Gordon Burgett’s INTERVIEWING, available by Christmas


Interviewing is mostly you asking questions to a person or, rarely, a group and receiving a response in return. When you record what you asked and what was said back, that is the bare minimum of having completed an interview. A bit simplistic but everything else just adds bulk and hope to the process.

I imagine that 85% of my interviews–I’ve probably done 3500 of them–have involved direct communication with my target person. Maybe half were done eye to eye (really mouth to ear), with most of those when I was learning how and on the road gathering travel material. I asked and they responded, and I translated and wrote what they said into a notepad, usually in some abbreviated fashion (nouns mostly, with other key words underlined.) Give and take, staccato fashion, one question/its reply, segues, usually stretching on for a few minutes. Five was a long time for them and me. It rarely lasted 30 minutes; almost never a full hour.

Yet the truth there is too abbreviated because very often many “interviews” (now on-going conversations) continued, in stops and starts, for weeks, even months as we beefed up the copy. And often I interviewed the most interesting again and again because it and they were worth sharing. Some of those contacts became lifetime friends.

In my mind, the first interview should be painless and fairly short, leaving open the possibility of a later follow-up, even more if the topic and exchange draw considerable attention or leave important questions unasked or unanswered. But I never mentioned any of that before or during the first interview other than I’d ask how I might later contact them should I run into a fact or a phrase that needs clarification—and an address where I could send the printed article.

Most of the interviews not done eye-to-eye were done by telephone. They weren’t as satisfactory because you couldn’t tell what or how much of what was being said was true, a bald lie, or something in between. Also, you never knew if the other person was the actual person you had called. (I don’t think I ever interviewed a stand-in, but surprisingly often they grilled me to make sure I was the journalist they were supposed to be talking to and that I was writing an article for such-and-such a publication. Everyday people took me at face (or voice) value, happy to be the one being interviewed. But the higher up the rung in their field they were, the more likely their assistant or aid vetted or checked me out first).

Another telephone problem: the tenuous connection between the two of you almost invites the other speaker to simply hang up when they have said what they think you should (or need to) hear. It’s a true test of your interviewing (and inventive) magnetism to be able to keep the other person focused and actively responding. Some of that is created before speaking by getting the respondent’s buy-in to the exchange because of the need for or importance of the information that will or could be shared with the readers or public.

I also, personally, felt a peculiar restraint when interviewing (or even speaking) on the telephone. I grew up weaving waggish humor and pun-riddled, antic wordplay into my boisterous everyday conversation. Almost all of which had to be excised when talking to these souls when interviewing them for imagined global fame from an article (or even a book). They didn’t expect mirth and tomfoolery—any humor at all—at their big moment, much less over the telephone, where smiles are never seen and scarcely heard. So half of what I normally might have said, or how I would say it, was verboten and dumbfounding. However funny, they never, ever would have laughed. They were expecting to be asked to share facts, wisdom, poignant observation, guidance, and household tips. Out the telephonic window flew the high jinks. Which left the interviewer, me (or you), nearly speechless, disarmed.

In fact, my first 100 or so interviews (as I recall, maybe it was 500) were very tightly scripted, all written or typed. It looked something like this—I wrote in the words I asked where you see the topics below:

* wee introduction
* opening
* reminder of the theme and where their words would be shown to the world
* a question
* a second question—this is the most important in case something else interrupts, as happens often, with no chance to finish… [more on this later]
* [if something relevant was said or hinted at in their replies to my questions, I would ask more, prodding questions that carried their topic deeper and farther]
* a third question
* [if they verbally wandered off and what they said would interest my readers I let them go, herding them into my imaginary readers’ interest corral, adding questions only as needed to let the person sensibly wander]
* “anything else, Mr./Ms. ____, that I should have asked but didn’t?”
* “is there a phone number I should use if an important, unanswered point surfaces when I’m writing the article?
* “I will send you a copy of the printed article as soon as it appears—remember, its printing can sometimes take months,”
* “is ____ the address I should send the article to, in your name?”
* “thank you again, Mr./Mrs. _____, for the information and your time”
* “it was very interesting and much appreciated by me and our readers”
* (hang up softly, breathe deeply, wipe brow)

Interviewing by email, or even by social media, is fast, sometimes too public too soon, and a whole lot less expensive. Combined with Skype or other computer-to-computer linking, the whole digital structure will greatly facilitate both the text and will let you and the interviewee see objects talked about while the talking is taking place…


This is an unedited extraction of an early chapter of a book called INTERVIEWING that I am finishing so it will be available by Christmas—the very gift you’ve been dreaming of! It will be posted later this week as a pre-order at Kindle and Create Space. Check my next blog or two, if interested. I will give the listing details there. INTERVIEWING will be part of a many-segmented book that will be announced in late spring, 2016.

Best wishes,


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Here’s how to submit changes to your book at Kindle


Here’s a comment/question that I get too often: “I published my book on Kindle but I don’t know how to make changes in it. Help”!

So let me list the steps that will let you tinker or rewrite or clarify your book. Whatever you want to change, the train always takes the same simple track.

Your book enters the Kindle publishing brainworks through two files, one for the cover, the other for the interior copy and artwork. Let’s assume the interior copy was prepared in Word and that you have it stored on your personal computer (or you have access to it). You or another person submitted both of those files at And as the publisher you also opened an account at Kindle, which is how you got through the publishing gate.

Let’s say that the book being displayed on Kindle says, on page five, “I am the greatest writer alive.” But others (including the greatest writer alive) told you that claim should be corrected (or painfully censored). So now you want to substitute “After having been the greatest writer alive, I am now number two.” You want to modestly set the record straight.

Get or find the book’s interior copy file, make a digital copy of that file, and set that copy aside, for old-time’s sake. Now go to page five and replace the offensive boast by erasing and retyping a correction. First check to see the font and font size that copy was prepared in. For example, if it’s Century Schoolbook 11-point, make your correction in the same font/size. Give this new file a new name (say, from Book 1-1 to Book 1-2) and save it. That’s how changes begin. Find the original file, change it, and save it with a different name–or you will drive yourself, Kindle, and us batty. Then here’s how to put that “corrected” file inside Kindle so it will appear on monitors (or like devices).

Assuming by now you have a Kindle publishing account, open it up and do the following:

1. Go to the Dashboard, then the Bookshelf.
2. Find “Your Books” and the title of the book you want to change.
3. On the far right side along the book title line find a shaded box with three dots on it, near “Book Actions.” Push “Edit Details.”
4. Go down to #6, “Upload Your Book File.”
5. Open “Browse.” It will take you back to your home files. Find Book 1-2 and open it.
6. Kindle will start downloading the corrected version of your book right away.
7. It may take a few minutes to download. When it’s done, it will invite you to look at the changed book by going to #7, “Preview Your Book.” You will see how fast one can plummet from being the world’s greatest writer to the second greatest.
8. If that’s what you want your book to say (and how you want it to look), check the orange “Save and Continue” box at the very bottom of that section.
9. That will open the #8-#11 section. Below #11 is a wee box that you must check. Read the text you just approved, and confirm it again in a yellow “Save and Publish” box on the lower right.
9. You’re done! But Kindle isn’t. If your book is in English it will take about 24 hours for your changed book to reach eager readers and buyers.

That’s it.

Congratulations on having a book or good news to share at Kindle!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. This is an updated submission version from my How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days.

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Author of Self-Publishing Manual, Dan Poynter, has died…


The author of the best-selling Self-Publishing Manual, Dan Poynter, has died. We were “in the trenches” writing friends and I already miss him, in part because it was Dan’s turn to buy lunch. So will thousands more whose lives he touched and changed. He had been quite ill for a while, seemed to be improving, but, instead, Dan passed away a few days back.

Poynter wrote almost 100 books but he was best known for his Self-Publishing Manual, now in its 14th edition. Many of us exploring the hinterlands of “doing-it-ourselves” publishing, with our starter books (rarely sought, even more rarely bought), pounding away on clunky typewriters and wading in rubber cement, wandering through the last days of the past century, when up popped his how-to gift. The SPM was a light from heaven. It answered questions we didn’t even know we should ask. As Dan learned more, the book kept getting better and bigger. In short order his grateful fans, hat in hand, too often bruised by the titans from Gotham and other bookstore bulk buyers, turned his manual into a huge seller…

Dan was a close friend of mine for lots of decades. We’re a few weeks apart in age (he would never admit it), I lived about 20 miles away, and we seemed to wander into the same ersatz gatherings and adventures, befriending many of the same odd people, and we quietly joined the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)—Dan helped birth it—and the National Speakers Association (NSA).

He was a tall, quiet fellow who gave freely of his knowledge. Many know that he was President of the Parachutists Assn as well. He joked that he married the thrill of descent (he was a life-long bachelor), and was faithful to the end.

In fact, rather than using his law training Dan set up and ran a loft in Oakland. His publishing career (and life) started when he couldn’t find a book about parachute knotting that his clientele needed, to get licensed. “I knew as much about publishing as some poor soul tapping rubber trees for a living,” he told me. So he contacted every company however involved with knotting and made copies of the diagrams and instructions they sent back, pulled them into a $40 three-ring instruction manual, wrote the conjunctive copy, then bought a dandy house near Goleta (Santa Barbara) from the profits. It overlooked the Pacific Ocean east of the UC Santa Barbara. From his front porch you could see the only American mainland target attacked by the Axis in World War II, an oil tank sighted by the misdirected Japanese Navy.

I first met him at a free lunch where Xerox was showing their brand new copiers to a bevy of hungry writers (becoming publishers). We passed on the street a couple of times but we didn’t really meet again until he tried to kill himself (inadvertently, he claims) by falling 100+ feet straight down and almost impaling himself on a volleyball net pole on East Beach. He had written (or was writing) a book about Parasailing (or was it Paragliding? He also wrote a pile of other weird books). There was a slack in the tow rope and he found himself stalled in midair! Alas, the pause was miraculously timed–a gaggle of bone doctors taking a break from a convention happened to be playing volleyball when he dropped in on them! He was nearly killed. A few days later, in the weakest voice hearable, he called and asked if I’d take his newest book to the ABA in Los Angeles the next week. I did (when I found out what the ABA was), and that started a long string of lunches, Gold Coast meetings (a sort-of branch of NSA), and so on…

Dan had a sense of humor, much of it hoarded internally. He didn’t have time (or much patience) for editing would-be books sent for his help by adoring fans. He threatened to farm them all off to me, and rarely he couldn’t help himself: I would get a DOA bundle (with a spine) in the mail with a note daring me to make sense and save the soul of the hapless scribe of the offending manuscript. The note usually mentioned that I was the only person who could get the author in print since the bundle was so much like my own books!

A final story. Dan gave weekend gatherings for book creators at his palace. The couple of times I spoke there he would hold up one of my early books and tell the attendees that it was certainly not how to design your own cover–and that he had bought a couple of copies of the book so he wouldn’t run out of such a pitiful display. I told him I was hunting for some hole in one of his books, the table of contents lost in the index, upside-down chapters, or something equally egregious for revenge. But I never found anything out of place–and now he’s left before me and the fun is gone.

Dan Poynter was a smart fellow and already is a much missed friend.

Gordon Burgett

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Writers: How to Write in Financial Comfort Even in Old Age!


There are ways to do what the title says—and about 1000 other ways that guarantee writing penury, most about as lucrative as begging for or selling writing pencils on the street! I’ll not foul this blog by describing how you can find cliche distress or dangling destitution—poverty you can find on your own. Or it will find you, particularly if you’re lazy or wreyete horroribly!

For the rest of you wordsmiths overflowing with words, wit, proper punctuation, vivid imaginations, and computers that spell well, here’s what an old writer thinks are the most likely paths to help you at least end up paying your own bills—and comfortably at ease between now and then.

We can eliminate some kinds of writing at the outset, like essays and poetry. Verse may be the showcase of a mastermind, but 99%+ of the poets, bless them, even when in rhyme don’t have a dime.

Let’s focus on the four paths that make the most cents.

Geniuses could secure comfort if they could express their wizardry in lucid, sought prose, then link themselves to vendors who could harness, package, and sell their brilliance. (So much for geniuses.)

A harder path would be from the bottom up, from stringer to city editor to editor-of-editors. Theirs might be the bobbing path of nervous comfort while publishing mastheads sink into the sea. Editing excellence may have to be mixed with the deft art of vessel leaping, derring-do in life preservers, afloat, preserving words and news while awaiting the calm. Still, in business and government there may be a million jobs that have a writing core. They pay well and keep the faithful comfortable during retirement. Some of the greatest writers had their day jobs there, and bloomed into fame from the product of their nighttime/weekend passions.

Fiction writers have the privilege of inventing comfort when needed, of living where their imagination takes them to find solace. But to have enough coin to eat and stay warm as needed requires that they cook up a tasty singular plotstew of people, purpose, and place that readers want, then keep that blend boiling until their culinary/literary fame makes them well rewarded. For most this is surely the hardest way to spend a life fed solely by writing.

The fourth path is obvious but its luster is so unseen by the everyday public that most miss its truly gilded glow. These are the folks who write for close-knit bonds of workers. They define their niches—surveyors, goat breeders, school principals—and write books or create how-to guides or give workshops transformed into BOR tomes about what every member of the group needs to know to do what they do better. Most also speak professionally about what they write. And if their primary field folds or changes form they reform their knowledge to match the new configuration, get the groups’ email addresses and sell their solutions to their associations and their members. They have ready-made followers eager for every applicable word that they write or speak. When they write articles, they know specifically who will read them and what they need or want to read. Their blogs are avidly awaited, they use social media to enhance their expertise, and as they get known and grow older their demand grows proportionately. They’re probably too busy to be too comfortable in their prime years, but they could have a self-generating empire that would keep them very comfortable as they age. The downside? Who knows they exist (comfortably or at all) and who reads their chosen words, other than the tight circle of their followers.

That’s it. Musing about how those fed by the flames of imagination and word-molding are most likely to be able to be comfortably closer to their preferred mode of creation longer and freer from debilitating or impoverishing distractions.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. I write books and speak their messages, mostly. Some are published by others, while I also publish niche books, all of which I edit but are written by others. Here is a list of those books that are currently available. (Oh yes, I’m also old.)

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A visible punctuation error that gets writers unbought!


You want to get paid for your wordsmithing by some deep-pocketed, eagle-eyed editor who refuses to rewrite your mistakes, here’s something that can keep you poor and quickly rejected. Even worse, it’s easy to spot before the editor reads a word.

Learn how and when to use the “en” and “em” dashes right every time.

Worse yet, do you know that there are em dash, 2 em dash, and 3 em dash decisions too? And do you put a space before and after it or snug it up to the type every time it is used?

The dashes all get their names from their girth and volume. The “en” dash is the size of a hyphen and is the width of the letter “n”; the “em” dash is twice as wide (but all in one dash) because it’s the size of the fatter letter “m.”

“Look at me, I’m a simple en dash!”

The easy dash is the skinny brother, en.

You use the en dash all the time. It even has its own key on the keyboard, above and to the right of the letter “p.” And there are never blank spaces before or after it. It usually means “to” when you connect numbers in ranges, like dates (2001-2013), or months (June-July), or miracles, like the Cubs won the pennant game 9-1.

But you don’t use the single dash when the number or word is preceded by from or between (from…to, or between…and). Two examples: “The zoo is closed from November to February” or “It’s most comfortable when the temperature is between 65 and 77°F.”

The most confusing is when the en dash is used when joining compound modifiers where at least one of the words is an open compound (meaning not hyphenated) or is already hyphenated. Like, the Chicago-Rome connection, bridesmaid-approved dresses, or pre-election polling restrictions.

“No, look at ME, I’m a bewildering em dash!”

The em dash should look like ——, but it still appears (in earlier typed text) as two hyphens without a space between (because that was your only choice on old-fashioned typewriters.) The em dash is so common that it is what most mean when they say “a dash.” It’s used primarily in informal writing in place of a comma, colon, semicolon, or parentheses to provide emphasis.

You most often see it used to set off parenthetical expressions like “When I hit the high C—or tried to hit, or at least reach, the high C—the students broke out laughing!” I could have substituted with parentheses, but not a comma because commas cannot be used to set off parenthetical expressions when there is internal punctuation (commas inside the expressions.)

Two uses where the em dash, usually used in pairs, might appear alone:

“Betty, How could—Why would you do such a thing?”
“Can I finish my—,” the husband pleaded.

It can also be inserted, alone, in place of an unknown value in a table.

Where do you find em dashes on a keyboard? Go to “Insert/symbol/special characters” and both the em and en dashes will appear. But most software programs let you type two consecutive hyphens (no space between) and as you type the next item the double hyphen will also convert into an em dash.)

Don’t forget us: we’re double em and triple em!

I’m double and you see me used to indicate missing letters in a word, either because material is missing or illegible, or to conceal a name. Like Sister M ————. Or “Two of the players, ———— and ————, got thrown out for fighting.” (Notice that in blogs and computer text the spaces between the en dashes still appear? Imagine here they are joined, two in one.)

I’m triple em (didn’t you notice?) and I am much more formal. I am used in bibliographies when the author’s name is repeated, like

———————. Adventures in Dashes. New York: Big House Publisher, 2015.

Finally, do you insert a space before and after an em dash? It depends. They seem to do so almost all the time in England, and some U.S. newspapers (and a few magazines) do too. I don’t nor do I see it much where I publish (articles and books) and I think the trend is to join the em dash on both sides, like: “this is an example—albeit a bad one—of what…” I’d just be consistent throughout the piece and the editor will recognize and usually correct your weird style. But inconsistency, at least here, may drive the editor daft—or dafter. That will leave you—broke(r).

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Where might your bio and sales info do you the most good?


If you are digitally displaying your achievements and the products/skills that you have for sale, where might that be shown to your best advantage? Even if it’s only done to delight your kids, prove your prowess to your spouse, or put some strut in your aging parents’ prance, where might they most likely (and logically) see it?

Maybe at your website, where you can hide almost anything in its most exquisite, self-defined detail?

Or, in miniature, in your social media profiles?

Yesterday I became convinced that at least for writers, speakers, and publishers maybe the best shout sheet would be at our Author Central page at

I concluded that from a dandy multi-segment workshop given by three BAIPA leaders at the monthly (second Saturday) gathering in Novato, California. (BAIPA is the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Publishers Association.) According to David Cutler, Judy Baker, and Ruth Schwartz, we would be woefully derelict if we left anything unrevealed at that site.

Why would Amazon be the prize listing site for our bios and the related exposition of products, services, and current or coming activities? Because far more buyers go to or through Amazon to buy paperbacks, ebooks, and audiobooks (plus batteries, kettles, and harmonicas, etc.) than anywhere else. And more eyes usually mean more buys of our printed or spoken gems! (You don’t publish through Amazon? You can list all other products there too.)

What can you include there to prove to the hungry public that you know your stuff and that your knowledge is immediately (and wisely) purchasable? Your books (bound or digital), audiobooks, articles, blogs as they appear, a long introduction, photos, videos, events (present and future), plus more…

How can others review and use this well presented repository? You can link them there, put a widget at your website, or they can just put your name up at and your Author Central info will appear—if you create it, which is fast and free.

I know, others have to go through Amazon to reach it. That bothers me too. But I will simply explain to them that it is where they can find the best and most recent list of my publications and services–and give the link or widget.

That’s it. I felt a bit stupid being all but unaware that Author Central existed despite the fact that Kindle and Create Space sell lots of my books (as do several other publishers, and us too). But I will use it often now. I’m interested having them hawking the existence of my words, wit, and (rumored) wisdom 24 hours a day, though I hope they keep that display some distance from the kettles and harmonicas.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. There’s an obvious exception to the Amazon answer to this blog’s query: if you are a niche-oriented publisher or speaker, the best location would be in niche-related places. You are unlikely to be selling through Two very unlike business models! (See my blogs about niche publishing if this is unclear. Just write niche publishing in the “search” box in the upper right corner.)

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With a novel, why not cash in with five more wee books?


With a novel, why not cash in with five more wee spin-off books?

The easiest way to get more people to buy your novels is to tell a super tale, then expand that with even better tales, inflating your reader’s enthusiasm and their caring for your characters, their loves and travails, for their dreams or fears.

But you hardly need a blog to tell you that.

So let me suggest five more ways, spin-offs really, that can help you expand and deepen your buyers’ eagerness to buy more of what you write.

That is, add five or more small books that will increase your readers’ curiosity and sense of shared involvement, significantly increase your books’ sales, be gentle on your reader’s purse, and keep you and your readers continually communicating on the same track. Consider “wee books” (or focus books).

These “enrichment” books can be as long as you wish, but I suggest that 50 or so pages may be enough to sprinkle bonus and p.r. magic and still leave room for possible later sequels—wee book or focus book sequels.

Alas, the books can’t be produced too early unless you create a thorough, detailed, long-range strategy and outline that carries your books well into the series.

(1) one of the wee books might feature the whole portrait of the main protagonist;

(2) a second book could be about the other key protagonists (even a hint about characters to come);

(3) a third, about the focus of action, the setting, as it is currently in the book, its change over the past 50 or so years, how it differs from nearby sites, and how it fits into the other homes and towns and locations in that region;

(4) a fourth might be more a map of where the physical structures lie in relation to each other—or maybe three maps, of how it is in the current books’ actions; how it was, say, 20 years back, and again at some even earlier time, and

(5) a fifth book might tie in other books about the same general place and period, both fictional and nonfictional, providing a partially fanciful resource where the interested can learn what other novelists and historians are saying about the setting you are drawing from. That might even provide an opportunity to “fess up” on where your characters are true to fact, as true as you can imagine, or properly portrayed to their historical role as offered on your pages.

When might you do this—and why?

When? The wee/focus books could begin after the first book is out (you might start with book three or four numbered above) and they could be released between subsequent books as the grand tale grows in depth and spread.

The why is straightforward: you want your readers to turn into literary junky mice ensnared by your Piperish enchantments. Help them know more, faster, about the scenery, forests, pets, mores, history (that is too basic or distant to work into your plot), the cloth and dreams that cover and flesh out the bodies, souls, and spirits you create.

Casual readers become fervent fans when the all-embracing back story adds third and fourth dimensions to the words and actions you provide as your series unfolds. They will also spread their increasing enthusiasm to their book-reading friends.

In nonfiction, our firm’s wee or focus books (for K-12 school administrators) are secondary, support books 6 x 9, fast readers (ideal for ebook format), $3 digitally, $6 in paperback. (See an example just released, Rights and Responsibilities of School Principals.)

In fiction, the wee book concept presumes that the author has the empire to follow well designed, the actors fully envisioned, relationships known, and the locale and history well in hand—that is, the author has a book of prep material well developed before the first full novel appears.

Then it’s more an act of letting the horses loose to carry a growing horde of breathless readers from book to book. Plus a few, occasional wee/focus books to add more color, a greater sense of connectedness, a pass to actually walk the land, and a more immediate peek through the family fence.

Sound like far too much work, particularly for just a few bucks? It is more writing, for sure, but since you have a wagonload of facts, quotes to invent, and anecdotes for motion and purpose, it’s a shame to have the material at hand (or as created) and not share it, profitably, with the brave souls who want to read your fiction. If it’s well done, the more you tell the reader, the more she or he will want to know…(and buy).

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. In my coming newsletter, out the second week of September, I will dwell in far greater detail on nonfiction wee/concept books and how they can add considerable buy-in and interest in the core book they relate to. If interested, subscribe free.

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Someone from China wants to use your URL. Hmm…


Since my company produces products for K-12 school administrators, dentists, writers, publishers, and treasure hunt planners, you can count the number of sales that we have made to China on no fingers.

So you can imagine my surprise when a firm from Singapore emailed me that a person was interested in registering my URL in Asia (China primarily)–as their own! The URL in question is “gordonburgett”! Hardly an everyday phrase in any form of Chinese (or any other language that I know of). It’s my name, and according to the White Pages a few years back there were only six Gordon Burgetts in the entire country. (A Burgett was a town gatekeeper in the very olde days. No trendsetting there.)

A mystery from afar. The letter was quite professional so it wasn’t easily dismissed. It prompted three images: “a future lawsuit,” a “future shakedown,” or a fairly “sophisticated scam.” I looked at the website that the email came from and it said the firm had 100+ employees registering URLs. Impressive if true.

I checked “Asian URL scams” or “Chinese URL scams” with Google. Nothing. I was on my own.

The first email asked me if the person interested in registering was affiliated with or worked with my firm. I wrote back a pleasant no. And I asked why in the world with about a billion URL choices available in Chinese (or so it seems to me, who can’t read any of them) waiting to be used, why “gordonburgett”?

This is the follow-up letter I received yesterday.
Subject: CN/ASIA domain names & Internet Keyword

Dear Gordon Burgett ,

Based on your company having no relationship with them, we have suggested they should choose another name to avoid this conflict but they insist on this name as CN/ASIA domain names (asia/ cn/ and internet keyword on the internet. In our opinion, maybe they do the similar business as your company and register it to promote his company.

According to the domain name registration principle: The domain names and internet keyword which applied based on the international principle are opened to companies as well as individuals. Any companies or individuals have rights to register any domain name and internet keyword which are unregistered. Because your company haven’t registered this name as CN/ASIA domains and internet keyword on the internet, anyone can obtain them by registration. However, in order to avoid this conflict, the trademark or original name owner has priority to make this registration in our audit period. If your company is the original owner of this name and want to register these CN/ASIA domain names (asia/ cn/ and internet keyword to prevent anybody from using them, please inform us. We can send an application form and the price list to you and help you register these within dispute period.

Kind regards
My name is hot! My family likes fortune cookies so they probably suspect that the registry folks from Singapore have some special view into the future, perhaps they see a coming flood of fiscal prosperity, and somebody wants to get good footing before the green deluge occurs.

I’m not quite so certain since most of my fortune cookies say “You will live another day!”

So I decided to let my web server have the last word. His firm is much closer to China than California so he might have some extra insight. His reply? “This is just a scare tactic to get you to register domain names with them.”

So I’ll leave it there. But I’ll keep my eyes open for new airplanes, race cars, or yachts heading East to West bearing the brand name of Gordon Burgett. Thank God I got there first!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Little things not to say when you’re emceeing …


There may be a million things not to say when you are in charge of a program or ceremony.

Let me share a half-dozen wee comments that, in themselves, aren’t going to get you hooked off the podium, but, done right, they will easily distinguish you as a professional who is comfortable and smooth…

For example, do you know anybody who wants to be introduced last (unless that spot is saved for the highlight of the show)? Even worse, “last but not least.” Why not say “final” or “concluding”? Or if you are using numbers, like “first speaker,” “second speaker,” and so on, just use the number for the last? Like “Many of you may have heard our fifth speaker, …”

Along the same line, “We’ve saved the best for last…” Hmm, if I was speaker #3 of five what goes through my mind? I must have bombed, or whatever one does who isn’t the best…

Ever hear, “the one and only”? That does convey special esteem, but it also makes the listeners ask, “the one and only what?” Why not tell the audience why that person is held in such high regard, like “the fastest woman in the world, …” Even there “the one and only” may be one race from being inaccurate. Consider something less transitory like “America’s most rewarded Olympic Gold swimmer, … ”

How often have you heard that the speaker “needs no introduction,” then they are introduced (usually in great length)! Two points here: (1) surely there are folks in the crowd who have absolutely no idea who the person is, so you have to say something about them or their prominence, and (2) if you are certain that the coming speaker is beyond introduction, prove it. Save the introduction.

But you can’t just point at them and grunt or push the microphone into their hands. So a compromise. “____ is well known to most of us…” and complete the introduction with a concise listing of their accomplishments or honors.

Finally, you must remember which is the podium and which is the lectern. You are standing on the podium, your notes are sitting on the lectern.

A very good emceeing guidebook full of solid advice is Dana LaMon’s Master the Ceremonies (see

Emceeing is lots of fun–it’s also alarming the first times out. The most important thing to remember is that the audience isn’t there to see or hear you.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. Want to be an emcee for three or four hours, probably alone and usually non-stop? Give full seminars! Details at “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar.”

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Using humor to sell your magazine articles


Funny you should ask!

One rule always: some editors/publications don’t use humor, so don’t even try. At best the editor may open her lips to chuckle (or groan), then reconsider and toss the query. I can’t tell you which such publications  to avoid because I don’t read them. But it used to be that the AARP magazines were humor dry. That getting old must be grim stuff. (So when I did write for them I kept surefire rip-roarers, even tepid jests, out of my mind lest one slide down to my pecking finger and be read by the paymaster.)

I can’t remember any editor who wanted truckloads of comedy dumped on their desk. They bought humor in measured bits deftly worked into actual (or near-) truths. Except the fillers editors who seemed to weigh jokes by the word so they could be squeezed into advertising holes. They actually did pay a pittance, when they stopped laughing–but I don’t ever recall them buying two jokes at the same time. I had a colleague who sold a joke to Reader’s Digest and included the sale in his credits in every query. One editor wrote back, rejecting his idea, and added, “I bet that RD joke was the only thing you ever sold.” Mean editors are rare, but they can be perceptive. It was about a third of his freelance bounty.

Puns sometimes worked, but if I used one I used two so they knew it was intentional. I’ve sold 1,700+ freelance articles but only once did I use a full-out joke in an article, and that was about 10 or 15 words long and the joke was the article’s lead! (Alas, it must have been far below my personal humor standard because I can’t remember a word of it!) On the other hand I wrote a travel short about 800 words long about eating guinea pig sandwiches that were cooked on the street in Quito, Ecuador. (At least they looked like guinea pigs.) I found out years later, through a Peace Corps kid stationed near Cuenca, that one of his projects was to help multiply the stock of domesticated guinea pigs to increase the meat available on the local table. (Whatever it was, it sure tasted good.)

Here was my system of weaving humor into an article’s otherwise deadly prose.

(1) Mostly I lifted deadly prose appreciably heavenward by keeping the tone light and the descriptions spry (good synonyms adorned with festive adjectives helped).

(2) I relied a lot on word play, but you have to spread it out and only do that now and then. For example, I might refer to Buffy, a wee, yapping dog, as a furry feral killer-companion or a drooling pet growler. Or a woman’s date as her knight of the night. That’s enough wit: the blog censors just told me to stop–they are thinking of your humor health.

(3) A funny, related thought to what is being said in a paragraph almost always ended that paragraph.

(4) It’s hard to give isolated examples. Find an article that intentionally makes you laugh and highlight every funny item in it with yellow underliner. You’ll see that the humor is discretely bundled in 93% topic-related facts.

(5) Just as the writer did in (5) above, if the subject had humor wanting to get out, I made the content worth reading, and let some of that humor escape.

(6) I always put some humor in the query letter, in the actual selling message, so the editor knew there would be humor in the copy that followed. I’m convinced that the humor helped sell the query. But you can’t overdue it.

(7) As a friend who teaches journalism tells his wards: if you can’t keep your humor in control, get a talk show!

Some loose how-to’s but I hope it helps. Life’s a whole lot more fun when you’re part of the wit and mirth. It’s even better when you get paid to share it.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett






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