Christina Vasilevski

Toronto Writer/Editor for Content Strategy and User Experience.

4 Things to Avoid When Advertising Your Book

I don’t normally give in to snark on this blog, but I just saw this book advertisement online and it’s begging for someone to smack it upside the head. All names have been removed to protect the idiotic:

“[Book title]

The most inevitable conclusion to The [Book] Trilogy the world has ever known!”

Yes, this is an actual ad that I saw posted on a legitimate, well-respected website. Here are a few lessons you can learn about advertising from this book’s missteps.

  1. Don’t be redundant. Saying that your book’s conclusion will be “inevitable” is a tautology. Trilogies are only 3 books long – of course they end! Not to put too fine a point on it, but everything ends, eventually.
  1. Don’t use “inevitable” to describe your book’s plot. Like “shocking” or “explosive”, it’s word that people overuse in order to make their stories sound more dramatic than they really are. Using this word makes me think your writing will be predictable. (But chances are if you’re using this word, you’re a hack, which means it WILL be predictable.)
  1. Especially avoid a phrase like “most inevitable”. Leaving aside the fact that “inevitable” is an absolute adjective, how many damn conclusions did you write anyway? What made them all less “inevitable” than this one, and why didn’t you use one of those instead?
  1. Same goes for the phrase “the world has ever known”. Like “inevitable”, this phrase is used by many unimaginative writers to raise the stakes in a story: “Alien Species X will prove to be the greatest threat the world has ever known!” By using it, you’re not only signalling that you’re a hack, but you’re also signalling that the thing you’re writing about will be something your audience is already familiar with. In effect, you’re implying (again) that there are multiple conclusions to your story, and that these other options are available to the reading public. Is this a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure that you’re peddling? It certainly doesn’t look like it – so why are you making your book sound like it?

Ok, so those 4 things aren’t quite lessons or rules per se, but they all boil down to the same thing: Don’t sound like an idiot.

Update: It appears that the book trilogy in question is a satire about the apocalypse. I don’t know if this information negates the advice above, but I don’t think it does – you should be able to sound funny without sounding stupid.