Monday, November 2, 2020

How Authors Can Make Headlines – Literally!



“Headless Body In Topless Bar.”


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 criminal sentence.


“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 husband’s penis.


“Under Mouse Arrest” blared a 1998 headline over how a Dunkin’ Donuts shop closed due to a rodent infestation.


“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.


The New 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

·         Shock people

·         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 concrete act.


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  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 and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo.

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