Without a good editor a book will often fall short of its potential. This suggestion is something that anyone in the book-publishing world has come across at one time or another and the value of editors and their knowledge should never be underestimated. I remind myself of this adage on many occasions, not simply because I personally enjoy the editorial process, but because as a marketing professional I am constantly aware of how much improvement an editor’s eagle eye can bring to even the most prosaic of marketing jargon.
However, editorial work on marketing copy is not always performed by editors. In fact, over the past week or so, the marketing team at UNP has swapped hats on a number of occasions, switching from marketing to editing and back again. I hope we have moved between tasks with snappy efficiency, as well as a little grace and humility. Writing copy for a catalog or the back cover of a book is not to be confused with writing the book in the first place or editing it into shape in the second, but it is an authorial and editorial challenge in its own right. As marketers we know that we must pitch the book in the best possible manner; that we must find the most natural path from author’s words to reader’s imagination or else fail in our task.
At UNP we are supplied with either the proposed copy in its entirety or with enough meat on the bones from which to craft something a little more complete. It is at this stage that we adopt the pose of the editor (red pen in hand) eager to slash, burn, crop, chop, and perform any other action that springs to my mind when I think of editorial prowess. A book’s description might read as though written by Shakespeare himself but, without the marketing team’s editing, it will likely miss its audience entirely. What use is catalog copy written in the manner of Wordsworth when we wish to pitch the book to a group of post-1960s military historians, for instance? I’m not intimating that they wouldn’t enjoy such copy, but it likely wouldn’t resonate with them in the most appropriate manner, which is, after all, to entice them to buy the book!
So it is with wild abandon that I and some of my colleagues have taken our seasonal stab at being editors this week. I hope the enjoyment has paid off in the form of beautifully written and skillfully edited marketing prose. When you next pick one of our books or a UNP catalog, take a look at the descriptive copy and see how we did.