firm understanding of what really counts as news (hint: making a minor update to your product or hiring someone doesn’t count).

5. Things Marketers Write
Practical tips for writing some of the things marketers write most – from blog posts and tweets to landing pages and annual reports.

6. Content Tools
A collection of tools and resources that can help you stay focused and organized and be a better writer. Who knew there was a website that shows you a photo of a cute kitten every time you write a predetermined number of words or a Chrome extension that limits the time you spend on time-sucking sites?

Everybody Writes is part pep talk, part practical guide. It has the energy of a dynamic keynote address with the how-to of a breakout session. I walked away armed with practical tips I can start using right away to be a better writer. This isn’t a book I’ll just read once and put away. It’ll be a guide I know I’ll come back to time and time again.

Have you read Everybody Writes? What did you think?

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