Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Respecting Your Readers' Time

Keep It Clean Please

Every second Thursday, someone cleans my home while I go for a walk. You should see me pushing a stroller with one hand and gripping a leash attached to my energetic Labradoodle with the other.

I always return refreshed (really!) to a home that’s sparkling clean. It’s been a perfect arrangement until this week.

The cleaning service called to say the client before me had cancelled at the last minute, so they had to come 90 minutes early to avoid paying their employees to “sit around” between appointments. I won’t bore you with why this was totally inconvenient for me and my family.

Imagine telling a training client she must drop everything to meet with you earlier than agreed upon so you can avoid wasting your own time? Absurd. (Of course, it’s nice to inform clients you can fit them in at a new time, but as a courtesy, not a requirement.)

What does getting my home cleaned have to do with fitness writing and marketing?

Whether you offer a service-based business (like personal training or cleaning homes), or you write anything at all that you expect people to read, one of your main concerns should be to respect clients’ time.

If you write articles, e-books, giveaway reports, programs, web pages, blogs or marketing pieces, make it part of your time to ensure people’s reading experiences are easy and enjoyable. This makes it worth their time.

You don’t have to be a world-class wordsmith. Just put a bit of effort into fixing careless mistakes and sloppy wording. It’s called keeping your writing clean.

That doesn’t mean a typo or two won’t ever get past you. These are minor mistakes that everyone makes.

But fitness pros who couldn’t care less about devoting a few extra minutes to improving their writing don’t respect their clients’ time. And that’s a major mistake.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Publishing Rights

Know Your Rights

A lot of fitness pros email me about the article rights that magazines and websites ask for (i.e., all rights, reprint rights, etc.).

Understanding what rights you sell to magazines and newspapers means:
  • you can make more money re-selling articles
  • you avoid a breach of contract, which could burn bridges with publishers or get you into legal trouble.

Here’s a quick breakdown of common article rights you can expect to see. (Disclaimer: I’m not a contracts lawyer, so please consider this a general guide – when in doubt, ask your editor for clarification).

All Rights

The publisher is buying the right to use your article in any way it sees fit without further compensation to you. In this scenario, you are NOT free to sell the article elsewhere.

Most professional writers will advise you to avoid this one whenever possible, especially if the magazine pays peanuts.

Web Rights

The right to post your article on one or more specified websites, preferably for a particular timeframe.

First Serial Rights

The magazine or newspaper buys the right to publish your article first (meaning the piece hasn’t yet appeared elsewhere).

Sometimes serial rights are specific to a region, such as First North American Serial Rights (FNASR). If you grant FNASR, you’re still free to sell the article at any time in, say, the United Kingdom (as long as the UK publisher doesn’t buy all rights).

Reprint Rights

You grant a website or publication the right to reprint your article one or more times, depending on the agreement and provided you haven’t previously signed that right away.

The term “reprint rights” does not mean the right to put your byline on an article written by someone else (as some internet marketers advertise). This practice that could get you into serious trouble with online article directories and magazines/newspapers.