Is Your Text Causing Cognitive Overload?

I have a confession. I know that podcasts are extremely popular. However, I have not been able to bring myself to jump on board.

I rarely listen to podcasts. I am a very busy person (as are many Americans). In my opinion, podcasts just take too long to serve the “meat.”

Is your text causing cognitive overload?

If I want information on a topic, I find reading easier. With reading, I can scan an article or web page and find the important information I am looking for. With a podcast, I am locked in to listening until the meat is finally dished out—which is usually most of the way through the podcast.

I am not alone in scanning or skimming when reading to find information. Research shows that 79% of people scan a web page, while only 16% read word-for-word. Interestingly, another study found that people scan email newsletters similar to web pages.

Too much information results in cognitive overload. Today, we have more information in front of us than ever before in the history of the world. As a result, we can easily become overloaded with information, causing our brain to not work as efficiently.

In an effort to reduce our cognitive load, we scan information. This results in more efficient processing of that information by the brain.

Is your text scannable?

Reading a book is different from reading web copy, marketing copy, or emails. When people choose to read a book, they are making the choice to read word-for-word. When people seek specific information, they scan to find what they are looking for.

To engage more people, it is important that all your marketing material can be scanned easily so that your important points stand out. Marketing material includes:

  • Blog posts
  • Website copy
  • Book descriptions
  • Book back cover copy
  • Author bios
  • Online and print advertisements
  • Author media sheets

Text becomes more scannable when it is broken up. In your marketing text, don’t use big blocks of text like you do in a book. Instead, focus on breaking up the text as follows:

  • Use headings and subheadings.
  • Pull out points and make them a bullet list.
  • Keep your paragraphs short.
  • Highlight keywords.
  • Put your most important point first.

A good rule of thumb is that your marketing materials should contain half the word count (or less) then when writing conventionally.

Armed with this information, I suggest that you revisit your marketing material to ensure that it is not causing cognitive overload.

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Photo courtesy of Silviarita and Geralt.

How to Get More Attention for Your Books

When it comes to promoting your book on social networks, do you feel like you are wasting your time? You might be right… you really might be barking in the wind.

Recent studies show that social shares are way down. Recent studies by Buzzsumo and Shareaholic show that social sharing is way down. Due to algorithm changes on Facebook, social shares have decreased almost 50 percent in the past year.

Surprisingly, search engine discovery has made a comeback. In 2017, 34.8% of site visits were driven by searches, while only 25.6% of site visits came from social. Prior to last year, search lagged behind social.

So, how should you adapt your online marketing strategies to accommodate the decline of social shares on the Internet? Following are two strategies.

1. Share unique information that your target audience is interested in.

Don’t join the crowd. Often when a topic becomes popular, everyone jumps on it and adds their own two cents. This results in a large number of posts on a single topic, causing many to be lost in the crowd. So, while it is good to stay on top of the latest trends for your topic or niche, make sure your voice is offering something different that will stand out.

2. Write catchy headlines.

Whether you are writing headlines for a blog post, a video, a podcast, or other information you are sharing on social media, make your headlines stand out. When Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million headlines to determine which ones were the most successful in getting noticed and shared, they discovered that certain three-word phrases racked up the most likes, shares, and comments.

From their study, Buzzsumo shared the top 20 three-word phrases that received the most shares on Facebook. Check them out in the chart below.

The key to grabbing attention to garner social awareness and shares on the Internet is by writing headlines that grab attention. CoSchedule offers three great free tools to help you be more successful in writing headlines for blogs, subject lines for emails, and messages for social media to capture more attention for you and your books. Check them out:

Give these free tools a try. They can help you improve your messaging to gain more attention in the increasingly crowded digital realm.

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The Language of Publishing

Every industry has its own language. Realtors must learn realty speak. Lawyers must learn legalese. Pharmacists have to learn names of drugs. Computer programmers and IT people must learn technical terms related to computers and programming.

writing world

It is hard to be a nurse or an engineer if you don’t know the language of your industry. Learning the words is akin to learning the concepts and allows you to talk in an educated manner with others in the industry.

The writing and publishing industry is no different; it has a language that is unique to the industry. If you are writing, publishing, and promoting books, learning this language is a necessity to survive and thrive in this field.

For example, if you are an author considering a contract from a publisher for your book or a publisher that offers contracts to authors for publishing a book, some common terms found in such contracts include:

  • Kill Fee
  • Libel Clause
  • One-Time Rights
  • Cross-Collateralization
  • Reprint Rights
  • Translation Rights

Knowing what each of these words refers to and means is important in understanding what is being communicated in a publishing contract or query followup.

A new book by Sally E. Stuart titled The Writing World Defined A to Z sets out to define the terms new writers and authors should be aware of on entering the publishing world. The terms in the book mainly deal with actual manuscript and writing terms, as well as language used in publishing contracts.

A few examples include:

Book jacket: The paper cover on a hardback book.

Remainders: The published copies of a book that the publisher still has in its warehouse that are slow to sell, or those left over when a book goes out of print, are called remainders.

Slush pile: The stack of unsolicited queries, proposals, or manuscripts that have arrived at a publisher’s or an agent’s office.

Net Receipts: In most book contracts that you sign with a publisher, your royalties will be paid based on net receipts. The means whatever income the publisher receives minus his costs and any deductions given to retailers or wholesalers.

Head shot: Professional publicity photo.

The Writing World Defined A to Z is a wonderful resource for new writers and authors to learn the language of the industry. The book is geared toward authors who are looking to secure a contract with a publisher or write for magazines.

Be aware, however, this book does not include the language that those who are preparing to publish independently need to know in terms of book design and layout or printing. These two services—book formatting and printing—each have their own unique language.

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Adding Spice to Your Marketing Efforts

Good marketing involves grabbing people’s attention. That is why shocking headline catch our attention.

Did you ever notice that often what is shared in an article is not as awful as the headline led you to believe? Journalists use shocking headlines to catch your attention. Writing a shocking book title to catch a reader’s attention is only one strategy for catching readers’ attention.

For those of you who are currently marketing a book using press releases, interviews, and blog posts, one great strategy to grab your audience’s attention is to present interesting news items, facts, or stories that tie into your book.

If you are marketing a book with a wedding theme, knowing some strange wedding customs to talk about is a great way to engage your audience. People love weird and bizarre stuff.

If you are marketing a cookbook or health book related to food, knowing weird things people actually eat can be used to gain attention. For example:

“While some Americans indulge in the practice of eating road kill, I don’t encourage my readers to get protein this way. There are many healthier methods for finding cheap protein to add to your diet. My book …”

Are you looking to liven up your next interview or blog post with interesting facts or stories? Check out This website runs lists related to politics, sports, health, history, food, and more.’s lists include many interesting lists like “10 People Who Lived After Death” and “6 Persistent Myths and Superstitions.”

Head on over to to get your creative juices flowing and add some spice to your marketing efforts.

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