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This book might well have carried the subtitle Or 44 Years in the Copy Department instead of its present one. Even a copywriter, whose breed is not noteworthy for arithmetical prowess, could not escape arriving at the conclusion that the number of years from 1917 to 1961 totals forty-four. And, Heaven help me!, for that seeming aeon of time the major interest of the author has been advertising copy— good, bad, and indifferent.
That a large measure of this past experience has been associated with a particularly demanding kind of advertising copy may, as will be explained, be an advantageous circumstance for the reader of this book, regardless of what type of copywriting job confronts him.
For the subject of the book is not the writing of mail-order copy. Its sole purpose is to lend a hand to any copywriter (or student of copy-writing) whose ambition is to create advertisements which are more resultful, no matter what the product is or how and where it is sold.
As to why the author’s background of experience may represent an advantageous circumstance for such copywriters, I will leave to an infinitely more capable pen than mine—that of no less an authority than Claude G. Hopkins, one of the greatest copywriters of “general” advertising who ever lived: “Mail-order advertising is difficult. But it is educational. It keeps one on his mettle. It fixes one’s viewpoint on cost and result. The advertising-writer learns more from mail-order advertising than from any other.”
Therefore, if you are looking for guidance specifically concerned with the writing of mail-order advertising, this is not your book. On the other hand, if in the writing of any type of advertising you want more of your copy to achieve the selling effectiveness imperative for any mail-order man who wants to continue eating heartily, this book may prove helpful to you. At any rate, you are the person for whom it was written.
Much of its information will probably recall to your mind the aphorism, “We need not so much to be instructed as to be reminded.” And that’s all to the good. Finally, and appertaining to the passages which are reminiscent in nature, the author has tried to avoid any necessity for later having to admit, like Mark Twain, that “When I was very young I could remember anything, whether it happened or not. But now I am older and I can only remember the latter.”
Victor O. Schwab