What Are Articles The Book Writer S Guide To Self Publishing New Technical Writer Have No Fear Of Writing

The literature explains articles to be a collection of words written in neat paragraphs on particular topics. Articles are basically written to give a glimpse of the topics that are discussed. There are millions of articles that are found on the web once you start searching for it.

The best example would be searching for information. When you go into a particular website to search for a topic that you would like to have more information on, you type in the work in the search window and wait to be presented with thousands of articles related to the same keyword that you have typed into the box.

This is just one of the possibilities of the internet that has made access to information easier than ever before. Articles are being searched by internet users on every possible topic for use in any field. Like information to prepare for a presentation, information to write to articles for monthly magazines and local dailies. There are umpteen numbers of reasons and these articles written out by various authors stand out as the billboards of information. The articles also provide useful information on the requested topics. Increasingly even students seem to be taking to the internet searching for articles to complete their course work.

There is however a downside to this strategy though. One cannot verify the facts given in the articles unless it is from a known source. For example, anybody can write up an article stating that there is life on the moon and host in their website. Now a child when it is searching for information to write about the existence of life in the universe will come across this website displaying fictional information about the existence of life on the moon. This will lead to false information being displayed on the screen and hence confusing the child with the basics. There is no particular method to regulate these articles on the net and this makes the situation quite like a cat on the wall.

All set aside if you look for the literal meaning of an article, it can be described as short pieces of paragraphs that are published in a larger publications like magazines, newspapers and of late in the internet websites. Articles are meant to provide in-depth information on current research or any other news stories. If you were looking for dependable information then you would be looking at scholarly articles that are written by the scholars and reviewed by their peers. This will assure of the dependability of the information that is made available to you.

Self-publishing has become common practice for many writers who want accolades of having a book published, no matter who publishes it. Writers choose self-publishing for various reasons. Many writers desire the freedom and business aspects of publishing work independently. A self-published writer is one who is in control of every aspect of their published work. The publishing industry defines self-publishing as authors publishing their own books or other media, instead of with a third-party publisher. Today’s technology has increased the pool of self-publishers, but it still represents only a small percentage of the publishing industry in terms of sales. The proliferation of media channels, such as blogging, video, and audio content, has contributed to the increase in self-publishers.

THE BUSINESS OF SELF-PUBLISHING

The business of self-publishing books and other media is different from any other business. The absence of a traditional publisher makes self-publishing unique. The author of the content takes on the role of the traditional publisher. The author controls the editorial content, arranges for printing, markets the material, and distributes the material to consumers and retailers. Self-publishers publish their books in printed form, or choose print-on-demand with no inventory. Many self-published authors decide to subsidize their work rather than making money from it. Digital printing technology has evolved self-publishing into digital photo book printing. Self-publishers are able to get individually printed photo books from firms like Apple’s iPhoto, FotoInsight, Snapfish, and Printing-1.

THE MOTIVES OF SELF-PUBLISHING

Many writers have varied motives to self-publish. One common reason is the writer’s work is not of interest to the commercial publisher, and otherwise not marketable. Another common reason is the writer prefers to retain complete editorial control over content. Many writers are unwilling to compromise editing of their work, and some writers prefer to have their work presented “as is.” Literary agents and book agents may deny publishing a book because the author is unknown and does not have a substantial resume. Self-publishing may also be an alternative for writers who have written material on a popular topic but the topic is only interesting in a small geographic area. Literary agents and book agents may also deny publication because the book addresses an obscure topic in which few people are interested. Writers of controversial works may also choose to self-publish, as many traditional publishers refuse to work with controversial writings. Some authors choose self-publishing because they want a larger royalty from retail sales.

IS SELF-PUBLISHING A SHORTCUT TO SUCCESS?

Self-publishing is not a shortcut to having a printed book. Depending on what your goals are, it may or may not be a direction you would like to take. In the hard copy world, self-publishing is costly. Getting a book into print costs more money than many writers want to spend. This is why the Internet is a blessing — it’s free. You can either start up a free website of your own and post your novel, or pay a small monthly sum and sell your writing online. If you can write well enough to catch someone’s attention, your readers may be willing to pay for a download of your book. By self-publishing online, you avoid the normal book publishing costs and still get exposure. Who knows, you may be lucky and grab the attention of a publishing guru who thinks you could make a lot of money from your self-published book.

Whatever your reason is for self-publishing, you should know that self-publishing requires extensive work. Self-publishing involves a long list of tasks, which include prepublication and publication. Prepublication includes editing or obtaining editing for the manuscript, proofreading, establishing yourself as a legal retail business, and obtaining an ISBN “Cataloging in Publication” number.

The publication process involves formatting the manuscript, providing front matter and back matter, and providing cover art for the front and back covers and the spine of the book. Self-publishers must also obtain printing quotes, determine how to deliver the manuscript to the printer, and pay for printing and delivery of finished books.

Publishing a book online is easier than publishing in the world of hard copy. The result is not as glorified, but it is a step towards success in the published realm. The more experience you can get writing, the better writer you will be.

OVERVIEW

You’re a non-writer who has just been assigned to write the User Documentation for your company’s new product. Your overwhelming emotion is fear, perhaps with some anger.

With any new activity there will be some anxiety. Writing may have added anxiety because of your writing experience while you were a student.

Writing User Documentation is not like the writing that you had to do in school. Those activities were filled with anxiety and “writer’s block.” In this article you will see how to overcome your writing anxieties so you can write a good User Document.

WHAT YOU’RE NOT WRITING

All writing and writing situations are not the same. Let’s differentiate writing a User Document from other types of writing and writing situations.

YOU’RE NOT WRITING A NOVEL

You don’t have to worry about a plot, characters, and techniques to make the writing flow. You do not have to worry about transitions from one section to another; you don’t have to worry about continuity. It is extremely rare for your Reader to read a User Document from start to finish; Readers usually only look up the information that they need at the time.

YOU’RE NOT ARGUING A POINT

You don’t have to determine a point to argue, think up arguments to support that point, and then convincingly present the arguments.

YOU’RE NOT WRITING A LABORATORY REPORT

While lab reports provided a structure for writing, it was usually over-restrictive and those doing the grading were very picky regarding that format and structure.

YOUR SCHOOL-WRITING EXPERIENCES

At the end of your school writing exercise there was a critic (your teacher). Your goal was to impress him/her with your writing, all the time being extremely careful to write grammatically, and follow the prescribed structure. Later we will get a “critic” (editor) to be on your side in the writing project.

Writing a User Document is Different. The team is on your side. (I am ignoring office politics.) Everyone wants to have a successful product, and good User Documentation is part of a good product.

Remember that other members of the team are human, also. They have their tasks to complete, and would probably prefer not to have to answer your questions. Be prepared (read background info, etc) before you ask questions.

STRUCTURE MAKES WRITING EASIER

The overall structure of the User Document will follow the interaction between the User and the product. Within that structure you will write components…pieces of the User Document, each dealing with a specific topic. Each component will have a defined structure: overview/background, the actual material, and additional information.

One benefit of working this way is that you will not be concerned with “writer’s block.” The primary cause of writer’s block is having making decisions (“what should I say here?”). An effective writing structure eliminates most decisions, and reduces your writing task to almost “fill in the blanks.”

In fact, some experienced writers find it difficult to write in a modular environment. They are concerned with writing elegant transitions from one section to another. You do not need to do this…you can write each component totally independently of the others.

Your task is to clearly provide the information that your reader needs, and make that information easily accessible to him/her.

You must cultivate an attitude of compassion for your Readers.

YOU NEED RESOURCES FOR SUCCESS

Whoever assigned you the writing project (your “patron”) is responsible for your success. Your patron should provide resources to assist you. One of the most important resources is an editor.

EDITOR

Your editor (if hired early in the project) can help you over many writing difficulties. For example, your editor can help you with wording problems as you write. Consult with your editor as you are creating the User Document…not just at the end.

Your editor is not your critic!

Your editor will reduce your worries about grammar and wording. Your editor is on your side; he/she is not an adversary or someone you have to impress (like your school teachers). Your editor can help you produce a good User Document.

ACCESS TO INFORMATION

Your patron should enable you to have access to the product developers, information about the product (a mockup of the product, marketing information, assumptions about the Users of the product), and the industry.

TIME AND PHYSICAL RESOURCES

You need time to do a good job, and the physical resources to get it done.

If you are in a hurry, and if you do not know any of the current fancy authoring tools and content management systems, do not bother with learning them.

Instead, investigate what your word processor will do. Can it be made to create PDF, HTML, RTF or text files? If so, then it is a fine candidate for this project. Learn how to use its basic capabilities, especially its concept of formatting “styles.”

TRAINING/GUIDANCE

Typically, documentation is started late in the project’s life cycle. As a result, the documentation production is always rushed. Taking a live writing course may be out of the question: there will be scheduling problems, and you will be away from the writing task while you are being trained.

A better alternative might be to take a computer-based course that guides you through the writing, and supports you via e-mail. Visit the links in the “Resources” or “About the Author” section of this article.

YOU NEED A WRITING METHOD

To simply gather the required information, produce an outline that gets approved, and go off to write the document, is a recipe for high-stress and possible failure. It’s high stress because at the end of your writing, you get everything evaluated at once. There is the fear of failure. Fundamental errors could result in a major re-write. Aaaargh!

Consider writing components (modules, pieces) of your document. Let a component sit for a while, review it, and then circulate it for review. This way you will know that you are on track early in the project.

Since components will usually be short and focused on a particular topic, your reviewers will actually have the time to read and comment on your components. Just providing a complete, massive document at the end of the project will discourage your reviewers from effectively evaluating the material.

Writing and having reviewed small chunks of text (as opposed to creating the entire document, and then having it reviewed) helps reduce your stress, enabling you to do a better job.

Recall a skill that you have learned. It may be driving a car, riding a bicycle, or solving differential equations. Remember how you got more comfortable as you worked at it. It is the same with writing your User Document in components. The first few components will be high-stress, since you are new to the process.

As you write and have your components reviewed, you will become comfortable with the process. The later writing will go faster and better because of the reduced stress. Your review team will know where you are in the writing process; they will see each component as you release it.

Contrast this with writing the entire document and then having it reviewed. Here the stress builds to a maximum at the hand-in and evaluation time. You never know — until the end — if you’ve made a fundamental mistake.

DEALING WITH REVIEWS OF YOUR WRITING

You will have each component reviewed by others on the product project. Consider their suggestions and criticisms of your writing. However try to leave your ego out of the equation. If a reviewer says “you got this wrong,” you should hear “this is incorrect.” Ask what is incorrect, and get the correct information. Correct the inaccuracies. Don’t be defensive.

If you can overcome your fear of criticism, you will be able to write more and write better. This fear will diminish as you produce (and have reviewed) each of the components.

Learn as much as you can about the product, its environment, and Users. If you are expected to be an expert and are not one, then use the excuse for any naive questions you may ask: “I am just simulating our product’s Users with this question.” (Use this technique sparingly.)

TWO MORE POINTS

Nobody writes the perfect User Document. Don’t strive for perfection. Doing so will prevent you from getting anything done.

Read. Read all sorts of published materials, especially other User Documents (especially for products similar to the one you are writing about). Learn from that writing. Be critical of it from the USER’s point of view.

FIRST THINGS TO DO

Learn as much as you can about the product that you have to write about, its users, and the product’s environment, before you ask questions (other than where to get information).

Visit the links in the “Resources” or “About the Author” section of this article. There you will find articles and resources to help you through this exciting task.

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