About once a week I get an e-mail with a subject line or first sentence that begins: “My new book” and then announces publication of the writer’s new book.
Here’s a tip: “My new book” may be the weakest phrase ever used in online copy.
The reason is twofold. First, the phrase begins with “my”, and the reader cares about himself, not you.
Second, the third word in the phrase is “book” and almost no one cares about your new book.
Reason: There are so many books in print today, the very word “book” is a turn-off, signaling a subject of no interest to anyone save the writer.
Back in the day, when we used full-page print ads and direct mail packages to sell books, we used the word “book” in the copy as little as possible because it creates an immediate boredom factor.
Substitutes include “material”, “guide”, “manual”, “program”, “course” and “instructions”.
You can say “book” one or two times in your copy, and alternate with the other terms above.
But if you are selling the book for money, do not use “book” in the headline or lead (if you are giving the book away as a lead magnet, then saying “book” up front is OK).
Another pet peeve of mine is that I hate it when well-meaning readers and fans send me their new book in the mail without asking me if it’s OK to do so.
I already have too much to read and the shelves in the bookcases in my office are already filled with reference materials for various writing projects.
Here’s the other horrible thing about the boom in self-publishing triggered by Amazon and Kindle today: it has caused an out-of-control proliferation of really bad books.
I know that sounds cruel, but as you know, I always give you the unvarnished truth.
And the vast majority of self-published books people send me should just not have been published in the first place.
When people take piano lessons, they are content to play for their own pleasure, and feel no compulsion to rent halls and give concerts, in part because they know they don’t play on a professional level.
But writers are not content to write for their own pleasure. They feel compelled to publish their writing and have it read by other people, hence the popularity of blogs, Facebook, and Kindle.
I have come to the realization that the books I write are not really that important, though some people do tell me they have been helped by them, and for that I am glad.
But I am not writing “Remembrance of Things Past” and most other people aren’t either.
We live in a world where print in general and books in particular play a much smaller role in society than they did a century ago.
Best to remember that writing a book today is a small thing and not terribly important to anyone other than the author—you.
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.