Once…two, three

dark-angelsOnce I wrote a book. Then it happened again. And again. Three books, all written about writing, read by readers.

Then as is the way of things, time passed and there were no copies of the books left in shops or warehouses. Which upset me a little but not for long because a new publisher wanted to republish them. He said: “These are three very individual titles, but read together they arm every business with the skills they need to use words to their advantage.”

So now We, Me, Them & It, The Invisible Grail and Dark Angels are being published in new editions by Urbane. People describe them as cult books which means they should have sold more copies. People also say the books changed the way they write and think about writing.

In Dark Angels I set out eight principles of writing. Here they are. Some might need a little further explanation but that’s what the books are there for.

  • Be curious. Be a traveller not a tourist. Be open to possibilities.
  • To listen to your own words as you write. And try to make others listen to your words as if to a wonderful new language.
  • Set and accept constraints. Welcome them. Particularly when the constraints are the brief.
  • Put yourself in your reader’s place. Imagine the lives of your customers. Show compassion to them.
  • Words appear in a context of sound, vision and memory. Make deliberate use of those associations.
  • Edit, edit, edit. But know you have to stop.
  • Transform the most unpromising materials. Not even lists need be boring.
  • Bring your personality to work. Put it positively into your writing.

I still stick by those. Of course, you always need to be flexible and you need to think things through for yourself so that you make your own version of these principles to apply to your own writing. Examples always help. The three books give you those examples too, and I hope they’ll provoke you into thinking through for yourself the principles that guide your own writing and that make your voice distinctive. As I quote in We, Me, Them & It from New York mayor Ed Koch: “You agree with me on 9 issues out of 12, vote for me. You agree with me on 12 out of 12, go see a psychiatrist.”

John Simmons


“John Simmons is the patron saint of business writers everywhere” Dan Germain, Innocent.

To get your 3 for 2 offer on John Simmons’ Dark Angels trilogy (We, Me, Them & It, The Invisible Grail and Dark Angels) go to http://urbanepublications.com/book_author/john-simmons/ Add all three books to the cart then add the word trilogy in the coupon box. It will then take £12.97 off and show the price as £26.00 for all three with free postage and packing.”

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