Review – Hot Text: Web Writing That Works

Patrick O'Keefe

Do you want to be a writer online?

This book can teach you how to write for the Web. Besides just being a tool that will help you to improve your writing, however, it also gives you tips on writing your resume, corresponding with editors, getting paid work, and loads more.

The way it’s written is very easy to understand and any writer should be able to apply its principles. While it can be a lot to take in, I feel that I’m a better writer for having read this book.

Now, let’s briefly go over the contents. There is a lot to cover, so I’ll keep it short. The book is broken into five areas that loosely reflect the writing process.

Part I: Catch the Net Spirit
  • Chapter 1: Who Am I Writing for, and Incidentally, Who Am I?
  • Chapter 2: What Kind of Thing Am I Creating?
  • Chapter 3: What Will the Web Do to My Text?
  • Chapter 4: Attention!

The opening section of the book will help you to get a grasp on your audience — who they are, how to grab their attention, and how to keep it. This step includes developing personas which will allow you to target your text to the specific group you’re writing for.

Part II: Write Like a Human Being
  • Chapter 5: Idea #1: Shorten That Text
  • Chapter 6: Idea #2: Make Text Scannable
  • Chapter 7: Idea #3: Cook Up Hot Links
  • Chapter 8: Idea #4: Build Chunky Paragraphs
  • Chapter 9: Idea #5: Reduce Cognitive Burdens
  • Chapter 10: Idea #6: Write Menus That Mean Something

Part II focuses on improving the readability of your text, making it easier to comprehend. You can do this by shortening your content, making it easier to scan, building more informative and useful links, and organizing it into meaningful chunks, among other things.

This review utilizes some of the techniques. The text is broken up into short, comprehendible chunks. The text is scannable as each section of the review is given a meaningful title in bold text. If you choose to click the links at the very bottom of this article, you’ll be able to tell where you are going before you go there. Granted, these are just a few of the techniques mentioned, but they exemplify the basic principles that make writing work online — the book identifies many others.

Part III: Fine-tune Your Style for the Genre
  • Chapter 11: Writing in a Genre
  • Chapter 12: Creating Customer Assistance That Actually Helps
  • Chapter 13: Persuading Niche Markets, Individuals, and the Press
  • Chapter 14: Making News That Fits
  • Chapter 15: Entertaining People Who Like to Read
  • Chapter 16: Getting a Job

One of the main focuses of this section is writing for genres. Good writing requires that you know who you’re writing for and what type of piece you are writing. These two details will help you tailor the structure, content, and tone of your work to the specific genre.

The information in this part of the book goes beyond everyday news pieces and editorials (although it does cover them in great detail) — among other goals, it aims to help you write effective and useful customer support content.

This part of the book concludes with an in depth guide to writing your resume, outlining the details you should include and exclude, how to get around the not-so-impressive details, what formats to have at the ready (and how to make them), and many other excellent tips.

Part IV: Become a Pro
  • Chapter 17: So You Wannabe a Web Writer or Editor

Part IV is a short but very informative section for the aspiring Web writer or editor. This section contains information on what it takes to hold a position as, and enjoy being, a writer or editor. It explores the pros and cons of both freelancing and staff writing, and there’s also a listing of some Websites at which you could potentially find work. However, at the time I read the book, several of these sites had already disappeared and were no longer online. This is a very small drawback (and happens to all books that link to content on the Web), but it really doesn’t take away from the overall benefits this publication delivers.

With this in mind, the book’s final part (Part V: Backup) includes a listing of resource links for Web writers and editors, and concludes with an Index.

Conclusions

This book is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to be a Web writer — or already is. The only issue I identified was that of the outdated links, but the content is great. If you write for the Web, or want to write for the Web, pick this one up.

Title: Hot Text: Web Writing That Works
Rating: 5/5
Authors: Jonathan and Lisa Price
Publisher: webwritingthatworks.com
Buy it at Amazon.com for $28.00.

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