You won’t get publicity for your book if you don’t create and use the right media relations tools. One of the most useful — and most under-utilized — is the tip sheet, a specific type of press release that offers tips or advice in a bulleted or numbered format.
Tip sheets help introduce your target audience to your book’s content, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. Tip sheets always state a problem, then offer advice from an expert on how to solve that problem. In our case, the expert is the author of a relevant book.
“Relevant” is key here. The problem has to have a connection to your book’s content because your book is the credential you use to give advice. For example, if you’ve written a book on how to buy a used car, you can offer tips on used car scams to avoid, but you should leave the advice on how to plan a romantic weekend getaway to the romance authors.
Media outlets love tip sheets
Tip sheets are popular with editors, reporters, bloggers, radio and TV producers, and others because they provide “news you can use.” When I mentioned tip sheets as part of my keynote presentation on platform-building at the University of Wisconsin Writer’s Institute a few years ago, a Chicago Tribune editor in the audience thanked me afterwards for encouraging writers and authors to create and distribute this important book publicity tool. “We love tip sheets!” he said.
Tip sheets that are well-written (more on how to do that here) and offer useful advice and information can generate impressive, high-profile publicity, as my “Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz” e-course student Candy Harrington discovered. The course materials contain detailed instructions for how to write one as well as samples; Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates includes a fill-in-the-blanks form with a sample.
Students write a tip sheet as a homework assignment, too. Candy sent hers (also posted on her website) to a list of about 100 newspaper travel editors and got excellent pick-up that included this item in the Miami Herald. (Note that this reprint of her tip sheet also links to the book’s website — which is exactly what we want it to do). If you compare the two, you’ll see that Candy’s was so well-done that the editor could just use it “as is” — which always makes it more likely that it will, in fact, get used.
Watch for examples — you’ll see them
USA Weekend, the supplement that goes in weekend Gannett newspapers, frequently includes short articles that read like tip sheets, and the expert sources are often authors offering tips from their books. My daily newspaper included tips for family vacation trips this week by the author of a series of (apparently) self-published children’s books about a little boy who travels. It’s a great example of a tip sheet in action, but it also shows how fiction writers can use this tactic to get widespread exposure, too, because this article ran in multiple newspapers.
No matter what type of book you write, you can use tip sheets to promote it. It doesn’t matter if your book is a memoir, a young adult novel, or a business book — there’s something there that you can share as tips and advice with others.
What are you going to write your tip sheet about? I know you can do it!