Behind the Scenes: Writing Copy for the BestCigarPrices Cigar Catalog
It’s about that time to start writing the copy for our upcoming cigar catalog (check out our current catalog here.) We’ve picked most of the products that will be featured, and now we turn to our keyboards to punch out mellifluous prose on the many pleasures and varieties of cigars.
Travis and I share the burden of generating the over 10,000 words of copy that go into each 64-pager. We’re like walking thesauri when it comes to cigars, stogies, sticks, smokes, gars… you get the picture. I admit it can be a challenge to describe hundreds of different products and keep things interesting. While they all have their own unique characteristics, there are only so many ways to paint an alluring picture in people’s minds of a bundled cylinder of dried, fermented leaves.
Still, we manage to get 90% of the catalog written in a week, typing upwards of 100 words per minute and scouring the web for inspiration. We read cigar blogs, customer reviews, official marketing sheets, industry news and cigar magazines to get a sense of what the cigar smoking world really thinks of each product. Then we quickly filter all that info through our own encyclopedic knowledge and commit it to the word processor. In the rare occasion we only have dozens of other things to do (as opposed to hundreds) we might sneak outside for a quick taste test on some of the awesome cigars in the catalog.
Once the bulk of the text is written, it’s edited thoroughly for spelling and grammar, as well as overall tone and consistency. I know we’re not talking about front-page journalism here, but we do take great pains to fact-check all the information before publishing. Once the edit is done, I typeset the product text along with the prices. Then I layout photos, design elements, etc. and it’s ready to be proofed — about 10 times.
Proofing is by far the most challenging part of the job — so much so that we have to split it up between several employees. In addition to the thousands of words of copy, there are thousands of prices, wrapper types, box counts and cigar sizes that each must individually be checked. We take pride our 99% accuracy rate. Nobody’s perfect… especially our competitors’ catalogs. Sometimes when we read their stuff we wonder if anyone besides the author has read it.
But we’re not here to brag or rag. The blog has certainly strengthened our writing muscles and I’m sure this writing phase will go as smooth as ever. Stay tuned for more blogs, and we’ll keep trying to come up with new synonyms for ‘cigar.’