“Headless Body In
This is one of the most
famous headlines to run in the past four decades. It was a 1983 New York
Post front-page story that used that headline. It was about a grisly crime,
when a crazed gunman forced a woman to decapitate a tavern owner.
I never forgot seeing
that headline as a teen-ager growing up in the Big Apple. But I was reminded of
how important a headline or subject line really is for today’s journalists,
bloggers, and e-mailers when I read a book, published in 2007, that featured
some of the best New York Post headlines in recent memory.
I found the book at The
Strand, my favorite bookstore in the world, by far. The iconic used and new
bookstore has miles and miles of books on every conceivable subject.
The Post always has a talent for capturing an embarrassing story, an
important or breaking-news story, or a real human interest feature by taking
just a few choice words and summarizing things perfectly.
“Judgment Day” read the
1989 headline when it showed televangelist Rev. Jim Bakker getting a 45-year
“No Nudes Is Good
Nudes” read a 1991 piece that showed how a local court ruling left all-nude
dancers banned from performing in NYC.
“Lorena Cut Loose” said
the 1994 front page, describing how a woman, Lorena Bobbit, was declared not
guilty due to temporary insanity when she shockingly cut off her sleeping
“Under Mouse Arrest”
blared a 1998 headline over how a Dunkin’ Donuts shop closed due to a rodent
“Donald $lump: Huge
Debt Could Sink His Casinos” read a 2004 headline 12 years before he ascended
to the White House.
“Hill No!” ran in 2001,
15 years before Hillary Clinton ran for the White house. It was about how she
said she would never run for president.
York Post, founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, in one
of the highest circulating newspapers in the country.
Authors, if you want
people to focus on your press release, e-mail, or blog post, find a way to say
A LOT using FEW words.
To craft a
solid headline, look to:
Make a play on words or use slang
Purposely misspell or misuse words
Use sarcasm or humor
Make a strong declaration or warning
Raise a major question
Touch upon themes of sex, power, money,
religion, politics, or celebrity
Challenge common beliefs or standards
Play on people’s emotions
Include a demonstrative statistic
Connect to what is in the news
Play to popular perceptions
Tie into a holiday or honorary day
Be outrageous or outraged
Show how hypocrisy is at play
Reveal news or offer an exclusive
Great headlines benefit
from equally alluring images and sub-headlines that further illustrate or
explain your main point. If you are not sure what will work, make a statement.
Find ways to shorten it or substitute for smaller worlds, and then take it from
the obvious to the sensational, from a statement to a joke, from an idea to a
A great headline is all
that you need to get people’s attention, so work harder on picking the right
handful of words that will best represent your entire book.
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Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His insightful views, provocative
opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are the
product of his genius. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter
@theprexpert. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person.
This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in
Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a
black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The
Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This was named
one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby
http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018
as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a
"best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for