8 copywriting tips that all authors need to know

We went down to Shoreditch House to listen to master copywriter and journalist, Eddy Lawrence, tell us how to write copy that pops. He cut his teeth at Time Out, where he had the challenge of making dull listings lively and interesting, and now he works for the Guardian. He shared tips and tricks that have taken him years to learn by trial and error. Interestingly, a lot of the tips he shared are the same ones we give authors who are writing full-length novels. So whether you are writing anything from a thousand-page intergalactic saga to a quarter-page advert these universal rules apply :

1. Know your audience. Know what your readers like/expect/want from your writing and make sure you give it to them.
2. Structure your copy. Your headline and opening paragraph need “the wow factor”, but you need to drip-feed interesting nuggets throughout and end with a conclusion that reveals your most interesting information.
3. Be active. Avoid the passive voice. Use verbs to make your readers feel like they are at the heart of the action, or scene, you have created. Show, don’t tell.
4. Kill your darlings. Be careful of going overboard with adjectives. Cut out anything indulgent, no matter how well-crafted.
5. Never use a word that you would not use in normal conversation.
6. Read your work aloud or get someone else to read it. Ask them for feedback: does it flow nicely? Does it sound stilted? Does it hold their interest?
7. Edit, edit and edit. Eddy mentioned that if he is commissioned to write a piece that is 1,000 words, he will normally write about 3,000 words in his first draft and then cut and cut and cut.
8. Write like Muhammad Ali. OK, we admit this one is a bit of a stretch, but, like Eddy, we admire The Greatest’s gift for alliteration, rhythm and rhyme. Rhythm is particularly important when writing copy. Vary your pace and sentence length. Follow a lengthy explanation with something punchy.

Hopefully, these are all things that you are used to doing in your longer-form writing, so they should come as second nature when you are writing any promotional prose. You should be able to put this in to practice in your blog straight away.

We cover the topic of creating great content and snappy copywriting in our online author marketing guide, which is included in the I_AM Professional package.

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