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iPublish Campaign Targets Web, Print Verticals

Time Warner Books is promoting its recently unveiled iPublish site to the wannabe Hemingway set, through a campaign of tongue-in-cheek online and print ads.

In a campaign designed by New York-based Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Time Warner Books is hoping to convince aspiring writers to submit their works to the site for review and, if lucky, publication as an eBook. If participants are really lucky (or just really good), they could see their work published in print by Time Warner.

The campaign comes just weeks after AOL Time Warner's publishing unit took the wraps off iPublish, which competes with Random House-owned xlibris.com, and others.

iPublish has also run into opposition from writer groups like the Author's Guild, which is warning members against the site's terms and conditions. iPublish requires that registrants not only give the rights of their submitted manuscript over to Time Warner, but their second book's publication rights as well.

But the ads aims to point out that hopeful writers have a better chance of getting their work noticed through iPublish than via traditional channels. The idea behind the campaign's creatives is to demonstrate that even some of history's greatest authors might not get published because of the industry's mass of bureaucracy, which iPublish circumvents.

For instance, one print execution shows a typewritten "manuscript" of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Scrawled below the title apparently are an editor's comments -- "Mr. Clemens, we don't care how many different names you send this under -- if you don't have an agent, we won't read it!"

Other print executions include rejections of Cervantes' Don Quixote and Melville's Moby Dick ("Dear Mr. Melville -- Whale books don't sell. How about an alien? Or a dinosaur? Or an alien dinosaur?")

Banner ads and other online creatives describe iPublish as "Hope for Today's Writers."

"The campaign purely targets writers," said Mad Dogs spokesperson Rehana Dutta. "We basically wanted them to visit the iPublish site and submit their work. So we're rotating four different ads tied into the problems writers face with the publishing industry."

The media buy centers around placements targeting would-be authors. Offline executions will appear in genre-specific titles, such as "Romantic Times," Sci-Fi News," and "Mystery Times," in addition to more mainstream writer publications like "Writer's Digest."

Online creatives appear on Web sites popular with authors, like WritersWrite.com, in online clubs devoted to writing (such as Yahoo! Groups) and in specific e-mail newsletters.

"The media we used were also very specific to writers," Dutta said. "We wanted them to come to the site ... so even in the online version, we went into the writing sites and into the writing groups. It's very, very focused."