Articles tagged "research"

Fact-Checking Your Book

With the precipitous fall of the New Yorker‘s Jonah Lehrer, whose books and articles were riddled with inaccuracies, it’s clear that a quick way to ruin your career as a writer is to pass off fiction as fact. But as you put together a book based on reporting, the line between fact and fiction can blur. 

It’s difficult to get all the facts right. Journalists write a piece then get fact-checkers to make sure they’re correct, or amend the facts. But for the writer who uses an open-publishing platform, the risks are magnified. You have to fact-check your own piece, and if you end up letting a few fabrications through the cracks, your entire career can be ruined.

In that spirit, here are some “Best Practices” for fact-checking your own writing:

1. Always get two sources. If you can find a fact or statistic once, you can probably find a different outlet to back up the same fact. It might seem like overkill, but even the most trusted sources get it wrong sometimes.

2. Wikipedia is a good resource! It might seem counter-intuitive to trust Wikipedia with facts, but the online encyclopedia has an insanely devoted group of volunteer editors who make sure that every fact is correctly sourced. Even better, they include links to the original sources on the bottom of every page, allowing you to find a more trusted source. It’s best to think of Wikipedia as a helpful tool, and not a definitive source.

3. Make the call. If you need answers about facts from specific individuals or organizations, call them. The Internet might be the repository of all things important, but at the end of the day, just calling someone can get you a lot further than endlessly scanning Google results.

4. Have a friend highlight. The best way to differentiate between something that should or shouldn’t be fact-checked is by having a friend or editor highlight all the facts in your piece. Often, when you’re close to a subject, you can’t tell the difference between what you know or what you think you know. A skeptical friend can be a writer’s best friend.

Starting with these four practices can help your writing become more accurate and also help you avoid the terrible fate of a writer who fabricates. Do you have any of your own best practices to add to the list?

The Upward eBook Trend

According to a recent MediaBistro article, “net sales revenue from eBooks have surpassed hardcover books in the first quarter of 2012.” The data comes from the March Association of American Publishers (AAP) net sales revenue report. I think that this was always expected, but it’s still indicative of a paradigm shift in book sales: It is now more popular to download a book than to pick up a hardcover copy at your local bookstore or order one shipped to your door.

While trade paperbacks still lead the industry in sales, it does seem inevitable that at some point, eBooks will make up the vast majority of book sales while physical books will fill a niche role. One of the main drivers of this surge in eBooks is the fact that people with e-readers just read more books. A Pew study, released in April of this year, found that “the average reader of eBooks says she has read 24 books (the mean number) in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-eBook consumer.”

Be Bigger Than Your Book: Author Spotlight with Jeff Taylor

Author Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor is a marketing genius with a heart of gold.

Having worked as a channel marketer for several top-tier companies such as Nortel and iContact over the years – Taylor started noticing a lot of common trends across all industries.

“Customers today want more than a product,” says Taylor.  “They need an experience or a  personal tie to a product and companies need to bigger than what they’re selling to build meaningful, lasting customer relationships.”

Taylor highlights exactly what he means in his new book Bigger than the Widget, available on Lulu.com.  And he has even taken his own advice in marketing his work by attaching it to a recognized brand and a good cause:  The V Foundation for Cancer Research.  All proceeds from Taylor’s book will be donated to the organization.

“If you want to have any success, if you truly want your product or service to be bigger and do bigger things, you have to be aware of the present trends and work to create an emotional connection with your customers,” says Taylor. “My family has been touched by cancer and the V Foundation was the most logical choice to associate with my book.”

Available Now on Lulu.com

When coming up with the idea of his book, Taylor was surprised by how many people tried to tell him it wouldn’t work.  But Jeff knew what his true motivation was:  this book was for his grandfather and he couldn’t be stopped.  He even considered going the traditional route first but couldn’t ignore the speed and customization self-publishing offers authors.

“The world of publishing is changing very quickly,” says Taylor.  “Companies like Lulu are so clearly the gatekeepers of the this new era of publishing.  I was honestly shocked at how easy it was to get to the right people and get my work done – even when it came to approaching organizations for sponsorships.  People are willing to help, you just have to know how to position yourself and be committed to your ideas. Then, you can accomplish anything.”

For more great marketing tips from a true professional, be sure to pick up a copy Bigger than the Widget by Jeff Taylor on Lulu.com and help support important cancer research today.