Fact versus Truth – Do You Know the Difference?

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Stuart Miles

© Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

Carrie De Simas

Editor in Chief @ GoneWithTheWord

Fifty Shades of Grey made headlines all over the fiction-reading world as a book, then trilogy, then as a movie. But what’s interesting from a marketing perspective is that depending on who promoted the books, the series was either a sensual fantasy, an erotic romance, or erotica. Same book, different genres and tags. 

What many people don’t inherently understand is that there is a difference between fact and truth. Watch what I mean:

Sugar is fat free. 

Total fact. I swear. Look at the nutrition label on any sugar bag whether white, yellow or brown sugar. Fat free. But wait, don’t go to town on it quite yet. Because the truth is that sugar is also highly caloric and calories turn into fat. So yes, the fact of the matter is that sugar is fat free (yay!) but it is made up of empty calories that very quickly turn into fat (not so yay).

As a journalist, we are taught to quickly differentiate between fact and truth. Facts are those statements we can base a story on that we will not (successfully at least) be sued over in a libel or slander suit. Truths are interpretations of those facts through a specific perspective, such as an evaluation of sugar’s nutritional properties by someone eager to consume donuts.

 Why does this matter to you?

When you’re presenting your work, whether a fiction novel or a marketing strategy, you have certain license to consider both the facts and the truths and blend them or twist them as best suits your immediate needs. You do this by asking questions like: How will the target audience interpret your factual information? That interpretation to that specific group will be truth. To another group though, it might be considered a misrepresentation which could cost you sales.

So how does this impact your self-promotion? If you’re marketing a book, for example, and it has several elements such as a romantic storyline, some suspense and various paranormal elements, all of these are facts. How you present them to the public is the variations of truth.

If you are pitching at a romance writer’s convention, you will talk about the paranormal romance within the book. If you’re talking to a general crowd where you don’t know the reading preferences, you will talk about the paranormal suspense with romantic elements. To another group, you might talk about the paranormal mystery. All are facts, all are truths, all are different spins on the same book.

Facts are agreed upon by all groups. Truths are relative. Truths are the grey area where marketing writers and strategists like me live. We work best in shades of gray. Perhaps even fifty of them. 

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