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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 1 November 2022. In this issue:

Working with, not for, authors

In a pre-course QA last week, an editorial assistant described the copywriting she was already doing as ‘writing copy for academic authors’, by which she meant writing back cover copy.

Totally unconnected, the head of a science publisher yesterday commented to me that ‘all authors think their books are trade books’.

Respect for authors’ opinions (and avoiding contradicting them, knowing it will take time we don’t have) continues to lead to poor publishing decisions. But that author really doesn’t know best when it comes to publishing, and we owe it to them to apply our professional expertise. It concerns me that the significance of writing that back cover copy (which becomes the product copy on the website and on Amazon) had not been explained to the editorial assistant.

I still see academic titles positioned as ‘trade’ when they’re not. Pricing them lower won’t sell more copies, it’ll just hit your profit margin. And being persuaded to do this by the strength of the author’s (biased) perspective is setting ourselves up for a lose-lose situation when sales are as disappointing as we always suspected.

If you recognise either of these scenarios, there are things you can do which in the long run will reward you with book sales:

  1. The importance of product copy, and the need for it to address precisely WHY a reader will need the product, should always be made clear to new entrants to publishing who are asked to do it. How, otherwise, can they navigate those author conversations with any authority?
  2. When an author has submitted a book proposal for a trade book that really isn’t, that’s the time to make clear that you would publish it for a specialist audience, because in your professional judgement that is firmly where the market lies. They’ll either respect your analysis, or they’ll walk away. Both of these are better outcomes.
  3. When that academic book really DOES have potential with a more general readership, you need to make clear at proposal stage that everything from choice of title, to cover design and copy, AND the content needs to be aligned to make that clear to that general audience. They will need to work with you to realise that ambition for it.
These are issues that are often at the heart of our Copywriting Workshops.


Great cover design, we’ve just got a few tweaks …

Thank you to Solveig Servian for spotting this cartoon in The Guardian and knowing I’d appreciate it. I’m sure you will too. How many times have you heard ‘I’ve just got a few quick notes from the team’? And you know what that means, right?

Read Tom Gauld on the Perfect Book Cover


Why US road signs are different and why it’s significant for us

Thank you to The Scholarly Kitchen and David Crotty for sharing this fascinating video of the history of US road signage.

Why’s it significant for us? Because a region’s culture is hard-wired and if we want to communicate internationally, then we need first to have an appreciation of where it impacts on what we’re trying to say.

Read and watch on The Scholarly Kitchen


Tip of the week: Will social media kill off Google search?

‘Nowadays when I want to search for something, I go right to Tik Tok … and Generation Z is doing the same.’

Are Google’s days of having c95% of the world’s search market numbered, as Hubspot’s article suggests? The argument is pretty compelling. This week’s tip is to watch this space.




Marketability (UK) Ltd

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Tel +44 (0)20 8977 2741