Sunday, September 15, 2013


For the most part projects are very straightforward. However, occasionally I come across one that leaves me shaking my head.

For example, today someone posted a job looking for an editor, but he just wanted the editor to highlight the areas where he was overly wordy and make changes but tell him first or not make changes. He also had no clue who his audience was but he thought it might be good to identify one and then he had no clue how to write toward his target audience unless they were really young or really old.

The topic of his book: Writing for Clarity.

What? Um, excuse me, but if you, yourself cannot write clearly nor can you even post a project in such a way that makes it easy for those reading it to understand what exactly it is you want - perhaps you should consider writing on something that you are more expert in: Writing for Ambiguity.

A long time ago before e-publishing, author's had to be experts in their field in order to publish books. Now they do not. In fact, they do not have to know anything about their topic. It makes me very leery of using any modern book for research, since there are several self-publishing companies that are masquerading as real publishing companies.

If you are planning on writing a non-fiction book, my advice to you is to identify your audience first. If you write a book and then afterward decide that your audience is going to be biochemists, it will be a bear to go back in and add biochemist language to the book, remove references to things a standard biochemist would know (but Joe next door would not know unless he, too, was a biochemist), and finally explain things that biochemists would not know, such as how to bake a cake in an oven instead of in beaker on a hotplate. Identifying your audience is one of many keys to publishing any book successfully.

Needless to say, I did not apply for this project. However, several other people did. Personally, even if I was rewriting his book or him so that it truly did speak of clarity in clear language, would I really want other people thinking that he wrote it and coming to him for information on the topic? Nope. Sorry, my drive for money is not quite that strong.

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