Posted in copywriter, literary magazines and publishing, photography, power of words, words of thoughts and spirit, writer's blog

a letter writer’s heritage

Heritage

I just received this WhatsApp message, “Would you please write another generic and/or personified donation letter for us on this new school project?” I cannot remember when I have stopped writing my own formal/informal letters. The last time I wrote was for someone else for charitable donation. As usual, when I receive a letter writing request I need all information of the project and meditate for a number of days, sometimes weeks. I could look at the numerous letters and newsletters I have received to find tips if any. But since they have not persuaded me to donate there is really no point looking at them.

In my recent month-long trip to clear a house of old stuff so that it can be put up for sale, I found and carried back some old books. They are mostly books printed in the 1950s. I asked for permission to keep some for myself. Here is one which I quite like: Ladies’ & Gentlemen’s Letter-Writer, printed in Great Britain, 1953. 

I cannot resist taking the liberty to quote the following sample letters. Enjoy.
All the names are fictitious of course.

November 20th
Dear Sylvia,
Here is a cheque for £5. I know just how difficult things are these days. In fact my own account is nearly overdrawn, so try and let me have the £5 promptly at the end of the month.
Love,
Pamela.

December 12th
Dear Sylvia,
What about my £5? Be a dear, and let me have it as soon as you can, since I’m getting rather short myself now.
Love,
Pamela.

December 20th
Dear Sylvia,
I wrote on the 12th, asking for repayment of my loan (which you promised to repay at the end of November), but I have heard nothing from you. I hope you haven’t spent all your last salary on Christmas presents, because I really need that £5 very badly. Could you send it by return?
Love,
Pamela.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hard times then and now. History does not change over mankind and circumstances. We now use digital ways to communicate instead of physical paper and ink. We gain speed. We can even delete our side of the record. But the mark is there on the other side unless he/she deletes too. In the house where I just cleaned up I found tons of paper records, old letters, magazines, books, exam papers, certificates, pictures, children’s school books, drawings, manuscripts, boxes and boxes of them. Some magazines are still in their original wrappers as though they have not yet been read. When I return to my own abode after a long absence, I too find many magazines (from some faithful mutual funds) in wrappers. I just do not have time to read them. The worst is that they come in two languages so I get two per month!

Many years ago I made a decision to get rid of my papers. So I gave away books. I burned my papers, pictures, certificates, thesis, whatever. Yet, many years later when I see some old pictures in my siblings’ collection I take a photo of those which depict me as a very young person. I find one such group photo lately. In those days people were expected to be respectfully serious and close their mouths when not talking. When all mouths were dutifully closed, me at five was captured in history with my mouth gapping, staring at the camera. Was it a premonition that one day I would do such verbose talking on screen?

“Every body allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female.”
― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“Every body at all addicted to letter writing, without having much to say, which will include a large proportion of the female world at least…”
― Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

“Andy: But they gave us an out in the Land of Oz. They made us write. They didn’t make us write particularly well. And they didn’t always give us important things to write about. But they did make us sit down, and organize our thoughts, and convey those thoughts on paper as clearly as we could to another person. Thank God for that. That saved us. Or at least it saved me. So I have to keep writing letters. If I can’t write them to you, I have to write them to someone else. I don’t think I could ever stop writing completely.”
― A.R. Gurney, Love Letters*

*Love Letters is a lovely play. Quoting from online sources:

A new Letter begins
In the age of instant communication, iPhones and Twitter, Love Letters is bringing memories of a simpler time to Broadway in 2014, helmed by Tony-winning director Gregory Mosher. The limited engagement includes appearances by Carol Burnett, Alan Alda, Candice Bergen, Stacy Keach, Diana Rigg, Anjelica Huston and Martin Sheen. The first celebrity pair in the new revival is Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy, who will reprise the role of Andrew. “[Love Letters] is an extraordinary piece,” Dennehy told Today. “You cannot stage a play more simply than this, and yet it’s about everything in life. First love, loss of opportunities, loss of life, loss of love…It’s a beautiful play, and all you do is speak it.” But there’s two things the play won’t include: “Tweets and twerks,” Dennehy joked. “There are no twerks in this play.”

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Posted in copywriter, photography, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

writing memoir for others

truthful memoirWriting memoir is like taking a magnifying spotlight and shine it on certain parts of one’s memories and blow them up for others to see.

It is hard to write a memoir for ourselves not to mention for others. Why? Because we cannot be truthful. Not that we do not want to but we cannot. Our memories tell us things that may not be true and we tend to select the more pleasant or the more politically correct parts and ignore the rest. We do not want to hurt ourselves or others. We put some window dressing like we put on makeup when we go out and do not want to be seen as too colorless. There are many reasons for not being truthful. I personally find it hard to write untruth which is why I do not write my own memoir. I write memoirs for others. They speak and I write. It is different from writing my own. However, even though the onus is on him or her to be truthful I still find it hard when I know it is not her or him at all, this nice person they try to portray. Does this mean I stop writing for them? My answer is no. As long as they put their own names as authors and be accountable for themselves.
I believe the readers know too. Many readers are their friends and relatives. Their colleagues, their bosses, their subordinates, their suppliers and consumers. People who have worked with them and for them. Their church friends and pastors. Their corporate organization and community too. Their husbands, wives and children. So how can anyone think or imagine or fool himself or herself by telling tall tales and believe that the tales will hold water?
When I interviewed someone who was a friend of someone else, I often heard another side of the story. Shall I put them into the book? A question hard to answer.
My advice to young writers and copywriters is be really careful and do research before you agree to write for someone. Always look behind the facade for credibility and integrity of the person concerned. The onus is on you to check before you commit to the writing assignment.

Posted in copywriter, life of riches and honor, literary magazines and publishing, nerd, thoughts, travel, writer's blog, writing

“WORD NERD” on copywriters’ charges etc.

Wordnerd UK2When we read blogs from other nations we understand how much the writers around the globe are really alike and yet different. I find richness in varieties. Today I post a random link called “WORDNERD” from UK (my former and nostagic abode).

https://www.wordnerd.co.uk/2016-trends/

Here is a sample of what this article shares: How much do copywriters charge?

Let’s start with competition.

Competition is only one element of how I charge. If I really wanted to be price competitive I’d have to charge $5/hour to compete with non-English speakers who live in countries where the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the UK.

I can’t compete with them on price and they can’t compete with me on quality so I’m not $5 an hour!

If you compete on price it’s a race to the bottom
– said someone insightful
Like lots of freelancers, I don’t see myself as having direct competition not because I’m an arrogant twit but because I’m the person my clients have met and like, I might be local which appeals to them, or they particularly like my work or what I offer, and they choose to work with me rather than anyone else.

Copywriting isn’t competitive in the same way as, say, children’s books. Last week I bought my Godson some books for his 3rd birthday and while I knew they had to be by Julia Donaldson (she wrote ‘The Gruffalo’ – my Godson’s got very good taste) I could shop around to save myself money. Wherever I ordered them from the books would be exactly the same.

Not so with copywriting…If you do work with freelance copywriters who charge by the hour, £35 to £100/hour is the going rate (or £250–£800/day) depending on their experience, location (you’ll pay more in London than elsewhere), specific skills or specialism…– ROI (Return on Investment): this is a funny one. Copywriters at the top of their game can charge £20,000 to write a sales letter, which would translate into a pretty hefty hourly rate. They’re using their competitive advantage – their experience, skills, masses of hard work and understanding of how to convert readers into paying customers to put that letter together – to justify that rate.

They’re also taking the client’s ROI into account.

If the letter is sent out to 500,000 homes and results in an increase in sales of £2m, it’s well worth the £20,000 spent on it.(read on in their website)

HOW LONG SHALL A BLOG BE? Here is another blog from them on 2016 trend:

https://www.wordnerd.co.uk/seo/writing-long-blog-posts/In 2009, the average blog was 250 words, now it’s 900 words and the average length of the results on page one of Google is over 2000 words. The first result has an average 2416 words, the tenth is a bit shorter at 2032…Why are blogs getting longer?1.
SEO
As I’ve mentioned, to get onto page one of Google for popular search terms you need to write longer posts (75% of people searching never go beyond page one and 60% of web traffic goes to the top three results).
Long-tail keywords (which account for 85-90% of searches) have far less competition so you’ve got a good chance of getting onto page one if you focus on them.
2. To rise above the noise
Google has to index billions of pages competing for readers’ attention, there are 4.87 billion pages (Source: World Wide Web Size) on the internet as of this moment and that number increases every day.
3. To build relationships & become a thought leader
But long posts are a lot more work. So how should you approach blogging for your business in 2016?
Think about what’s right for you
Don’t write long posts for the sake of it
be consistent…(read on in above link)
You can read more from the same author here: https://www.wordnerd.co.uk/author/directora/

Posted in Bible verses, books, copywriter, literary magazines and publishing, photography, thoughts, writing

foundation laying in Spring

Spring nearA friend sent me a series of audio lessons on the ministry of words. Focused teaching on how to be a profitable and successful ghost-writer/commercial copy-writer/editor/consultant/writing for fund raising etc. I am thankful. Occasionally I get invited to write for a church or a non-profit organization the appeal letter or web pages for donations to good course. The lecturer started as a humble unknown script and ad writer and went on to join a Christian organization to be their pamphlet and online web-page writer for sometime before he was finally given an opening to ghost-write an autobiography for a world famous evangelist. he has since been commissioned to write more books under that big name. He is of course now lecturing and having his own consultancy for others in the same writing industry. Will any of the others get this kind of exposure and opportunity? I have no answer. I have forwarded an article of his to another person struggling to raise funds for the Christian charity organization he is currently attached to. Knowing and actually producing results are two different things. I know from my own experience. One trusted way of learning is hands-on practicing what we learn. I am thankful for the exposure and opportunity I have personally encountered. My advice to my readers is, “Hands on and press on.” My personal conviction: Never look down on even a small opening. I never know what the next turn will bring. I like the analogy of building a house. I start by laying a foundation. A small opening is like adding a rock to the foundation. It counts.

Zechariah 48 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
9 “The hands of Zerubbabel
Have laid the foundation of this temple;[a]
His hands shall also finish it.
Then you will know
That the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.
10 For who has despised the day of small things?
For these seven rejoice to see
The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord,
Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

Posted in copywriter, literary magazines and publishing, photography, thoughts, words of life, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

We preserve words. Merely.

keeper of wordsI have in recent years encountered this question reading, writing, talking, interviewing and pondering over the matters of communication using words. In previous times it was very simple. We used a note/exercise book with lines and recorded our personal thoughts and we called it journaling. Journaling is good like a medicine or a therapy or a hobby or a physical training of the brain cells etc. It is good even on its own without any agenda or defined purpose. The mode that I have adopted up to this point is a free flow note/jot/scrawl/scrabble/put on paper of words just for its own sake. There is no agenda. No defined purpose. No motive to put the product into a book or publish. No marketing strategy. No customer-oriented or niche-focused intention in the production process. Nothing commercial whatsoever. In a way, this is exactly like the doodle I used to do on the margins of all my school texts and exercise books. I did it naturally without concern or even any conscious effort. While the teachers talked I doodled. This is a lifestyle. I started as a pre-schooled kid. I have built this into a whole life occupation without being consciously affecting, effecting, exerting, asserting and directing. Was I bored when I doodled or wrote? Or was I filled with passion and dreams in a un-physical zone? When I try now to analyze I admit I do not know. Is it strange not to know like the highly knowhow-oriented commercial publishing zone when every process must be precise and practicable and proceeded with robotic formula based on publishing industrial best practice and tested ROI  (return on investment) if any? Yes, it is somewhat strange. Not so to a non-profit-oriented journal keeper. To be honest, many of us are mere keepers of some words which do matter to us a lot. We do not want to forget. We preserve words. Merely. We preserve life.

Posted in copywriter, power of words, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

a strange sight: trade writing demand

cropped-letter-writing.gifWriting is not what it seems to be. I used to think that being a writer means you have to be an author of books, fiction or non-fiction. I thought it would be difficult to make a living unless you are pretty good and/or popular. I thought most writers, given a chance, would have chosen something more stable and more widely in demand in terms of earning stable monetary return. However, one day I registered myself with a job hunter and am now on their mailing list for writing/editorial/reporting jobs. Daily I receive an email advising available related jobs. I do not apply them. I just look at them as a way to gauge the writing profession as a viable gainful commercial employment. The list of jobs looking for candidates to fit in is an eye-opener. Writing is not what it seems. The scope and demand for good or relevant writing are beyond imagination. All sorts of commercial and non-commercial corporate organizations and a wide range of trades and industries are looking for persons who can write or rather copy write their information and promotion materials, online or in print. Another kind of data processor. This influx of new demand amazes me. Writing is not such a bleak and lonely lofty industrial island after all. You become part of the corporate team, working with all departments and become a know-all-generalist. Suddenly you have stepped onto the fast track of the corporate machine. There are various related jobs like: Online writer, Content marketing,  Social media marketing,  Modern web writer (infographic). Commercially speaking, “one of the best things about starting a copywriting business is that copywriters are always in demand and you can start your business with little up-front cost and even run it on a part time basis.” Someone said. Indeed, the Word Business. It requires nothing except you.

As for me? I thought I have left the selling scene before.  It seems quite attractive and interesting to re-enter. Perhaps on piece-meal. Freelance. Just to test the water.