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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 23 November 2021. In this issue:

Why versatility is a skill to cultivate to be a confident copywriter

The copy you’re writing in your current role will be for given audiences and products, but do you feel confident that your skills also equip you to write in totally different contexts?

A canny copywriter squirrels away tips and techniques that help them adapt as needed. One of the most useful is starting by finding a point of connection with your reader, so you can then start to have the ‘conversation’ with them. It may be hard to identify with some of your readers, but they’re human too and their motivations and reactions won’t be that different. We all respond positively to relevance, to brevity, to a human empathetic voice.

My weekly copywriting currently includes the social media posts for an education assessment company, microcopy for an ELT publisher’s website – and all of the comms for a charity, Park Lane Stables. This requires me to think like a teacher one day, an overseas student of English another, and a community of young disabled riders and their families the next. And if you ask me to write for a medical journal or a business handbook next week, I’d be up for that too. The process of tuning in is the same, though the resulting writing will look very different.

Whatever you’re doing now, your next role may require you to deploy your skills in an entirely different way. Start consciously collecting those tips!

Park Lane Stables has been in the spotlight this year for successfully raising £1m to buy the rented property from the landlord after he served an eviction notice on New Year’s Eve. The copy on their new website may be very different to yours, but it’s informed by the same techniques.

Find out more about our Copywriting Workshop.


What do publishers do, exactly?

This week someone said to me that they’d asked advice from a couple of people they knew who were in publishing, and then helpfully mentioned that they were authors. I pointed out that this wasn’t the same thing, and that very few authors knew the first thing about what happens in a publishing house. If you don’t actually work in this sector it’s a pretty common assumption (and one we can take advantage of whenever marketing is fronted by an author).

To most people, publishing is synonymous with ‘producing books’. As in print production and eBooks (the latter assumed to be something that results automatically from the former) of the work of the author. With zero concept of all that we do in between.

Is it any wonder that many authors come to the process with unrealistic expectations of what we do?

Academic authors are too preoccupied with their own working challenges to stop to consider how publishing works. We can put helpful guidance on our website, but they don’t read it. Somehow we need to find ways of gently coaching in the realities at the various touchpoints in the relationship.

Positive working relationships with authors is always covered in our Academic Marketing Workshop.


Estate agent euphemisms, but we’re all guilty of a bit of this

This brilliant item on BBC Radio 4 looked at a selection of real words and phrases used by estate agents and considered what they really meant. Here’s a selection:

  1. ‘bijou’ = small
  2. ‘compact’ = smaller than bijou
  3. ‘no forward chain’ = someone died here ...
  4. ‘close to local school’ = children will throw litter in your garden
  5. ‘with potential to develop’ = falling down
  6. ‘original features’ = falling down
  7. ‘stunning fenestrations’ = nice windows
  8. ‘well-timbered garden’ = um, no idea. Lots of trees? Fenced? With decking? A shed or two?
  9. ‘traditional drying facility in the back yard’ = vendors are leaving you the washing line
  10. ‘garden has well stocked boarders’ = oops ...

And my absolute favourite: ‘Benefits from a separate WC and no chain’.

The item concluded that the reason estate agents are so prone to bloopers, euphemism and obscure phrases is that copywriting is not their primary focus, plus they are trying to market too many similar properties making differentiation difficult. Does that ring a bell with anyone?

We can laugh at these but we’ve all been guilty of a few ‘stunning fenestrations’ in our time, especially when we’re working with copy written by specialist authors, and it often takes someone outside the business to see the silliness of it.

Our Copywriting Workshop is designed to help you spot your own stunning fenestrations in time to edit them out.


On The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook

  • If you’re a bit nerdy about language (as I am), you’ll love this short video which explains where the idiom ‘dead as a doornail’ comes from.
  • 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: Keep the titles of trade books short

Because of short attention spans? Well maybe that too, but no. If you have ambitions to get mainstream review coverage for a book, a long title could ruin your chances. And the reason is that it will simply take up too much space in the heading. The reviewer who has plenty of books to choose from will pass you by.

Thank you to the publicist from Bloomsbury who’d had this pointed out to her by a book review editor at a national newspaper recently.





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