How to attract readers

Jerry Bellune

Mar 1, 2023

Readers became hooked on the stories. They bought the newspapers for the next story or book chapter.

Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle pioneered publishing books as serial chapters in London newspapers.

It was a great marketing device for newspaper publishers and the two writers.

Readers became hooked on the stories. They bought the newspapers for the next story or book chapter.

It was a great strategy, too. The authors and publishers of their books could tell from newspaper sales if the series would be popular enough to warrant the cost of printing and distributing the series as books.

We see evidence of this everywhere. TV series such as M*A*S*H ran for 11 seasons. It was loosely based on a book written by a former Mobile Army Surgical Hospital doctor in the Korean War. The producers filmed more than 275 M*A*S*H episodes. It is still on TV in re-runs.

George Lucas parlayed Star Wars into an industry cranking out movie sequels, TV specials and other products.

Once you have a good thing, keep feeding those who love it.

In our community newspapers, we publish columns by non-journalists from our neighborhoods.

They work lots of local names into their columns, which leads people to tell each other, “I saw your name in the Chronicle.”

We publish columns on themes.

One correspondent writes weekly about what local churches do for the community. Another writes entertainingly about Southern culture and a third about local history.

Two of our sales people write a chatty column about local business people.

Our subscription manager writes a personalized column explaining the latest trends in technology.

Our bookkeeper’s many family health challenges has led her to write a weekly health column.

These writers attract loyal followings. Our subscribers attract others as they talk with friends about our latest issue.

You may already be doing this. If not, give it a try.

Next: Respectful reporting

Jerry Bellune is a writing coach and author of “The Art of Compelling Writing, Volume 1.” If our reporters wrote better, it would make editing easier. It would make our news and feature articles sing. But we lack the time to coach them. Here’s a secret. You can help them with copies of writing coach Jerry Bellune’s The Art of Compelling Writing; $9.99 at