Writers of nonfiction books know that writing about something in the media or about to be in the media is a good way to sell books on topics of current interest. However, the problem is predicting what people will be interested in-you can’t always foresee a war, a tragic event, a new trend in society until it happens, and by the time you write a book about it, the trend has passed and your book is out too late.

How do you as an author overcome this problem? By figuring out what will interest people in the near future from looking at what interested them in the past. In other words, pick a significant future anniversary of an event-fifty years, one hundred years, etc.-and write a book about it. Then when the anniversary celebrations of that event take place, making people curious to learn more about it, your book will be there to fulfill that interest.

Since we don’t have a crystal ball, we can use a pseudo-time machine to go back to the past and resurrect what previously interested people (or just Google past events). It may or may not always be easy to guess what past events will make headlines with their anniversaries, but here are some guidelines for choosing an event to write about, depending upon your and your audience’s interests:

What are you interested in? If you love history, there should be no absence of anniversary events to write about, but you don’t have to be a lover of history to write a book on an event or topic celebrating a major anniversary.
For example, maybe you are a stand-up comedian who also wants to write a book. August 6, 2011 was Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday. Had you thought about it a couple of years earlier, you could have written a book about Lucille Ball which would be ready to sell when her legions of fans had their interest in her piqued again by her birthday. In the process, as a stand-up comic, Ball might be a fascinating person to write about because it would give you insight into one of history’s all-time greatest comedians and inspire your own comedy routines. When I looked at Amazon, I found eleven books on Lucille Ball printed in 2010 and 2011-a sign that several people thought to take advantage of her upcoming birthday.

What if you’re interested in recovery issues? How about a book on the 100th anniversary of prohibition (coming in 2019)? If you’re interested in literature, find a major author or book celebrating its 100th birthday, and if you like movies, find a significant film celebrating its 50th birthday. Just find an event you can adapt to your interests and you’re ready to go.