Monday, August 25, 2008

Writing a Column Helps Sell Books

By Francine Silverman

I was wondering if newspaper and online columns affect book sales and asked some columnists for their feedback.

“For me, writing columns resulted in a book deal,” says Ginny Stibolt, a computer maven and Florida gardener whose first book, Sustainable Gardening for Florida, will soon be published.

The monthly columns she’d been writing for the online edition of Jacksonville’s newspaper (The Times Union),, impressed the acquiring editor for University Press. Although he declined publishing a compilation of her columns, he did ask if she could write a book on organic gardening for Florida instead. Of course she said “yes.”

Dr. Gilda Carle is author of several books on relationships and dating. She writes a weekly column for (partnered with called Suddenly Single, in which she answers questions from readers. “Depending on how heated my topic is, I can often get up to 50,000 hits per day to my Web site,, and my book sales and other products,” she says. One particular column titled “7 Signs Your Honey May Cheat,” got such a huge response that it was placed on MSN’s home page, “and I ended up getting their greatest number of readers in all their history…that’s not all. Match hired me to be spokesperson for them at an AARP conference, to discuss dating over 50.”

Cindy LaFerle, author of Writing Home (Hearth Stone Books 2005), a collection of her award-winning columns for the Sunday Lifestyles section of a suburban Detroit Daily, believes that having a regular column – print or online – “is a real boost for book sales.” Having written her column for 12 years, she had a following and became known as the “local columnist.” Cindy continues writing columns on-line and contributes to regional print magazines. “These pieces also help keep my book more visible, and I usually notice an increase in sales, especially on Amazon, each time a new one hits the stands.”

“To me, it’s all about keeping your name out there,” Cindy says. “A column gives readers a chance to know you, and to get a sense of your work,” Gilda agrees. “For sure, our written words translate into book sales, product sales, speaking engagements and more,” she says. “While all this was happening, I was appearing on an NBC TV show in Orlando. I found out about the MSN column’s popularity on my Blackberry, told the show’s producer, and I was asked to discuss the column’s topic on a future show. Written visibility is the best calling card you have!”

So it doesn’t seem to matter anymore whether you write a column on-line or for a print publication. All that matters is exposure.
Francine Silverman’s latest book is Talk Radio for Authors - Getting Interviews Across the U.S. and Canada (Infinity Publishing 2007). Her forthcoming book is Talk Radio Wants You: An Intimate Guide to 700 Shows and How to Get Invited (McFarland & Co. 2009).

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