Writing: Spinning Fiction into How-to Articles

If you’re working on a novel or any sort of fiction, how can you get your name “out there” for readers to discover?

Writing Tip for Today: Here are some ways to take your fiction and turn it into helps for your potential readers.

Look for Thru-Lines

No matter what genre you write in, novel platforms can be difficult to build, especially for debut authors. But take a tip from the nonfiction-writing crowd: look for topics, groups or settings that you’ve mentioned in your fiction. Then, find a how-to angle that will appeal to the readers you hope to harness.

For instance, let’s say your novel or memoir contains a character who loves her dog, but her dog wakes her up to go out too early.  What sorts of hacks would dog lovers like to know? Look for a topic in light of the story you are writing and turn it to your audience. Maybe it’s about tips for keeping Fido from his wake-up call until a certain time. Or you could write a short article about making the most of early mornings.

Settings can be lifted from your book and turned into tourism articles or places to go in the area where your novel is set. A few years ago, a Romance series put into the titles of the books out-of-the-way destinations with quirky titles that suggested romance. Places such as Bridal Veil, Oregon and Valentine, Nebraska were featured in the Love Finds You series. Do a little research and find some interesting facts about your book’s setting.

Groups such as the Amish or occupations such as detective, law enforcement, or scientist might be a hook for a nonfiction article. Take the Main Character’s job or pastime and spin it into a behind-the-scenes look at what life is like. Or, try a humor essay. My latest book, Thank God for Cats! is lighthearted and funny, so I wrote several practical how-to articles on how our cats benefit us.

Look for Markets

If you’ve had an idea for an article or even drafted it, your next stop must be a marketing list of periodicals looking for material. Even if the publication is non-paying, you might benefit from getting your name out there. Use an up-to-date online directory and keyword searches to find potential markets.

Don’t forget to read the guidelines. Each publication has its own target audience. Don’t waste time sending out queries or submissions to publications that you haven’t familiarized yourself with. Follow word count and other specs and be sure the publication is open to unsolicited manuscripts.

In today’s publishing world, queries and pitches are all online, which eliminates the need for SASEs and stamps. It also means that when they’re not interested, they simply ignore you in a lot of cases. Be sure to follow good etiquette and allow several weeks before you follow up. And if they require a query, brush up on nonfiction queries.

Always read a publication’s guidelines before you submit or query.

Look for Readers

If you’re not getting acceptances for magazines or newspapers, all is not lost. Start a blog or newsletter and use your article ideas to entice readers.  You can do this by posting new material or by giving away short articles and excerpts from your work in exchange for an email signup.

These giveaways can be as simple as a pdf or as fancy as an e-book. Change up your offering regularly to keep readers connected. Intersperse your novel’s excerpts with articles on the book’s topic, group or setting. Offer to guest post on another novelist’s page or make short vids to post to Facebook, TikTok or Insta.

To grow your readership, the content should provide some sort of value to potential readers. By targeting the genre, topic, group or setting of your novel, you can get your name in front of more readers. By expanding your writing skills into nonfiction, you’ll have a good chance to grow your readership even before your book is on the shelf.


About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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