In this clip from the second copywriting hot seat, John Carlton tells how to ride the coattails of the big boys in your market and emphasizes the importance of writing clear, concise, fun-to-read copy.
But, you know, time it. Be in the wake of the larger organizations. You could come out the day after Prevention Magazine comes out. One of your opening lines could be: “I got my Prevention magazine today and they talked about blah, blah, blah.
Margaret: What other people are seeing. Key off it, so…
John: Then you become the translator of what other people can’t say because they don’t have, you know, Elements of Style, and they are not concise, they are not direct, they don’t understand the niche, they’re not personable, they’re not fun to read.
Prevention magazine, as good as arp gets, they are still low-level writers. All the writers working for all the publications out there, including Prevention and all the others (and I will say this on tape), they are the bottom of the food chain.
They are low-paid, they will take any other gig that they can get, mostly they are freelancers who are working, they are untested, and the worst thing that happened in the publishing world in America is what?
Actually, you guys wouldn’t know. I don’t know why I’m asking you. They started getting rid of editors. There used to be an editor for every couple of writers on any given magazine…New Yorker, all of them…back in the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s,50’s and 60’s. Then, in the 70’s they started getting rid of the editors. As cost-cutting stuff.
Right now there are very few editors at the Washington Post, at the New York Times. They are not checking stuff. A lot of the stuff is going straight from the writer’s computer to being printed. Books are going straight from manuscript to publishing with no editor touching it.
It is cost-saving and they found that people are not complaining, and who cares…you have misspelling and stuff going on. It’s a travesty. So that’s why I tell people you have to have your own inner editor going. If you start being your own inner editor and not let that sentence go out because there is a word in there that’s fluff. Not let this piece go out because it is not concise and it wanders and there’s tangents.
You’ve got to be your own editor. You’ve got to be your own hard-ass. You will rise above the rest of the people, and your writing will suddenly become clear, concise, communicative, fun to read, and that helps you become the go-to-guy.
So, all of the stuff that is happening, which is horrible for the culture at large, is great for everyone here.
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