Saturday, October 29, 2005




for business, advertisers, and websites

Get your advertising copy, business communications, web site content, or sales materials written for you -- faster, easier, by a thorough-going professional.

Assign those rush copywriting chores to a skilled, reliable business writer. My name is Sidney Allinson, and I’m a pro at helping people to produce communications material:- advertisements * brochures * web site content * sales letters * software manuals * direct mail * technical literature * speeches * newsletters * movies/video scripts * press-releases * editing


When you or your clients need clear fresh sales copy that persuasively explains products and services ... when you need extra help with copywriting and creative direction in print or broadcast media, or on-line ... when you could use honest, straight-forward counsel about your own writing ... That’s when you can benefit from my abilities as a communicator who simply gets things done. Fast, accurately, on time.


You gain from my over 35 years' experience -- as creative director and copywriter for Ogilvy & Mather Advertising Inc., and three other international ad agencies in Toronto, New York, London, and Rio de Janeiro; sales-getting writer of direct-mail letters, successful webmaster, promotion manager; movie producer, magazine editor, published author of six books, TV series script-writer, newspaper columnist, and senior government advisor.

Now you can hire me to create persuasive advertising or public relations campaigns based on the truth well told; write technical literature that explains things clearly, speeches that reflect your personality and message, direct mail that pulls orders, or collateral brochures that bring out convincing benefits. If you have already prepared web site copy or documentation that requires editing or written a book that could use some editing or frank advice, I can provide that for you as well.

Ask me for a free estimate up-front. No obligation.

For reliable help with all your business communications,

advertising copy, or web site content, call the professional:

Sidney Allinson

tel: (250) 478-0457



by Sidney Allinson.

Face it, writing and printing your self-published book are relatively easy tasks, compared with all the other requirements for marketing it successfully. The selling process can be so daunting, you need to be sure first whether you are even cut out to be a self-publisher.

So most importantly, ask yourself: honestly, what is your real reason for publishing a book? Is it to make a lot of money, or for public recognition, ego gratification, a need to communicate an important message?

Identifying your motivation up front can either dissuade you from taking the plunge or help you enormously to succeed. The emotional and creative satisfaction of producing your own book can be uniquely satisfying, so long as one realizes in advance what the process entails.

Expect it to involve five serious factors:

1. commitment

2. time

3. money

4. selling

5. persistence

Any self-publisher who simply goes to a neighborhood printer with a manuscript in hand to get a book produced is in for a long and arduous experience. That way, the hapless author must be prepared to do virtually everything for him or her self; all the design, editing, and proof-reading before, as well as the sales promotion afterwards.

A slightly easier route is via the better known print-on-demand service companies like Xlibris and FirstBooks, or the 100s of other POD publishing service firms on line. Even they are still technically not publishers; being actually just printers, producers, and distributors of writers' works. It is their author-customers themselves who must still perform every one of the necessary steps that a conventional publishing house provides for its authors.

The marketing of a self-published book is such a drawn out and complicated process, it can virtually take over an author's entire everyday life for a while, so it demands a very strong commitment. You alone will be responsible for every step -- print quality control, buying copies, inventory, storage, publicity, selling, processing orders, accounting, packing, shipping, mailing, handling returns, invoicing, and bill collecting. Whew! Small wonder that many author-publishers commonly put in 80-hour work weeks.

As for hopes of making pots of money, the brutal fact is very few, if any, first time author-publishers even break even. And all the hyped dreams of easily tapping the Internet for huge book sales on-line with minimum effort are just that - dreams - and seldom materialize without the author getting out there to personally SELL.

Unless you are a "name" author, significant royalty profits from printed books are no more likely to occur on Web sites than in bricks and mortar stores. For instance, even a major POD player like Xlibris is reported to have never exceeded sales of 2000 copies for any individual title.

So, as all sales depend on you, modestly scuffing your toe in the dust has no place in a self-publisher's style. Unabashed publicity and aggressive promotion are vital to your book's success. By necessity, you'll soon learn how to blow your own horn, mainly because nobody else will do it for you. Study the sort of people who are your most likely prospective readers, and devise publicity that will appeal to them.

Pave your way by writing brief half-page news releases about your masterpiece and distribute them to appropriate media. Offer to speak on radio call-in shows, and try to arrange readings at local bookstores and libraries. You'll likely be pleasantly surprised at your own ingenuity and the receptiveness of people you approach for free publicity.

For some other useful hints about low-cost promotion, read John Kremer's excellent "1001 Ways To Market Your Books," or Jay Conrad Levinson's "Guerilla Marketing" series.

Nevertheless, in-person direct selling is about the only reliable method you have to get your books onto store shelves. Which means making personal sales-calls on bookstores. And be aware in advance that many bookstores have an inherent reluctance to accept self-published titles -- sight-unseen.

But encourage yourself by remembering that long before anybody ever heard of him, mega-bestselling author John Grisham started out selling copies of his self-published first novel from the trunk of his car. Be equally determined and imaginative. Always offer to leave batches of books on consignment, to be paid for after discerning customers buy them.

Keep up your personal selling efforts, come what may. Persistence is the one quality that every author needs more than anything else. It's what gets the manuscript completed in the first place, and stick-to-it-iveness continues to be the only thing that builds your self-published book's final success.


Sidney Allinson is a professional author, with over 30 years' experience as an ad copywriter, and was creative director at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising International. He is author of six published printed books, plus countless magazine articles, advertisements, TV commercials, and direct mail campaigns. Now, Sidney operates several Web sites, including:

This copyrighted article may be freely distributed, providing it is reproduced in its entirety with full attribution, including author's contact details.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


"Be courteous and tactful as well as honest and diligent. All your doings are publicly known, and must therefore be beyond complaint or criticism. Complainants like a kindly hearing even more than a successful plea. Preserve dignity, but avoid inspiring fear. Be an artist in words, that you would be strong, for the pen and tongue are swords."

That instruction was given to the Egyptian civil service five thousand years ago. It is still remarkably appropriate today. Especially when dealing with buyers and users of your services, products, or visiters to your Web site. Clear writing with plain words are so important to sales and marketing, I've decided to pass along some notes about words and which to watch while writing. I'll post them in COPYWRITING BRAINWAVES from time to time.

Activate. does not mean to set a machine in motion,or to prompt a person to action.
For instance: "he was activated by the best intentions" is wrong. Use actuate.

Actually. An unnecessary, meaningless word.

Adjectives. An adjective should describe a noun more fully, as say, a black coat. It is wrong to use adjectives to give the noun some needless intensification or limitation. For instance: grateful thanks, true facts, usual habits, consequent results, definite decisions, unexpected surprise, real danger, integral part, grave crisis. By avoiding this, you avoid hackneyed phrases and tautology.

Affect, effect. Affect means to have an influence on, to produce an effect on, effect a change in. Effect means to bring about, have a result.

(Other examples of plain words to be continued later.)

Monday, October 17, 2005


Fortunes are being spent these days by governments and business firms to de-stultify or even translate prose in documents. 'Says a lot about the awful style of writing still used by some 'educated' executives. For instance, according to a story in the Ottawa Citizen, the problem is widespread in the Ontario civil service.

The Cabinet Office there had to hire a high-­priced consultant to translate a ministry document into plain English. 'Seems a 75-page policy paper on education (you might have guessed) was so hard to understand, all the people who paid for it could not comprehend it. A fee of 10 000 had to be paid to an outside consulting firm to get it re-written into jargon-free plain English.

Finance Critic Dave Johnson blasted the government department for "employing 3,000 people unable to speak or write any known language." In its original pre-translated form, the 'Curriculum Grades 1-9' culprit is hilarious. Instead of the word music, it refers to "the organization of sounds" ... dance becomes "the sequencing of movements" ... Reading was said to include "viewing" (TV shows) ... writing "includes various forms of representing words" ...

However, students were solemnly advised, "conventional spelling is required in most published written work." The future of clear writing lies uphill when this Education Ministry paper effuses that, "... events, problems and situations one encounters in daily life are not experienced as discrete phenomena; rather they are experienced holistically."

Oh, really? Well ...with bafflegab like that around, down-to-earth wordsmiths can look forward to being gainfully employed as translators for some time to come.


In an age when most people feel they don't have time to read, they always manage to watch TV. Immediacy, movement, color, sound, economy video is the ideal communications medium. Yet, considering how effective corporate videotapes are, it's astounding how scarce they remain,

When was the last time you chose video to spread your company's message? How often have you put your organization's information on tape? But it's heartening to see that many businesses and government departments are now turning to this medium in growing numbers. Long under-utilized, low-budget video promises to become a huge trend.

Join it. Next time you've a message to get out, instructions to demonstrate, a field-report, or policy to explain -- consider putting it on video. Not sure how to write the script? Once you know how, the format's quite straightforward. "Audio" (sound) left column. "Video" (pictures) right column.

Worried about cost? Maybe you got burned once, paying for that expensive taped extravaganza that didn't really draw much response. Take another look. Workaday video can cost peanuts, relative to conventional media. So long as you resist suppliers' siren lure into Hollywood-scale productions.

Mainly just concentrate on the core message itself, the content, rather than expensive editing and flashy graphics. Spend most of the dough on conveying the message, simply and clearly -- duping and distributing enough copies of tapes to individuals, sales prospects, cable stations, civic groups, or whoever is your target audience.

Speaking from my personal experience even the most modest videotape will gain ten times more immediate attention and lasting comprehension than the glitziest 4-colour web site or brochure you'll ever create.

I.  Business:
1.  Corporate Newsletter:  $60 - $100/hour
2.  Corporate Reports:  $80 - $100/hour
3.  White Papers:  $70 - $90/hour
4.  Online Publishing:  $70 - $100/hour
5.  Direct Response (direct mail):   $75 - $100/hour
6.  Marketing Communications:  $80 - $100/hour
7.  Biology Writing:  $70 - $100/hour
8.  Medical Writing:  $75/hour
9.  Pharmaceutical Writing:  $75/hour
10.  Copy Editing:
    a)  General (ie: for-profit companies not covered below): $50-55/hr
    b)  Business-to-Business writing:  $55 - $65/hour
    c)  Corporate:  $50 - $65/hour
    d)  Science:  $55 - $75/hour
11.  Proofreading:
    a)  General (for-profit companies not covered below): $40-50/hr
    b)  Corporate:  $45 - $60/hour
    c)  Science:  $35 - $50/hour
II.  Instructional:
1.  General:  $50 - $70/hour
III.  Technical and Electronic:
1.  Web Authoring and Design:  $65 - $100/hour
2.  Senior Technical Writer, Computer Software:  $70 - $85/hour
3.  Senior Technical Writer, Computer Hardware:  $70 - $85/hour
4.  Technical Writer, Computer Software:  $50 - $65/hour
5.  Technical Writer, Computer Hardware:  $50 - $65/hour
6.  Technical Copy Editing (hardware and software):  $45 - $55/hour

1.  Ghost Writing for a business firm: 
a)  No research required:  $10,000-$15,000/project;  $65/hour
b)  Research IS required:  $15,000/project;  $65/hour**
 ** Please note most respondents quoted a per hour rate, rather  
    than a per project rate, for ghost writing projects for firms 
    requiring research. 
2.  Ghost Writing for an Individual: a)  NO research required:

$5,000 - $15,000/project; or $65/hour
 b)  Research IS required:  $10,000 - $30,000/project;  $65/hour
3.  Copy Editing:  $40 - $55/hour;  $2 - $4 per page
4.  Proofreading:  $25 - $35/hour

1.  Large Circulation Magazine:  $2/word
2.  Medium Circulation Magazine:  $1 - $2/word
3.  Small Circulation Magazine:  .50 - $1.00/word
4.  Metropolitan News:
 a)  Daily:  .50 - .75/word
 b)  Weekly:  .20 - .35/word
5.  Small Circulation, Neighborhood News:  .15 - .50/word
6.  Online:  $1.00/word
7.  Trade Publications: 
 a)  Large:  $1.00/word
 b)  Small:  .50/word

8.  Copy Editing:
 a)  Large Circulation Publications (technical):
 i)  Large cities:  $65 - $85
 ii)  Elsewhere:  $30 - $45
 b)  Large Circulation Publications (non-technical):
 i)  Large cities:  $55 - $60/hour
 ii)  Elsewhere:  $30 - 45/hour
 c)  Small Circulation (technical):  $40 - $50
 d)  Small Circulation (non-technical):  $25 - $45
9.  Proofreading:
 a)  Large Circulation Publications (technical and non-technical):
 i)  Large cities:  $50/hour
 ii)  Elsewhere:  $25 - $35/hour
 b)  Small Circulation Publications (technical and non-technical):
 i)  Large and medium-sized cities:  $25 - $40/hour
 ii)  Small cities:  $10 - $20/hour
Other Assignments:
1.  Grant Writer:  
 a)  Large, non-profit:  $55 - $75/hour
 b)  Small, non-profit:  $45 - $50/hour
2.  Indexing:  $30 - $50/hour
3.  Researcher:  
 a)  Large city:  $50 - $100/hour
 b)  Small city:  $35 - $40/hour
 c)  PER DAY RATE:  $250 - $400
4.  Screen Writer:  
 a)  For a firm:
 i)  Per project rate:  $10,000 - $15,000/project
 ii) Per hour rate:  $35 - $85/hour
 b)  For an individual:  
 i)  Per project rate:  $7,500 and above/project
 ii)  Per hour rate:  $35 - $85/hour
5.  Desktop Publishing:
 a)  For a company:
 i)  In Silicon Valley, California:  $70 - $85/hour
 ii) Elsewhere in North America :  Average norm $40/hour
 b)  For an Individual:  $35 - $40/hour