Book Writing, Self Publishing, and Marketing Coach

Book Coach’s 8 Ways to Write Like a Pro

Sure you can write, but can you write crisp, compelling copy that blog readers, your website visitors, and book audiences will clamor for?

To sell well, your blog articles, reports, books, and copywriting need to pass the checklist below:

1.___ Make your book, blog title, or promotional headlines grab your reader by the collar.

If your titles and headlines are ho hum, your prospective audience will leave you instantly. Headlines and titles are far more important than the copy that follows. A clever title is great, but an even better title is clever and clear. Make sure your titles contain benefits to readers and important keywords to make Google happy too.

When your readers type into Google a search term for what they are looking for, if your title is there near the top of the first page, you are likely to get more recognition for yourself, your business, or your book (In the blog title above, “book coach” is a great keyword for me). I’m the first website resource listed on page one of Google out of 254,000,000 listings for book coach. Being # 1 or on page one is so important because this brings your site traffic you want. I’ve been #1 with this term for 12 years and going strong. Funny, with the Bing search engine, I’m on page one, but lower in the list.

Shorter titles sell better than longer ones, because they are easier to remember. Google likes them too, so keep them under 65 characters. Make each word count because your potential buyer will spend only four to eight seconds on your titles to decide whether to read the rest of your piece.

In your website sales letters and your website homepage, your headlines must grab your visitors’ emotions and curiosity to lead them to buy. While some long titles have succeeded, usually the shorter, the better. For example, on my coaching pages I offer this headline “Writing Coach Helps You Finish Your Book or Marketing Project and Profit from Them”

2.___ Create your opening of your book chapter, your blog, or your web copy to entice your reader to continue.

It’s not the book, it’s the hook. In fiction, start with the most exciting and important incident first. For a non-fiction, self-help chapter, open with 2-3 questions your readers want answered about their problem. Use this question format to hook blog readers too.

Making your blog title a question is a great idea because your audience thinks to themselves answers to it. Your audience wants solutions. For each chapter, include some dialogue in your case studies or stories, because it’s in the present and more engaging and exciting. It shows rather than tells. Past tense narrative tells. Be sure to keep a balance of them. Entice and engage your readers. They don’t want to be told.

3.___ Pursue professional writing friends, a writing coach, or associates to give feedback and edit your work.

Even blog posts need editing. It’s embarrassing to have an editor critique your blog based on mistakes instead of the value you give! Before you approach someone, be sure to read aloud your writing to see if it’s coherent.

For myself, I exchange with a writer I coached for her books and her website. She’s good at copy now, so her eyes catch my little mistakes. We only send a doable few pages at a time. I write a blog in two separate days. The next day, my writing friend edits it. The next day I post it on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. 13% of my traffic comes from LinkedIn and many subscribe to my site to receive weekly emailed tips for writers who want to sell. I keep a schedule of 2-3 blogs a week.

Over the years this strategy propelled my Alexa.com ranking from 1 million down to 200,000 in October, 2011. That’s a huge improvement! Check your site’s numbers out here. This site compares your site’s success with others.

4.___ Use strong emotional or visual power verbs rather than linking verbs like “is,” “there is,” or “start to” or “begin.”

These linking verbs create passive, long sentences. They stop movement and slow readers down. Make it easy for them to “buy.” Readers expect straightforward copy, and when they don’t get it, will put your book or other writing down, never to return. Not a good way to receive word of mouth referrals. Start your sentences with the subject and then add a strong action verb. This one sentence pattern will save you from slow writing.

5. ___ Make sure all your verbs are consistent in their tense.

Use present and past tense rather than past perfect or gerunds. “Ing” verbs like “lingering” really does slow the action down. One recent business CEO client wrote good information for his entrepreneurial audience, he simply loved the –ing format. In just one sentence we found four of them! We fixed them right away to make his copy more readable and tighten his lecturing style. As a former teacher, I used to lecture - but in today’s internet audience, we need to simplify and make our writing clear enough to get our messages listened to.

6. ___ Stop loading your copy with telling words like adverbs.

Every time you see a “very” or an -ly ending in your work, rethink. Check with your Thesaurus to see the more compelling possibilities. Think corpulent instead of very fat. One specific word is always better than two mundane ones. When you see “suddenly,” a favorite of most writers, map out a picture, dialogue, or emotion to show sudden movement. You win with showing, not telling. One recent client loved –”ing’s” and –ly adverbs with verbs. Show the motion rather than use this common bad habit.

7. ___ Corral your writing into concise, compelling, active sentences.

Know that the standard sentence is 15-17 words. Any number over 17 treads into a difficult level of reading. Today’s business readers want shorter and to-the-point writing. Yes, you want some variety.

Just remember what your audience wants. Redundancies fill your first draft. Make your first edit hone in on these. Slash and burn them because they talk down to your audience. Take one page of your writing and count the words in each sentence. Mark the difficult ones and see if you can divide and conquer into 2 or more shorter sentences. Use fragments and drama words such as, “FACT” “TIP” “TRUE or FALSE” Don’t use capital letters except on these short words.

8.___ Make your dialogue believable.

No long speeches, please. Short dialogue reflects real life situations. Use “said” rather than “screamed” or “pouted.” Show these in your character’s action. “Said” is like a comma, and readers don’t like to be slowed or talked down to. Put the dialogue phrase in front of the paragraph, followed by said for a more dramatic, natural speech. Remember to start a new paragraph each time you change voices.

Attract contacts, sales, clients, and make a difference in other’s lives using this “write like a pro” checklist.

Will you leave a comment? I’d smile if you did!

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To stand out from the crowd, trust Judy Cullins’ advice and examples. Check out her book and ebook writing posts

  • http://www.batsford-bear.com john chambers

    Unashamedly a copy-&-paste of my comment on the Linked-In "eMarketing Association Network".

    Very likely the best book-coaching package I have seen in 50 years of heavy professional writing/editorial leadership.

    Explore a little and you will find "Book Coach’s 8 Ways to Write Like a Pro" is only the start of the journey Judy Cullins offers. There's a mass of links that build and build on the total package of clear guidance she lays out. Even her "About Judy" profiles have some good reading if you're a would-be writer, or a writer looking for greater success.

    And if you're a seasoned 'pro' you'll find yourself nodding your agreement as you read your way through most of what she writes.

    Great stuff.

  • lupierro

    Thanks Judy for this post. What I like about your writing is that it is to the point, and very helpful.
    Much thanks, Lu

  • http://www.bookcoaching.com Judy Cullins

    Thanks Lu! I try my best :)

  • http://www.bookcoaching.com Judy Cullins

    John! What a generous endorsement! Much appreciated :)

  • http://www.bookcoaching.com Judy Cullins

    John, You've made my day! I thought I was happy on my yearly "Blues Cruise" to baja, but your comments really make me smile. Glad I could help and happy you like my website. Maybe you'll want to join my site to get weekly free promotion and writing tips at http://www.bookcoaching.com/help-writing-a-book.p… These gems will keep you awake at night!

  • http://www.bookcoaching.com Judy Cullins

    why thanks, Lu, I appreciate your comments. I am to the point and that clarity I help clients get so their writing sells them, their books, and their business! If you haven't yet, please subscribe for my weekly gems at http://www.bookcoaching.com/help-writing-a-book.p

    YOu see what else I can offer you free, low cost and strategy low cost coaching!

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