Thursday, April 12, 2012

15 Ways To Write Fiction That Generates Headlines

Yesterday I introduced the idea of having authors consult with a publicist early on in the writing process, so that a more media-friendly book can be created.  Today, we’ll examine what novelists can do to produce not only a great read, but a book that can cause a media frenzy.

1.      Survey your competition.  What do other authors competing in your genre tend to write about.  Where it’s convenient, copy some of that, and where it suits you, be radically different or at least put a new twist on a traditional theme.

2.      Examine the media landscape.  What do they tend to cover?  Don’t lump all of the media together—break it down by media type: national TV, local TV, national radio, local radio, magazines, newswires, journals, book review publications, blogs, online reviewers and newsletters.

3.      Allow yourself to create varying drafts.  Don’t feel married to any of them.  In order to create the ideal media-loving book, you’ll need to experiment and let the market dictate some of the contents’ fate rather than your creativity or personal proclivities. 

4.      Think like a member of the media.  Ask yourself—and put yourself in their shoes—what would you want as an editor or producer for your media outlet?  What causes an increase in readers, viewers, or listeners?

5.      Imagine the headlines for your press release.  In fact, write your press release now and see how it sounds. If you could add better bullet points to the press release by changing or altering your book’s content then consider rewriting your book.

6.      What will you highlight about your book that is unique, attention-grabbing, or fascinating?  More of the same of what’s out there is not going to be your barometer, you have to be better, different, or first.  Will you highlight the book’s theme?  The plot?  The characters?  The setting?  The back-story behind your book?  How the book offers lessons, insights, or something useful if not entertaining?

7.      Be open to all possibilities before you filter out the lesser ideas.  Consider surveying others to find out what they like about the book they read.  Ask for feedback to your first draft too.

8.      Think of how your book would be advertised in a movie trailer.  How would one cut and paste the most interesting parts without revealing the ending?  Do you get excited by your imaginary trailer or not?

9.      Remember the goal here is not just to craft an exciting or interesting book, one that’s well written and perfectly edited.  That’s a given.  What we need to do is find a way to convert a book into something the media can discuss.  What will you offer for a discussion?  Does your book explore a controversial issue?  Does it rewrite history?  Does it mirror a current event or personality of interest?

10.  Does it press emotional buttons?  Does it challenge assumptions or present unique viewpoints?  Does it press psychological buttons?  Does it present a fantasy that others have never dreamed or lived?

11.  Does it provide good commentary/dialogue on things like”
-Parent/child bonding or sibling rivalries or friendships or family relationship?
-Life and Death
-Truth and Justice
-Travel and Escape
-The Future or The Past

12.  Does your lead character pull off something others fantasize about?
-Getting away with murder
-Having an atypical sex life
-Saving the world
-Overcoming major adversity
-Becoming wildly rich and successful
-Winning a championship

13.  What’s quotable?  Is there a bit of wisdom/philosophy shared?  Any humorous lines?  Is there a sharing of ideas or experiences that would be great talking points for the media?

14.  Do you delve into really good “what if” scenarios, where you take one commonly accepted principle of law, physics, history, or culture and throw in a curveball?

15.  Do you have a great opening chapter or a signature chapter that can sell the entire book?  Make one chapter so exceptional that anyone who reads it will want to read more.

We want fiction to supplement, no, replace reality and all of its harsh shortcomings.  Fiction is where we let out imaginations lead the way to unburden us from life’s scorecard and to become all that we will never be.  If you can edit your book to deliver at least one good rallying point, you may just have enough to get media attention.  But it’ll still take the hiring of a good publicist, luck, and timing in order to even have a chance at becoming a media star.

Good Luck!

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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