The PTC’s Copywriting for Publishers

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On a cold day in November, I was lucky to be the first person clicking on a button that said I want to win! Actually, I’ll be honest, luck had very little to do with it! When I read that BookMachine was offering someone the chance to win a 1-day PTC course in copywriting, I knew I was going to do everything in my power to be that first person!

I’d like to get into technical copywriting and have had some amazing inspiration and influences. Why technical writing? If there’s one thing I’ve always appreciated, it’s clarity with words. Years ago, as a census enumerator, I remember explaining to residents how to complete the census form. The census forms bore the Crystal Mark of the Plain English Campaign. I understood the process a publication needed to undergo to earn that symbol. I loved that! I loved that something had to be written, edited and simplified, and made jargon-free so that Joe Bloggs down the street could understand it – in essence, so that it was foolproof.

Working in the NHS, I’m sorry to say, means that unfortunately, like anyone working in a massive organisation, I’m relentlessly exposed to jargon. I HATE jargon! Can’t understand it!

And so, back to the course. PTC’s Peter Mackay introduced Bev Legge, our trainer. With years of experience – both in journalism and publishing, he had plenty to share (and divulge!). Everyone else attending was in in-house publishing, so I was a bit of a fish out of water. From the outset, we were prompted to think about good copy vs bad copy. Faced with a blank screen? It doesn’t matter – start typing, even if it’s bad copy! There’s never a positive to come from staring at a blank screen for more than 15 seconds.

A useful – and very personal – aspect of the day was the ‘Reviews’ we did on each other’s copy. As a way of breaking up the theoretical learning, we each studied examples of our own work – for appraisal and feedback – not alone from Bev, but from each other. This was eye opening and constructive.

Bev got us working in small groups and alone, simplifying, slashing and editing, making huge changes to swathes of copy: face the fear and do it anyway! (Who said that?) Some of his veritable nuggets of creativity were the links and tools for searching and inspiration, especially the Google advanced searches and settings – I didn’t realise till then how limited my own Google experience had been.

No-one walked away hungry – with gourmet snacks and drinks at every break and a sumptuous cooked lunch, not to mention sweet jars strategically placed on our tables, temptation lurking for even the hardiest of healthy-eating fanatics!

I came away from the day, head swimming with ideas and inspiration, the seeds sown for my career leap into copywriting.

Become a BookMachine member to be in with a chance of winner a prize like Anna did.


Anna Nolan is a proofreader, copy-editor and paediatric dietician. She is a member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and is a volunteer on their social media team. She’s just starting her copywriting career and juggling these jobs with bringing up two feisty kids! Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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  1. Congrats Anna! Goodness I’m impressed! I’ve been meaning to join the Book Machine but… thanks for the inspiration and good luck!!

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