News room: Using Orwell’s 5 writing rules to market your book

Using Orwell’s 5 writing rules to market your book by Adriana Bielkova

George Orwell’s five writing rules (and because rules are to be broken, there are six of them!), have provided guidance to countless authors as they write their books. But they also offer useful marketing advice, too. Today, readers are constantly overwhelmed with information and advertising, so it’s vital that you stand out from the crowd when marketing your book. Here, we explain Orwell’s writing rules so that your marketing can be concise, engaging and effective.

1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

In other words, don’t use cliches to market your book. Have fun and be creative with the copy you use, and think outside the box in your marketing plan. It’s possible to overdo a particular marketing tactic, so why not try something unique that hasn’t been done before? New York Times bestselling author Keith Thompson has a good example of using an innovative marketing strategy to draw attention to an older title.

2. Never use a long word, where a short one will do.

This is a really handy writing exercise and technique to learn in the age of short attention spans. Twitter is a great tool to help with this, where you are limited to 140 characters. Practice conveying storylines, sharing reviews of your books and promoting it in just a couple of words. Less is more!

3. If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.

As a writer, you will be familiar with the editing process and its importance. Writing a marketing copy is essentially no different to writing a novel – it is still writing, and therefore needs to be edited. Don’t just type and post emails or tweets straight away. Check for typos and grammatical mistakes. Play around with the wording of your sentences – make them the best they can be!

4. Never use the passive, where you can use the active.

Use calls to action as much as you can. Inspire and motivate people to act right then and there – we all know how easy it is to forget to buy a book you heard about a few days ago. For example, instead of saying: “This book is available from Amazon”, say: “Buy this book from Amazon, now”.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

Your novel may well be a modern Gesamkunstwerk, but words like these will hardly make anyone click on the Amazon link in your Facebook post. Try to keep your audience in mind at all times. What kind of language do they use? Where are they likely to be found? Be friendly, polite, and keep your marketing copy simple.

6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.

What marketing techniques might have started strong, might soon become unuseful to you. It’s important to make sure your marketing stays fresh. If you find yourself slipping into habits that are not bringing you any new audience or readers, think about revising your strategy. We have a free marketing schedule you can download here to help you with the planning.

Further reading:

Email Marketing and Newsletter for Authors
6 Book Marketing Nuggets by CN author Susie Wheeldon
Marketing and the Author Brand
Generating Publicity for Your Book the Old Fashioned Way

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Written by
Adriana Bielkova
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