Friday, November 1, 2019

Why Authors Need To Use Spinglish To Promote Books

Image result for pr spin images

What are the weapons at the disposal of book promoters, advertisers, and marketers?  Timing?  Knowledge? Experience?  News cycles?  Yes, all of the above, but the singular greatest asset in the possession of those who need to sell something or brand a personality is something available to each of us at no cost:  words.

This all should be clear to anyone who reads Spin-glish:  The Definitive Dictionary of Deliberately Deceptive Language by Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf, the co-authors who brought us The Official Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook and Encyclopedia Parnoiaca.

Heard who founded National Lampoon, and Cerf, a founding contributor to the same publication, effectively, team up here to show us how to perfect the art of "terminological inexactitude," positioning yourself to manipulate and one-up anyone.  They call their book a “fictionary,” showcasing how the devious dialect of English is used by professional spin doctors and authors alike.

If you want to learn how to employ verbal distortion – but not blatantly lie – to get your way, influence others, and impact people, you’ll need to speak Spinglish.

“But what, precisely is Spinglish?,” the authors ask in the book's introduction.

“Well, in spite of its polyglot-sounding name, it isn’t some foreign language.  It’s just our native tongue, transformed into a sophisticated method of judicious miscommunication through the use of careful word choice and the artful rephrasing and reframing of familiar terms.  To put it another way (which of course, is what Spinglish is designed to do) it all comes down to making me sound better, or you sound worse, or both.  I’m a freedom fighter, you’re terrorist.  I want to enhance revenues, you want to raise taxes.  My product is artisanal, all-natural, and organic, yours is mass-produced, synthetic, and contains artificial additives.”

Clearly, Spinglish is about not being so clear, yet persuasive.  It’s about expressing things in a very positive or negative light though the subject matter is not really as good or as bad as it’s portrayed.  Spinglish is used daily, to hide the truth, even obfuscate it from ourselves.

The authors note that our language is the biggest in the world – with over a million words – and is the most-widely used language on the planet.  

“English is unparalleled in its capacity for creative misdirection,” they say.

We can’t hide from Spinglish.  Our politicians, CEOs, professional athletes, favorite actors and even our clergy, teachers, and parents employ it.  From Wall Street and Madison Avenue to Hollywood, the Beltway and Silicon Valley, Spinglish is used everywhere.

Just look at some of the ways our Spinglish is used:

“accounting irregularity” = fraud
“adorable home” very small house
“attritioned” = fired
“lower ground floor” = basement
“adult beverage” = alcohol
“sunsets” = cancellation
“highly leveraged” = debt-ridden
“full-figured” = fat
“distressed produce” = spoiled fruit
“gaming” = gambling
“sanitary landfill” = garbage dump
“urban art” = graffiti
“suboptimal” = lousy
“moment of silence” = prayer
“pre-owned” = used
“thrifty” = cheap
“exotic dancer” = stripper
“creative accounting” = tax evasion
“enhanced interrogation” = torture
“least-best” = worst
“resource-intensive” = expensive
“restructuring” = firing workers
“neutralize” = kill
“domestic dispute” = beat up a wife or girlfriend
“correction officer” = prison guard

Getting things to be seen in the most positive light requires:

·         Downplaying the negatives.
·         Highlighting the positives.
·         Seeking to position a negative as an opportunity.
·         Elevating a positive into more than it really is.
·         Seeking to diminish a perceived enemy.
·         Normalizing the abnormal or atypical.
·         Championing an asset while ignoring a deficit.
·         Raising questions in a way they sound like affirmative statements.
·         Sharing the opinions of others as if facts.
·         Skewing stats and charts to favor your position.

As an author-turned-publicist you’ll quickly catch on to how language dictates how others perceive you. What you say and how you say it – and what you fail to say – will influence the media or anyone else you seek to impress.  But don’t seek to truly fool people – it’ll come back to bite you in the butt. 
You can certainly massage, shape, and color your words in a way that puts a spin on things. If you need help in choosing the right word or phrase, just consult Spinglish.

American Poet Laureate

In 1986, the United States created the national poet laureate position. Almost every state has a state poet laureate.  However, New Jersey and Pennsylvania abolished such a post in 2003.  Massachusetts and New Mexico also do not have a poet laureate. England, however, has had a long history of poet laureates that dates to 1688.  One served for 42 years – Lord Alfred Tennyson, from 1850-1892.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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