How Your Local Bookstore Can Help You Consistently Create Content For Your Newsletter

Every time you sit down to write, it’s the same story.

You sit there and you can’t really think of what to put in your email newsletters.

You really want to say something, but nothing comes out.

The longer you sit there, the quicker the minutes tick away.

And before you know it, the phone will be ringing, the distractions will be piling up and you’ll find yourself mindlessly wandering through Facebook or emails.

And that’s why you need to leave your office

Go down to your local bookstore instead. Get yourself a coffee or a drink first, and now that you’re in a different state of mind, go to the section where you can find books on your topic.

Which means that if you write about gardening, well, head to the gardening section.

If your business is graphic design, well, the graphic design section it is. No matter what your profession, you’ll find a few dozen books on the topic.

So what do you do next?

Open the book to the Contents Page. And here’s what you’ll find. You’ll find a dozen topics, just sitting there for you. And you, you’re already the expert. So let’s say your newsletter is about “gardening” and there you are in the gardening section of the book store, trying to make sure no one spots that you’re drinking a coffee in the store.

And your eye falls on this book called “Raised Bed Gardening”.

You open the book, swing right to the contents page, and voilà, this is what you find:

Chapter 1: Advantages And Benefits To Using Raised Bed Gardens

Chapter 2: The Proper Placement Of Raised Bed Gardens

Chapter 3: Standard Designs and Preparation For Your Raised Bed Garden

Chapter 4: Plants Suitable For Raised Bed Gardens

Chapter 5: Potential Problems That Are Avoided With Raised Bed Gardens

Chapter 6: Making Your Own Compost

Chapter 7: Best Soil Recommendations For Your Raised Bed Garden

Chapter 8: Strategies for Planting Seeds In Your Raised Bed Garden

Chapter 9: Natural Methods To Resolve Crop Infestation

Chapter 10: Crop Rotation In Gardening

Suddenly you have at least ten topics that you know quite a lot about

Well, get out that pen and paper, or take a picture of that contents page with your smart phone. And then close the book. Yes, close it, because you have everything you need. Within that contents page were about ten ideas that you could easily write about—after all you do know a fair bit about raised bed gardening, don’t you?

But we can’t write ten articles just today, so we’ll start with one.

Let’s look at the topic that we spotted in Chapter 9, for instance: Natural methods to Resolve Crop Infestation. Now the author of the book would have methods, but hey, you have your own methods as well.

And this is the important part…

The subscribers on the mailing list—your mailing list—care a hoot about what that author thinks. But they do care what you think. They do care about the way you present your ideas. Remember they signed up to your list for a reason. So even if you were to write exactly the same ideas as mentioned in the book, they would still want to hear your take on it.

So now that you have your topic, make several points about how you’d deal with “infestation”.

Talk about the what: What is infestation.

Talk about the why: Why is it so much of a problem?

Talk about the when: When does it mostly occur?

Talk about the steps: Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Step 4.

Talk about the mistakes: What mistakes does a home gardener make?

And there you have it. Your visit to the book store is super-fruitful.

You got ten topics and just one topic has gotten you all fired up and still nine more to go. And you’ve just opened one book. There are plenty more to go, but let’s leave those for another day. Finish your coffee and let’s head back to someplace where you can jot down your ideas. Once you’ve done the jotting, only then do you go back to your office to complete your article.

But isn’t this plagiarism? Aren’t you just copying and ain’t that nasty?

Well yes, which is why you had to close the book right after you wrote down the contents topics. The goal was not to get “inspiration” from what the author wrote. Instead it’s just a way to get you jumpstarted on some topics. Because you sure as heck can write a ton of stuff on any of the topics in the contents pages. The place you were stuck the most was coming up with the idea itself. If you chose to keep the book open, you may inadvertently copy the author’s ideas and that would be bad. Mucho bad! Instead all you’re doing is firing up the ideas in your brain and yes, ideas are free. There’s no copyright on ideas.

But hey, surely I can do this while sitting in my office—why go to the book store?

A big part about writing is getting your brain in the right frame of mind. With all those distractions in your office, it’s hard to think, let alone write. In the book store your mind is a lot more relaxed.

Everyone gets stuck when writing.

Almost everyone continues to sit in their office.

Almost everyone avoids the trip to the local bookstore.

Make the trip. And make it soon.

Sure beats going nuts about writing your next email newsletter.

About the Author: Sean D’Souza offers a great free report on ‘Why Headlines Fail’ when you subscribe to his Psychotactics Newsletter. Be sure to check out his blog, too.


Leave a comment »
  1. Wow, this sounds like a good idea at first, but as a sorta “Book Store” I would be a little upset with a customer who captures our resources on their smartphone, because we sell these wonderful resources to make a profit and pay our bills with, We are not the LIBRARY!
    Good Tip…Not!
    Scott teacher-parent stores and web-site @

    • Dave Charest •

      Thanks for the comment Scott. I don’t think Sean is suggesting that people don’t buy books that they plan to read.

  2. Exactly. In fact the opposite occurs. If I end up going to the candy store more often, I end up buying candy. The same applies to book stores. The more time I spend in a place, the more likely I am to get enticed to buy something there.

  3. At least you know your posts are being read!! That is a good thing and the book store will be there tomorrow!

  4. Francine Lucidon •

    The candy analogy doesn’t work since you’re unlikely to be only taking pictures of candy. You need to mention in the article to ALSO BUY SEVERAL BOOKS WHILE YOU ARE THERE (great gifts!) or it’s likely that bookstore will be GONE on your next inspirational, idea gatheringt stroll.

    • I don’t know about you, but I love books. And like Ralph said below, I buy them at book stores. Amazon has made it easier to get them to my door, but if I get into a book store and I start browsing, I tend to end up buying books. It’s a richer experience, even if it’s not as convenient.

      The article isn’t about bookstores. Yes, I know we need to buy books to get them to exist, but that’s another article together. And that’s how bookstores sell and market better, so that I don’t go to Amazon and visit the store instead. Let’s not mix up topics, because technically every industry, every business has to work out how to deal with their competitors. This isn’t about bookstores, by the way. You can quite easily browse on Amazon on any store and get exactly the same information.

      I can open the contents pages of any book on any online store. The candy store analogy may or may not work, but I can tell you that the chances of me buying a book at the store once I’m there, is far greater :)

  5. I write newsletters and blog posts for several customers and my own company. One client’s business is sandpaper. Two blogs and a newsletter each month on sandpaper! Obviously, this topic is important to me.

    Sean also specifically mentioned having a cup of coffee while there. Frankly, any bookstore that gets mad at browsers will not last long nor should they. I write how-to stuff for a living, do spend time in bookstores or at the magazine rack of various stores, and I have a very extensive library of books and magazines at home. I did not get them by ONLY browsing.

    Lastly, it is picky Sean, but your line; “The longer you sit there, the minutes tick away” seems to have lost a word or two.

    Great stuff overall though!

    Ralph Bagnall

  6. My partner and I call this leaving the office time, “out and about”. We launched our business a few months ago and make regular trips to our local bookstore. Standing in front of the business, entrepreneur, women in business section I did buy 5 books ! We now have a growing library of inspiration and reference. The point is, as you said, not so much about the books but leaving the office. Constant contact has helped grow our business along with asking, talking, and connecting to people who will become part of your business whatever that may be. You can’t always do that sitting in a chair.

  7. Only Francine recognized the wrong in your suggestion ” take a picture of that contents page with your smart phone. And then close the book. Yes, close it, because you have everything you need”. To many tech consumer/customers are doing just that, “photo-coping” others work to use as their own thoughts and actions. There’s nothing wrong with using info printed in a book that you PURCHASED because we place Books/Mag’s on our shelves to be bought and enjoyed. Bookstores and Teachers stores like ours exist for educators to shop in, and not just a place to review first to see if you like, then go home to compare the price, and then order on-line, saving on their discounted on-line price and the applicable sales tax, that we ‘brink n’ mortar’ stores must collect.

  8. Scott: In case you’re wondering, I’m that author whose books are not just being photographed in a store, but also being downloaded via torrents on the Internet. If you have any doubts about it, go look up The Brain Audit. It’s a book like the kind that’s sold in your store. And it’s also sold online. And it’s also pirated left, right and centre.

    It’s not much point trying to change things the way you see it, but to accept the reality. And the reality is that bookstores need to change their strategies, as we have. We could roll over and play dead, but we choose not to do so. Please don’t make this a post about your store, or about book stores. I only mentioned book stores because (as Joanne, see post above) noted, it gets you out of the office and into the store.

    Everything I asked folks to do in the store can more than easily and comfortably done online. There’s not a single book that you can’t review online. Mostly all you need is the contents page and nothing else. In fact, by mentioning the book store, and by people getting to your store, you stand a far better chance of them buying the books.

    I understand how you must feel, but I’m a business owner just like you. But there’s no point in trying to fight an unequal battle. You’re not going to win against Amazon. You have to change your strategy. And that’s what we all have to do in every business.

    As I said: I’m an author too.

    • some of our resources are Copyrighted and many are reproducible. purchased reproducible workbook and there pages are to be used by a teacher for their classroom only. these professionals were once held to a higher standard for their actions in coping others work, but with the lack of love being shown/given to our educators, they have become bitter and will do whatever they can to make their jobs easier, and to save a buck and I don’t blame them. Values and respect are going down the drain and the future for many retailers is looking bleaker. FYI, look on-line at a few of the workbooks we offer on our site and try to find those on the web where you can “turn-the-pages” to review prior to purchasing.
      Thank You for sharing your thoughts with an old man
      Scott/Teacher’s Pet celebrating our 21st year!

  9. Sorry to see that you’re catching some flack for something you weren’t suggesting, Sean. I got what you meant. :)

    For the record, I am aspiring to be an author and I have purchased many books over the years. I have learned that people want the convenience of digital copies of books. If I want to be a successful author, I better make sure that I learn HOW people want to read and accommodate for the methods people tend to use. That’s reality: adapt to change. I also understand that people will find ways to try and avoid spend money on my work. I have already experienced this with my digital art. That’s also reality: you can’t stop all theft/pirating.

    I don’t see how getting the idea of writing an article about, say the advantages of home gardening, is so bad. You aren’t taking the original author’s chapter on that topic on what they had to say and posting it as your own. Do you have any ideas how many books, newsletters, blogs and magazine articles are already talking about that subject??

    I like to go in to book stores when ever I can. I also always walk out buying at least one book because I went in to the store. How often have I purchased a book from sitting in my chair? Very very few. I like how in book stores you can take a peek at the book and read a bit before deciding if the book really is going to help you. I have read a chapter in a book at the store and found that it would not have helped me, thus saving me from a $30 mistake. I wish I had done that with a $60 book I bought online. After I purchased it and it got delivered to my house, I started reading it and found it was completely useless to me even though it had a lot of positive reviews and was highly recommended. Amazon will only show you so much and that often still leaves me wondering or not the book would be worth the purchase so in the end I decide not to buy. But if I walk into a B&M store and can actually get my hand son the book and look through it, I’m far more likely to purchase it. :)

    I find the book store atmosphere to be very calming and a great break from distractions. Best place in the world to grow your education and concentrate!!

    This article I find is helpful and has an interesting idea. Certainly couldn’t hurt. I often find myself wondering what I could be writing about for my newsletters when I go to start them for my own business I’m going to start. Sure I could make them all about coupon codes, new products, what shows I’ll be vending at but there has to be more. Something even more valuable to the subscribers and gives you the chance to show that you are knowledgeable in the subject.

    Thanks for the share, Sean. :) This was definitely a good idea! Sorry if my post seemed long-winded.

  10. Sean, I’m really sorry to see you getting raked over the coals here!
    I think this is an ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT idea, and one I personally appreciate very much and will implement, maybe even this evening.
    It’s a little silly that people are getting upset over this, as obviously, I’m not likely to buy a book on a topic I’m already an expert in…. unless perhaps the author presents some ideas that are new to me, thus helping me become more of an expert. In which case, since I’m already in the book store, I’ll buy the book THERE. I know this is not the point of your article, but since it is causing the mini-uproar, I just have to say, I HAVE bought books from Amazon, but often prefer to buy from the book store, because I want it now, don’t want to pay for shipping, and want it in good condition. So, getting me to go into the bookstore is very likely to result in extra sales (almost guaranteed for a book-junkie like me).
    Anyway, THANK YOU for the idea!

  11. Well, thank you Rachel and Amy. I see that some folks have got the point. :)

  12. Anna •

    Love the image used–that sign is from Anagram Bookshop in Prague (no longer in business, unfortunately).


Tell us your thoughts