Monday, July 22, 2013

Words Matter In Book Publicity

Writers know that the one resource at their disposal is also accessible by every other writer: words.  There are over a million words in the English dictionary and everyone can tap into any combination of these words to create a press release, blog post, pitch letter, or Facebook posting that wins readers and creates fans.

So which words should you use – or avoid?

1.      Avoid tech speak, professional jargon, or industry blandness in the words you call upon.

2.      Do not repeat the same word.  Find a good synonym or way to express your idea without resorting to the exact term you used two sentences ago.

3.      Simply use words that are clear, concise, and representative of the ideas that you intend to convey.  Many words have subtle connotations that people link, psychologically, to something negative, weak, or flat.

4.      Pick words that have impact and emotional excitement, but avoid hype, overstatement, or distortion.

5.      Use words that supply good analogies, metaphors and similes.

6.      The punctuation surrounding a word can make a difference. Short sentences, question marks, exclamation points or quotation marks can change the meaning or emphasis that is placed on a word or sentence.

7.      Avoid making ridiculous proclamations that tend to use words of extremity and invite opposition, doubt, or ridicule.

8.      Be sensitive about the words you use.  Filter your words to meet your intended audience.  You can curse and call people retards as a comedy club performer – but you’ll need to be more selective in word choice when your words are written and circulated.  Keep the context in mind.

9.     The  level of vocabulary you use may depend on the subject matter and your intended audience.  You’ll speak to 10-year-olds differently than to 45-year-old business people.

10.  Using sarcasm, anger, reflection, and other styles will go hand-in-hand with your word selection.  Make sure they match.

11.  Write for your audience – a blog post will be expressed differently than a press release.  You can’t just cut and paste and repurpose things verbatim.  You must craft and shape the message to meet the targeted readership's needs.

12.  Be consistent.  From the headline or opening sentence, to the concluding paragraph, speak in a uniform voice.  If you want to sound funny or outraged – or all things in between – don’t veer from that approach.  The words you use should relate to your approach and match each other the way one matches their clothes.

13.  Borrow from other fields.  It’s okay to throw in an example from sports, fashion, or travel when talking about other areas of life.

14.  Be newsy.  Reference recent events to show your awareness of things and to sound current.  Give a historical perspective as well, showing you’ve studied the issue that you write on.

15.  Your words are not just functional. They are ornamental.  You are not writing out a recipe or driving instructions – you are illustrating a point, showcasing an idea, and dancing across a room.  Let your words move and flow.

       Lastly, be prepared to experiment.  Say the unexpected.  Rearrange the standard order of delivering a message.  Use words or terms that are slang or from other languages.  Paint beyond the canvass and let your words go to unintended places.  If you fail to move your reader, you will have failed.  You don’t merely want to state a fact, opinion or observation – you want to sound as if you are creating a moment for the very first time.  Raise the level of intensity. 
      It’s not just “hot” outside, it’s a “scorcher.”  You aren’t just sweating, you are dripping wet and bathing in an ocean of sun tears.  It’s not merely a heat wave but a series of blistering days and unforgiving nights.  The temperature is not 97 degrees but a few red lines short of the century mark.  You are melting faster than the Wicked Witch of the West. 

      Get the idea?  Have a vision and then use your words to dream beyond the perceptions and imaginations of your anticipated readers.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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