Writing Coach

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

"Effective E-Mail Made E-Z," a business guide on how to write e-mail messages, will be for sale soon on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and Borders bookstores across the country. The book is published by UpWrite Press. UpWrite Press and Write Source are divisions of Sebranek Inc., which is located in a former barn and 1840s farmhouse on the west side of Burlington.

Poorly written e-mail messages have created confusion for some business deals and legal problems for some firms, said Pat Sebranek, president and chief executive officer of Sebranek Inc.

"Once we got into the e-mail book, we realized there’s a whole lot more to say about e-mail than we realized," he said.

Another book published by UpWrite Press, "Write for Business," will also be available in Borders stores. UpWrite also is trying to get Barnes & Noble stores to carry that book.

Writing skills are critical for business communications, Sebranek said. Poorly written letters and other forms of written communication could result in lost business.

"You have to be able to write clearly," he said.

UpWrite Press produces books, eBooks, CD-ROMs and other materials for improving business writing and communications skills. The company sells five business books and is working on six other titles that could be released in a year, said Tom Spicuzza, director of marketing for UpWrite Press.

UpWrite Press also does on-site writing training for businesses, and its employees travel all over the country to conduct those training sessions. The company also provides online training, one-on-one training with executives over the phone and is working on creating a podcasting training program.

"The goal is to deliver these materials in any format, so people can learn any time, anywhere," Spicuzza said.

Write Source publishes textbooks, workbooks, handbooks and other educational materials for English classes

for students from kindergarten through college.

UpWrite Press and Write Source create the books and materials. They are printed and distributed by other companies.

Sebranek and his wife, Judy, started their company in 1976. They had success creating English books for schools. However, the company also sold some of its books to business executives who saw their children’s school books and called the company to order English books to train their employees how to write better.

So, Sebranek Inc. added the UpWrite Press division three years ago to sell books about writing for business.

Pat Sebranek is a former Union Grove High School English teacher. He and Judy decided to start the business after Pat and some other Union Grove High School teachers created a 48-page English handbook. They handed the book out at a writing conference. The book was so popular at the conference that some other schools requested hundreds of copies.

"We realized at that point, this could be a business for us," Sebranek said.

Judy left her job at Memorial Hospital of Burlington and became the company’s only full-time employee. Pat continued teaching until the company was fully established. He quit teaching in 1985.

"It started small and slow, but it took off fairly quickly," Sebranek said. "I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, but I’ve enjoyed doing this even more."

Their big break came when a prominent publication for English teachers gave their book "Basic English Revisited," a positive review. The book put the company on the map.

"That’s when the phones started to ring," Sebranek said. "After that, every time we went to a conference, people knew who we were."

English teachers were eager for a new English handbook and the word of mouth spread quickly, Sebranek said.

"For many years, there was one English handbook out there," he said. "The company never updated it. It was a

classic. It was very dry. Students couldn’t relate to it. When we wrote our book I pictured myself standing in front of my classes actually explaining it to students."

"Basic English Revisited" used color and cartoon illustrations to keep students interested in the material and help them understand better.

"We were clearly a new generation of (English) handbooks," Sebranek said.

The Sebraneks ran their business out of their Burlington home until 1985. Then they moved to space in downtown Burlington, but they quickly ran out of room there. In 1990, they moved to their current location, setting up offices in a three-level barn and a two-story, three-bedroom farmhouse built in the 1840s.

A year after moving to its current location, the company expanded its full-time workforce from about 15 to about 30.

Write Source has sold about 16 to 17 million copies of its English books. UpWrite Press expects to sell about 10,000 copies of its business writing books this year, up from about 5,000 copies last year.

Sebranek Inc. has about $20 million in annual sales. About half of the company’s 35 full-time employees are former teachers.

"We can do as well as teach, it turned out," Sebranek said. "We are still educators. We are still teaching. We are just working in a little different format."

UpWrite Press

Parent company: Sebranek Inc.

President and CEO: Patrick Sebranek

Location: 35115 W. State St., Burlington

Web page: www.upwritepress.com

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