Tag Archives: tips

Nonfiction writing tips from a writer who has won the Pulitzer Prize

2017-09-18

Bret Stephens, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, recently joined The New York Times. One of his first articles for the newspaper was a collection of tips for writing news, articles and columns. Altogether, Brett Stephens shares 15 tips for writers, from which I selected 7 that apply to all nonfiction writers.

Somy DPT-RP1 ereader: reading and making notes
1. Get to the point.
Every sentence counts, and must deliver value to the reader. Some writers (and editors) believe the first sentence is the most important to hook a reader, but surely the attention span of readers is longer. Nonetheless, in order keep the reader’s attention the story and the delivery of information must move forward without slack.

2. Write to the broad community of people.
Don’t try to impress experts of your own field with industry jargon. A normal person has to easily understand what your message is. This applies to most articles and books ever published. Naturally, there are publications that target at experts of a niche, but that is another story.

3. Authority counts.
Readers have to trust the writer’s expertise on the subject he or she is writing about. Credentials help, but usually the authority has to be built with time.

4. Establish a confident voice.
Avoid passive voice in your writing, and unnecessary filler words that don’t add anything to the information you are delivering to the reader. Confident voice is not too modest and not too hyped-up, but – confident.

5. Doublecheck the facts.
It also means checking the spelling of names, verifying the dates and times.
[I would check the links at some point as well, because nonfiction articles and books usually have links to sources and more information. As an editor of nonfiction book manuscripts I have done some fact checking and the worst errors have originated from Wikipedia that some authors had used as their only source]

6. Drop all empty phrases.
It may feel that using a cliché is a shortcut to delivering a wealth of information, but more often it is an entirely empty phrase that is wasting everyone’s time.

7. Respect your editor.
Even if you are self-publishing, you should hire an editor to improve your text. If your article or book manuscript is being reviewed by the publisher’s editor, learn from it.

Are you a slow writer? 15 tips for learning how to write faster

2017-09-11

There is nothing wrong with you if you are a slow writer, but if you intend to make money or earn a living as a writer, learning to write a bit faster can be an important asset. The essence of learning to write is practice. It takes time to learn the craft, and with time, you will become faster.

Nonetheless, it is possible to speed up the process of learning how to write faster. Custom Writing has created an infographic that lists 15 ways to learn faster writing. Here are the 15 tips. View the infographic after the list for additional advice on each item.

Silence you inner editor.
Structure is everything.
Defeat distractions.
Track your words-per-hour.
Format at the end.
Write what you know.
Keep all notes in one book.
Use 30-minute timer.
Do a 5-minute workout.
Build connections between your tasks.
Get comfortable while writing.
Think about your reward.
Choose the most productive time of day.
Play typing games.
Practice.

Here is the infographic 15 ways to write faster (by Custom Writing).
Infographic 15 Ways to Write Faster by Custom Writing

Tips for improving the readability and attractiveness of nonfiction books

2017-09-01

When a publisher/author states that the most important element of a plan for a nonfiction book is its table of contents, she has my attention. That’s exactly what we have been telling to Klaava.com readers in one of our most popular articles.

man holding old books in his hands
Anyway, Brooke Warner has written an article for Huffington Post where she reminds of the importance of the table of contents, and shares five valuable tips for improving the readability and attractiveness of nonfiction books.

Brooke Warner’s tips for better nonfiction writing:

– Use subheadings to break chapters into logical chunks, and to give a reader a break.
– Consider writing yourself into the book as a guide who looks after the reader.
– Insert other elements into the book besides text. Nonfiction books usually benefit from graphs, tables, fact boxes and similar layout elements that capture something essential about the discussed topic.
– Short books are fine. Yes, it perfectly all right to write a book less than 200 pages or 40 000 words.
– Don’t write in dry academic tone, but use your own voice.

A common feature in nonfiction manuscripts is long paragraphs. Time after time, the editor will break long paragraphs into two or more short paragraphs that are easier to read. This is particularly important when reading an ebook on a screen. Subheading, indents and other simple elements help as well.

Color is an important element in nonfiction books as well. Use color in charts, pictures and of course, photographs. If the book is published as a black-and-white print edition, so be it, but the ebook edition benefits greatly from colors.

We have published nonfiction ebooks about 50-100 pages long. When the reader is aware that he or she is buying a concise book focused on a specific theme, that’s a good deal for the customer when the price is right.

Ebook news digest: ebooks in metro, tips for headlines, how to start travel photography

2017-06-10

News on ebooks, writing and photography

Murcia, bookshop of antique books
New York Public Library turns subway cars into mobile ebook libraries
Boing Boing

Some New York metro cars have been equipped with Wi-Fi signal that connects commuters to the city library for ebooks. Nice idea, since under the ground it is rare to get a mobile network or Wi-Fi signal at all. Library has come to the rescue of all the people who want to read, but haven’t downloaded any books beforehand on a smartphone or tablet.

9 tips for writing stronger headlines
Poynter

If you are fed up with headlines Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and similar organizations feed us, here is some level-headed advice to writers for composing their headlines. The advice is valid for headings featured in a non-fiction book as well.

Travel Photography Tips for Beginners
Nomadasaurus

The digital nomad couple has learnt their photography skills on the road during several years. The post features plenty of valuable tips and not only for beginners, but for all travelers who have realized that improvement is required in order to share the snapshots on social media.

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Kristen Lepionka
Writer’s Digest

An author shares a few lessons on the business of writing and working like a professional.

The Gems of Nice and the French Riviera
Klaava Travel Guide

A travel guidebook to southern France shows the best destinations to visit and the nicest places to stay.

The New 10.5 Inch iPad Pro | Bigger, Better, Faster, Smoother
SLR Lounge

A new Apple iPad tablet 10.5 inches in size that has the same physical dimensions as the 9.7 inch model. Confused? The display extends from edge to edge, making the screen surprisingly large. Many other improvements implemented in the new iPad, too.

Recommended Travel and Digital Nomad Blogs
Become Nomad

A categorized list of travel and digital nomad blogs.

It’s Not You, It’s Me: A Writer’s Reflections on Rejection
Bob Eckstein

If it is any consolation for a rejected writer, everyone, even the brightest stars have been rejected at some point of their careers. The article gives advice on managing the difficult time of rejection.

Packing light for a trip is easier said than done – here are a few good tips

2016-10-04

Packing the right gear for a beach vacation or for skiing weekend on the mountains is very easy. You know exactly how the weather and the environment will be. The only question really is how many party outfits you want to pack in your suitcase.

If you are planning a weekend in London or Prague in the winter or spring, you have to be prepared for any kind of weather. Even tougher packing choices has to be made if you are going to tour, say, France in the spring or Sweden in the autumn.

Fortunately, experienced travellers from Splendid Asia have collected a number of good tips for packing for any trip like a pro.

Packing clothes, electronics and other things for a week or two week vacation is one thing but packing for one or two year trip as a digital nomad is completely something else. Assuming a nomad is flying between places where he or she stays for a few months at a time, everything has to fit in to two or three suitcases. If anyone has tips for packing for a nomad life, we would love to hear them.

pack light like a pro, infographic
Infographic by Splendid Asia.

Five tips to get started with that book you always wanted to write

2016-05-19

Everyone who has ever written a book, or even tried to write one, knows how much hard work it is. Sure, writing requires creativity, talent, and ability to play with words and grammar, but perhaps perseverance is the most important element in a writer’s toolbox.
 thinking and watching laptop computer screen
Especially, writers who are planning or writing their first book may regard the task too big to handle. That’s right, it is a huge task. That’s why it is important to prepare for it well by learning what kind of working method is the best for each personality, making sure that all the writing and research tools are in place, and learning to focus on the work even though distractions are constantly tempting online.

Bec Evans and Chris Smith have developed methods that help aspiring writers to establish habits that promote writing. They regard writing a book such a demanding work that individuals who are seriously pursuing it, should develop habits that support it. They have listed five tips that help you to build the motivation to write :

1. Scale down your goal.

A book (it doesn’t matter if it is a non-fiction or fiction book) must be planned before you can begin writing. This way, you know you goal and you have divided the big task into small pieces. It is easier to start working on a chapter that is about the same length as a long article than to start working on a 300-page book.

2. Slowly crank up the time.

In the beginning, it maybe difficult to sit down and type for eight hours or even two hours a day. Once you get started and words begin to flow, time goes quickly. Start small, and slowly extend the time spent by a keyboard.

3. Stretch yourself.

In the beginning of the project, goals should be achievable, but you should enhance your goals as the work progresses. From personal experience, I can add that even though I have never set an explicit goal, like one or two pages a day for myself, there are days when it feels that nothing was achieved after eight hours of hard work. Then, the next day, I realize that I have suddenly completed 10 pages. The things is that those days that felt like nothing was achieved were groundwork for those 10 pages that magically were completed in one day.

4. Track, monitor and adjust.

Tracking and monitoring helps you learn how you really work. Adjust your ways in order develop habits that support your writing.

5. Use other people.

Most writers don’t like to talk about the book they are working on. I completely understand this: plans may change, another project may take priority over the current one, or even the intended content of the book may change. Yet, Evans and Smith suggest that it is important tell other people about your goal and update them on your progress. Peer-pressure and accountability can do wonders for writers.

My tip is to use Table of Contents as the key planning tool for a nonfiction book. For a fiction book, many writers have character cards and maps that show how the story flows.
Smiling woman holding books

Non-fiction book tips for reading and giving as gifts during the year-end holidays

2015-12-10

Goodreads is popular community of book lovers who actively discuss about books. Community members have voted the best books of 2015, just in time for getting tips for what to read and what to give as a gift during the year-end holidays.

Here are ten most popular non-fiction books as voted by the Goodreads community.
book cover aziz ansari, modern romance

1. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg.
2. Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton. Photography.
3. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Creativity, inspiration.
4. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Society.
5. H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Memoir.
6. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer. Society,
7. Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson. Travel story.
8. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson.
9. For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. Religion.
10. Rising Strong by Brené Brown. Personal development.

If you are planning to travel during the holiday season on next year, download one of these travel guidebooks. More smart books to read here.

12 steps for writing a better book, article or blog post

2015-09-23

Everyone who has written more than a few articles or blog posts – not to mention writing a book – knows how hard work it can be. It is a lot of fun, it is very rewarding, but you have to be able concentrate for quite a long time in order to get anything sensible done before it can be published. A step-by-step guide can help writers to get started on their next project, and more importantly, stay focused on the job they have.

Ann Handley has written a book titled Everybody Writes – Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content. The steps for writing better blog posts, articles or books outlined in the book have been published as an infographic. You can find the whole detailed infographic below, just after the summary of the steps.

1. Determine your goal.
2. Reframe your goal with the reader in mind.
3. Make sure you have data to support your argument.
4. Think about the most suitable publishing platform.
5. Have a person in your mind who you are writing to.
6. Write the first draft, but remind yourself it is only a start.
7. Take a break from writing.
8. Rewrite (or edit).
9. Create a great title.
10. If you can find someone else to edit, do it. If you can’t, take a break and do something else, and then take a look at your text with fresh eyes.
11. Give it one more thorough read.
12. Publish.

ann handley: everybody write, infographic

Tips for landscape photography on a smartphone

2015-09-12

Camera technology on modern smartphones is, in fact, amazingly good. Wisely, smartphone manufacturers are not anymore competing for the number of megapixels the camera can capture, but they are competing for the quality of images. Selfies maybe the most common type of photo captured on a smartphone, but many photographers – even professionals – use their phones for landscape photography as well. Here are tips for snapping beautiful sceneries on a smartphone.

Scenery near Narvik, Norway

A scenery in Lapland, Norway.

The following eight tips were shared by David Hayes on Enlight App blog.
1. Go old school. Study great photos and paintings created by masters.
2. Give your landscape a focal point. Something that leads the viewer into the world the image portrays.
3. Pay attention to the foreground of the frame. An object in the foreground gets attention.
4. Leading lines. A line – a road, path or similar – is a proven technique to implement the tip 2 or 3.
5. What is in your horizon? Decide if the sky has a dominant role in your picture or the earth, and follow the rule of thirds.
#6: Watch your light. Shadows create contrast and sometimes, drama. An hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset have magical light.
7. Capture movement. This is difficult in a still image, but an experienced photographer can capture movement.
8. Perspective. Find new angles for your landscape images.

smartphone holder on a tripod
Two additional tips that we have found useful:
1. Get a phone holder that you can attach to a tripod. It lets you take selfies with the timer on your phone camera and if you shoot video, you get better quality video clips.
2. In some places, the landscape should be captured as a panorama image. Check the features of your camera if it allows taking panorama photos. If it doesn’t, the panorama image can be created afterwards, but it tends to be tedious work.

saariselka kaunispaa, Lapland, panorama

Mountain scenery in Lapland captured on a smartphone as a 180 degree panorama.

Check out tips from a professional photographer for landscape photography on a smartphone.

Don’t forget to shoot video. Here is an example how a smartphone video camera captured exactly the right moment when the sun was setting over the sea. The only camera that was around at the moment happened to be a phone, and it did a great job.

Books that feature landscape photography are, for instance, a travel guide to Provence and a guide to Sweden.

The Best of Helsinki, Finland: Tips from a Local Writer

2015-05-24

Helsinki, Finland is a relaxing Scandinavian destination to visit: it is a relatively compact city that can be explored by foot, by bicycle or by public transportation, like trams. Local people think there are traffic jams in the city, but visitors from one of the metropolis of the world may have another view. The best time to visit Helsinki is May-September when there is plenty of light and everyone enjoys the warm season.

view over the roofs of Helsinki, FInland

More tips for travelers heading to Finland in Russell Snyder’s book I, Helsinki – A Finland Visitor’s Guide. Here are some highlights:

Sight: Suomenlinna fortress island
City view: Ateljee Bar in Hotel Torni.
Sea view: Sightseeing cruise from the Market Square.
Piece of history: Senate Square.
Architecture: Tour around Töölönlahti for monuments and variety.
Food: Restaurant Lappi for traditional dishes of Lapland, restaurant Bellevue for Russian delicacies.
Park: Esplanadi in the city center and Kaivopuisto by the sea.
Art: Ateneum and Kiasma museums, galleries in Design District.
Shopping: Esplanadi for branded goods and Hietalahti flea market for fun.
People watching: Cafés at Esplanadi.
Drive: From Lauttasaari to Kulosaari via the coastal road.
Cycling: Any cycling path that follows the coastline, for instance a route via Töölö, Meilahti, Munkkiniemi. Kuusisaari and Lauttasaari.
Beach: Hietaranta in the city.
Hike: Nuuksio national park outside Helsinki, hike around Töölönlahti in the city.
Winter fun: Walking on ice, sledding in Kaivopuisto or cross-country skiing in Paloheinä.

 
Here is a video that shows a few highlights of Helsinki:

I, Helsinki – A Finland Visitor’s Guide download travel guide to Helsinki, Finland

Ten Tips for Fabulous Travel Photography

2015-02-23

Before You Travel

1. Consider Your Camera Strategy

Do you invest your money and learning effort in one camera kit, or do you have two, three or even four cameras around that you use in different situations. Both strategies have their advantages. If you want to become a photographer who may sell photos and perhaps exhibit them, only the best gear will do. If you shoot for your own blog, for an upcoming travel book, or for an article you have sold, having multiple cameras (less expensive) can be more flexible approach. My own experience is that it is vital to have a camera always with you, even when you pop in to a shop near the hotel. A compact camera or a smartphone fits into a pocket, but ofcourse, when you plan a shooting trip to the mountains you can pack the whole camera kit with a tripod into a backpack.
camera lens on keyboard

2. Learn the Manual Controls on Your Camera

Learn to adjust shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings on your camera. A good camera lets you capture fine shots in auto mode as well, but sooner or later you will need to know about manual settings. The first time you try to frame something in low light will be a reminder for you to learn the manual settings.

3. View Your Practice Session Photos on a PC and Tablet

Take time and examine the photos you have taken during a practice session. The LCD display on the camera doesn’t tell you the truth, but you have to view the photos on a PC monitor or on a tablet. Is there too much light in the frame, or is it too dark? What about composition? Focus? Didn’t get that blurry background? Tip: when you practice, take several photos of the same subject, but with different settings. This is the fastest way to learn.

photos from book The Gems of Nice and the French Riviera
Photos from the travel guidebook The Gems of Nice and the French Riviera

On the Road

4. Take Time to Compose

You know the golden section rule, right? The frame is divided into nine sections of equal size, and the corners of the central section guide the position of the main subject. Mistakes in composition are difficult or impossible to correct in post processing, so take your time. Try with the zoom and without the zoom. The most annoying problem: the top of the tower of an ancient castle didn’t fit into the frame and now you are already back home. Take your time at the destination.

5. Try New Angles

Stop, think, and be creative. Move around to get a fresh angle to the subject. High or low angle? Can you find something in front of the subject that doesn’t block the view, but gives it depth?

6. After the Sunset

After the sunset pictures have been taken, it is time to shoot night sceneries. Now, you will need your best camera that comes with manual controls – an automatic compact camera or a smartphone won’t do. Set a slow shutter speed and start shooting with the camera on a tripod or on another stand.

7. People Love to Watch Photos of Other People

Photographing people is perhaps the most difficult skill to master in photography, but travel photographers can trust their instincts and the power of moment. If you keep your eyes open, and camera at hand, anything is possible. For a instance, people shopping at a market, working at a café, or walking a dog. If you intend to take a portrait of a person, you should ask permission. In some cultures, it is not advisable to photograph people at all before you know them and can be sure it is alright.

8. Get Up Early

Morning and evening light provides more contrast for images than photos taken in midday. You may also catch colors that are not visible in the midday sun. Depending on where you are traveling, but if it is autumn or winter, you may witness morning dew or evening fog that can look spectacular in photos.

After the Trip

9. Sort the Day’s Catch

If you take a lot of photos, you should browse the day’s catch every day so that you don’t have hundreds of photos waiting to be sorted when you get home. Examining the photos is also a safety measure: if you are supposed to photograph Paris, but missed Eiffel tower’s top floors, you have to return there the next day. Tip: I throw away hopeless images and name the photos that I save while browsing them.

10. Backup Your Photos

Every day, copy all new photos from memory cards to your PC or any other device where you store your pictures. Then, make a backup copy of the copied photos. For this, you need a backup hard disk, like an external USB drive, or a cloud service, like Dropbox or Hubic.

An inspiration and a source for few tips was Andrew Hoyle’s article on Cnet.

Helsinki, Finland a view from sea
Photo from travel guidebook I, Helsinki.

Top Ten Writing Tips for Nonfiction Authors from a Fiction Author

2015-02-18

Writing is craft that some writers learn in their daily work and others learn by taking courses. You might think that nonfiction and fiction writing require very different skills, but it is surprising how many bestselling authors write both types of books. Some have started writing because they were journalists, others because they had to draft educational material for their classes.

mikael niemi, author, book signing at a book show
Swedish author Mikael Niemi signing books at a book fair.

The author of Hobbits and The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien knows what he is talking about when he offers his advice for writers. Even though he wrote fiction on his spare time at home, he wrote nonfiction for his daily work.

Here is Tolkien’s top 10 writing tips infographics from Essaymama.

tolkien, tips for writers

Tolkien’s top 10 tips:
1. Vanity is useless. Your book is important for you, but be realistic how important it is to the rest of the world.
2. Keep a stiff upper lip. (Find time to write no matter what).
3. Listen to critics. Critics – Yes, Trolls – No.
4. Let your interests drive your writing. [this is very true for nonfiction as well – a book written with both passion and facts communicates with readers]
5. Poetry as a road to prose.
6. Happy accidents. Tolkien carefully planned the books but gave a chance to new ideas as well.
7. Dreams give us inspiration.
8. Real people make great characters.
9. You may be the next best selling author.
10. Books you write may seem trite.