Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Stick with your creative insights

Listen to, or see and read, what Harvey MacKay says about creativity and book titles. This is quoted from a print book, but it reads like a sharp-tongued, pajama clad blogger, does it not?

My point here is that the anecdote is written concisely, it reads quickly.

Blog readers are always in a hurry. So keep your posts, post titles, paragraphs, descriptions brief, not verbose or prolix.

Don't be afraid to be creative, break some rules for shock effect, doing the opposite of what you and millions of others are "supposed" to do, don't refrain from sometimes using wild titles and zealous language.

You defend your country, your family, your faith.

Why not also defend your creative impulses? Don't give up. Keep blogging and whatever else you do. Stick with your creative insights. They may make you rich some day...if you persist and ignore setbacks.

Harvey MacKay

Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt

(William Morrow, 1990) p. 78, 79


"When I wrote my first book, my contract with my publisher, William Morrow, read that the title had to be "mutually agreeable." It wasn't. The publisher did not like the title I'd submitted, How to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.

One, it was too long.

Two, it didn't tell the reader what the book was about.

Three,it was confusing. The casual reader would think it was about skin-diving.

Four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten. They didn't like it. They didn't like it. They didn't like it.

It sounded weird for a business book. Business book titles should tell you ten ways to do something....

I hired the firm of Janz/Abrahamson to conduct market research on the title. They had a dozen creative people read a fifty-page excerpt from the book; then they conducted focus groups.

The participants came up with a list of eight hundred (800) additional titles to choose from and were not told which one I had chosen. They picked How to Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive as their number one (#1) choice.

I went back to Morrow armed with the most powerful weapon you can possess in any negotiation: superior information.

And finally reached a mutual agreement, just as the contract read. I got Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. They got to delete How to.


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