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January 19, 2013

Using Fictional Stories to Sell Products or Services

If  you’re intending to write or publish a business book, you might assume that what you need to do is present descriptions of your services or product, or provide instruction to the reader in the way a teacher would. But there’s another alternative that can be very powerful: telling stories that highlight the benefits of your service as well as the dangers of not using your service.

Think of your story as a long TV commercial or short film that has characters and a plot, just like any other story. The difference is that your story has a “moral” at the end, and the moral is that your product or service really works and can change lives.

When writing a fictional narrative about a product or service, my number one task is to deliver a story or stories according to these three specifications: the target consumer, the benefit of the product, and the product features. Those are the three elements every story needs. These three elements (user, features, benefits) must be presented in plain English in a way that anyone can understand. The fourth element that may be used is fear. Fear is created when you show the consequences of not using the product or service.

Let’s say you’re selling a new GPS app for a smartphone. The app makes it easy for you to meet your friends at a certain destination at a certain time.  What better way to explain the product than with a series of stories? Think about the stories as mini-TV commercials. In a TV spot you’ve got 30 seconds to tell your story. It needs to be in plain English and easily understood by anyone.

In the story, I have ordinary GPS or some other app on my smartphone and I think that I have the best possible technology. And now you’re telling me that I could do better! You’re telling me that with minimal effort I could save time and lower my stress level, and meet my friends or colleagues at the right time at the right place, and even pre-order my meal. It sounds good, but I have questions. How does it work? Is it expensive? Is it reliable? Is it simple to operate? These are the questions I want answered.

And you know what? The very best person to answer these questions is my friend Sally. She’s already got the app, and she loves it! I saw Sally at dance class yesterday and she told me all about this new app and how it changed her life! Sally has zero tech skills. She’s an ordinary consumer. But she uses the app and it works great for her.

A story can be a fun and entertaining way to promote your product or service, and to get the consumer to understand very quickly how your product will benefit him or her in real life.

- Thomas Hauck provides ghostwriting and editing services for both first-time and established authors. Contact Tom today to learn more about how you can write and publish your own book.

December 21, 2012

How to Write a Great Business Book

A popular (meaning non-scholarly, non-MBA program) book that is aimed at business professionals must satisfy a few very basic requirements. Here is an outline of what you must accomplish with any business book, regardless of length or complexity.

1. As you create your book, the number one concept to keep at the forefront is that your readers are totally self-centered. They care only about how you can help them to solve their immediate problem. If you cannot provide practical, accessible solutions, they’ll toss your book out the window.

2. Therefore, your first task is to clearly state the problem that you can help the reader solve. For any business owner, the number one problem is how to make more money. Period. This goal can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including winning a big contract, increasing market share, increasing profit margins, cutting expenses, or introducing a new product or service. Regardless of the strategy or combination of strategies, the goal is always to make more money. If you are writing a fable you may, if you wish, use a metaphor for making money, like finding out who moved the cheese.

3. The specific problem that you say you can solve must resonate and be clearly defined. It may include increasing team effectiveness, lowering employee turnover, taking advantage of the internet for marketing, or strategic succession planning. Whatever the area of your expertise, you need to define the problem and show the consequences of allowing the problem to continue. This is the fear factor. You must say, “In today’s competitive business environment, if you’re doing it the old way, you’re going to be outperformed by your competitors.”

4. You must then assert the benefits of your solution. Regardless of the short-term benefits your solution can provide, the long-term benefit is always the same: increased profits. Period.

5. Then you need to describe your solution in plain English. Provide examples or tell stories to make your solution come alive. The reader must be able to say, “Yeah – this book describes my problem and I can see how to fix it!”

6. You are the expert. The reader does not care where your ideas come from. Do not tell the reader to go elsewhere for a solution. Please do not load your book with quotes by Jack Welch, Donald Trump, or Lao Tzu. I guarantee you that these same quotes are reproduced in thousands of boring business books. Your job is to stand out from the herd, not to be a part of the herd.

7. Don’t try to sell the reader. They’ve already bought your book, so you’ve got their attention and loyalty. Just tell them at the end of the book that if they need more information you invite them to contact you.

8. Don’t make the reader do an activity, like fill out a chart or make a list. No one has time for that kind of stuff, and most business people think it’s beneath their dignity. Plus, if they’re reading your book on a Kindle or Nook, they can’t fill out a form anyway. Remember that your reader is totally self-centered. They have paid their money for your book and they want you to do the work.

9. If you must use graphics, make sure they are incredibly simple. One corporate client of mine drew his own little circles and graphs with a pen. The images looked like a fifth-grader had drawn them, and they were incredibly effective. You could see at a glance exactly what he wanted you to understand.

10. Never ever use clip art. Never insert an image that is not unique to your book. The reader does not need to see a generic image of dollar bills in order to understand that you’re talking about money. Your book is not a PowerPoint presentation; it is a personal communication between you and your reader.

11. Do not use footnotes. Busy businesspeople do not care about your sources and do not want to interrupt their reading by going to the bottom of the page and squinting at a footnote. If you quote a source, say in your text, “According to the New York Times, fifty percent of all homeowners…” If you wish, provide a list of resources at the end of the book.

12. This is your goal: to get the reader to read your book and then hand it to a colleague and say, “You gotta read this book. It’s a fast read and it’s got some great ideas. We can discuss them at the next meeting.” Bingo! Your book has just sold itself. And chances are good that your phone will ring and the company will want to hire you for a consultation.

That’s it. Keep it simple. Describe the problem and offer your solution. Give your reader value and they’ll come back for more.

- Thomas Hauck, book editor and ghostwriter, helps individual and corporate clients with a wide range of literary services designed to help you reach your goals.

 

December 13, 2012

“Success 101: How Life Works – Know the Rules, Play to Win” – Thomas Hauck, Editor

Congratulations to my valued client Scott F. Paradis on the publication of his new book, “Success 101: How Life Works – Know the Rules, Play to Win” from Cornerstone Achievements. I had the pleasure to edit Scott’s sensational book, which reveals what you need to achieve your greatest desires, fulfill your potential, and create your destiny. Do you deserve more from life? Of course you do! (Don’t we all?) “Success 101: How Life Works” shows you how to embrace the opportunities that life offers. You don’t have to choose between wealth and love, health and career – you can have it all.

- Thomas Hauck, professional freelance book editor and ghostwriter, helps both new and published authors to reach their literary goals.

October 31, 2012

Citations in Self-Help Books

I edit many self-help books. My clients – the wonderful and conscientious authors – often refer to other  sources or discuss ideas that are circulating in society. They often ask me about citations.

When should you give credit to another author or to a source? Here’s what I tell my valued clients.

First, if you have legal questions I encourage you to seek legal counsel. I am not a lawyer.
Having said that, in my opinion you are required to give a citation if – and only if – you present someone else’s exact copyrighted language as your own. A popular book is not an academic treatise. The citation standards are very different.

Fair use entitles you to discuss another person’s ideas the way a reviewer discusses a book or a news reporter reports on a book. In such cases you are clearly not presenting the ideas as your own. You can fairly say, “In his book ‘Run for Health,’ John Doe recommends you do a half-hour of stretches; I believe this is optional.” John Doe cannot sue you.

Many books present ideas that are in general circulation. Therefore your language must be your own, which it is, but you are not required to provide a source for every idea in your book.

You must give credit for primary source material or material that others agree to provide. For example, in a compilation cookbook the recipes are copyrighted by their respective authors, you’ll need to include a paragraph on the copyright page acknowledging their copyrights.

If you want the reader to investigate other sources, my suggestion is to provide a list of additional resources at the end of the book, if you want to do this. You are not required to.

Thomas Hauck provides professional freelance book editing and ghostwriting services.

 

October 21, 2012

“Private Mortgage Investment: Your Path to Creating Passive Income and Building Wealth” edited by Thomas Hauck

Congratulations to Ralph Abbott on the publication of his groundbreaking new book, “Private Mortgage Investment: Your Path to Creating Passive Income and Building Wealth,” which I had the honor to edit. Private mortgage investing – using private money to make mortgage loans – is an old and respected practice. The book begins with an overview of the industry and some basic definitions. Then it shows you step by step how to develop and make private mortgage loans. Once you’ve gotten your feet wet, you’ll learn the finer points and how to effectively manage your growing nest egg.

Thomas Hauck, Boston book editor, helps both professional and first-time authors of fiction and nonfiction reach their publishing goals.

“No Fun in the Fens” by Mike Ryan, edited by Thomas Hauck

Congratulations to Mike Ryan, whose latest novel “No Fun in the Fens” was just published by Charles River Press. In this book, volume three of Ryan’s sensational Cootch Connolly Mysteries, turn-of-the century Boston probation officer Cootch Connolly discovers that two of his clients have been murdered. The mystery deepens when the mansion of famous art collector and socialite Isabella Stewart Gardner is robbed of priceless paintings. “Mrs. Jack” appeals to Cootch and his brother, police Inspector Finn McCool Connolly, to solve the heinous crime. It’s a page-turner cozy mystery loaded with intrigue and historical flavor!

 

Thomas Hauck provides professional freelance book editing services for published novelists, first-time authors, self-help writers, and business book writers.

 

“Reaching Beyond The Dream: A Leap in Human Consciousness” edited by Thomas Hauck

Congratulations to Angelica A. Atman and Terence G. Atman on the US publication of their life-changing book “Reaching Beyond the Dream: A Leap in Human Consciousness,” which I had the honor to edit. With enthusiasm and inspiration, Terry and Angie reveal the secrets of how to free the mind from misaligned beliefs and false perceptions. Based on their personal spiritual journeys, they provide a clear path to raise any intimate relationship to a state of Divine Union. The reader is guided step-by-step toward a lasting shift in conscious awareness, which leads to a profound healing of mind and heart.

- Thomas Hauck provides freelance professional ghostwriting and book editing services for new and established authors of fiction and nonfiction.

October 7, 2012

Fiction: How to Address Your Characters

A wonderful and valued client of mine is writing a novel that is set in fourteenth-century Ireland. The protagonist is a young common woman named Mary who falls in love with a titled lord, and he with her. The story focuses on their evolving relationship.

My client asked me about the names she should use for her characters. It was getting tricky because the man, Lord Richard Conway, had several available names and ways he could be addressed by both the author and the other characters.

I learned how to do this from the James Bond novels. In those books, the lead character has four distinct names:

1. “Bond” or “James Bond” or “Mr. Bond” is used by colleagues and enemies who are not on intimate terms with him. Ian Fleming, the author, always and without exception calls him “Bond” or “James Bond.”

2. “007″ is what M calls him when he is having a conversation relating to a secret mission. Ian Fleming never refers to the character as “007″ in the text that he, Fleming, writes as the narrator of the story.

3. He is called “James” only by his girlfriends and a few intimate friends. It is very rare when anyone calls him James, so you really notice it in the book. Ian Fleming never refers to him as “James” in the narrative.

4. Once in a while a vulgar American will call him “Jim” or “Jimmy.” Bond hates this.

Let’s say you’re writing a medieval novel. You, as the author, never change your relationship with any of your characters, including Lord Richard Conway. It is the same from the first page to the last. Therefore you, the author, have no reason to suddenly change what you call him. It must be “Conway” or “Lord Conway” from the first page to the last.

On the other hand, Mary’s relationship with Lord Richard Conway changes dramatically. When she first meets him she must address him as “Lord Conway” or “my lord.” But once they are intimate and she becomes his peer, she would begin to call him “Richard.” This significant change in the form of address is another signal to the reader that now they are in a relationship.

Other characters can call him “Lord Conway” or “Richard,” depending upon their rank and familiarity. But they must be consistent and it must be appropriate to the occasion. For example, at a formal public event no one would call him “Richard,” not even Mary.

Next, imagine if Mary had a pet nickname for Lord Conway, like “snuggles.” Mary would say, “How about some breakfast, snuggles dear?”

Would you, the author, call him “snuggles”? No. You would write, “Conway looked up at Mary with a big smile and said, ‘Yes, sugarlips, I would love some breakfast.’”

- Thomas Hauck, freelance professional ghostwriter and editor based in Gloucester, Massachusetts, provides first-time and established authors with personal literary services.

September 19, 2012

“Being Alone Sucks” by Adam LoDolce

I try to keep a sharp eye out for books that I’ve edited that appear on Amazon, but once in a while one sneaks by me. “Being Alone Sucks” came out in April 2011 and was written by Adam LoDolce, who is fast emerging as one of America’s top dating and relationship experts. Adam hails from Allston, the section of Boston that has one of the most active singles scenes on the planet, so he knows his stuff first hand! The book’s title sums up his fresh and no-nonsense approach, and he offers advice for both men and women that anyone can relate to. If you’re a hermit and believe that being alone is just dandy, then this book is not for you; but if you’re like most single people who are trying to either 1) get off the sofa and out of the house, or 2) navigate the loser-infested waters of singledom, this book is your guide to a better life.

Thomas Hauck, freelance book editor and ghostwriter, helps both first-time and experienced authors to create books that make a difference to their readers.

September 2, 2012

Thomas Hauck, Editor: Capitalization of Titles

I subscribe to the New Yorker. It’s a great magazine and I look forward to every issue.

I’ve noticed, though, that they have a odd approach to capitalizing job titles, specifically that of the president of the United States. Let’s look at two examples from the August 27, 2012 issue and the article entitled “Schmooze or Lose,” which examines President Obama’s personal approach to fundraising.

In the first paragraph, we read this: “For a busy President, such events could be a chore.” If I were editing that sentence, I’d put “president” in lower case. Why? Because we’re talking about the job. It’s not a proper name. Here is my test: I always substitute the job title “janitor,” and see if it needs capitalization. Here is the sentence: “For a busy janitor, such events could be a chore.” Perfect. And yes, if your sentence read, “I went to Janitor Jones for cleaning supplies…” you’d capitalize “Janitor” because you’re using it as a substitute for his first name.

Clearly, the New Yorker is trying to be respectful, but their approach is not very democratic (with a lower case “d”). “President” is just a job title like any other – janitor, chairman, administrative assistant, or sales manager.

There’s more. A few paragraphs later they say this: “He reserved some of the harshest words of his Presidency for the Citizens United ruling…” There’s no reason to capitalize “presidency.” It’s not a proper name.

And then, “He says that Republican spending in the Presidential race…” Here, “presidential” is an adjective describing the word “race.” To see an adjective capitalized is very unusual!

The New Yorker’s policy is selective. In the same article, “Anna Wingate, the editor of Vogue…” is correct. It’s just a job title, not a proper name.

- Thomas Hauck, freelance book editor in the Boston area, works with both first-time and established authors. Contact Tom today to learn more about how your book can be brought to its highest level.

 

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