Friday, July 30, 2010

The Benefits of Blogging: A Follow-Up

Speechwriter Cynthia Starks shares the response to her earlier post (which we featured two weeks ago) about the profitability for professional wordsmiths of blogs. Her readers -- who are themselves award-winning speechwriters, and include several Gotham friends -- weighed in on the results blogging has had on their business. While some writers credited blogging as the source of 15% of their clientele, others highlighted the importance of blogging as a way for ghostwriters, whose work is often proprietary, to share content. Now we'd like to know: has blogging worked for you?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We're All Literary Greats Now

We recently came across an amazingly inventive site I Write Like last week and can't get enough. Simply copy and paste in your own writing -- or that of a friend's -- and find out which literary great your wordy way most closely approximates. Using an algorithm called a Bayesian classifier (often used to fight spam), the "analyzer" recognizes textual features -- number of words, frequency of commas, directness of speech -- to help you meet your authorial doppelganger. Ariella was dubbed David Foster Wallace-like, while Dan got Cory Doctorow. You're up next, and we'd love to hear who you get....

Monday, July 26, 2010

Job of the Day: UNICEF Speechwriter

Our friend Jordan Tamagni tells us that her office at UNICEF is looking for a speechwriter to draft remarks and other materials for Executive Director Anthony Lake.  The ideal candidate
  • At least 5-10 years of experience as a speechwriter
  • Ability to write well under pressure, synthesize unfamiliar material quickly, and turn a phrase
  • Strong, passionate writing samples
  • Expertise in children's rights, human rights or international development (a plus, but not required)
  • Unimpeachable references
Seniority and salary to be determined, based on experience.  Candidates will be asked to take a writing task.

Applicants should email Jordan directly at:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

There's a word for that?

Trusted dictionary Merriam-Webster shows off its omniscience with a list of the top 10 words you didn't even know existed. They go where no top 10 list has gone before -- from the knob of your umbrella to the tip of your shoelace -- to bring you words you'll wonder how you ever lived without.   We can't wait for the IPhone app.

Gotham Is Hiring

We are beginning the search for a new associate to replace our firm's first hire, Ariella Gogol, who is leaving for the bright writing lights of Interview magazine.

We are looking for a highly organized self-starter with a way with words to help keep our young company growing.  The job, which involves a broad range of administrative and professional responsibilities, is ideally suited for someone a few years out of college with an entrepreneurial knack, a keen interest in the craft of writing, and a can-do attitude.

Here is the full job description.  Please feel free to share it with your networks and help us spread the word.

Job Description

SUMMARY:  Gotham Ghostwriters, New York’s only full-service writing firm, is looking for a highly organized self-starter with a way with words to help keep the company growing.  We are a lean two-person shop that recently turned two years old, and the associate’s job involves a broad range of administrative and professional responsibilities to be expected at a young pioneering business.  It is ideally suited for someone a few years out of college with an entrepreneurial knack, a keen interest in the craft of writing, and a can-do attitude.
RESPONSIBILITIES:  The associate will work closely with the president in managing the firm’s daily operations, developing new business, supporting and servicing clients, and overseeing relations with our team of writers. 

Among other things, the associate will be responsible for:

•    Arranging the president’s schedule
•    Billing clients, paying our writers, and maintaining our books
•    Researching new business opportunities
•    Initiating contacts with prospective clients
•    Drafting pitches, proposals, and agreements
•    Managing and writing for the company blog
•    Recruiting writers to work with the firm
•    Assisting our writers with research projects

QUALIFICATIONS:  Strong writing, organizational, and people skills are the top prerequisites for this position.  In addition, the ideal candidate will have:

•    2-3 years experience working in a related field (PR, publishing, literary agency) and participating in business pitches

•    Working familiarity with the Quickbooks accounting program or basic knowledge of accounting/bookkeeping

•    Some experience writing/maintaining a blog, managing databases, and using a Mac

•    Creative ideas for expanding the firm’s brand awareness and reach

COMPENSATION:  Salary and commissions to be negotiated.  Health insurance provided.

APPLICATIONS: If you are interested in being considered for this position, please email your resume and at least three representative writing samples to:

Around the Word

  • The Eloquent Woman takes notes on how BP compensation fund master Kenneth Feinberg is handling understandably difficult audiences. From using "I" statements to infusing a little humor, Feinberg makes tough times a little easier
  • Literary agent Rachelle Gardner considers the importance of the book cover -- despite her love of e-books, covers lend added context and a subconscious recognition that is worth, well, almost 1000 words
  • Nick Morgan explains the importance of speaker introductions. It may seem formal, but an engaged audience needs to know why you, on this subject, and why they should care

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Today's Tips: How to Win Over Blog Readers, Impress Booksellers

  • Copyblogger's Dean Rieck shares his 7 secrets for raising the popularity of your blog.  From cracking jokes to staying helpful, being a fan favorite often has just as much to do with likability as content creation
  • Galleycat rounds up their top tweet picks from yesterday's hashtag #waystoimpressbooksellers. Authors, publicists, and readers weighed in with suggestions of increased Q&A time, sending thank you notes, and openly expressing disdain for

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Is Blogging Not for Profit?

Executive speechwriter Cynthia Starks poses a candid question: has your blog brought you any business? Despite being featured on IABC's site, Vital Speeches of the Day, and Ragan, her blog on speechwriting -- which she has assiduously kept for 13 months -- hasn't exactly paid off. Connections and contacts? Yes, sure. But not one client, inquiry, or dollar has been gained from her efforts.

We'd like to hear from our freelance speechwriters with blogs -- if blogging isn't for profit, what is it for?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Last Laugh?

We'd like to send out a big congratulations to Laurie Kilmartin, who recently was selected as one of 10 finalists on this year's edition of NBC's Last Comic Standing. Laurie is the clever comedienne who headlined Gotham Jokewriters' kickoff show at Comix last year. She performed again on last night's show, and we'll find out if she made it to the last 7 on Monday, July 19, at 9/8 central. Here's to Laurie having the last laugh!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Truth About Grammar

Science Daily recently posted research by academics at Northumbria University in the UK on native English speakers' mastery of grammar. The study had some surprising findings: that postgraduate students and high school dropouts alike were missing grammatical cues and having trouble with the passive tense. So what are the implications? Certain signs and notices may have to be re-written; literacy strategies changed; and Noam Chomsky's theory of universal grammar re-evaluated.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Around the Word

Today's featured posts share a few select secrets for persuading your reader and enticing the publishing industry...
  • NYU journalism professor and media theory expert Jay Rosen challenges the idea of "objectivity" as a form of journalistic persuasion, daring to suggest journos opt for political transparency for their points of view to ground their arguments
  • Copyblogger founder Brian Clark takes a cue from Aristotle in asserting that your character is determined by the make-up of what you write. He calls for meeting audience expectations ("decorum"), infusing practical wisdom (forget the lectern stuff), and gifting free content
  • Mediabistro talks with travel writer David Farley about his journey from journalist to memoirist, including the ingenious bio line that got him a book deal

Today's Tip: Keep Track of the Details

As we all know, an essential part of writing sophistical, long-form stuff, be it in this heat or the rest of the year,  is sweating the small stuff.   We have heard of many different kinds of ordering systems for keeping details straight, but literary agent Rachelle Gardner has come up with a method that we found especially creative and appealing.  She suggests creating an Editorial Style Sheet -- never again will you forget whether your protagonist's eyes are blue or green, if its 5th Street or Fifth Street, and when to put an "e" in blond

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Today's Tips: Sharpen Those Proofreading Skills, Expand Your Readership, and More...

  • Like a lot of wordsmiths, Grammar Girl host Mignon Fogarty recommends always getting a second set of eyes to proof your copy. But If you can't wrangle that, she has some creative suggestions for making do on your own: try reading your copy backwards, out loud, and from a piece of paper
  • Copyblogger lights the way to expanding your internet universe. First step: click through a commenter's website -- you may just meet your fourth-degree network 
  • Publishing and intellectual property attorney Lloyd Jassin urges co-authors to always sign a contract outlining the biggies: cash, control, and author credit 
  • Men with Pens offers ways to help you find a writing voice, from trying on personas to writing a letter to a friend 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Around the Word

Today we turn to a few PR pros for some content-centric insight...
  • Search and PR specialist Adam Sherk showcases his research into the most overused marketing speak today. From "leader" to "unique" (I mean, aren't we all?), Sherk runs through the top tired 86 buzzwords found in press releases over the last 5 years
  • PR pro Christina Khoury lets us in on the tips she offers clients before a ten minute media interview. Our top picks? Knowing the outlet and host, smiling for a more inviting voice, and limiting product mentions to two times
  • Marketing and New Media Leader Christopher S. Penn urges companies and organization that are struggling to come up with new material for their networks to hit the archives.   Not only is there useful content collecting dust that can be repackaged or repurposed, but today's technology can reinvigorate it.