The Quandary Of Examples

Providing examples of your work is nothing new in business.

Drive through any housing estate and you’re likely to see signs adjacent to beautifully paved driveways, well appointed extensions and beautifully coiffured lawns by companies proud to show off their work.? And, I suppose that if you were planning to have your loft converted then you might have a peek at your chosen builder’s most recent job to check that rainwater isn’t streaming down the wall of the en-suite.

And, not unreasonably, when I speak to new clients many of them ask me to point them in the direction of websites I have written or ask me to e-mail them examples of my work.? You’ve probably had to do the same thing at some point.

What I am

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increasingly wary of, however, are clients who, after a meeting or conversation, then provide me with a couple of topics and ask me to write something specifically for them.? The argument is always that they want to be sure I can write the copy they need before they employ my services.

Now, this happened to me a week or two ago and I spent a good part of one morning coming up with some dedicated copy for a client.? This followed a telephone conversation, a meeting and the provision of some links to websites and pieces I had written in the past.

In the misguided assumption that I was imminently to be hired, I duly provided some copy.? Then, two days later, I received a message thanking me but telling me that they ‘were interviewing other people’ and that they would be in touch.

This whole episode has put me off writing any specific examples for clients again.? Should I provide my time for free?? I’m not sure.? If I wanted my car MOT’d, I wouldn’t ask the garage to change the oil filter for me first just so I could double check they did a decent job, would I?

So, what do you do in this situation?? Are you happy to provide sample copy? Or, do

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you refer clients to work you have previously concluded and ask clients to make their decision based on these examples?? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

10 Writing Errors That Make You Want To Poke Your Own Eyes Out

You don’t have to be a copywriter or author to be annoyed by hideous grammatical and spelling mistakes.? If you’re like me, you can’t help yourself but cringe at horrible written blunders, even when you’re out in town on a Sunday afternoon.

Now, I don’t profess to be completely right all of the time.? I use too many commas and I daresay I have used ‘inquire’ and ‘enquire’ wrongly more than once.? However, these ten errors are those which I – and many of you – have identified as the ones which make you want to poke your own eyes out.

Whose? Yours or theirs?

A friend of mine posted this photograph to Twitter last week with the caption ‘leaving cake fail!’

Now, I suppose this related to the rather sarcastic tone of the message, however for me (and no doubt many of you reading this) the ‘fail’ could only relate to one thing.

It’s not that there’s a missing question mark at the end of ‘Justin who….’ but rather the ‘sorry your leaving’ at the top.

Man alive.? Your, you’re. Their, there, they’re.? Who’s, whose?? All regular errors and when they occur, it’s like hearing someone scrape their fingernails down a blackboard.

(thanks also to @PenStar_words for this suggestion)

Making nouns out of words that aren’t nouns

Over recent years, the English language appears to be evolving to invent nouns that aren’t actually nouns.

I first encountered this phenomenon on an East Midlands Trains service to London.? Having bought a first class ticket (I know. How bourgeois) the train person came wandering up the aisle with a basket of biscuits and assorted other goodies.? On arriving at my table, she asked me ‘if I’d like any complimentaries?’

What’s a ‘complimentary’?? Yes, I’ll have some complimentary biscuits, but I won’t have a complimentary, ta, as that word clearly doesn’t exist.

I also noticed the other week that people have started sending out ‘invites’ to events.? Again, I was aware I could invite someone to a party, but not that I could send them an invite.? Silly me.? I have been sending invitations all this time.

Do you have any more examples of nouns that aren’t nouns?

Apostrophised plurals

If you have more than one of something, it a) doesn’t indicate a missing letter or b) suggest someone owns it.

In fact, if you’re pluralising something, you don’t need an apostrophe at all.? If in doubt, stick an ‘s’ on the end.? Or, alternatively, why not use a dictionary to look it up?

(thanks to @TheStevenThomas for this one)

Shoulda, woulda, coulda

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda warbled Beverley Knight as she reached the top ten with this hit back in 2002.? At least Bev had the idea to shorten the three phrases into some sort of daft urban slang, rather than calling the song Should Of, Would Of, Could Of which, I imagine, is what most

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people would call it today.

It’s ‘should have’ and ‘could have’, people.? Or, if you really want,

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‘should’ve’ and ‘could’ve’.

(thanks to @TheWordWell)

I AM QUITE SERIOUS

Again, this is a relatively new phenomenon.? As @PenStar_Words says: “What really makes me cringe is when someone’s writing something angry/defensive/righteously indignant and to get the point across, they make

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it full of spelling, punctuation and grammar errors and in all capitals.”

It can’t be just me that finds that when someone is talking to you online with their CAPS LOCK on it MAKES IT SOUND AS IF THEY ARE YELLING DOWN A MEGAPHONE AT YOU?? Did Caitlin Moran start this with her ‘SCREAM!’ style of Twittering?? Or did someone accidentally write in capitals one day and realised it so upset their readers that capital letters are the new SHOUTING AT THE TOP OF YOUR VOICE?

Either way, yuk. STOP. NOW.

Every now and than

It’s important that you use the right word, as the meanings of some are different than others.? (You know the noise you make when you rub polystyrene pieces against one another?? That.)

It’s different from, not different than.

Similarly, I’ve seen people use ‘then’ instead of ‘than’.? “We had more problems then they did.”? Did you?? Did you really?

Isn’t it funny! Yes! Everything’s funny!

I have lost count of the websites I have helped rewrite where one of the first steps I have taken is to ask the company to remove all the exclamation marks from their copy.

Come and buy our new products! You’ll get a special discount! 10%!

Your website isn’t the script for an episode of Are You Being Served? It’s supposed to be a serious marketing tool promoting your products and services.? If you have something good to say, be bold and say it.? Don’t hide behind an exclamation mark.

I dreamt a dream

As a wise man once said, “steer clear of incorrect verb forms that have snuck into the language.”

Whether they are entirely incorrect is open to debate (lots are more commonly used in American English) but I don’t much care for them.? I still think Susan Boyle should have dreamt a dream, not dreamed one.? Have I spelled her name right, or spelt it right?

Sometimes, they get even more bizarre.? I have seen the past participle of ‘bring’ as ‘bought’ and the past participle of ‘light’ as ‘lighted’.

Mind you, I have had arguments with people about the past participle of ‘earn’.? People often assume that it follows the same pattern as ‘learn/learnt’, although I have to say I don’t consider ‘earnt’ a word (and neither does my spellchecker).

Checking it, it’s apparently ‘non-standard’ rather than incorrect.? Still, I don’t like it.

Commerical mistakes

If you Google the word ‘commerical’ you get about 69,700,000 results.? Need I say more?

(thanks to @yourmindandwe for that one)

‘Fresh’ and ‘new’

Billy Connolly once performed a routine where he poked fun at people that make quotation marks with their fingers when speaking.? We’ve all done it; normally, in my experience, for the word we use following the adjective ‘so-called’.

Well, this trend seems to have crossed over into written language.? It’s not uncommon now to see people describing their products and services as ‘brilliant’ and ‘cheap’.? You don’t have to put these adjectives in quotation marks – we do know what they mean.

Still. Perhaps I’m just being ‘picky’.

_______________________________________

So, come on then.? What are your pet writing/grammar hates?? Are there any from the above list particularly bug you, or are there other mistakes that make you die inside….?? Please let me know in the comments below (and please do correct the ironic mistakes I am bound to have made in a post about written errors…)

The Mary Poppins Guide to Copywriting

For forty five years, children and adults alike have been spellbound by the story of the world’s favourite nanny, Mary Poppins.? While the main purpose of her flying visit (pun intended) was to repair the fractured relationship between Jane and Michael Banks and their uptight, stuffy father, the supernanny also taught the children important lessons about priorities, how to behave and, of course, the basics of copywriting.

Well, I can’t be sure the last bit is exactly what P.L. Travers or Walt Disney intended, but, you have to admit, Poppins was something of a copywriting guru.

A Spoonful Of Sugar

For every task that must be done, there is an element of fun.? It’s not a song about cleaning up the nursery; it is one of the basic rules of copywriting.? You have to give the reader a personal benefit.

A spoonful of sugar in itself doesn’t sound all that appealing.? Even if it were described as an ‘award winning spoonful of sugar from a company that’s been in business 35 years’ it still doesn’t really offer you anything of any value.

However, a spoonful of sugar that will help you by making your medicine go down?? Now you’re talking.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious. ? Wise words, indeed. ? Copywriting isn’t a game of ‘spot how clever you are’ – it is a game of making people understand what you are saying.

You might know that your product is a great tasting beverage; to others it’s merely a drink.? You might want to purchase or acquire something; most of us just buy it.? And, you might be offering customers the very best ‘flexible, reusable storage solution’ but a four year old will tell you that it is just a cardboard box.

If you are writing a University essay or something for the Financial Times, then let your vocabulary run riot.? If not, the sound of ii will be something quite atrocious.

Stay Awake/I Love to Laugh

Copy is not designed as a cure for insomnia.? ? ? It is supposed to engage readers; to make them interested and excited about your product or service.? Too many websites contain long, boring descriptions of product features that are neither customer focused or in the slightest bit interesting.

Make your copy snappy, personal, amiable and, in some cases, funny.? The more you laugh, the more you fill with glee; the more the glee, the more we’re a merrier we.

A British Bank

…is run with precision (well, at least it was in 1910, perhaps not so much today).? A British home, requires nothing less.? And, of course, a copywriting agency also requires accuracy and precision.

Tradition, discipline, and rules must be the tools, without them – disorder! Catastrophe! Anarchy! In short, we have a ghastly mess!

Make sure that you double and triple check all your work before letting a client see it.? Proof read and spell check it – and even get a colleague to have a look over it to pick up on any errors that you might have missed.? If a client finds a mistake in your work, your integrity is instantly damaged as they will immediately wonder what other blunders they haven’t spotted.

So, follow all of Poppins’ rules and both you and your clients will be happy.? They will improve their web traffic and sales, and you will be free to, oh, I don’t know – go fly a kite?? Feed the birds, maybe…?

……………………………………………

Nick Parkhouse is a professional writer. If you need web copy, articles, books or press releases, get in touch with Nick now at info@nickparkhouse.com

Nick’s first book, 101 Forgotten Pop Hits of the 1980s, is also now available through Author House, Amazon and Waterstones.

The Top 10 Words Of 2010

What are the defining words of 2010?

The Oxford University Press comes up with a ‘word of the year’ every year.? Expanded in recent years to include short phrases, ‘Big Society’ was last week announced as the word of 2010, following in the footsteps of ‘jegging’ ‘bovvered’, ‘staycation’ and ‘credit crunch’ as recent winners.

So, what ten words best describe 2010?? Here’s my list.

1. Austerity

If there was one watchword for 2010, this was it.? In economic terms, ‘austerity’ is where a government reduces its spending or increases its revenue to cut a budget deficit.? However, in more general terms, ‘austerity’ refers to a ‘period of self-denial’ and that is more telling a definition of a term that has affected millions of us this year.

From the Government’s economic policy to falling retail sales, a reluctance to spend money has defined 2010.

2. Like

It happened this week.? My six year old, for the first time, inserted a completely unnecessary ‘like’ into a sentence.? “I was, like, ‘stop it!’”.

‘Like’ is everywhere (and, not just as one of a set of binary choices you have to respond to the gazillion things you read on Facebook every year).? Its superfluous use in conversation is getting worse and, like, amazing.? It seems to have replaced a plethora of other great and less vanilla words/terms such as ‘admire’, ‘respect’, ‘fancy’ and ‘was amused by’.

“I like him.”? What exactly does that mean? Do you enjoy his music? Are you inspired by him?? Do you fancy him?? Do you respect his views on capital punishment?

The campaign starts here.? ‘Like’ has to go.

3. Coalition

Plenty of democratic, progressive and successful countries have been governed by coalitions.? New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden and Canada have long managed perfectly successfully with governments made up from more than one political party.

However, 2010 was the year that the UK got a coalition.? The way it was reported, you’d have thought the world was going to end (and, to be fair, it still might).? Whatever your political views on the surprising constituent parts of the ruling elite, 2010 was the year that the ‘government’ became the ‘coalition government’.

4. Twitter

2010 was the year that Twitter firmly landed in the mainstream.? Far from being a personal network for the world’s Justin Bieber fans, Twitter not only made the news but also helped create the news.

2010 was the year that news stories became generated by tweets (Stephen Fry throwing a strop and leaving, for example), the news started including tweets in its analysis (not a good sign, clearly) and Twitter itself became the centre of a major court ruling affecting freedom of speech and terrorism.

The new MySpace, or something more enduring?

5. Bigot

Arguably the defining moment of the 2010 General Election, Gordon Brown’s ‘bigot’ gaffe was one of the highest profile political cock-ups in recent memory.

Whilst the word might be associated with Brown for the foreseeable future, the fact that I played the PM in a spoof video of the event (as a video competition entry) means I have heard the word ‘bigot’ hundreds upon hundreds of times in the last few months….

6. Cuts

It’s all we have heard since the government were elected.? The books were worse than expected, so we all have to shoulder cuts.? Hundreds and thousands of millions of pounds worth of cuts.

Expect it to be the word of 2011.? And 2012.? And 2013….

7. Puffle

OK, so this is a bit of a personal one.? However, if you have a child aged between six and ten, you will probably know what I mean.

Club Penguin is the Disney Corporation’s World of Warcraft for kids.? Fiendishly addictive, colourful and fun (and magnificently parodied in Chris Morris’ Four Lions) the online game has been a staple in our household most of this year.

And puffles? Furry coloured pets of the penguins.? Get with the program.

8. Vuvuzela

If you’re a football fan, you probably spent most of June and July sitting at home with the noise of a swarm of angry bees emanating from your television.? The advent of the vuvuzela – the musical instrument of choice for this summer’s World Cup – was seen as either a magical part of incorporating local culture into the World Cup or the second most annoying thing at the tournament (Adrian Chiles, before you ask.)

My favourite vuvuzela story involved standing in a large pedestrian queue to get into the Glastonbury festival.? A guy in front of me had a vuvuzela attached to his rucksack and I complimented him on bringing the topical instrument to a Somerset field.

“That’s not my real vuvuzela,” he admitted.? “That’s my travel vuvuzela….”

9. Heroes

There’s no such thing as a role model, a talented sportsperson or a soldier any more.? There are only ‘heroes’.? Quite when this unnecessary hyperbole became acceptable – our forces do a brilliant job abroad but are by no means all ‘heroes’ in the traditional sense of the word – I am not sure.? However, it’s tough to ignore this omnipresent term – it’s even the name of the current UK number One single.

10. En-ger-land

Why do we do it to ourselves?? Every four years, we get completely carried away when an International Football Tournament comes around and we go into a major competition with the belief that this time, we might just win it.? It’s a bit like people that get married half a dozen times – the triumph of hope over expectation and previous experience.

This year was, arguably, even worse.? Eng-er-land

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were the third favourites (the THIRD FAVOURITES!) to win the 2010 World Cup which made our spectacular fall from grace even harder to bear.? We scored two goals (Matthew Upson finishing as England’s joint top goalscorer tells its own tale), failed to beat either the USA or Algeria and went out a round earlier than everyone’s worst case scenario.

England’s rugby league team were once again largely hopeless and our rugby union team (the Australia results excepted) were also pretty dreadful for most of 2010 (anyone who watched the Calcutta Cup match will recall it was arguably the worst international rugby match of all time).? It was, yet again, another terrible year for Eng-er-land’s sports teams, and only a good performance down under in the Ashes can truly rescue our sporting pride.

__________________________

So, there are my top 10 words of 2010.? Any that you agree or disagree with?? What words would you put on the list?

May Contain Notts

If you don’t know how to spell something, the easiest way to have a bash at it is to say it out loud.  Mind you, that might not help if you have got a thick regional accent….

Nottingham is a funny place for accents.  Ask any impressionist to do a Nottingham voice, and they probably won’t be able to (in the way that you could do a Brummie or a Scouser, for example).  Saying that, having lived here for the best part of a decade there is a very distinct and very clear dialect spoken in these parts.

A friend of mine – the editor of Nottingham’s fine Left Lion publication – prides himself on preserving the Nottingham dialect.  He can be regularly heard using the local word “rammel” (which means ‘rubbish’ in the sense that a ‘rammel TV show’ would be something like Bargain Hunt or Cash In The Attic) and, of course, the local favourite ‘duckeh’.  Everyone locally is addressed as ‘duckeh’ – man, woman or child.

If you want to try and perfect the Nottingham voice, the phrase that pays is this one:

“Toneh Hadleh aht eh Spandah Balleh”.

(Clearly, the aforementioned Toneh Hadleh isn’t from Nottingham – it is a phrase which identifies some of the key requirements of Notts speak in one handy sentence).

My local Left Lion guru also runs a weekly pub quiz, in which his round entitled ‘On This Day In Istreh’ has become something of a local favourite….

Anyway. Why, you wonder, am I giving you a potted history of the Nottingham dialect?  Well, going back to my original point, when you can’t spell something, you might try and say it out loud.  That is the only explanation I have for the following sign which I saw in the window of Ladbrokes in the centre of Nottingham this week.  Someone has clearly not been 100% sure how to spell the central European country, and so has said it out loud in a thick Nottingham accent.

 

Hungray
Priceless.

…………………………………………………………………….

Nick Parkhouse is a professional writer. If you need web copy, articles, books or press releases, get in touch with Nick now at info@nickparkhouse.com

Nick’s first book, 101 Forgotten Pop Hits of the 1980s, is also now available through Author House, Amazon and Waterstones.

What Is The Best Pop Song….Ever?

As part of the launch of my new book, 101 Forgotten Pop Hits of the 1980s, I did an interview last week with my good friend Mike Atkinson for the excellent local Nottingham publication, Left Lion.

One of the questions I was asked – and one that I really should have been prepared for – was ‘Of the songs you have included in the book, which is your favourite’?

After a bit of deliberation, I picked Gold by Spandau Ballet as the one I would keep for the nation, and Love Changes (Everything) by Climie Fisher as the one I’d keep for myself (I appreciate that is a bit of a cheat of an answer, but there you go.)

Anyway, it got me thinking (as I also did later on when watching the season finale of the always entertaining series Glee) about what is the greatest contemporary pop record of all time.? Not my favourite – but the best in objective terms.

Clearly, there are gazillions of records that you could choose, and there’s no way of realistically determining whether one is better than another.? Is the Beatles Hey Jude better than Rule the World by Take That?? Hanson’s Mmmbop better or worse than Daydream Believer?? Is Bohemian Rhapsody a pop record, and is it better than Relax, You’re The One That I Want or Don’t You Want Me?

After some cogitating, I came up with Unchained Melody.? For the number of successful cover versions and its enduring popularity, it must surely rank somewhere high on the list.

And just when I thought I might have my answer, I remembered one more song.? A song that is so perfect and so well-loved across several generations; a song so beautiful that it sounds as good today as it did when it was recorded; a song that is famous and yet something you never, ever tire of hearing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhzbzwPNgXA[/youtube]

Is Somewhere Over The Rainbow the best pop record of all time?

…………………………………

Nick Parkhouse is a professional writer. He provides articles, copy, pressreleases and books and marketing material to a range of local and international clients. He also specialises in sports writing for a number of international sports companies as well finance, property, politics and cinema writing.

Nick’s first book, 101 Forgotten Pop Hits of the 1980s, is also now available at www.authorhouse.co.uk

 

Misplaced modifiers

Have you ever dangled a participle?

Take this, for example.? “80% of married men cheat in America.”? The remaining 20% cheat in Europe, presumably…

We sort of know what this sentence is trying to say, but the participle? is misplaced because it seems to relate to the wrong part of the sentence.

There are loads of examples:

She was taken to

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casualty having been bitten by a snake in her underwear.

The bride was given away by her father wearing her grandmother’s wedding dress.

We always sell goods to people in plastic wrapping.

The reason I bring this up is that I noticed something similar in the charming village of Much Wenlock the other week.? On a short Shropshire break for a bit of fresh air, my wife and I were wandering around the village when we noticed two interesting things.? Firstly, Much Wenlock is, implausibly, the home of the Modern Olympic Games.? The village was the home of one William Penny Brookes, who created the National Olympian Games

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in 1866.? Brookes then began to engage in regular meetings at the Raven Hotel in the village with Baron de Coubertin, the man responsible for founding the modern Olympic Games.

Secondly, we saw this sign in the churchyard.

Misplaced modifier

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have never ridden an exercise dog. I bet even Dr Brookes didn’t ride such a dog when he was coming up with potential events for the inaugural National Olympian Games….

What I think they meant was: “Please don’t exercise dogs or ride bicycles in it”.? It proves that even the clergy can dangle a participle here and there….

There are two simple rules that you can follow to avoid this mistake in your writing:

1. The (unexpressed) subject of the participle clause – the person or thing who is doing something – should have the same subject as the (expressed) subject of the main clause.

2. The modifying clause or phase should always come as near as possible to the noun or pronoun it modifies.

As Groucho Marx once said, “I once shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas, I’ll never know….”

…………………………………

Nick Parkhouse is a professional writer. He provides articles, copy, press releases and books and marketing material to a range of local and international clients. He also specialises in sports writing for a number of international sports companies as well finance, property, politics and cinema writing.

Rewards

Credit Card RewardsHaving worked in retail financial services for fourteen years, assisting a client with the creation, design and content for a credit card comparison site was a job perfectly tailored to my skills.

Credit Card Rewards has quickly grown to become one of Australia’s most popular card comparison sites thanks, in no small part, to the 70 odd card reviews and almost 200 articles about cards, fees, banking and charges that I have provided the site to date.? Combining my knowledge of financial services with my writing ability has been almost the ideal job.

(Incidentally, and annoyingly, about the only thing on the entire site that I didn’t write was the homepage welcome text, which I don’t like very much.? My version was (in my humble opinion) *much* better…..!

The site continues to grow and is now quite the resource – as well as dozens of cards to compare it contains

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a huge amount of information.? I’m pretty proud of the way it has turned out, and my client is delighted with it too.

Having written countless articles about how to avoid credit card and identity fraud, I actually took some of my own advice today.? When an obviously fraudulent ‘phishing’ e-mail turned up in my inbox today, I researched the provider it was purporting to be and forwarded the e-mail to their security department.? Practice what you preach, and all that….

And now this project is up and running, the same client has turned his attention to an altogether more, er, ‘adult’ online market. More of that in due course….

Nick Parkhouse is a professional writer. He provides articles, copy, press releases and books and marketing material to a range of local and international clients. He also specialises in sports writing for a number of international sports companies as well finance, property, politics and cinema writing.

Book Launch

9781449098476_cover.inddIt started as a conversation in a London pub in early 2008. Discussing great pop records of the 1980s, a man called Adrian – who I only ever met on that one occasion – told me I was like ‘the Louis Theroux of 80s pop music’.

And so it began. I started writing about those great 80s records that never get any airplay on the radio any more. I e-mailed a few 80s pop stars – more out of hope than expectation – and received many warm replies. I concocted a list of 101 ‘forgotten pop hits’ and started fielding e-mails and telephone calls from the likes of Hazell Dean, Simon Climie, Nik Kershaw and Kim Wilde. I got a backstage pass to the 80s Here and Now tour and hung out in the car park of the NEC with Johnny Hates Jazz and Bananarama.

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This little the that.

I even got to meet my all time 80s hero – Tony Hadley – twice.

And, 90,000 words (give or take) later, and two and a bit years work, my ‘labour

of love’ (if you’ll excuse the 80s based pun) 101 Forgotten Pop Hits of the 1980s is now available in paperback here (or here if you are not in the UK).

It is absolutely amazing to see the thing in print, finally. Years of work have gone into this, and I am immensely proud of the way that it has turned out. I may owe some apologies to friends and relatives who have had to suffer endless Eighties anecdotes and hit singles over the last couple of years, but it’s all been in a good cause.

I am delighted to say that 101 Forgotten Pop Hits of the 1980s is now available to buy. If you would like one, you can head online and buy one from the publisher’s website (here in the UK or here for the rest of the world), or you can buy one directly from me (at a slight discount). If you’d like one or several copies (give them to your friends and family as presents!) then please e-mail me at 101@nickparkhouse.com, and I can sort out a payment via PayPal.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped me get this book into print, from 60 or so brilliant Eighties musicians, writers, producers and singers, my friends and family who have tolerated and proof read the manuscripts and, for the original idea, Adrian. Wherever you are.

The book publishing minefield

9781449098476_cover.inddYou would think that the actual writing of a book might be the trickiest part of the whole process.

OK, so it took me the best part of two years to finish my first book, 101 Forgotten Pop Hits of the 1980s. I’d blame the fact it took me ages to schedule interviews with the likes of Kim Wilde and Angry Anderson, but the truth was that it just took one heck of a lot of work to turn my giant notebook into something approaching a coherent book.

Once it was done, I thought that the difficult bit was all over. How wrong I was. For six months now I have been grappling with every aspect of the publishing process. For starters, there was the tricky subject of proofreading the manuscript. Reluctant to pay the £500 or so I was quoted by professionals, I must have read the thing half a dozen times myself.? However, it still took a couple of friends of mine to points out misplaced apostrophes, the odd spelling error and other wayward grammar. I still don’t expect it to be 100% perfect, as I’m sure we’ll have all missed something.

Once that was all done, I then had to format the book. Issues of spacing, paragraphs and margins all took some weeks, as did making sure that there was equivalent and consistent spacing between lines. Do the margins all match?? Are there equal spaces between the paragraphs?? (I must confess that was quite probably the most tedious part of the whole endeavour.)

And then, I was faced with all sorts of design issues. I spent days looking for decent images to use for the exterior and interior of the book. I had to pick a design for the front and back cover, and then write a ‘salesy’ cover synopsis and a biography. I had to work out how I wanted the

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interior of the book to look – how big the chapter headings should be, how to format the acknowledgments page – how to italicise any song titles – and so on.

Once that was done, I then had to proof read the thing again to pick up any errors that had occurred when the publishers transcribed the manuscript (there were several, including, for example, them italicising the Auf Wiedersehen but not the ‘Pet’). I also had to re-space the whole document once more and alter a couple of the images.

To say that it has been time consuming would be an understatement. So, if you’re planning on getting your book published, don’t forget to add a few months and plenty of man hours for the administrative minefield you will encounter once your manuscript is completed….

…………………………………

Nick Parkhouse is a professional writer. He provides articles, copy, press releases and books and marketing material to a range of local and international clients. He also

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specialises in sports writing for a number of international sports companies as well finance, property, politics and cinema writing.