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Using op-eds for book promotion

Op-eds — those opinionated essays that run on a newspaper’s opinion page alongside the letters to the editor — can offer powerful book promotion opportunities for authors willing to take an authoritative stand on a current news topic.

Today’s New York Times offers an example of how to do this — and do it well.

Michael Black, a retired police officer and the author of I Am Not a Cop (with actor Richard Belzer) and Sacrificial Offerings, probably didn’t write “I Carried a Gun, and It Was Heavy” to get exposure for his books, which were mentioned in his writer credit at the end of the piece. He had something important to say about gun control as it relates to the Aurora, Colo. tragedy. And, because he’s an excellent writer, he could express his views in a compelling way in a major daily newspaper.

Use stories to express your view

We can learn a lot about how to write op-eds by reading Black’s essay. He takes a stand on a controversial topic in the news — there’s no waffling here. He uses powerful stories from his experiences with criminals and guns to support his opinion. He gets us emotionally involved in his writing — I can imagine what it was like to be Homer’s ex-girlfriend on the phone with the police while Homer was trying to break into her apartment building with a handgun in his pocket.

Finally, he offered possible solutions to the problem — which is so smart. Don’t just complain about a problem or say why your view of it is the “right” view — help us discover how to solve the problem, no matter where we stand on the issue.

If you’ve got a book (fiction or nonfiction, it doesn’t matter) with a link to news topics that continue to make headlines, consider adding op-eds to your arsenal. Whether the news involves gun control, bullying, or the presidential election, there’s an opportunity for you to share your view. Your book provides the credential for your topic knowledge, so the title will appear in your writer credit at the end of the essay.

To learn more about how to write op-eds, read an earlier blog post, “How to write an op-ed column or essay.” Learn where you can submit them in “Op-ed submission lists.”

Has your op-ed been published? What advice can you offer?

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