Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Get design tips to boost the impact of your display ad

[Cross-posted from Inside AdWords]

While the right text and placement of your display ad are always crucial, you should also make sure that your ad is well designed. But how exactly can you ensure that your ad stands out on a web page, looks professional and is consistent with your overall brand message?

On Thursday, September 2nd, we’ll be holding a short one-off live course on effective display ad design. The session will give you a set of practical design tips including key insights on using color, font and images. The focus will be on the Display Ad Builder tool, although the tips are applicable to display design in general. The course is suitable for anyone interested in display advertising.

The course will be held on Thursday, September 2nd at: 3pm - 4pm BST / GMT+1 (London), 10am-11am EDT (New York), 7am-8am PDT (San Francisco).

Sign up here to attend.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Email overload? Try Priority Inbox.

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Information overload is a reality of the modern workplace. The average corporate worker sends and receives more than 150 messages per day1, an email deluge of varying importance: key project updates from colleagues, requests from higher-ups, appointment reminders, and automated mail that’s often much less important. With so much information to process, simply figuring out what needs to be be read and what needs a reply takes up a lot of time. Today, we’re excited to introduce Priority Inbox Beta in Gmail, an experimental new way of reducing information overload.

Priority Inbox is a new view of your inbox that automatically helps you focus on your most important messages. Gmail has always kept spam messages out of your inbox, and now we’ve improved Gmail’s filter to help you see the emails that matter faster without requiring you to set up complex rules.

Here’s how it works: Priority Inbox splits your inbox into three sections: “Important and unread,” “Starred,” and “Everything else”:

Messages are automatically categorized as they arrive in your inbox. Gmail uses a variety of signals to predict which messages are important, including the people you email most and which messages you open and reply to (these are likely more important than the ones you skip over). And as you use Gmail, it will get better. You can improve the ranking in Priority Inbox by clicking the buttons at the top of the inbox to mark conversations as important or not important.

As a result, your inbox is better organized, and you can spend your time addressing your most important emails right away. When we tested Priority Inbox at Google, we found that people spent 6% less time on email after enabling this feature. This translates to a week’s worth of time saved each year for information workers who typically spend 13 hours per week on email today!2

Luke Leonhard, Web Services Manager for Brady Corporation, says “Like many of our users, I get over a hundred messages each day. Priority Inbox saves me time by displaying emails in order of importance, letting me process them more efficiently than before. The time I save can then be spent on new projects that add value to Brady rather than managing my inbox.”

Over the next week, we’ll be rolling out Priority Inbox settings to users in organizations with the “Enable pre-release features” option selected in the Google Apps control panel.

Helping users manage lots of information has always been a core goal of Gmail, and we’re excited to see how Priority Inbox helps users in organizations mitigate information overload and get to important messages faster.

1. “Email Statistics Report, 2009-2013”, The Radicati Group, Inc, 2009

2. “Hidden Costs of Information Work in the Enterprise Exposed in New IDC Progress Report”, IDC, 2009

More advertiser control on YouTube

[Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog]

At YouTube, we’re constantly working to give advertisers control and flexibility over their YouTube campaigns. We place great value on this because ads are an extension of what a company represents as a business, and we want YouTube to be a place where that reputation and image can flourish.

To that end, we’ve been rolling out features to keep advertisers in control of their campaigns. We announced one such example last week, when we launched a feature that gives select advertisers the ability to voluntarily age-restrict their videos. But there’s more work to do.

To date, we’ve given advertisers the ability to pick and choose individual videos on YouTube to target using our Video Targeting Tool. But one of the most frequently requested features we’ve heard from advertisers is the ability to exclude individual videos and channels from the campaigns they run on our site. Today, we’re excited to announce video and channel exclusions, a way for advertisers to pick specific YouTube videos and channel URLs that they don’t want their ads to appear with.

Here’s an example: let’s say you run a vegan bakery. You want to strike a balance between good exposure for your baked goods online, while staying true to your company values in offering items free of animal or dairy-products. Now you can indicate which videos are not the best fit for your audience. Since your customers are probably not watching ‘Homewrecker Hot Dog’, you can provide this video exclusion under the "Networks" tab.

Similarly, you might run a keyword-targeted campaign on bakery-related keywords, and exclude whole channels that you don’t feel suit your audience. So if FoodNetworkTV has videos centered mostly around cooking meat dishes, you have the controls to prevent ads from showing on that channel.

Alternatively, if your ads are appearing on a video that has content you deem inappropriate for your audience, or perhaps isn’t performing in terms of click-through rate or conversions, you can optimize your campaign by using this new feature to exclude it.

Google has also been investing significantly in ensuring brand safety, transparency and control for advertisers across the Google Display Network. We’re hoping that these added layers of control will make your campaign targeting even more precise. Keep sending us your feedback so we can make future product improvements.

Baljeet Singh, Senior Product Manager recently watched “AH NOM NOM: Wholesome Bakery Best Vegan Bakery Food Cart In San Francisco

The Editor Has Changed My Work!

Maria contacted me recently to tell me that one of her articles has just been published in The Lady. So firstly, congratulations on your success, Maria! But when Maria read the piece, she noticed the editor had changed a few things, raising some questions including:
  1. The editor asked me to produce 1,500 words and agreed a price for that word count. She has now edited it down to less and changed the title without telling me. What should I do?
  2. Should she still pay me the agreed price for 1,500 words?
  3. Should I tell her that I am not so happy with the title and the editing?

 The simple answers to these questions are:
  1. Nothing.
  2. Yes.
  3. No.
 Let me explain further.

The editor asked me to produce 1,500 words and agreed a price for that word count. She has now edited it down to less and changed the title without telling me. What should I do?

Absolutely nothing. As long as you've delivered what was agreed, then you've done nothing wrong. When the time comes for an editor to use a piece they've commissioned, they may suddenly discover that there isn't as much space available as they thought. Perhaps the advertising department have done well and sold more advertising space. Perhaps, the picture editor has found an amazing image that would illustrate the article well, and to do it justice it needs to be a certain size. Perhaps a news item has just come in which needs space and your article is the easiest to cut. Perhaps the editor got out of bed the wrong side this morning.

There are numerous reasons why space for an article is cut and why an editor may need to edit a feature to make it fit the space available. As long as you've provided what the editor has asked for, then you have delivered your side of the contract.

Putting it bluntly, an editor is King (or Queen) at the magazine. Once you've delivered your text, the editor can do whatever he or she likes with it (within reason). And that includes the title. Titles are commonly changed. You need to title an article to grab the editor's attention and make them read it in the first place, but for the printed version in the magazine an editor may have better ideas. If you don't like the title they use, tough. Don't worry about it. If you want, try to learn from it. Is it better than yours? Why do you think the editor changed it? Does this new title follow a similar theme to the other titles in the same issue?

Look at the rewritten text too. Is it tighter? Does it read better? Has the editor cut a specific paragraph or subject from your article?

Maria finishes this question with, what should I do? And my answer is nothing. The only time it may be appropriate to contact the editor is if the changes made alter the FACTS of the article. If you said the theme park cost £20 for an adult to get in and the editor has changed it to £50, and after double-checking you know your facts are correct, then a polite (yes, polite, not a rant) email pointing this out may be appropriate.

Should she still pay me the agreed price for 1,500 words?

Yes. If that was what was agreed and you've delivered your side of the contract, then you should be paid, even if the editor only uses 100 words in the end. It's not your fault if the advertising department sold more space this month, which meant that your feature had to be cut, is it?

If you've been commissioned to write to a specific length on a specific topic, and the editor isn't happy with what you've supplied, then they'll be in touch asking you to amend the text.

Should I tell her that I am not so happy with the title and the editing?
No. What's that going to achieve? The editor may then decide not to accept any more of your work, if you're going to be one of those 'troublesome' writers. If you really do not like what the editor has done, then ask yourself if you want to supply anything to the magazine again in the future. That's your choice. But you need to accept that editors can change details. I've had editor change the names of the characters in a story, and one the other week, changed an Almond Slice to a piece of Carrot Cake! Lord knows why! But, that's what the editor chose to do. They paid me for my text, and to use a well-worn phrase, the editor's decision is final.

If you wish to continue writing for the magazine then examine the text and see what you can learn. One editor annoyed me at first, because they were always rewriting my opening paragraphs. But I soon learned that actually, my paragraphs were not quite right for the magazine's style. Once, I'd learned this, I began writing opening introductions that the editor did like, which meant she didn't need to change them. So, look at changes to your text as learning opportunities.

Remember, you are the supplier of words. Supply them to the best of your ability, but accept that some of them may be changed by an editor. (The clue is in the job title - they edit from time to time.)

I remember a friend from school who bought a well-known brand of cola because she liked it, but she always 'improved' it by adding more sugar. (I don't think she has any teeth left now.) Should the manufacturer have been knocking on her door telling her to stop playing out with their product? No, because at the end of the day, the customer is always right ... and an editor is your customer.

Good luck.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What Are You Twittering On About?

Do you Twitter? Can you tell people in up to 140 characters what you're doing? Does anybody else care?

If you've heard about twittering, but are not sure what it involves, or if you've just started twittering and think you're talking gibberish, then nip over to Nicola Morgan's excellent blog Help I Need A Publisher.

She's recently begun a series of posts all about Twitter and how writers can use it to our advantage. I've found it useful so far, and thought some of you may be interested. For more information, follow the links:

Good luck!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Going Google across the 50 States: Bowery Lane Bicycles in New York rides towards success with Google Apps

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: Over the past couple months, thousands of businesses have added their Gone Google story to our community map and even more have used the Go Google cloud calculator to test drive life in the cloud. To highlight some of these companies’ Gone Google stories, we decided to talk to Google Apps customers across the United States. Check back each week to see which state we visit next. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map.

Two years ago, Patrick Benard and Sean Naughton completed their first handmade bicycle. Shortly after, they opened Bowery Lane Bicycles in Manhattan with a commitment to having a positive impact on the environment and the local community. Today, they continue to design bicycles for the urban cyclist, build them by hand in New York – in a local factory that uses solar panels to generate 30% of its power – and sell them from their showroom and at city cycling events. Even on the business side, the founders have taken a community approach, working only with local vendors and freelancers.

A year after Bowery Lane Bicycles opened, Michael Salvatore, chief officer of just about everything, was brought on board to help run the business. His first task was to get the company operating and communicating on a more professional level by banning personal email addresses for work and implementing Google Apps so everyone had @bowerylanebicycles.com email addresses. From experience at previous companies, Michael knew that email addresses were only the beginning and started using Google Apps to improve other business processes. He shares with us how this was done.

“We rely on freelancers and friends located throughout the city to get projects done, and Google Docs makes this possible. Our friends have day jobs so being able to access everything online and collaborate with us in real-time, from anywhere, is not only convenient, it’s essential.

Google Calendar also helps us quickly spread the word among our friends about upcoming cycling and charity events where we’ll need staffing help. We keep a master calendar of all events and send out invites directly from Google Calendar. On the sales end, our showroom is viewed by appointment only, so we use a shared calendar for all of our scheduling.

To track inventory, I use Google forms. When a sale is made the model number of the bicycle purchased and other relevant information is inputted into a form. All the details are then populated directly into my spreadsheet and I can keep track of which bikes are low in inventory and when I need to order more. It’s simple but efficient.

With most of our business software needs taken care of, we can focus on our main goal – manufacturing the best bikes we can. Yes, we’re a small start-up, but we realized early on that successful companies need to be able to communicate quickly and keep track of their business as they expand. We can do just that, thanks to Google Apps.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

YouTube Homepage: Promoted Videos advertisers can get it while it's hot

[Cross-posted from the YouTube blog]

For big advertisers on YouTube, the YouTube homepage is often seen as the holy grail. It's the highest-profile placement on YouTube, providing marketers with the ability to deliver a big impact and drive attention to content, trailers or advertising. To give you an idea of the scale we’re talking about, the homepage has been delivering nearly 45 million impressions per day and 18 million unique visitors a day in the U.S. — that's the equivalent to the ratings of several top-rated prime-time television shows combined. While impressions and unique visitors are never guaranteed, users who visit the homepage are actively looking for the next video to watch, so advertisers naturally want to be part of the action.

A little known fact is that a few days each quarter, we open up the YouTube homepage to Promoted Video advertisers. These companies end up getting a bit of extra exposure from their campaigns. There are a couple of ways to make sure your ads show up on the homepage, should the opportunity arise. First, log into your AdWords account, and under "Campaign Settings," consider the following:
  • In order for Promoted Videos ads to appear on YouTube browse pages, watch pages, and on the homepage, select "Display Network"
  • To appear *only* on YouTube placements, select "Relevant pages only on the placements I manage" and add youtube.com as a managed placement.
  • To appear *only* on the homepage, select "Relevant pages only on the placements I manage" and add youtube.com::pyv-top-right-homepage as a managed placement
  • Set a specific bid for the homepage and keep in mind that it is a more competitive placement
  • Please note: this feature is only available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K., and The U.S.
Because the dates we run Promoted Videos on the YouTube homepage vary, we unfortunately don't have a set schedule to provide to our advertisers. However, we typically know about 48 hours in advance. If you have a managed account, you can ask your Google representative to let you know when these opportunities arise so that you can increase your bids to improve your chances of showing up.

Several advertisers – large and small – have found great success showing Promoted Videos on the homepage. One YouTube advertiser, Dynomighty Design, grew their entire business by using Promoted Videos and getting placements on the YouTube homepage. Founder Terrence Kelleman says: "YouTube helps us sell our product, learn about our audience and build a strong brand image. And as a small company with a limited advertising budget, YouTube has become our main advertising strategy. Not only are costs low with Promoted Videos, but healthy conversions also make YouTube our #1 referring site in terms of traffic and revenue." To read more about Dynomighty's story, check out their original YouTube video and their feature on the Official Google Blog.

The YouTube homepage has a captive, engaged audience and it's our goal to let advertisers understand how best to reach customers that would be interested in hearing from them. For more information about advertising on YouTube, visit youtube.com/advertising, and for more information on Promoted Videos, check out ads.youtube.com.

Mark Sabec, Product Marketing Manager, recently checked out YouTube Show & Tell, home of the best creative marketing examples on YouTube.

Guidance and Updated Policies for Writing Reviews

[Cross-posted from the LatLong blog. While this post about writing reviews may not be actionable for business owners like you, we wanted to share this information about the guidelines and policies we have in place to help ensure that reviews about your business that appear on your Place Page are useful and relevant. -Ed.]

Three years ago we launched reviews for places on Google so that you could share your opinion of any place in the world. Your reviews help other users find places that are right for them.

We encourage you to continue sharing your experiences and opinions -- both good and bad. At the same time, we want to ensure that the information posted in reviews is useful and relevant for everyone. So today, we’ve updated and clarified the guidelines and policies for writing reviews. These guidelines help to make sure that reviewers understand how to write thoughtful reviews, that readers will find them informative, and that the content of the reviews provide useful feedback for Google Places business owners. We’re also sharing more information about when and why some reviews may be removed from a Place page. Below is a quick summary of the updates. Be sure to review the updated policy for more details.

Tips for writing great reviews
There isn’t an exact formula to writing a great review. Reviews are best when they reflect the unique opinion and viewpoint of an individual. You can share as much or as little information as you’d like: you might choose to describe the intricate details of a restaurant’s decor, or simply recommend your favorite dish. In the updated policy, you’ll find several best practices to consider when reviewing a business. These tips can help you convey your personal opinions clearly and effectively.

Does Google remove reviews?
The short answer is yes. Reviews are intended as a way for people to share useful and relevant information. That encompasses a wide range of opinions, most of which are permitted by our policy. However, in instances in which a review is in violation of our policy, we will remove the review. It’s important to remember that negative reviews aren’t against our policy. We encourage you to share your honest opinions about a business. And if you’re a business owner, you can directly respond to reviews to share your side of the story.

The process for reporting a review that violates our policies hasn’t changed. You can still report a review using the Flag as inappropriate link found next to each review submitted through Google Maps. When a review is flagged, we'll check to determine if the review violates our guidelines and take action accordingly.

This policy update is our latest step in our ongoing effort to improve your experience with business reviews. We hope you continue to voice your experiences, thoughts and opinions of the places you visit!

Building your web presence with Google Sites and Google Places

Today, we’re launching a Getting Started Guide for Google Sites and Google Places to help local business owners who are looking to increase their presence on the web and on Google Maps. Creating a Google site for your business will allow potential customers to learn more about your products, hours, and location before they even set foot in your store. It should also help answer some of those frequently-asked-questions that you’d otherwise have to take over the phone.

With Google Sites, you can easily create a free website for your business. We have site templates that you can choose from, and, within a few minutes, you can create a new website. There are also some quick tips available on how to customize it with images of your business, a map of your location, or a menu.

This guide will also show you how to ensure that a listing about your business appears for free when potential customers search for you on Google.com or Google Maps. The listing, which you can quickly and easily create through Google Places, includes basic information like your business name, location, and phone number. You can also edit it at any time with additional details like coupons, customized messages and more to help your business stand out. To find out more about Google Places listings, please see this blog post on the official Google Blog.

We hope that you find this Getting Started Guide useful!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Run, Get Online, and Promote Your Business with Google Tools

When first starting a business, everything is new and different. So what are the first things you need to do to turn your vision into reality? This process can be a bit intimidating -- and unnecessarily resource-consuming -- without the right tools and guidance.

Through a complementary suite of services, Google aims to help small businesses like yours navigate this uncharted territory. So as your business goes through the three phases of getting up and running, getting online and getting in front of customers, think of our products as tools designed to help you on your journey to success!

Run Your Business with Google Apps
Google Apps helps small businesses get up and running with email, calendaring, instant messaging, document, spreadsheets and presentations, site creation and video. The applications are hosted by Google, so you can just turn them on and get to work quickly. With this cloud computing approach, you don't need to worry about installing, maintaining or upgrading software, and you always have access to the latest technology. You can also use any device: PC, Mac, Linux, Android or iPad, if it has a web browser and a connection to the Internet you can access your information from anywhere. This is particularly helpful for people who need to work from various locations, like their office, home and car.

The cost savings are compelling, especially when you're on a tight budget: cloud computing is about 1/10th of the cost of on-premises software. It's also more secure than storing data on laptops and USB keys that are easily lost or stolen. But the biggest advantage of Google Apps is hardest to quantify: increased productivity through easier collaboration. Employees often work in teams, with colleagues in various locations. Web applications make it possible for them to share documents and files without attachments or version control issues because everything's online and up to date. They can also collaborate together in real time, which makes work more efficient. For more information, check out this video series on getting started with Google Apps.

Get Online with Google Places
Google Places offers an easy way to establish and maintain an online presence even if you don’t have a website. It allows business owners to add a brand new listing to Google's local database, or to edit their existing listing that appears for free when potential customers search for them on Google.com or Google Maps.

By ensuring that basic information - like your business name, location, hours of operation and phone number - is up-to-date, customers can quickly and easily find you online. And with the option to provide additional details - such as photos, videos and coupons - business owners can stand out on the map to attract more customers. You can also edit and check your info at any time to discover how many people have seen and clicked on your free listing.

Promote Your Business with AdWords
AdWords is Google’s online advertising program that acts as a matchmaking service between businesses and customers. AdWords ads are displayed along with search results when someone searches Google using one of your keywords. That way, you'll be advertising to an audience that's already interested in your business.

No matter your budget, you'll only pay when people click your ads, and there's no minimum monthly charge with AdWords. Ad performance tracking reports are built right into your account, so you can tell what's working and what needs improving.

We look forward to providing additional tips and tricks for your small business on this blog, and hope these help to get you started. So what are you waiting for? Get your business going, establish your online presence and promote your business using any of our tools that you find helpful. Good luck!

Posted by Kat Eller, Small Business Blog Team

Monday, August 23, 2010

Going Google across the 50 States: Google Apps eliminates geographical challenges for New Jersey-based virtual assistant agency

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: Over the past couple of months, thousands of businesses have added their Gone Google story to our community map and even more have used the Go Google cloud calculator to test drive life in the cloud. To highlight some of these companies’ Gone Google stories, we decided to talk to Google Apps customers across the United States. Check back each week to see which state we visit next. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map.

This week we’ll hear from Sarah Leah Gootnick, founder of Secretary in Israel, based in New Jersey and Israel. Secretary in Israel and Virtual Assistant Israel match college-educated, American virtual assistants living in Israel with business owners from across the United States and abroad.

The idea for Secretary in Israel came about when an entrepreneurial friend of mine in San Francisco told me how overwhelmed he was with all the administrative work for his IT business. He struggled to find a talented assistant within his price range locally. I introduced him to my friend who had just moved from the US to Israel. Not long after, he called to tell me that she was the best assistant he had had in years, and he encouraged me to start a business to provide this same service to other entrepreneurs.

As a result of his encouragement, we started Secretary in Israel approximately 2.5 years ago. At the time, we were in an unusual situation: our virtual assistants, all of whom are American college graduates, were living in Israel, and our client base of successful entrepreneurs were spread throughout the United States and abroad (including the UK, Australia, and Thailand). With our team located thousands of miles from our clients, we were, as you might say, “geographically challenged”.

However, with the help of Google Apps, geographical distance became irrelevant. Our virtual assistants all use Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar, which enable us to work with our clients and seamlessly integrate into their businesses as if we were sitting in the rooms next to them.

One particular benefit that our virtual assistants and clients love is the ability to edit docs and spreadsheets simultaneously. Gone are the days of worry about who has the right version of a document and whether the hours of changes you’ve just made were put into the right version or not. With Apps, the document or spreadsheet is always current, and our team and clients can rest assured that important edits were entered in the right version.

Google Apps also allows our virtual assistants to work so seamlessly with their clients and their clients’ business associates that most people don’t realize our assistants aren’t in the same office. One of our clients told us that when people finally do meet him at his office, they often ask, “Where’s Hilary? She was so lovely on the phone. I’d like to meet her!” It’s at that point that he says with a smile, “Oh. She’s not here at the moment. She’s in Israel!”

Because of the collaborative focus of Google Apps, we’re able to run a business that provides a great service to successful entrepreneurs in the United States and abroad as well as career opportunities for professional, Americans in Israel.

Novel on Authonomy

For those of you who've been following my blog for sometime, you will remember that I spent part of last November and December, in the Lake District, editing my novel.

I've decided to use the authonomy website to preview the first 10,000 words, and allow readers to comment on it and (hopefully) recommend it, which will push it up the list. At the end of each month, the five most recommended texts get read by editorial staff at HarperCollins.

So, if you'd like to read the first 10,000 words of my novel, get yourself along to http://tiny.cc/hr9tr and then you'll really find out how my mind works!

Good luck!

(and thanks!)

Copyright or wrong?

Many writers get confused by copyright. Indeed, with legal staff specialising in this one small area of the law, it can instill fear and uncertainty in those who do not understand it.

However, for writers, understanding the basics will put you in good stead.

Copyright occurs as soon as you produce something artistic. (This can be something in writing, a drawing or picture, a photograph, some music, a video, etc). As I am typing this blog posting the copyright is being created. I don't have to register my copyright. Under current British and EU legislation, it is created as soon as I create something.

There is no copyright in facts, merely how they are expressed. And that's how I think of copyright. Copyright refers to the order of the words that you've written. You have the copyright in the sentences that you create and produce yourself.

As a copyright holder, you have the right to reproduce those words how and as you like, and you also have the right to give others the right to use those words. So, if you've written an article, you have copyright in that article, and therefore, you have the right to offer a magazine the right (First Serial Rights) to publish it. By retaining the copyright, you can also offer a website the right (Electronic rights) to use it on a website. You can offer a publisher the right to use the text in a book.

It is possible to assign (transfer) your copyright. This means that you no longer have the right to copy it yourself and offer rights to others to use it - the copyright holder now has that right. (So, if you transferred the copyright of some text you had produce to someone else, and you wanted to use the text again, you'd have to get permission from the copyright holder!) In many cases, writers should refrain from selling their copyright, so that they can continue to offer these other rights in their work. It is the copyright holder who has the authority to give others permission to use the work.

This also means that if you wish to quote someone else's work, you generally need permission and this should be sought from the copyright holder. The current UK and EU legislation does allow some 'fair use' quoting of someone else's work for specific purposes, such as critiquing or for review. However, the great British legal system has not defined what 'fair usage' is, because that depends upon each individual piece of work created. If a poem has 4 lines, and someone quoted 1 line, it begs the question - is quoting 25% of the text 'fair use'? A novelist would be upset if someone quoted 25% of their novel! This is why it can get tricky.

If you want to quote song lyrics, always get permission. Again, relatively speaking, songs are short pieces of text, so quoting one line could get you into trouble. There's an excellent article on The Guardian website about how one writer fell foul of copyright with song lyrics. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/01/blake-morrison-lyrics-copyright.

In the UK (and the EU), since 1st January 1996, copyright for writers lasts for 70 years after the end of the year of the death of the writer. So, if a writer died on 29th March 2010, their work remains in copyright until 31st December 2080. (Prior to 1996 it was 50 years after the writer's death.)

  • copyright is created as soon as you've created something artistic - written a series of words. You do not need to register copyright.
  • There is no copyright in facts - merely how those facts are explained.
  • There is no copyright in titles - however, some distinctive titles may be subject to other forms of legal protection, such as a trademark.
  • There is no copyright in ideas or plot. However, the more detail you give an idea or plot, the more specific you make it, the better.
I have literally touched the surface here (and not done the subject justice at all) but if I had gone into all the detail, I would be completely redefining what the length of a blog posting should be! But there are some excellent resources online that can offer further copyright guidance, including:

I hope that's been of some help.

Good luck.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Going Google across the 50 States: Google Apps “just works” for Massachusetts -based marketing firm

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: Over the past couple months, thousands of businesses have added their Gone Google story to our community map and even more have used the Go Google cloud calculator to test drive life in the cloud. To highlight some of these companies’ Gone Google stories, we decided to talk to Google Apps customers across the United States. Check back each week to see which state we visit next. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map.

In Massachusetts, we find Sean Leach, Systems Architect for EPS Communications — a strategic marketing firm near Boston. With experienced staff, EPS marries multiple disciplines to offer client services including direct response media, interactive development, design, and custom content and publishing. EPS is so excited to have gone Google that Sean created the picture below showing each of his co-workers, and shared the story of why the company switched.

“In late 2007 we made the switch from a traditional email POP server and a ‘whatever you can find’ calendar and docs solution to Google Apps. We haven't looked back since.

Within Google Apps, we mainly use Gmail, Calendar, and Docs. Because of the tight integration between the three services, as well as the ‘it just works’ nature of the products, we've definitely had a marked increase in productivity and user happiness. No more POP server being down, no more having to try and track down an email or document. It's all there in the cloud, all the time, and easy to find because of Google search.

Our other favorite part of Google Apps is that everything is accessible from any computer or mobile phone with a web browser, no matter where our jobs take us. Our employees can be just as productive outside the office as they can inside it. That is a big deal for a small company. It allows us to be both flexible and productive. It's something we truly can't live without.

If you haven't tried Google Apps, you really owe it to yourself (and your company) to give it a shot. It's wonderful.”

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New features in Google Docs and Google Sites

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Google’s multi-tenant infrastructure allows us to launch new features to our customers seamlessly, and with over 50 launches in first half of this year alone, the pace of innovation in Google Apps continues to accelerate.

Today we keep up the innovation with several new updates in Google Sites and Google Docs. We’ve improved Google Sites with several highly-requested features including horizontal navigation, global footers, and a new section for deleted items.

Horizontal navigation enables site owners to easily add links across the top of their sites.

Site owners can also add a global footer that displays across all pages on a site, and we added a new section for deleted items in sites, making it easier to get to deleted pages and attachments.

We’ve also added quick links to open Google Docs that are embedded in a site, making it easier for collaborators to open embedded documents.

For more information, on these new features in Google Sites, check out the Google Docs blog.

In addition to these updates to Google Sites, this week we also launched several improvements in Google Docs:
  • Typing links just got a little faster in Google documents. Now when you type something that we recognize as a web address, it will automatically become a link.
  • We’ve also added a few more page sizes for your documents. So if you’ve been craving an Executive sized page (7.25” x 10.5”), you’re in luck. For more information on autolinks and page sizes, head to the Google Docs blog.
  • Correct spelling is an essential part of document creation, and to that end we’ve added spellcheck to Google spreadsheets. For more information on spelling checker in spreadsheets, visit the Google Docs blog.

As with all updates on Google Apps, users can get new features just by refreshing their browsers, and improvements roll out to customers with no need for administrators to manage patches or install software.

Stay tuned for more updates to Google Docs and Google Sites.

Introducing the AdWords Small Business Corner, a new forum discussion category for SMBs

[Cross-posted from the Inside AdWords blog]

We’ve heard from many of you that you’d like to be able to easily share tips for developing a successful AdWords strategy with others like you. To help you do that, we’ve created a new category in the AdWords Help Forum: the Small Business Corner. The Small Business Corner is designed to give those of you who are running your own AdWords accounts the opportunity to share best practices in discussions with your peers so that you can make sure your AdWords account is doing all it can to support your business goals.

This new category is not about troubleshooting specific account issues, but rather about sharing and learning from the experiences of others. To give you a preview of the kinds of topics that we hope to discuss, here are a few conversation starters that we had in mind:
  • Choosing the right tools to measure results
  • How to write great ads
  • Finding the right frequency to sign in to AdWords
Of course, this category is about your interests and needs, so we hope you’ll suggest the small business-related topics that you’d like to cover. For any other topics, please consider the other existing forum categories available to you.

Getting started
To join the conversation now, just visit the Small Business Corner. If you’re new to the AdWords Help Forum, you may want to create a Google Profile (while signed in to your AdWords account), introducing yourself and your business before jumping in. In the meantime, you can check out the introductory discussion thread here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bill and Ted? Arthur and Stan? Or Marjorie and Delilah?

Whilst at Caerleon this year, I met Katey Nixon, who has put together a resource that will be useful to the short story writers amongst you.

Naming a character can be difficult, but you can add more credibility to your story if the name you select is one that was popular at the time of the character's birth. So, if you have a male character born around 1914, the most popular boy's name at that time was John. The sixth most popular name was Arthur. Fast forward to 2004 and the most popular boy's name was Jack, whereas the sixth most popular was Samuel.

Katey has placed all this information onto one Excel spreadsheet document, with one sheet dealing with boys names and another for girls. It lists the 100 most popular names (for boys and girls) for each DECADE of the 20th Century, and the same for each YEAR (up to and including 2008) of the 21st Century. It really is an amazing resource.

To obtain a copy of this spreadsheet, Katey is asking for a small £2 donation to a charity that she is keen to support. Her aim is to raise £400 for a charity called Hamlin Fistula UK, which aims to support women in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) who incur horrendous injuries during childbirth.

It's easy to do, simply visit Katey's page on the Just Giving website, which can be found at http://www.justgiving.com/ipreferhappyendings and click on the 'Donate Now' button. After donating, you'll be sent an email confirming your donation, and this will contain a link, enabling you to download the Excel Spreadsheet.

It's a worthwhile cause, and for the sake of a couple of pounds, you'll never be stuck for a first name ever again!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Even Editors Go On Holiday

Well, first of all, apologies for the slight delay in today's posting. Having returned from the Swanwick Writers Summer School at the weekend, all I've been doing is marking students' assignments. Some of you have been busy, whilst I've been away!

But this actually raises an important point. There are times when we need to remember that even editors go on holiday, so that may explain why they take so long to reply to our submissions.

Whilst I was at Swanwick, I had the opportunity to chat to Caroline Taggart. Caroline is the editor of the popular, Writers' Market UK, as well as the author of the immensely successful series of books published by Michael O'Mara that include My Grammar and I, I Used To Know That, and A Classical Education. Now, I have a submission that has been sitting on someone's desk for over four months now, so I asked Caroline when she would suggest that I approach them. And, of course, her answer was, "well, there's no point doing anything now. It's August. Everyone's on holiday."

And she's right. Making a gentle enquiry now could be a waste of time. If the editor is away on holiday, if someone is covering their desk or answering their phone, they probably won't know what I'm referring to. So there's little point in chasing. And there's no point in doing it at the beginning of September either, because, just like me, they'll be swamped and catching up with the work and emails whilst they were away.

So, next time you want to chase and editor, just stop and think for a while. What time of year is it? What are the chances that they'll actually be about? We all know what it's like getting back from a holiday and switching on the computer and watching hundreds, if not thousands, of emails fall confetti-like into our inbox. Try to chase at the quieter times of the year. You may get a better response!

Good luck!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Going Google across the 50 States: Oregon-based ice cream company goes Google, blissfully

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: Over the past couple months, thousands of businesses have added their Gone Google story to our community map and even more have used the Go Google cloud calculator to test drive life in the cloud. To highlight some of these companies’ Gone Google stories, we decided to talk to Google Apps customers across the United States. Check back each week to see which state we visit next. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map.

This week we’re traveling to Eugene, Oregon to hear from Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss. Luna and Larry Kaplowitz began making Coconut Bliss non-dairy, organic ice cream to provide a healthier alternative to typical ice cream loaded with processed sugar and saturated fat. Coconut Bliss is a local favorite in Oregon and the word is spreading as many more find their “bliss.” Kiley Gwyn, Online Community Manager at Coconut Bliss, tells us about going Google.

“Going Google was an easy choice for us to make at Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss. We're a small company with no IT person on staff, and we were looking for an easy solution to email, shared calendars, an internal wiki, and document sharing. As we are a growing business with employees often on the road it was important to us that we have secure, easy access to everything no matter where we might be. I was already a Gmail convert and knew that the suite of Google Apps would be perfect for our needs.

Google Apps has allowed us to expand our productivity and creativity in ways I couldn't have imagined when we first signed up. Sometimes it’s just the simple things that are better with Google Apps. For example, when I was sick at home recently, I didn’t have to cancel a critical marketing meeting. We just turned on the video chat and pointed the camera at the white board so I could work with my team without sharing my cold. Google Apps helps keep us connected and makes working together simple.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Collect audience input with Google Sites & Moderator

[Cross-posted from the Google Docs Blog]

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

App Tuesday: nine new apps introduced to the Google Apps Marketplace

It’s App Tuesday again, which means we’re excited to launch nine new apps in the Google Apps Marketplace. Like the other 150+ installable apps in the Marketplace, these apps help solve some of the toughest challenges that many businesses face today. While all apps are accessible from a user’s universal navigation bar, some of these apps integrate even further with Gmail, Calendar, Docs and more.

This new batch of apps helps users seamlessly and easily tackle all kinds of issues—from time management with RescueTime to procurement with Ketera.

Check out our post on the Enterprise Blog for more information on these apps as well as the other seven launching today, or go right to the Marketplace.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Google and SBA Launch “Tools for Online Success” Small Business Partnership

Google and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced an exciting new partnership aimed at providing resources and tools that can help small businesses learn how to succeed online. “Tools for Online Success” is a website featuring videos and tutorials from small business owners who have used the Internet to grow their businesses, and advice from Google’s experts.

You can visit www.google.com/help/sba for the full rundown and tutorials, but here are a few easy tips that all small business owners should be employing:

Establish an online presence: As more and more people get online to find information and local searches grow, an online presence is increasingly important for a small business. Whether it’s creating a website or starting a Twitter feed, there are many steps that you can take to enhance your visibility online. For example, Google Places allows you to claim your listing and input specific information about your business. This means that when people look on the Internet to learn more about your business, you are able to build and control the profile they’ll view.

Utilize free marketing tools to reach your consumer base: Services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube allow you to communicate with customers and grow your fan base. These tools are great “word-of-mouth” platforms where your customers can tell their friends about your products. Keep customers in-the-loop about new promotions or specials, or exciting events.

Know your customers: Easy-to-use web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, can help you better understand how your content is being received by customers. You can analyze what search term brought visitors to your webpage and what content they look at while they are there. This information will help you make more intelligent decisions about what products to feature and what terms your might want to run on to trigger your search engine advertisements.

Stay aware of the latest trends: The recent growing popularity of smart phones has meant that more and more customers search for information on the go. This makes it crucial for your business information to be up-to-date and online. To cater to consumers with smart phones, you can provide driving directions, post digital coupons or link to your menu.

Variety is the Spice of Life!

There's the old adage for writers to write about what you know, which will always stand us in good stead. I personally believe that you should also write about whatever you can find out! And at a workshop I was running at the Caerleon Writers Holiday, we also discussed the issue that writers need to get away from their desks and do something different from time to time. After all, this will give you something new to write about, whether you write non-fiction or fiction.

So, here's a list of things you could consider for each month of the year, to drag yourself away from your computer, to inspire you to write more. Please note that not every suggestion will be suitable for you, nor were some of the suggestions sensible, but this was the last workshop of the course and we'd all had a late night the night before!

  • Go stargazing. Watch out for meteor showers.
  • Plan your writing goals for the year ahead.
  • Go to a New Year's party.
  • Go to a Burn's Night supper
  • Hit the January Sales.
  • Make a snowman (or snow writer!)
  • Go to a Valentine's party. (Yes, one workshop attendee was very 'party orientated!)
  • Go to the Winter Writers Workshop Weekend at Fishguard, Wales. 
  • Browse the travel agents for a holiday.
  • Go in search of spring flowers.
  • Sign up to an Arvon Foundation course.
  • Have a St David's Day party!
  • Explore your home town as if you were a tourist. 
  • Do a day trip using only public transport. (One for the rural dwellers!)
  • Sign up for a charity event.
  • Do something mad - March Madness - book yourself of a pig rearing course!
  • Have an Easter party! 
  • Go on an Easter Egg Hunt
  • Go cloud spotting.
  • Visit and art gallery.
  • Go to the London Book Fair.
  • Run the London Marathon - or just go along and cheer on the runners.
  • Celebrate St George's Day (or not, depending upon where you live.)
  • Celebrate Shakespeare's birthday.
  • Go May Pole dancing!
  • Go to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival.
  • Visit the Asparagus Festival 
  • Look for May Blossom.
  • Look for other local customs and festivals taking place in your area.
  • Visit the Hay on Wye literary festival.
  • Midsummer's Day - get up early and watch the summer solstice. Go to Stonehenge, make friends with a druid!
  • Have a day at the races - got to Royal Ascot. 
  • Glastonbury Festival. Go for the mud, enjoy the sun?
  • Join a village cricket team.
  • Support a british player at Wimbledon. (won't keep you busy for too long!)
  • Go to the Caerleon Writers Holiday!
  • Join the kids on an organised activity day, when school has broken up.
  • Have a swimming pool party!
  • Go to the Ledbury Poetry festival.
  • Enjoy the Buxton Music Festival.
  • Go to the Cheltemham Music Festival.
  • Go swimming in the sea.
  • Another good opportunity to watch meteor showers.
  • Go to a folk festival.
  • Have a BBQ party!
  • Watch the hot air balloons at the Bristol Balloon Festival.
  • Instead of sitting at your desk, go and write sitting out in the garden.
  • Go on the Swanwick Writers Summer School.
  • Join everyone else on a day trip to the coast on Bank Holiday Monday. 
  • It's back to school for everyone - join a new evening class, on any subject.
  • Sign up for an Open University course.
  • Go Bat watching.
  • Help a farmer harvesting.
  • Spend a day topping up with new stationery!  
  • Go to the Cheltenham Literature festival
  • Have a Halloween party!
  • Visit an Arboretum.
  • Collect conkers.
  • Go trick or treating.
  • Have a bonfire night party!
  • Sign up for NaNoWriMo (write 50,000 words of your next novel in November.)
  • Go to one of the National Trust's "Putting the House To Bed" tours, where they show you how a large country house winds down for winter.
  • Go to a special Christmas Market.
  • Have a winter Pimms party!
  • Go on a spa break whilst others are dashing to do the Christmas shopping!
  • Watch a children's nativity play. 
As I said at the beginning, not every suggestion will be appropriate, but the message behind this post is this:

Try to do some thing different at least once a month.

Don't shut yourself away in your writing garret. Get out and do something. You never know what you may find yourself writing about next.

Good luck!

(and if anyone else has any other suggestions, comment below and share them with the rest of us.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Google goes to Boise

For years, we’ve focused on building tools like Google Places and Google AdWords that help small businesses grow and succeed online. The tools we build are often free or flexible for any budget, and are already being used by small businesses all around the world. However, we still hear, “Wow, I didn’t know you could do that!” from many small businesses we talk to. That’s why last week, a team from Google headed to Boise, Idaho.

Why Boise? Boise happens to be one of the fastest growing small business communities in the U.S. according to Forbes, CNN and bizjournals, but we also recently learned that Google played a role in helping make this happen. In 2009, we estimate that our online advertising tools generated over $72M in revenue for Idaho businesses.

During our two-day visit to Boise we met with more than 40 small business owners including Dakota Routh, who, in less than one year, opened three Body Renew gyms with the help of Google Places and Google AdWords. According to Dakota, he makes $3 in sales for every $1 he spends on Google AdWords.

Dakota Routh of Body Renew shows a few Googlers his Meridian, Idaho gym

We also partnered with the Idaho Small Business Development Center to offer free 60-minute seminars to more than 300 local small businesses interested in learning about online marketing tools and strategies.

AdWords Evangelist Fred Vallaeys speaking to small business owners at Boise State University

We hope to visit more towns across the U.S. later this year. If you’re a small business owner and are interested in having us visit you in your city, please let us know. For more information on how you can use Google Places or Google AdWords for your small business, checkout the Hire Google website.

Introducing the Google Small Business Blog

Most every business, including ours, starts small. These days, technology is giving businesses even more ways to grow bigger... faster.

In our recent Small Business series on the Official Google Blog, a handful of real-life entrepreneurs have shared their experiences building companies from scratch and embracing Internet tools that have taken their businesses to the next level. We’ve received fantastic feedback about these posts, and realized that there’s a healthy appetite among small- and medium-sized business owners who want to know all about the latest web tools and tricks. Fortunately, we have lots more to share with you, too!

That’s why we’re introducing the Google Small Business Blog, a central hub that brings together all the information about our products, features and projects of specific interest to the small business community. Rather than having to sleuth around in many different locations for details about templates for creating video ads on YouTube, tips for your employees using Gmail or how to respond to the business reviews on your Place Page, you can find all of this helpful information right here in one place.

Of course, we’ll continue to post relevant news about individual services such as AdWords, Apps, Google Places and YouTube on their respective “home” blogs, but feel free to visit or subscribe to this Google Small Business Blog to get everything relating to your small business needs. We’re starting small today, but who knows what tomorrow will have in store!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Magazines Can Make Mistakes

I've just returned from the Caerleon Writers Holiday where I've been running my Positively Productive Writer series of workshops. Short story writer, and Writers' Forum magazine columnist, Paula Williams, mentioned a wonderful incident concerning one of her short stories, which I just had to pass onto to you.

Paula had submitted a short story to one of the women's magazines, and one day, the postman returned it. Reading the rejection letter, Paula discovered that the editor felt her story was aimed at too young an audience and, therefore, was not right for the magazine's readership.

Two days later, a copy of the very same magazine arrived through her letterbox and guess what? Yes, in it was her story that was supposedly aimed at too young an audience! They'd published it! (It turned out that the rejection letter had been sent in error.)

An event like Caerleon enables writers to get together and share wonderful stories like this. One of the exercises I asked my workshop victims (I mean delegates) to do was to create a list of things writers can do throughout the year to keep themselves motivated and inspired to write. You can't shut yourself away in your garret forever, you have to get out there and do things. Next week, I'm doing just that - I'm at the Swanwick Writers Summer School but before I go, I'll post the list of ideas that we came up with - several for every month of the year, so there's no excuse!

In the meantime, I'll let a few of my workshop attendees explain exactly what a productive writer is ...

Good luck!