Shorthand for a New Age

I have this old Pitman Shorthand book that used to belong to my mother, and it’s always fascinated me because the little symbols look like an indecipherable bunch of hieroglyphics. But I can see how it would be useful when your work consists of a lot of note-taking at rapid speeds.

Now we have computers that keep up with what we are typing as we are typing it, so it’s rare when a typist goes so fast that the computer has to catch up with her. However, there are still those phrases that you end up typing over and over again, so over time, you probably develop your own shorthand for those.

And there’s a tool called PhraseExpander to make it easier. I haven’t used it, but it sounds like it would be good if I ever wanted to avoid typing the same author queries over and over while I was editing someone’s file. You create a list of phrases that you use frequently, then set up keyboard shortcuts for them. PhraseExpander allows you to use these phrases in programs like MS Word, Notepad, Gmail, and more.

There’s a lot more to it than that, but it sounds like it’d be revolutionary for data entry or technical support staff who have to type the same thing multiple times. So instead of relying on handwritten symbols or even very fast typing, we have a friendly macro to do this tedious work for us.

The Latest Style Trends

Editorial style, of course. 🙂

For my work, I don’t use the Associated Press Stylebook that often, so when they announce a change in their style, I don’t pay much attention. But this one is kind of a big deal because the two terms that are changing are used all the time. So according to AP, from now on, we’re not supposed to capitalize “Internet” and “Web” anymore because have become generic terms.

I don’t really mind lowercasing “web” because I prefer “website” instead of the clunky “Web site” (my company’s style guide uses that) or the even uglier “Website.” There are also terms like “webinar” and “webpage” (or “web page”) that make more sense lowercased and generic, so that part makes me happy. It doesn’t make sense to use both lowercase “website” and capital “Web” in the same document, which some clients prefer.

But I don’t know about lowercasing “internet.” I’m in the habit of always capitalizing it because it’s the Internet. You can practically hear the capital I when someone says it. I don’t think I ever hear anyone refer to just “internet” or “an internet” generically. I would think that a company’s own corner of the big Internet that’s shared just within that company would be an intranet, but I could be wrong. And of course, saying “internets” makes you sound like a lolcat.

So it doesn’t seem like “internet” is used to describe anything other than that big linked network of online sites. I don’t hear people use it in any other way. We don’t describe our real-life network of friends and acquaintances as an “internet” unless we’re literally referring to our social networking sites. But over time, terms do usually become more generalized, and two-word terms like “web site” (or “Web site”) do tend to first be hyphenated (web-site), then get smushed into one word (“website”) as time passes.

I’m not good with change, but we’ll see how this style trend plays out.

A Rant about Marketing

This is technically Part II of this post, which ended with the thought that if you’re not on social media sites, but if you have something that you would like to promote and sell (like writing, music, or art), you’re at a disadvantage.

To successfully market a product today (any kind of product), you have to be on social media, at least in some capacity, simply because the majority of the world is on social media. By “social media,” I mean sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. A blog is technically social media, but I have a strong feeling that most people today don’t read blogs unless said blog is super popular. They would prefer to look at pretty pictures and moving images instead, which is why we have a proliferation of GIFs and even YouTube trailers for upcoming books, but I digress.

Anyway… it’s commonly acknowledged in most writing/publishing guides that writers are not the most social creatures in the world and thus not necessarily the most ebullient promoters. But to be successful (i.e., sell a significant number of copies [i.e., any number greater than 100]), you have no choice but to promote, and today, that means social media.

I apologize in advance because I have no advice on promoting/marketing your work, so this post is pretty much a rant about selling things. I am the worst salesperson in the history of the planet, especially when it comes to my own work. Back when I was in Girl Scouts, I failed fantastically at selling those delicious cookies because I was (and am) horribly shy, and marketing/sales has always seemed evil to me because a lot of the time, the marketer is trying to convince the potential seller to buy something he doesn’t need.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a big buyer of stuff in the first place. I always feel awkward when I think about eventually selling my book because I rarely buy books, and I even more rarely buy new books (this includes e-books). So it doesn’t feel fair to ask people to buy my books when I don’t even buy books myself.

So my problem isn’t social media, but selling and promotion in general. I always tell myself that when it comes time to promote or sell or market my book that I’m going to try to get away with doing as little as possible, and I will not have any sales goals. I may just put the book out there for free. Or, if I have the fortune to win the lottery, I will pay a marketing company to manage all that promotion stuff for me. They can handle Facebook and all the rest of it. 🙂

In short, I write for fun, and I don’t care about promotion, even though that seems to be the most commonly followed course: You write something, then you try to get some money out of it ’cause money makes the world go ’round.

How do you feel about promoting your work?