I love how-to books. They are tools. They are assistants. They are mentors and demystifiers. I have hundreds in my office. I love the generosity and courage you find in the best how-to books. Superbly accomplished individuals faced the screaming threat of the blank page, yet intelligently shared everything they knew about their craft … with humility, wit, even tenderness and abundant mercy for us yearning and ignorant readers.
Great how-to books are a gift to the world; an art form, in my view.
Here are 6 things I’ve learned from my faves:
—— #1 ——
Page 98, Jeff Brooks, The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications: ” …through close observation, fundraisers have discovered three ‘Design Laws’ – practices that, if we follow them well, encourage our fundraising messages to bear fruit. Those laws are: 1. Make it plain. 2. Make it corny. 3. Make it obvious.”
—— #2 ——
Page 2, George Smith, Tiny Essentials of Writing for Fundraising: “So let me say it loud and plain – this is the Age of Bullshit. For we live in the first age of Verbal Predictability. For the very first time in recorded history you know what someone is going to say before they say it.” Neuroscience has an answer, by the way. But that’s in a different book.
—— #3 ——
Page 97, Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D., 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People: “Imagine you’re at a cocktail party. You’re talking to the person next to you. It’s noisy, but you can screen out the other conversations. Then you hear someone say your name. Your name … quickly came to your attention.” I.e., this is why we strive to personalize stuff. There is MUCH wisdom in 100 Things (it’s a series).
—— #4 ——
Page 31, Joseph Sugarman, Advertising Secrets of the Written Word (out of print; Kindle edition): “If the purpose of all the elements in an ad is therefore to get you to read the copy, then what we are really talking about is reading the first sentence, aren’t we?….