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.

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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!

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!

Small Business Owners: Why You Need an Editor

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Hey small business owner! Yeah you! The one with the website, brochure, newsletter, and blog that you are trying to manage along with your business services, networking events, professional development, and accounting. Are you feeling a little overwhelmed?

As a small business owner myself, I bet that you have a pretty long to-do list. I started my publishing services business two years ago and have gone from “I feel overwhelmed at the thought of getting all of this going” to “I am not sure where I should be spending my time and efforts.”

Sound familiar?

Chances are, if you are running a small business, you are passionate about the services you offer. Whether it’s selling products, providing services, or being just plain awesome, you want to spend your time focusing on these activities, not on invoicing, tracking expenses, writing copy, or reviewing every marketing material for grammar, usage, and style. That’s where other professionals can help so you can focus on those all-important core activities of your business.

Here are three reasons to find and hire an editor now:

You Need a Brand and You Need to Build It

Just like so many small business owners outsource bookkeeping to keep their accounting organized and streamlined, hiring an editor and/or writer can simplify and boost your marketing plans. In this day in age of content marketing, where you send out informational content to be absorbed by the masses (think social media posts, blogs, and newsletters), your communication efforts need to be substantial and well presented. As a Harvard Business Review article, “Every Content Marketer Needs an Editor,” describes:

The editor . . . acts as a proxy for the reader, and ensures your content offers that reader real value in return for their time.  That editor also has the ability to recognize the difference between an idea that’s worth a 140-character tweet, and one that can be developed into a blog post or report—or, for that matter, a three-minute video. They have the ability to work with an author whose ideas may be terrific but who may not be a strong communicator, and develop that author’s ideas into a compelling and engaging piece of content. And yes, the ability to transform inelegant or even incoherent prose into a tight, readable argument.

So you may be an expert in fitness, in selling jewelry, or in creating beautiful interior designs, but it’s unlikely that you’ve got the time to create each piece of written communication necessary to build your brand for the masses. (If you need help developing your branding concept, check out my associate, Caitlin Merto). Let an expert navigate the world of words so you can focus on everything else.

Why not hire a person who gleefully enrolled in a grammar, usage, and style class in college and who practices editing and writing skills everyday working with a variety of clients? A trained and skilled editor can keep you on message and write eloquent prose in a fraction of the time you would spend doing it. Think of how much more precise a trained photographer is at taking pictures and editing them than an amateur. That’s what an editor can do with your written communication.

You Need Someone to Put Thoughts to Paper

I recently worked with a client whose vision was clear but who had no idea how to articulate her concepts through words, delaying her from launching a new business. She called me one day with trepidation and excitement, unsure if I could help her but excited at the possibility of getting her thoughts on paper.

During our initial phone consultation, the client and I spoke about her concept, her audience, and her needs. Later, we met at a coffee shop and just talked. She told me about herself and her ideas for the business, and I wrote down key phrases and themes that kept appearing in the conversation. She gave me some handouts she had used for workshops that might help craft her message. After our meeting, I went home, compiled my notes and, in just a handful of hours, created web copy that conveyed her vision.

Imagine how long it would take you to create polished copy for a five-page website and think about whether it’s worth your time.

You Need Polished, Professional Prose

Not only can an editor make your thoughts and ideas come to life through words, he or she can also review your prose and correct grammar, usage, and style mistakes as a copy editor. A copy editor looks at the nuts and bolts of your writing and fixes it for obvious errors, grammar mistakes, and overall clarity, among other things.

The article “10 Reasons You Need a Copy Editor” by Whiterock Business Solutions articulates perfectly why you need a copy editor for your business:

There is nothing more embarrassing then promoting yourself or your company with materials that are riddled with typos, grammar mistakes, inconsistencies and poor sentence structure. How can a potential customer expect that you will do quality work when the materials you publish do not live up to the same level of quality.

An editor doesn’t seem like such an extraneous investment for your business now, does it?

I hope I’ve made my case for why every small business owner should utilize the services an editor provides. If you want to take your business to the next level, let’s talk about how I can make your written communication sparkle. Contact me at natalielsilver(at)yahoo(dot)com so we can start a conversation.

5 Essential Résumé Writing Tips

Spring is here, and many of us are tackling those spaces in our house collecting dust. Another item to clean up is your résumé. Whether you’re job hunting in the near future or wanting to stay current, spend an hour or two thinking about this all-important personal document.

While I don’t claim to be a résumé-writing expert, I am fortunate to be related to someone who has spent years coaching and guiding job seekers. Thanks Marcia Lyons for these tips! And if you need a final set of eyes on your document, keep me in mind!

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A résumé is your most important marketing piece, and it takes a lot of thought. The résumé gets the interview, and sometimes it can still get you the job if it’s good enough — even if your interview wasn’t perfect. Why? Because your résumé stays behind and is what the members of the hiring team will look at again as they narrow the field of candidates. If your résumé successfully reminds them of what you have to offer, you can still come out on top.

Here are five things your résumé must include:

  1. A good-looking format. Use a standard, easy-to-read font. Don’t make the font size too small — readability is more important than cramming the information on a single page. Use white space, shaded boxes, and font emphasis (bold, underline, italic, etc.) to create interest and readability. Keep in mind you may also need a plain text version for some websites.
  2. A job description, including position title and dates worked. Also write accomplishment statements for each job of any duration — what did you do in that position to make a difference? Use quantification in the accomplishment statements (i.e., “improved sales by 15% in first year,” “trained 30 employees in proper use of the new software system,” “coordinated 50 volunteers for the school fundraiser.” Numbers make the statement more meaningful.
  3. Résumé-friendly grammar, usage, and style. Always write in the third person, and start sentences with strong action verbs. First person résumés are awkward and make a poor impression.
  4. A skills summary. Locate it somewhere on the résumé where key words are easy to locate. This skills summary should give the reader a quick snapshot of what you have to offer. These are often at the top of the résumé, immediately following the summary of qualifications, or career summary section.
  5. A top-notch summary. This section may be the only part of your résumé that is read as hiring teams go through a giant pile of résumés. If you don’t include this vital section, your résumé reviewer will just look at your last title and that will be what they remember about you. Quite often, this is not what you want. For example, if your most recent position is as a part-time sales clerk but you have been a marketing manager and vice president for a large company, you want to make sure those significant roles stand out at the top.

There is a lot of advice out there, and don’t be afraid to do your homework as you prepare to update your résumé. If you keep these five ideas in mind, you’ll be on your way to creating a document that does the job.