UK-based publishing consultancy, providing training, marketing campaign and market research support, and consultancy to publishers in the UK and internationally

Send us a quick enquiry or comment


*Required only so that we can reply to you


We promise that a real human being will respond to your query, usually within 24 hours. If you prefer to phone us, you are just as welcome to do so on:

+44 (0)20 8977 2741

Your question

Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 30 October 2018. In this issue:

What does the success of these hoax articles say about academic research?

In 2017 three academics concerned that some of their peers had lost sight of balanced research due to a blinding focus on social grievances decided to test how silly it was possible to be and still get published.

They wrote 20 spoof articles, adhering precisely to conventions governing legitimate research, but based on absurd theses, and submitted them to top journals in the fields.

And what happened next?

  1. Seven of the 20 were published, several to effusive praise from the reviewers. This included Dog Park, which raised concerns over canine rape and ‘the oppressed dog’, and which was recognised for its excellent contribution to the field of ‘feminist animal geography’. Another was Moon Meetings, a ‘rambling poetic monologue’ produced by an online teenage angst poetry generator and then edited enough to make it pass as an article. (It was accepted for publication without need for revision.)
  2. The ‘authors’ of the 20 articles were themselves invited to peer-review for the journals involved.
  3. In July 2018 Dog Park was attracting attention on Twitter, and Real Peer Review questioned its authenticity, at which point the three hoaxers came clean and ‘retired’ the articles still in the review process. The experiment had run its course and an alarming theory had been tested and proven.

I share this story not because I think that it indicates significant problems with the publishing (and specifically the peer-review) process, but because anyone who works in academic publishing will have seen proposals that are self-indulgent to the point of silliness. (This isn’t just me being an old cynic, is it?) Some subjects are so emotionally and/or politically charged that they can escape the scrutiny levelled elsewhere. If you do relate to this, it should give you confidence to question the real contribution to its discipline of research before you, rather than ‘simply’ to the obsessive standpoint of its author. Objectivity is, after all, one of the benefits we bring as part of the publishing process.

The same is true, incidentally, when you are faced with an author’s description that you need a PhD in syntax to de-code. Do yourself and the world a favour by requiring it to survive a reality check.

You can read the full story of Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship on the Areo website. The 6 minute video at the start is an excellent introduction.

If this article is of interest to you then do take a look at our Academic Marketing Workshop in which we look at the relationship between academics and publishers.


10 examples of great welcome emails, with thanks to HubSpot

A potential new customer signs up to your enewsletter. What’s the first thing they get from you?

That first email is incredibly important at establishing rapport with your new subscriber, but many welcome emails are functional but lack-lustre. In other words, a wasted opportunity.

HubSpot share 10 ‘standout welcome emails’ in this quick-to-read and visual post. Although the examples are (all?) from North America, and none of them from publishing, the detail and range of issues raised provide plenty of food for thought and may just prompt you to review your own welcome emails.

Read the HubSpot article for yourself. (Tip: Just scroll down to find the content, it’s below the LookBook download form, though this is good too!)

If you’d love the chance to discuss this in a publishing context, take a look at our Email Marketing Workshop.


The 3pm brain slump, you’re in good company says Fast Company

I’m sharing this not because it’s new, but to cheer you on those occasions when you just can’t seem to apply yourself to the task at hand. There are some good fresh points made, but mostly it’s just confirming that we have good and bad times to apply ourselves to tasks that require brainpower. And the conclusion is one I cite regularly on copywriting workshops, which is to be honest with yourself about scheduling work that requires total concentration for times of the day when you are most likely to be firing on all cylinders.

Read the Fast Company article for yourself.

Read more about our Copywriting Workshop.


On The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook

  • Will you be at the Guadalajara Book Fair in Mexico next month?
  • Read something that hit the spot in this eBulletin? Click through and like the item or add a comment on Facebook
  • Watch the Wall for postings of new jobs, or feel free to add to them.

Visit The Marketability Grapevine.


Tip of the week: If sending display material, ask conference organisers for photos

Once in a while we may send display material to conferences we can’t justify attending, generally without ever learning what the display looked like. If that’s you, take a leaf out of the book of T&F’s exhibitions team who asked organisers to email them photos of the display. It’s a neat way of reminding organisers that you have expectations in exchange for the fee they’re charging, and it may just raise the quality of the displays too.

This tip originally appeared in an eBulletin in 2010 when it was brought to my attention by two members of the journals marketing team. I’d love to know if the current team still does this!




Marketability (UK) Ltd

12 Sandy Lane
TW11 0DR

Tel +44 (0)20 8977 2741