Thursday, August 18, 2016

Keep these two meaningless words off your book covers and websites

I recently encountered the website of author, artist, athlete and entrepreneur Angela Lam Turpin. The title of the site, strangely, is "The official website of Angela Lam Turpin." If this is the official site, I have to wonder if there are unofficial Angela Lam Turpin websites.

Angela is a wonderful, accomplished person worthy of admiration; but is Angela important enough to inspire fakers to produce websites not certified by Angela?

I think not.

Bing shows
one-hundred-and-sixty-five-million links for the term "official website." Google lags, with under forty-million links for the term.

This is ridiculous and pathetic.

  • Some O-sites, appropriately, are government-sanctioned websites -- but this trend has grown ridiculously. Does the Missouri Lottery really need an "official" website? Does the Vatican? Bureaucrats (some called "officials") love the word "official." 
  • Many O-sites belong to movies like Spider-Man 2, teams like the Atlanta Falcons and performers such as KISS, Madonna and Cher -- who apparently don't want fans to think that websites published by other fans are actually sanctioned. 
  • But, does The Association, now nearly 50 years old, still merit an official site? Are there pretenders?
  • Is Angela Lam Turpin as big a star as Madonna? I think not.
  • Many O-sites belong to egomaniacal businesses. Does AT&T really need an "official" website? Does Louis Vuitton? Do Orkin Pest Control and its rival Terminix? Does Greenwich Pizza, in the Philippines, really need an O-site?
  • In some cases where the actual website doesn't scream "OFFICIAL," the paid online ads for the sites do use the O-word.
  • Of course, even an unofficial site can claim to be official.

Most things that claim to be 'official something' are not official anything. Use of the label is evidence of unchecked ego, or maybe just ignorance.
  • shows nearly 145,000 links to books with "official" in the title or subtitle.That total is about 5,000 more than 18 months ago. The virus is spreading.

Some O-books, such as a book for diabetics produced by the American Diabetes Association, can logically claim to be "official." Others, like a book of instructions for speaking Spanish like a Costa Rican, is official nothing.

Unless your book, blog or website is officially blessed by some important person or institution, restrain your ego and don't claim that your work is official.

If you are important enough to attract copycats, then you can claim your work to be officially yours -- but copycats can claim that you approved their work too. Fame is not all fun.

"SECRET" is another extremely popular word. It's an exciting and meaningless word. Keep it o
ff your book covers.

Apparently, lots of authors and publishers think that lots of readers want to know secrets, especially "dirty little secrets." (which pays for an ad for its "official" site) lists more than 217,000 books with "secret" in the title (up from a mere 150,000 or so about three years ago). Some are fiction, and many are nonfiction. "Secrets of success" is a very popular book title cliche. Thousands of books use the phrase in their titles.

Here's a dirty little secret: none of the books promising secrets actually reveal secrets because no secrets are secret after even one person reads the secret.

The author of Secrets of Self Publishing 2 is so proud of his secrecy that he put the title TWICE on the cover of the horrible book. The slim volume is badly written, badly formatted and apparently unedited. I found exactly one alleged secret in the book: "The secrets of self-publishing are the same as the secrets of success. One must be willing to research all outlets, and find a method which fits your program."

That's not much of a secret.

Find some way to attract readers to your book without putting "SECRETS" in the title. Avoid "OFFICIAL," too.

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