The lonely marketer

As part of my work for a particular client, I follow the trade press for a certain segment of the marketing field. Each week I get a few dozen email newsletters about marketing, many of them offering tips as a lure to check out a particular blog.

This morning MarketingProfs sent Get to the Po!nt: Small Business Secrets in 60 Seconds, with three tips from Patrick Schaber, who writes The Lonely Marketer blog. Not only were all three tips brilliant, but each could be easily adapted to small groups in very large businesses — even to volunteer groups or boards.

After clicking through so many newsletter tips that fall into the “been there, done that” category, it was startling and delightful to come across these gems.

Is copy editing extinct?

The weekend discussion at Deborah Ng’s Freelance Writing Jobs site is on copy editing (or the lack of it) on the web. My “guest post” about my own experiences writing with — and without — a copy-editing net kicks off the discussion:

“These glitches had gotten by me because my eye and my brain were focused at some other level of the text. Did the quote I’d selected accurately represent the person quoted? Was the lede as sharp as possible? Did the story flow at a good pace? And they’d gotten by me because I’m a writer, thinking about writing, and publications have copy editors who think about copy editing. At least they used to.” Read more.

Unjustly overlooked

A few weeks ago J. Kingston Pierce, editor of the crime fiction literary blog The Rap Sheet, asked writers and reviewers to nominate “one crime, mystery, or thriller novel” they felt was unjustly overlooked. I wrote about a British paperback I’d discovered on one of my used-bookstore prowls many years ago, P. M. Hubbard‘s High Tide.

Read about it here and check out nominations from more than 100 other crime fiction authorities including writers George Pelecanos, Michael Connelly and Ian Rankin and critics Tom Nolan and Adam Woog.

From whence it comes

Seth Godin had a typically pithy post a few days back about how to deal with people’s reactions to your ideas.

It reminded me of a saying my mother often used when I was a child: “Take it from whence it comes.” Meaning, of course, that criticism (or praise) has a context that’s as important as the comments themselves.

Godin gave several examples of the effect of context on advice. These included praise that’s given because the person likes you, or is afraid to upset you with honest criticism; criticism given because someone doesn’t want to be responsible for encouraging an idea that fails later on; people who push you to take risks; and people who urge you to proceed but only with caution.

I’ve come to expect certain types of reaction from certain people. One of the reasons I moved from the Northeast to the Pacific Northwest 22 year ago was because the typical reaction to new ideas back East was negative and cynical: “Why bother? Someone will just rip off your idea.” “Oh, someone else has probably already thought of that.” “Well, maybe if you have the right connections…”

I liked it out here because the typical reaction to new ideas was positive. “Interesting! Let me know how it develops.” “You know, there’s someone I think you should talk with.”

Godin points out that you have a choice of who to ask about your ideas; I guess I made that choice in a broad, general way just by moving to Seattle.

But, now that I’m here, I find that I like to expose my ideas to a variety of people, keeping in mind the context and motivation behind their advice. What I look for is advice that goes against the expected — a usually conservative friend who says, “I think you’ve got it this time — go for it!” or a usually encouraging person who says, “something about this has me worried.”

Take control of your technology

Own a Mac? Thinking of getting a digital TV? Setting up a wireless network in your home?

The succinct ebooks from Take Control Publishing give you step-by-step tips for dealing with all this technology — and they’re all on sale (a whopping 50 percent off the usual $5 – $15 prices) through May 29.

Here’s a partial list of Take Control titles, by category:

iPod & iTunes

Take Control of Your iPod: Beyond the Music
Macworld iPod and iTunes Superguide
Macworld Apple TV Superguide
Take Control of Digital TV
Digital Photography
Take Control of Buying a Digital Camera
Macworld Digital Photography Superguide
Take Control of Booking a Cheap Airline Ticket
Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner
AirPort & Wi-Fi Networking
Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Extreme Network
Take Control of Your AirPort Network
Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security
Take Control of Your Domain Names
General Macintosh
Take Control of Mac OS X Backups
Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac
Macworld Mac Basics Superguide
Take Control of Buying a Mac
Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac
Take Control of Podcasting on the Mac
Take Control of Switching to the Mac
Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger
Take Control of Passwords in Mac OS X
Take Control of Syncing in Tiger
Take Control of Fonts in Mac OS X
Take Control of Font Problems in Mac OS X
Take Control of Permissions in Mac OS X
Take Control of Upgrading to Tiger
Take Control of Customizing Tiger
Take Control of Users & Accounts in Tiger
Take Control of Sharing Files in Tiger
Apple Applications
Take Control of iWeb
Take Control of .Mac
iPhoto 6: Visual QuickStart Guide
Take Control of Apple Mail in Tiger
Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail
Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand
Take Control of Recording with GarageBand
Microsoft Office
Take Control of Customizing Microsoft Office
Take Control of What’s New in Entourage 2004
Take Control of What’s New in Word 2004
Take Control of What’s New in Word 2004: Advanced
Other Applications
Take Control of Getting Started with Dreamweaver

Morning rituals work even for night people

I’ve been following the Freelance Switch blog, which is full of tips for independent contractors in writing, photography, design, and programming.

This post on Creating a Morning Writing Ritual resonated with me. (Even a dyed-in-the-wool night person has to start the workday somewhere.) One of the points the writer makes is that if you focus and get a good chunk of writing done right at the beginning of your workday, you can take time off to relax later on. I like to reward myself mid-afternoon with some gardening.

The post also suggests that you jump directly into writing without first checking email; my version of this has been to set a timer, to spend 15 minutes checking email and flagging certain messages for later attention, then to move on to the writing tasks.

Take neighbor to court bamboo

The title of this blog entry, “take neighbor to court bamboo,” sounds like the germ of a short story.

And, in a sense, it is: the phrase is a search query some anonymous visitor typed into Google.

This brings us to It’s a new web-based service that does search traffic analysis — helping you analyze your website by studying the queries that have brought visitors to it. (These queries are easy to capture using a web stats service such as — or using As this 103bees blog post explains, analyzing website queries is important for websites and blogs that want to increase their earnings from ad programs such as Google Adsense

[Editor’s update: Sadly, is closed.]

103bees invites users to show off their funniest search queries. WriterWay hasn’t had any particularly weird queries recently (perhaps because it’s a site about clear communication?) but I’ve signed up for 103bees and I promise to share anything amusing that comes my way.

In the meantime, I’m wondering if that person did, indeed, sue the neighbor over the bamboo.

Another note on organization

After blogging yesterday about organization, I realized I should have mentioned the little (well, sometimes fairly lengthy) email I get every day from Productivity501 with a productivity tip. Today’s strategy, on storing things in a contextual manner so that it’s easier to find them, is particularly clever.

What’s in the basket?

Like all of us, I play the priorities game on a daily basis.

Currently my top-level priorities are getting to my yoga/weight-training/aerobics class three days a week and completing weekly writing assignments for my major client.

Second-tier priorities involve growing my writing business and routine care of my family and the house — from cooking, laundry and shopping to paying bills and scheduling the usual house/car/etc. maintenance stuff.

Beyond that there’s this weird third tier of stuff, a hodge-podge of professional and personal development and my hobbies, all of which involve design and fabrication of some sort and most of which entail collaborating with friends or meeting new people interested in the same activities. This list of things I want to do in these areas is endless!

Organizationally, I have no difficulty keeping the tools and schedules for the top- and second-tier activities in perfect shape. But the rest of it? Files, bookcases, boxes, and deceptively decorative baskets in nearly every room of the house — to say nothing of megabytes of space on my Macs — are filled with potential ingredients for these projects.

Here’s the contents of the most recent basket:

  • Goodies from the excellent WebTrends conference I attended at the Grand Hyatt last week. The conference was free, the presenters were good, and I came away with a better grasp of the web analytics field. WebTrends gave attendees some great gifts, including the marketing book Waiting for Your Cat to Bark and an attractive notepad portfolio that includes a little pocket handy for collecting business cards. I took notes on my PowerBook during the conference and promised I’d blog later about the shockingly bad PowerPoint presentation given by a Microsoft VP. So here it is: I didn’t have the nerve to whip out my cell phone and take a picture of it, but his first slide used outlined type in italics, and his second slide had more than 60 words, four levels of outline, 15 bullet points, and three footnotes — plus a chart. It looked like a “before” example from an Edward Tufte graphic design seminar.
  • A handwritten list of mystery writers whose books I like and want to buy more of.
  • Receipts to shred.
  • A scribbled note about Pat Murphy’s book Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell, recommended to me by an award-winning science fiction writer I met at a party.
  • Martha Stewart’s Spring Cleaning Checklist (three pages, illustrated). I see I get points for cleaning my “window treatments.” Unfortunately, after I took the diningroom curtains to the dry cleaner and got them cleaned for an outrageous amount of money I realized I like the dining room much better without them. And that I want to replace them with honeycomb shades. $$$$.
  • Baklava recipes for a cooking contest I didn’t enter.
  • The hour-by-hour schedule for the upcoming Northwest Folklife Festival. I’ve marked all the concerts I want to attend, even though I always spend 11 out of 12 hours of the day dancing in the Roadhouse.
  • Four silver buttons I clipped off a hideous jacket and intend (some day) to put on a much nicer jacket. If the cats don’t turn them into playthings first.

So, what’s in your basket?

Blogging by the rules

I’d never heard of the blog law site Aviva Directory, but was intrigued by the lengthy post “12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know.”

It covers paid posts (ads); deep linking; use of inline image linking and thumbnail images; stolen content; collecting reader data; ownership of uploaded content; a blogger’s responsibility for blog comments; tax law on blog revenue; the blog as a legal entity; spam laws; and the applicability of journalism shield laws to bloggers.

The issues this post tackles are dauntingly complex, particularly as this area of law is still evolving. Fortunately, each section concludes with some general tips on “how to stay out of trouble.” Definitely worth reading and bookmarking. And the comments from bloggers about their own legal experiences are excellent.