Client Profile: Real Estate by Katie Kincade

Aside from my publishing clients, my favorite people to serve are busy entrepreneurs, striving to build and grow their business and their brand. My recent work with Realtor Katie Kincade highlights how I can collaborate and help those who are responsible for all aspects of their growing enterprise.

This fall, Katie and I met to discuss writing projects she needed completed . . . yesterday. She had gone to the effort to develop a new website, but between meetings with potential clients, listings of homes in the Main Line area of Philadelphia, showings with her current clients, and closings with those at the end of the buying and selling process, Katie had no time to develop website copy. She needed help!

After our initial meeting, Katie and I exchanged emails for the next few months. We gathered ideas, I wrote drafts of potential copy, and she responded with helpful edits, resulting in the finished material she desired. And it took just a fraction of the time it would have taken Katie to do it on her own. After all, being a real estate mogul doesn’t leave much time for sitting down in front of the computer and writing copy (especially about oneself, which is especially tricky!). When all was said and done, Katie had a robust new website without having the stress of doing it all herself.

It’s hard to believe it, but one of the busiest times of year for Realtors is coming up — spring market. If you live in the Philadelphia area and are looking for a Realtor to help you upsize, downside, or get into your first home, consider contacting Katie. You can check out her website at Real Estate by Katie Kincade.

My New Year’s Advice to You

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As you compile your list of business and personal goals to begin a fresh new year, I advise you to commit to one big (yet small) resolution:

Pick deadlines and stick to them.

I’ve been an editor and writer for more than a decade. Before that I was a great student. And you know what the biggest marker of my success has been both professionally and personally? Meeting deadlines.

Sounds easy for some, I am sure. Sounds insanely difficult for others, I bet. But if you want to accomplish anything, creating goals (with dates attached) should be your number-one measurement tool.

In publishing, final products come to be because of a series of small deadlines. Here’s what a typical production schedule looks like:

  • Content submitted.
  • Content edited/copyedited.
  • Content reviewed by author.
  • Content submitted to production.
  • Content formatted by production.
  • Content proofread by proofreader and/or author.
  • Content published.

These steps can take a day, a week, a month, or even a year, depending on the nature of the final product. But microdeadlines are essential to keeping the project moving. (You may also need an editor to get on your tail sometimes. I am the person for that job!)

So start that blog and commit to posting every week (or more). Redo your website and come up with a production schedule you can follow. Begin writing that long-imagined book and meet with a publishing expert who can help you come up with a workflow. Just do it.

You may be a procrastinator, but if you want to accomplish something big in 2016, pull out your calendar, map out your year, and get to work. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

I’ll be back in January with tips on beginning a writing project.

Highlights, Early Fall

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A recent snapshot of what I do while I work. Thank goodness for warm, comforting beverages!

In my neck of the woods, it’s beginning to feel like that magical holiday season. Trees are bare, the wind is starting to gust, and my children are singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on repeat. And it’s not even Thanksgiving!

I’ve had a successful run of projects this fall, and I can’t wait to share more of the finished products on my Facebook feed. Consider following me if you aren’t already!


My recent work includes:

  • Proofreading a book on the Christmas virtues (it got me thinking about all of my favorite traditions way back in September);
  • Copyediting a manuscript on spirituality for medical professionals, a journal on animal ethics, and a journal on music education;
  • Editing and writing content for small business websites (clients include a marketing company, a Realtor, a fitness studio, a life coach, a video production company, and a graphic designer);
  • Researching and compiling educational tools for a large medical publisher;
  • Drafting a solicitation letter for a nonprofit organization; and
  • Writing articles for Healthline.

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And here’s my public service announcement for those of you sending holiday cards (via Slate). This post reached thousands through my Facebook page, and it’s a good reminder of how to pluralize your last name.

I hope you enjoy these final weeks of 2015!

Client Profile: Envivo Creative

I’m so glad I hired Natalie to write my website copy for me. All I had was a set of (what I thought were) incoherent notes about what I wanted my website to say and she was able to turn them into very readable copy that stayed true to my brand’s voice. It was like magic! She was happy to hear my suggestions and my hesitations and offered great advice when it was needed. I will definitely be hiring Natalie again in the future. She was a pleasure to work with!

— Tara Wilder, Envivo Creative

EnvivoCreative-mediumIn September, I had the great experience of collaborating with Tara Wilder, founder of Envivo Creative. Tara recently decided to leave her position as an online marketer for an information technology company to start a business that offers clients dynamic, results-driven online marketing campaigns. She even has a background in psychology, so she can really get into the head of your target market!

Tara WilderWhen I first spoke to Tara, she was finding it difficult to write the copy for her website. She decided to outsource this task, and I quickly realized that she was hitting writing roadblocks because she was too close to the project. After all, she lived and breathed Envivo Creative day in and day out — creating her business plan, working with a business coach, building her website, and attracting initial clients. As is so often the case, I could create her copy quickly and efficiently because of my distance from the business. I don’t stumble over ideas because I am mulling over the possibilities in my head, which can happen so often to entrepreneurs.

The Process

Tara and I began our collaboration with a 30-minute phone conversation. She discussed her company, and I asked relevant questions. Following our initial talk, I asked her to send me materials about her business as well as other ideas she had related to the copy. She requested writing samples, which I was happy to provide to her (and any other potential client).

For the next three weeks, Tara and I traded emails and ideas. I created a first draft of the copy, which she returned to me with notes and suggestions. We developed a great working relationship that fostered honest and productive feedback. By the end of our project, we felt like close colleagues, despite never meeting in person.

I am so excited to see how Tara’s business unfolds. I know Envivo Creative will help any small business get off the ground or grow with the effective marketing campaigns Tara and her team create. And I can’t wait to work with her and other entrepreneurs in the future. Helping someone develop ideas into coherent prose is one of my true passions.

Six Writing and Editing Resources

In my line of work, we use several resources to guide our decision-making. These are our tools of the trade, helping us keep things consistent and in order. If you are writing or editing any type of content, I recommend you utilize one or more of these resources and keep your own in-house style sheet (I’ll be posting about that soon).

Here are my top resources for writing and editing:

Stylebooks

The_Chicago_Manual_of_Style_16th_edition1. The Chicago Manual of Style

Here’s the style guide I used at my former job at an independent book publisher. The Chicago Manual of Style is very comprehensive (and thick!). I swear, it answers nearly every question that might come up when you are working on a document. I highly recommend this style guide for books.

Why I love Chicago style:

  • Comprehensive
  • Helpful chapter on punctuation
  • Great advice for notes, references, and bibliographies
  • Informative for beginning editors and writers who are learning about the process

Last year I began using the online version of the guide, making my editing work even more transportable. For just $35.00/month you can have access to the book as a searchable resource — making it easier for you to look up a term, question, or style preference.

51Ejt8rMFaL2. The Associated Press Stylebook

I first used The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook when I worked for my college newspaper. I loved this resource for many reasons at the time, mostly because of its cut-and-dried approach to punctuation, terms, and formatting. Now, I have to admit, my love of the serial comma is strong, so exclusively referring to this style can be difficult (sorry to any of you who love the omission of that last comma in a series!). I recommend this style guide for writing intended for the web, newsletters, and magazines.

Why I love AP style:

  • Definitive
  • Easy-to-use
  • Good style for short-form writing

Make sure you start with the most recent edition of this book to avoid making any style decisions based on previous issues. In our constantly changing world, many of the terms and recommendations will change related to the web and other emerging technologies.

apa-style3. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

Of all the style guides, I find this resource the most helpful and the most frustrating. You may be asked to follow this style book (hereafter called APA style) for higher education courses or for professional writing. Its main focuses are avoiding bias in your writing (important!), formatting academic papers (crucial if that’s what you need to do), and ensuring that your references are consistent and match the manual’s recommendations (I can guarantee you’ll never stop checking for ampersands and appropriate periods). These sections of the book are immensely helpful, though I find it difficult to use when I have higher-level grammar or style questions. Sometimes I will confer with Chicago to confirm those questions.

Why I love APA style:

  • Great for academic writing
  • Helpful tips for bias-free language
  • Straightforward approach to references and citations

If you are using APA style and need more help, be sure to use the Publication Manual’s blog. It will provide you with plenty more information on writing and editing in APA style.

Web Resources

Okay, enough with the stylebooks! Here are some great web references that you can utilize for quick grammar, usage, and style questions.

4. Merriam-WebsterMerriam-Webster_logo.svg

I use merriam-webster.com as my go-to dictionary and thesaurus. It’s wise to have one specific dictionary to source for consistency. I recommend this tried-and-true version, and it’s the favorite of many stylebooks. You’ll be able to confirm spellings and capitalization as well as determine good synonyms when writing punchy copy. It even has a great medical dictionary and fun words of the day.

ud-logo5. Urban Dictionary

Okay, this is a little out of left field, but a lot of my clients use slang and colloquial language when writing blogs, newsletters, and other personal communications. Urban Dictionary is my source for looking up terms not in the Merriam-Webster (think figuring out what YOLO or FOMO means or deciding on a consistent spelling for “biznass” or “hair-did”).

duVKyUtt_400x4006. Grammar Girl

I have a professional crush on Grammar Girl. She’s all-knowing and is great at explaining problematic grammar issues, such as affect vs. effect, split infinitives, and parallel construction. Whenever you have a grammar question, this site can give you helpful information and tips without a whiff of grammar snobbery (a pet peeve of mine!). It’s a great way to answer specific questions or to relearn grammar that you last thought about when writing your final school paper a decade or two ago.

I hope these resources can be helpful to you as you create and edit content. I am always here to help you with any type of writing or editing. Contact me at natalielsilver (at) yahoo (dot) com to discuss your project and needs.

5 Tips for Writing a Great Bio

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I’ve had the pleasure of helping multiple people write short bios of themselves in the last few months. Most needed them for their website, professional directories, or speaking engagements and reached out because writing their own bio is just so darn difficult! During this wave, I’ve even had to retool my own biography, which took me more time than I expected!

Why is writing a bio so tough? From my experience, here are some reasons it’s frustrating to tackle this all-important written document:

  • It’s hard to pump yourself up to present your accomplishments in a brief space — in third person, no less!
  • It’s difficult to decide which items to include in a bio and which ones to scrap.
  • It’s challenging to find the right tone for your bio. You are looking to convey a certain message, but that can get lost in just wanting to spit out the facts about yourself.

To ease the bio-creation process, I have provided five tips to help you write a great bio:

1. Compile the facts. Write down all that you’ve done. Dash out the obvious details first, like jobs you’ve had and degrees you’ve earned. Include big and small accomplishments. Jot down fun facts and personal tidbits. Finally, circle items that are most important to include in your bio. Star other things on the list that might make your bio more interesting.

2. Know your audience. Who will be reading this bio? Understanding your audience is the key to any writing. Are you a lawyer needing a bio for your firm’s website? Are you a life coach looking to connect to those attending a workshop you offer? Are you using your bio in a directory where someone might be wanting to use your services?

Once you figure out the target audience for your bio, revisit the list you compiled and think about what’s important. If you need guidance, check out bios written by people in your field. Their audiences are similar, so study the language and details they use and model yours in a similar fashion.

3. Consider your message. Your bio serves a purpose. It may need to convey expertise and authority. It may need to show your interpersonal skills. It may need to include details to help you attain future goals.

Think about how you want to establish yourself and write your bio accordingly. Include adjectives that reflect your message. For example, if you are an event planner, make sure to emphasize your organization skills, whether by saying it or showing it. Or, if you work with families, include some details about your own family or experience you’ve had with organizations that support families or children.

4. Be direct. Don’t assume that people know anything about you when reading your bio. Keep it simple and write in easy-to-read language. Now is not the time to share your creative writing skills. Write in lists of three, as this resonates with readers. Avoid too many details. People just want the nuts and bolts of who you are, not an extensive laundry list of your life.

5. Edit and review. Write a few versions of your bio and read them to someone. Take out a red pen and scratch up the draft. It’ll take a bit of time to get the bio right, so don’t be hesitant to go back to the drawing board and write something new. Though the facts about you may not change with each draft, the way you structure your bio can be altered.

Consider writing long and short bios at the same time so you don’t have to go through this process again any time soon. Using a consistent bio will make you appear more professional.

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To close out this post, I thought I’d share with you the most recent iteration of my short bio. I worked to convey my business services, experience, and passion (in that order). I did not think my degrees or other academic experience were necessary in this brief bio, so I didn’t include them. I added a personal detail about myself at the end because I thought it fit well and shared just a bit about my personal life.

Natalie L. Silver is a writer and editor who collaborates with individuals, businesses, and publishers. Her services include copywriting, editing, and proofreading. She founded Silver Scribe Editorial Services in May 2013 after spending almost a decade working as managing editor for an independent book publisher. Natalie’s love of the written word, experience with different stylebooks, and passion for publishing give her the spark to deliver quality services to all of her clients. She lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband and two children.

And, don’t forget, I am here to help you with your bio if going through this process alone is just too daunting. Send me an e-mail and we can begin a conversation!

Client Profile: Small Steps

Small Steps LogoLast month I had the opportunity to work with someone who’s just taken a big, brave leap into pursuing her career dreams (just like I did a few years ago!). Elizabeth Small (hereafter Liz) decided recently that she wanted to focus all of her professional efforts on growing her small business, Small Steps. Her endeavor provides reflections, one-on-one sessions, and workshops to those who are looking to restore or grow their personal faith. She also provides programing for college campuses on spirituality and hooking up. And, the best part of all, she’s honest, funny, and self-deprecating, which gives her regular blog posts a refreshing voice and makes them must-reads.

Liz reached out to me after realizing that creating the copy for her website was too daunting a task to do alone. She had hired other professionals, including a photographer and graphic and web designers, to elevate her site’s look, and she wanted to make sure her copy delivered the Small Steps message as effectively as possible.

HeadshotDuring our collaboration, Liz and I traded many e-mails and files. She contributed the original ideas and writing to the project, and I looked through it with an editorial eye to suggest ways to be more direct and explicit. For Liz’s website, she needed to be clear about her services but also retain her distinct voice. As an editor, I wanted to achieve these objectives while also checking for other grammar, usage, and style issues. In just a few weeks, Liz and I had polished her copy and it was ready for her website’s new launch.

Liz was kind enough to supply a quote I could use for my own marketing efforts as I continue to grow my offerings for individuals and small businesses. Regarding our collaboration, Liz said: “Working with Natalie was such a treat! She’s clearly honed her trade as an editor, and I felt like all of her suggestions helped my message become clearer!”

If you are in need of reconnecting with your personal needs and spiritual life, contact Liz to set up a time to talk. She offers regular programs on self-care, something many of us could use on a regular basis. And if you are looking to refine or create a clear and effective message for your own small business, reach out to me so we can begin a meaningful collaboration.

Five Tips for Writing an Academic Paper

A few weeks ago, I corresponded with a friend who is preparing to write her master’s thesis. To encourage her in the writing process, I gave her a few tips that always help me when writing an academic paper:

  1. Outline first. As a major in both writing and English in college, I wrote nearly two or three papers a week in some semesters. The topics ranged from personal essay and grant writing to literary criticism and composition theory. To keep my thoughts straight, I often outlined ideas while listening to professors in class. Later, in graduate school, I drafted outlines on the computer and mulled them over for several days before even starting a first draft. I can’t tell you the number of times I shifted focus during this outlining process. It may seem like one of those annoying things (even like busy work) that some professors force you to do before composing a paper, but it’s a great first step in the writing process.
  2. Work on several drafts. Like outlining, this can seem like a waste of time, especially to those who procrastinate. However, it’s helpful to leave a paper and return to it a day or two (or even a week) later. If you are writing a good paper that’s presenting a new idea (which is the ideal), it’s going to take you awhile to get your thoughts straight, not to mention your prose coherent.
  3. Form a writing group with one or more people in your program to collaborate with during the writing process. Most of us hate group work. It’s sometimes a torture device when you’re paired with people who you don’t connect with or when your schedule is overpacked as is. However, working with a partner or a group of people during your writing process can prove to be a big benefit. Your peers can provide you with constructive feedback, as they are saturated with the same content you studied in your program, helping you avoid writer’s block and turning over the same segmented ideas again and again in front of your computer screen.
  4. Start paragraphs with topic sentences. I credit a history professor in an elective course in college with teaching me the value of topic sentences. While writing is nuanced, delivering ideas and supporting evidence is the main aspect of writing an academic paper, so using topic sentences helps you get to the point fast. Like the simple five-paragraph essay where you state your thesis in the first paragraph, follow with three paragraphs supporting it, and finish with a conclusion, a topic sentence can be a launching point to make sure each paragraph in your paper has value. Consider utilizing sections as well for better coherence.
  5. Read aloud to yourself or a willing friend/family member. While I didn’t mention this tip to my friend, I am a strong advocate for reading a paper to him. My loyal and patient husband sat in our office on many occasions while I read papers for my master’s program aloud (it was a master’s in public administration, so think about the topics he had to sit through!). During each session, I corrected myself and rewrote. This is something you could do with your writing group or with someone who loves you unconditionally!

I hope these few tips can help you write an exceptional academic paper. If you need further help, I can assist you in polishing a draft, formatting references, and copyediting — whatever you need! Good luck with your paper!