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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Yep. Your URLs (Addresses) Need Editing, Too!


Using Short, Pretty URLs

I'll tell you right up front, this seems such a waste of time to me. It isn't really about grammar and it's only obliquely about editing. But here's the thing. It is about prettying up your copy. And it is—to a certain extent—about using words effectively. Hang in there, and you'll see why.

It's about using short URLs. But not the ones that are all letters, numbers, caps and lower case. Horrors! They're another reason I hate shortened URLs almost as much as the really, really long ones. Really, they look so alien. They are so unmemorable. And that's anathema to me whether I'm thinking about writing or about marketing.

But I'm turning over a new leaf. For one thing, the long URLs (like the addresses you might pick up in the URL window from your book's sales page on Amazon) go on and on and on. And once you've gotten on to it, it doesn't really take that long to shorten them. But it's the "real language" aspect of short URLs that interests me most for the purpose of editing. 

I used to use Budurl.com, but they started charging for their service. And you know how frugal I am. Here's the way my original short for The Frugal Editor looks: www.budurl.com/TheFrugalEditor. But one has to go one extra step to get those final words into it instead of a bunch of gibberish. Now that's worth the time for sure!

Once BudUrl started charging, I moved to http://bitly.com/. This one is super easy to navigate once you've set up an account—and so fast it's even frugal of your time. It, too, used lots of letters to give you a shortened code, but you have a choice to "customize" which I nearly always do. So Amazon's sales page for my husband's book What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z has a shortened code of http://amzn.to/ForeignersAmericaUS. Then I did one for each sales page of every overseas online bookstore Amazon provides. The basic URL looks the same but the ends of each differ. That's the part that comes after the slash:  /ForeignersAmericaSpain, /ForeignersAmericaGermany, /ForeignersAmericaUK.  You get the idea.

Now, I know that some of these URLs are not all that short. They obviously won't be as short as you'd like for, say, Twitter. But they have these three super advantages:

1.      The links in your e-mails, newsletters, etc. won't get broken.

2.      You have a link that's easy for you to remember and reasonably easy for your readers to remember. But it's more important that it's an address they can identify with.

3.      And you won't have to go back to get a new code every time you need to use one. You'll have it all up there in your head. Now that's frugal of time!


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

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