In June, I got to scratch off another bucket list item.
I finished, printed, bound and shipped the mystery novel Win, Place, Or Die. I earned a “with Dan S. Kennedy” writing credit underneath celebrated mystery writer Les Roberts’ name on the front cover.
You may now buy your very own copy. It would be good if you did. It’s a good story and an entertaining read. You’ll enjoy it.
Of course, it’s not enough that it has been published. To really satisfy me, it needs to be successful.
The population of novelists is not tiny, but it’s not large either. There are more dentists than novelists.
Within it, the population of successful novelists is smaller, obviously, and small relative to, say, all the unpublished mystery novelists.
Getting to contribute to a novel with a successful mystery writer, and having your own characters and plot ideas on the pages, is somewhat like getting to be a circus acrobat. Small fraternities, in ratio to all aspiring acrobats.
A lot of novelists early in their careers were in advertising. And a lot of copywriters are currently ‘working on’ their first novel. Of course, they aren’t alone. A lot of people dream of being a published and successful novelist.
Having writing mountains of ad copy and more than 20 published non-fiction books, I can tell you: fiction is much harder than ad copy or non-fiction. I learned some things by working on this, which I may or may never use for writing fiction, but that carries over to my other writing.
There is one way in which fiction bears less pressure than ad copy. Sales copy actually needs to sell. There are objective financial measurements of its success or failure, and the pressure on a direct-response ad copywriter to put something out there that creates response is enormous. It can feel like a 1,000 pound weight atop your chest.
For the kind of non-fiction I do, and many business authors do, there is also a need for direct response, for success; readers must be moved from the business book to a web site or a phone number. From there they need to be moved to engagement and, ultimately, to buying your product or service, joining an organization, coaching group or membership site, or attending an event.
The novelist needs only to intrigue and entertain.
As a business owner, your ad copy and business books have to intrigue and entertain as a novel does, PLUS get direct response and convert readers to buyers of your goods and services.
Keep this in mind when you are judging copy written by you or by a hired copywriter.
The objective of good copy isn’t about pleasing others, be it you, your peers, copywriters or their peers, or even the public. In fact, it can’t be the objective any more than if a professional speaker, speaking to sell, made his objective to get applause or a standing ovation. The only standing ovation that ever interested me was them standing up to turn and stampede to the product tables at the rear of the room or arena—to line up and buy.
Of course this means you have to juggle and counter-balance pragmatic objectives and personal preferences.
So within the copy presented, it is good if you can draw the satisfaction you need, without needing it from others, and without it interfering with the mission-critical objective(s) you need it to achieve in the marketplace.
That said, you should have reasonable standards and obtainable objectives when judging whether or not your copy is successful. And you should understand and realize that while the goal of copywriting is to entertain, intrigue, get direct response and convert readers to buyers, it is unreasonable to expect every endeavor to be positive. Not even the best copywriters in the world can guarantee a successful and positive outcome every time they write.
Anyway, I can now get away with legitimately adding “novelist” to my list of life credits. I doubt it will change anything. I have no expectations or intentions. But I will continue to have expectations for my copywriting work and you should too.
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