Match Your Vocabulary To The Market

27th July 2012
2 min read
29th September 2020

Promotional materials supporting a title should be written in a style that is appropriate to the book. Do not make a beach-read sound like a literary prize-winner, or a basic ‘how to’ book sound like a university textbook. People make very quick decisions on the basis of the copy you present.

Choose Your Words Wisely

They will also be very wary of buying from you a second time if they feel they have been misled the first. If they buy a book from you on the basis of copy and your product does not live up to the expectations generated, their disappointment will be remembered. This is particularly difficult if you are seeking to develop a brand image for yourself or the publishing house.

Be wary of jargon, or ‘professional’ speak. Many special interest groups, whether bound together through work or pleasure, develop an accompanying vocabulary. Such jargon serves to make those who belong feel a part of it, and those who do not, outsiders – and it is dangerous to use it in promotional copy. Why?

Avoid jargon

Firstly, because jargon changes all the time, so you can appear out-of-date very quickly – particularly if your promotional material will have a long life on someone else’s shelves. Secondly, you are in danger of getting it wrong and making your promotional piece look out of touch or even ridiculous. Having said that, there may be certain ‘buzz words’ that you need to use to show to the market that this is a particular kind of title (e.g. ‘textbook’, ‘reference title’, ‘saga’, ‘bedtime story’).

Pay particular attention to issues which may offend your market, and make no assumptions about it. Never assume that all fire fighters are male or all nurses female; you will annoy them, and everyone else will be aware of the gaffe.

Aim for a tone that is reasonable and hard to disagree with, rather than one of academic argument refuting any suggestion that a title is not needed. Clichés and puns can be useful for making a sales proposition seem familiar, but I tend to avoid outright humour.

Extract from Marketing Your Book: An Author's Guide

Writing stage