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What format should we use for submitting our Top Ten Productivity Tips?
- Title: We will always want a title because otherwise Lisa and I have to try to come up with a title, and it's not that we can't, but we'd rather have you send these in as complete as possible. Plus, what if we came up with a title and you thought, Well, I don't really like that title? Send us your best title.
- Introduction: Your introduction can be one sentence or a full paragraph. It's just a little introductory piece that prepares everyone for the tips you have written. For example, You know how you always wonder about this or If you've ever had this happen and you've tried to figure out if there are any solutions, well, here are 10 tips for... just give the reader a little bit of an intro so that it isn't just your title and then Tip 1, Tip 2. People like just the tiniest bit of preparation, e.g., Here's what I'm about to read about. So one sentence up to about a paragraph is usually plenty.
- Your tips: This is what people are there for. Ten Productivity Tips for ______.
And if you are wondering "Now, how long do these need to be?" the answer is, "It depends." Those of you who are subscribers to the current Top 10 know that some weeks I provide a pretty short, bulleted list.
For example, I might have 10 Good Ways to Say No and I've got: No. No thank you. No, but thanks for asking. Those sorts of things. It is short, just bing, bing, bing. Nothing extra.
Other times, you may have a tip and then an explanatory sentence or two. I am going to leave that up to you. It isn't that we couldn't all explain on some of our tips for about 16 pages, but the idea is that people want something quick. "Tips" is what they are looking for here.
People are more likely to read what you have written if it shows up on their screen; if they are going to print it, they like ones that will print in one - no more than two - pages, so then they have the information handy. I have people who print these things out every week and they keep them in a notebook. I have people that print them out and they take them to meetings, staff meetings, and they pass them around. So you want to keep it reasonably succinct.
- Closing: your last sentence or paragraph (following the tips) is some kind of a closing sentence (or two), where you're just pulling it together. Maybe you're going to make a recommendation for a book. You could say, "One of the good resources I've read to learn more about this was..." and you would just put the name of a book in there. That might be your closing or if there's some other way that you want to pull it together.
- Resource Box/Contact Information: Lastly, you going to have what is called your "resource box" (using the language of www.EzineArticles.com and other article directories). Think of it as the place you let people know who you are, what you do, and how they can get in touch with you to learn more. There are MANY ways of setting these up so I am not going to require a particular format. The idea is that it's an invitation to make contact. If you just want people to have Here's what I wrote, here's my title, and that's really all you want people to know right now, that's fine.
But for a lot of you, you want to say, "I have additional resources related to this topic on my website," or "Please contact me via _____ if you would like to learn more about the workshops I do on this topic."
It's really up to you what you want to say and I am not going to put an absolute structure on that. Be smart about the length of your resource box/contact information in relation to the length of the tips you send. If you send me a single spaced, full page of information for your resource box to go with 10 productivity tips, I'll probably have a little discussion with you and say, "You know, this seems a little out of whack here."
Just provide two, three, four, five sentences that let people know who you are. For many of you, this is a big part of why you are joining this effort. Think about how you want to engage people who want to pursue your expertise further - and invite them by your words and style (and the quality of what you gave them in your Top Ten Productivity Tips).
Do we really need to fill out the Application Form?
Yes. If you haven't already accessed it, either contact Lisa (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get the Word document, or click here to go through the shopping cart and receive it as soon as you check out (free, obviously).
The reasons I need you fill that out include:
At this point, it is fine to send in your Application Form without a set of tips, but then please send your tips in as soon as possible.
- We need your contact information. I am not giving anybody else the information you put down in your Contributor Form, but Lisa (my ever-amazing assistant) may need to call you about Hey, we're not sure about this or We tried to find this book. Could you possibly have the name a little bit wrong? We need to know the best ways to get in touch with you.
- I need to 'verify' the people who are applying to be part of this project. Even thought I am deliberately seeking out particular people, there will be others who want to be part of our group and I want to know who people are and whether it is a good fit, all the way around.
It's kind of like my affiliate program, which you can apply for by visiting this page. When people I know apply, it's no big deal. As soon as their names comes through, I approve them. There are other people who apply and I need to go look at their website before I approve the person, because I'm not going to have somebody be an affiliate who is a knucklehead and has a scary or, what in my judgment, would be a creepy website. I don't want my stuff on their webpage. So those questions that are on there, you just fill them out to the best of your knowledge and go ahead and send that in.
Right now, we're kind of easing into this whole process. As of the date that I'm recorded the Q & A call and then revised the transcript (December 2009), we are kind of easing into this and figuring out which processes to use and how it will all work. Later on, however, once the whole thing is running kind of like a top, which is, in my happy world, how it's going to work, then we are likely to say, "Don't send us your Contributor Form until you're sending us your first set of tips," but for now, we'll take whichever piece you've got.
So if you've got your tips and haven't done the form, we'll take that. Get your form done later. If you've got your form and not your tips, we'll take them separated at this time. That would be okay.
May we submit something that we have previously published elsewhere?
Yes! If you have published something in your own newsletter or on one of the article directories or in a print publication (where you have maintained the copyright) then you are welcome to republish it through the Top Ten Productivity Tips.
You may do some rewriting, revising, adding, or subtracting - or if it is already in a 'just right' form, send it in!
Likewise, after it is published through the Top Ten Productivity Tips, you are welcome to publish it through one of your other channels. Nearly every one of the TTPT I have written has shown up again in some other format where people can access it.
Are you going to allow anyone and everyone to be a contributor?
No way! The loyalty of my current TTPT group is one of the many reasons why I have been recruiting, very carefully, who is going to write for the new ones. I DO NOT want to mess with the subscribers. I don't want to communicate by having less than high standards for those who contribute, "Well, subscribers, mostly I know you expect good things, but here's kind of a crappy set of tips this week." Not a chance.
I value the Top Ten Productivity Tips brand and I value my subscribers. I also have high regard for the rest of you who are writing for the Top Ten Productivity Tips. Remember, my company's name is "Emphasis on Excellence, Inc." We are ALL ABOUT excellence (although not perfection!)
I will do everything I can to ensure that we never send out any tips where subscribers say, "This isn't very good." We want the excellence and what is related to that excellence to continue for all of us. We all want to be able to recommend this service without reservation.
What is the editorial process for this?
As someone asked on the live Q & A call, "When we submit something, does somebody read through it and say, 'Well, these are good but there's something wrong here.'?"
- You submit your tips in the best shape you can get them into, as far as including all the parts requested (see previous question about format), making sure it's edited and proofed.
- Lisa checks to make sure everything is there and if something is missing, for example, like if somebody forgot to have an opening paragraph, in some cases we might just write one sentence, but in other cases we might say, "You know, you need to give us a little more background on this." Then she'll get back in touch with you.
- Lisa will check carefully for any typos or discrepancies and fix those problems.
- Lisa will have me review the tip set if she thinks I need to preview prior to doing the final edit once it's in the template.
- Once new templates are designed, Lisa will load the document into the template.
- Once it gets into the format where it's going to be ready to send, then Meggin will go through it, giving it her set of eyes. This is the third set of eyes on there - yours, Lisa's, and then mine - just to make sure it has a good flow and isn't missing a word. After doing a final review, edit, and proofread of the TTPT set, she will determine the placement in the series.
- It's ready to send to subscribers!!
Is there a certain style of writing you expect?
Yes - your style!
Several of the people who are going to be writing for the new Top Ten Productivity Tips are funny - and I'm expecting that when I get their sets of tips, their interesting, fun, quirky personality will come through. Maintaining your voice is part of what helps people develop a relationship with you - and that's what you want.
Some of you have very gentle ways of saying something. Well, then that's what people are going to know about you. Others of you, gentleness isn't part of your make up. You have these somewhat in-your-face ways of saying things. One is not better than the other; it's whatever is your voice. I really want people writing in their voice.
Should we send in drafts or is it better to send in our finished product?
The only way I really want to see a draft (vs. the finished product) is if you are asking me, "Is this the kind of thing you need?" and you clearly indicate to Lisa or me (or both of us) that this is the only reason you're sending it in an unfinished format. I have had a number of people who have done that in the last couple of weeks because they had never submitted something like this and they wanted to ask, "Am I on the right track?" I can quickly take a look and can then write back and say, "Absolutely. This is exactly what I need. Go ahead and flesh this out; spend a little more time, but you're on the right track."
Since this is a free subscription for folks (to sign up for the Top Ten Productivity Tips series of their choice), I need to keep costs in mind. Therefore, please know that what I want to avoid is somebody submitting something that we assume is a final draft, we begin to work it, get it into the system, and then the author decides, Oh, I really wish I had said this or I really wish I had said that. We could end up getting into an awful lot of extra time and I can't afford that either time-wise or $$-wise. I'm sure you can be sensitive to that.
May we revise our tips once we have submitted them (and even after they are published)?
Yes - with a recommendation that you are circumspect about making revisions. It's not that you can't revise. For example, if you get a new website or something like that and you think, I'd rather have my new website sent out with my tips, then you can let us know and say, "Hey, for the future, please make sure that this new website is actually the one that accompanies my tips." I don't mind that.
In most cases, please know that once your content is loaded into the template and set to go out to subscribers, I don't want to be moving content around. It could get out of hand in a hurry. I'm sure you can see how that could happen. That's why we're trying to ease into this now and work out some of the bugs, so that it keeps working smoothly, both for us as well as for you all when you're submitting things.