Monday, 31 January 2011

Humour in writing for business

Humour is such an individual perception.  What I might think funny you might find boring, or cruel.  And how the humour is received depends sometimes on mood.  If I have what my mother called a silly five minutes jokes can appeal to me that would leave me cold at other times.

So the GSOH that everyone claims if writing a personal ad is fraught with danger for business writers.  There's the personal versus business mindset for example to consider.  Plus the type of business your client might be in.  And what works face to face where you have all the nuances of expression and body language to help you get over any humorous quip is likely to fall flat in print.

On the page you need to be very sure of your audience before you start including jokes.  I recently exchanged emails with someone whose approach was literal acceptance of the words without any inclusion of nuance.  And I wasn't even telling jokes.

Is there never a case for humour then?

I wouldn't say that.  But if it's a first approach I'd definitely play everything very straight.

Later in a relationship when you've developed some rapport, and gained some feedback it's possible.  For instance, the monthly update I send out, goes mostly to people I've met, some of them over many years.  We've talked on many subjects, discussed approaches to writing and have developed at least a basic understanding  So I include sometimes humorous titbits from my own life and occasionally YouTube clips.

I'm still very careful though.

Some entrepreneurs especially in the direct marketing sector set out to develop controcersial personas.  They're upfront and blunt.  And they're sure that there's a segment of the market they'll appeal to.  But even they are careful about the humour.

So how should you approach it?
  1. Consider your market.
  2. Consider your product or service.
  3. Consider your marketing persona.
You'll soon find out if your audience will like or accept it.  And as the more outrageous comics always do, post a health warning about the content of your marketing.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Interruption of blog writing

Until the last couple of weeks I've had no serious interruptions in any of my internet services.  But I had a week I'd prefer to forget about which led me to tear my hair out.  Well almost.

What it has taught me though is a very big lesson about  at least knowing where all my passwords are and how everything fits together, wireless/ broadband supplier wise.  I seemed to end up in one of those circles of hell Dante wrote about with nobody really knowing what was causing my problems.

And since I really don't like technology, I've been inclined in the past to leave it to others and haven't bothered to get my head around everything.

At least now everything is back to a semblance of normal but it is making me think carefully about how to organise and manage my connections.

Older and a bit wiser.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Alt Fiction Workshop 25-27 February 2011

Writing East Midlands are presenting their first residential writing weekend for students of Alt Fiction; science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Tutors are George Mann and Sarah Pinborough.

For more details:

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Nottingham Writers Studio

Just a reminder of this organisation, made up of working writers of all kinds, and shaped to help writers of all kinds If your resolution this year is to take your writing seriously, this may be a good place to start if you're in the Nottingham area.  I can vouch for the quality of their workshops, having attended one last summer on writing screenplays given by Michael Eaton.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Public libraries - disastrous closures

More disastrous news highlighted in the Guardian on Saturday.  As the writers pointed out, closing libraries is a soft option for cash strapped councils but the effects of the closures won't be felt in full for many years.

It seems likely that many outlying service points will be closed.  When I began my library career back in the 1960s I worked for Lancashire County Library.  The department I was assigned to for the longest period distributed books to all the libraries.  More importantly for my training it ran the mobile library service. 

Now since most of our routes were within about 25 miles of the main headquarters library it could be said that even at that time we weren't needed.  And yes some of our borrowers visited that library but the highest percentage wouldn't have been able to take time out of their busy lives, many as farmers, to go and find books.  Having us, often at their farm gate was the only way they would have accessed the stock.

My memories of those library visits are clear and vivid because of the gratitude of the borowers.  In fact the closer in to the town the route the more demanding and picky the borrowers became.

So very sad to think that people like my borrowers back then, are accounted not worthy of investment in the modern library service.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Candlestick Press mention in the Guardian online

Thrilled to see Candlestick Press mentioned in the item on books people have read and enjoyed in 2010.  Their fame is spreading - it was my niece in Malaysia who sent me the link to the online entry.

For more about Jenny and her work see -