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3 tips for generating article ideas for book publicity

Getting publicity — news media exposure — for your book is all about generating article ideas and segment concepts that will resonate with the media outlet’s audience.

You present — “pitch” — those ideas to the right media outlets as a way to get interviewed. You’re identified in the article or segment as the author of Insert Your Book Title Here. Your book, of course, is the credential you need to be interviewed on that topic.

Many authors in full-on promotion mode understand this. They know that the fact that they’ve written a book isn’t enough to attract media attention. These authors realize they have to be pro-active about contacting the press with a newsworthy angle.

They get it.

What they struggle with — and maybe this describes you, too — is generating the article and segment ideas they can use to snag the interviews that will get them that priceless media exposure.

“Local author writes book” isn’t newsworthy anymore

I was reminded of this recently during a coaching conversation with a nonfiction author.

She knew that it wasn’t enough to contact her local media outlets with a “local author writes new book” angle.

First, the growth in self-publishing means that many, many more people are publishing books today than in years past so “I wrote a new book” just makes journalists yawn.

Second, she’s in a major metropolitan market where competition for radio time and newspaper space is stiff. She knew she needed an angle, hook, or idea that would capture attention.

How to generate article ideas

Generating the kinds of ideas that work isn’t as hard as it might seem. For the most part, it involves doing two things:

  • Studying your target media outlets to learn what kind of content they use.
  • Re-visiting your book with the media outlet’s audience in mind to identify how the content can help them.

Let’s start by addressing how to generate those ideas you can start pitching to the press immediately. Then I’ll share a few examples from my inbox.

PAUSE: The following information is for nonfiction authors. Fiction writers, you’ll find what you need on this topic in my earlier post, “Finding the hidden news hooks in your fiction.”

Start by adopting a “service” mentality. Ask yourself, “How can I help the newspaper/magazine/website/radio talk show/TV talk show’s audience?”

With that in mind, set aside some time, grab a pen and paper, and do the following.

1. Examine your book’s table of contents.

generating article ideas 2Many authors can turn each chapter title into an article or segment idea.

For example, I recently received a review copy of You Get What You Pitch For, so I’m looking at its table of contents right now. One chapter is “Understand Their Pain (and Be the Cure).”

Here’s an article idea from that chapter title: 5 ways to identify your customer’s problems so you can provide solutions.

2. Write down the questions you hear most about your book’s topic.

If the people you’re talking to about this subject have the same questions over and over, others will, too.

Turn those questions into article and segment ideas.

Let’s say that an organizing expert keeps hearing, “I want to downsize but I have so much stuff that I don’t know where to begin.” A relevant article idea for that author might be, “A blueprint for downsizing.”

3. List the problems your book helps solve.

Returning to what’s on top of my desk right now to provide an example, I’m looking at my longtime friend Sue Hertz’s book, Write Choices: Elements of Nonfiction Storytelling. (I read it; I love it.)

Sue has told me while the book helps nonfiction writers learn how to cultivate their storytelling skills, it has resonated with memoir writers in particular. Keying in on that, and thinking about the struggles non-writers might have telling their own stories, here’s a topic idea: “How to begin telling your life’s story when you don’t know where to start.”

You’ve got all the information you need in your book, brain, and files to create a list of ideas that will resonate with the press. You just need to sit down and do it.

Article ideas from my inbox

Here are several article ideas for books from my inbox that might help you see how this works. (I receive a lot of email pitches from publicists and others.) These first two came from Dottie Dehart.

For High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant, she’s pitching: Debunking the biggest myths of hiring: four faulty beliefs that could be hindering your company’s selection process.

One of her article/segment ideas for The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World is: Can a negative leader become a positive leader? Seven leadership tips that make people feel great and achieve incredible results.

I’m on Cathy Lewis‘s mailing list, too. Here are examples from her.

For Crunch Time: How To Be Your Best When It Matters Most, she’s suggesting: 6 ways to perform like a champion under pressure.

Her pitch for Upside: Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead, is: 7 top trends that will shape the coming decade.

Just one rule

The only rule for this process is simple: The article idea must have a direct connection to your book.

That’s because your book is your credential with the press. It’s what qualifies you to be interviewed about the article idea. If there’s no direct connection, there’s no reason to interview you.

What’s your book about and what article idea can you pitch for it? Share both in a comment below.

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