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

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

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

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


    The longer you sit there, the longer the minutes will 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.


    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, the graphic design section it is. No matter what your area of expertise, you’ll find a few dozen books on the topic.


    What do you do next?


    Open the book to the Contents Page. 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 you are in the gardening section of the book store.


    Your eye falls on a 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 the Contents page with your smartphone. 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 you can’t write ten articles just today, so 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 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.


    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 such 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. There are still nine more to go. And you’ve opened just one book.

    There are dozens more books, but you can 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?

    No, you’re not just copying. That is why you closed the book immediately after you wrote down the topics on the Contents page.

    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 of the books on your topic.

    The place you were stuck was coming up with the idea itself. If you chose to keep the book open, you might have inadvertently copied 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 ideas are free. There’s no copyright on ideas.


    Surely I can do this while sitting in my office—why go to the book store?


    A big part of 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.

    It sure beats going nuts about writing your next newsletter.

    Have you used your local book store to find content? Or do you find content ideas in other nooks and crannies? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

    About the author

      Sean D'Souza

      Sean D'Souza is a writer, marketing guru and expert on sales psychology. Read more by Sean on

    • Ann says:

      It always seems so hard to talk myself into getting out of the house to write; THIS is just the argument I need (yes I do argue with myself about things). Thanks for a great and motivating idea!

    • Ruchika says:

      Great grt grt idea..I will definetly follow this with my favorite famous author books…

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Mary,

      I use to never find the time to leave my office, but it makes a huge difference if you can. Whenever I have a creativity slump or just need a little motivation, the book store works great. It’s my favorite place next to Starbucks 😉

      The book store really does two things for you, it’s gets your mind thinking in different directions, not to mention you get a different perspective on ideas, but it’s also an energy boost for me.

      You have to get out, simple as that, and if you have a good bookstore to recharge your batteries, go.


    • Suzanne says:

      I love this idea….sometimes what I need is a change of scene. No (new) bookstores in my town anymore either, but I suppose I could go get dusty in the used bookstore. Too bad they don’t serve coffee.

    • Local bookstore?? Sigh… mine closed. And I live in in-town Washington DC. I don’t miss it often but your article made me nostalgic. Thanks Sean!

    • Barbara says:

      Whaat GREAT idea! Thanks. I’ll try it soon. I also like Michael’s idea from the Used Book store. Two great ideas in one place. Now I’m inspired!

    • Michael says:

      Great post Sean! This is actually one of my favorite techniques. I also frequent used bookstores as well as new bookstores and libraries for this reason. Not only can you get new books cheap at used bookstores, you can also find old books with forgotten ideas. Sometimes you can even find old magazines with great article headlines which can get an idea started in your mind. You never know where an idea will come from, so it’s good to always be on the lookout.

    • Maranna says:

      Terrific ideas. I have spent many a day at the computer when I would have been much more fruitfully involved in some gardening or the likes. It’s often when I am working hard physically, that ideas spring to mind.

    • Great solution to stale content. Another is simply observing an area different from the usual: perhaps another neighborhood, or a new work environment.

    • Hi! Thanks for the great idea! In addition to the “contents”, the different atmosphere and interaction with people will surely jog a story out of me.

    • “Step away from the computer,” a voice said from the fog in a car-alarm voice. Indeed, we need to extricate ourselves and walk in the real world sometimes. THANKS for a great reminder, and dang good advice.

    • Ciara Conlon says:

      Great advice that I’m going to use straight away – thanks Sean

    • Bakari says:

      Great idea. I’ve done this on occasion, and it definitely works. But sadly, the local Boarders bookstore closed a few years ago, so now I have to travel extra far to reach Barnes and Nobel. But that’s an aside. This is a very useful idea.

      • Thanks 🙂 Technically you can hang out an online book stores as well.

        • I was about to add this remark about visiting online bookstores 🙂

        • If Barnes & Noble is too far, you can go to the nearest chain grocery store (I think all of them have books now), or small department store (that would be Fred Meyer for me), maybe even a drugstore, and browse there as well.

    • Dustin says:

      This is a great idea. This will really help me in my writing. Thanks for sharing this article. I normal get my ideas from everyday life and certain things my kids say that I can use for my field of expertise. Learn to pay attention to your surroundings and what people say and the record them in your smart phone notes app.

    • Marlene says:

      Great idea, and who doesn’t love hanging out at the bookstore?

    • Hello Sean D’Souza,

      Absolutely lovely, But my question is that just like the persons seeking idea as gotten an idea by looking through the books outline.

      will it be termed plagiarizing if the writer takes time to read through Chapter 9 entirely and goes ahead to reflect on what he has read and adds his own thought to balance it up.

      • There’s a difference between plagiarising and getting inspired by titles. When you look at a tree, you’re in effect getting inspired to draw or write about the tree. When you copy the tree, it’s seen as your work. If you take the work of your neighbour and call it your work, it’s plagiarising.

        And that’s a no-no.

        All that you write about will be your own experience, your own tone, your own language. The title is just the starting point. And that’s what you need. To get started. Most people just can’t get started. Once you have your topic you can move ahead. And that’s all that you have to really do.

      • Just as an idea can’t be copyrighted, neither can titles. I was at a camp once, and saw the same title on three different books. Two were fiction and one was non-fiction – for the same title. None plagiarized the other.

    • Looooove this idea. Thank you!!

    • Great Idea. I just saw this on Twitter, I’m going to Retweet. I recently wrote on finding great ideas while watching television.

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