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Saturday, May 14, 2016

A New Preferred Term Leads to a Fave Topic, Saving Money

Unless you either write books of your own, are in business for yourself, or are just involved in marketing and advertising in some way, you probably won't need to know about this new marketing term. Still, those interested in editing are generally curious (and exacting!) folk,  so I thought I'd share my story with you. Besides . . .the story involves some good, hard advice about paying good, hard money for things you can get free on your own and will probably be more effective if you do! Here it is:

Today you get a hard reminder prompted by a new term being bandied about.

In The Frugal Book Promoter I talk about advertorials in conjunction with a section warning writers—but especially new writers—to use publicity (meaning free) in their marketing rather than advertising (which always means paid-for!). The section includes a little back-door method for getting to know the same newspaper and magazine folks who can say yay or nay to your marketing efforts as an alternative for cold calls or for giving up when you discover you've missed a submission deadline. 

One of the terms I tell you about in that section is “advertorial” which means a paid-for ad that looks like free editorial copy and is often more effective. To put in the grossest terms, it’s more effective because it fools many readers into believing that it’s editorial copy or vetted news or feature material chosen strictly on the basis of its newsworthiness or general appeal.

Now we have a new term for the same thing—possibly designed to disguise an advertorial with ritzier words. It is certainly less likely to be deciphered by the general reader. It is…drumroll… “native advertising.” According to David Lazarus, columnist for the LA Times, Lord & Taylor is facing a deceptive-trade charge from the Federal Trade Commission because they used this ploy—a huge embarrassment for a clothing company of L&T's stature.

You’ll see this tactic used—whether they call it advertorial or native advertising—in special advertising sections produced by newspapers and similar kinds of features in magazines—and sometimes they can be valuable reading like the sections Time magazine often runs. These advertorials are paid for by large corporations or countries, usually companies or countries that want to improve their image among Americans or the business community. 

However, even useful advertorials can only be interpreted well by the reader if it is very clear that they are paid-for. Like anything we read, we should know the source and that’s one reason that the Web is so iffy. By the way, this Lord & Taylor snafu was “native advertising” on the Web, which is notorious for disseminating misinformation (a PC term for “lies.”)

It’s important for authors to know about this. They need to know what to avoid in their marketing (and how to use whatever they choose ethically). Maybe even more important, they need to be able to discern the propaganda aimed at na├»ve authors by scammy businesses—both big businesses and individuals—trying to entice them into paying for marketing programs that are either useless or can be gotten free.

As it happens, this topic has been on my mind because I am working on a chapter for the next book in my award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. Getting Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically will be published late this summer. Believe me, there are a lot of “Please-pay-me” schemes revolving around every aspect of publishing but the review scams are at the top of my hate list. Authors desperate to get the reviews they’ve always dreamed of having are perfect targets, especially first-time authors. So, yeah. I’m on my soapbox again! (-:

As far as editors go, now you get to choose. Do you want to use "advertorial," "native advertising," or plain old "advertising."  Generally speaking I'd opt for the latter. "Advertorial" may sound like a foreign language no matter what language your audience speaks. "Native advertising" is a euphemism (and therefore misleading). We might as well call what it is--marketing that you pay for as opposed to marketing you don-t known as "publicity." 


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 Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults, and speaks on issues of writing and publishing. Find her at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. Find the second edition of her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor: Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your bestseller. (HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for Writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers find lists and other helps including , Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her SharingingwithWriters blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

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