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Boost your book publicity success with tip sheets

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!


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  1. I understand how this can be a great tool for non-fiction books, but how can one be extracted from a novel? Mine is a speculative fiction that’s based on a couple of the laws of physics and thermodynamics…but I twisted and took liberties with them to create a fictional system.

  2. That’s a good question, Madison. One of the examples above, the children’s book, is fiction. The book is about a little guy who travels, so the author’s tips are about how to travel with kids. One of my fiction students who wrote a mystery set in a health food store wrote a tip sheet about cures for common ailments that you can find in your home or a health food store — genius!

    In your case, think about how the laws of physics & thermodynamics apply to everyday lives, and what problems we might solve with them. I don’t know enough about the topic to make informed suggestions, but maybe it’s something like “X ways you can use physics to do xxx.” Think about it in terms of what you learned while researching/writing the book that might help others. (You probably did some topic research even though its fiction, right?)


    1. Thanks! That does give me some ideas. We encounter physics and these laws in their true form every day, but no one really pays attention to that kind of stuff unless it’s presented in some interesting way…

  3. My seventh book will be published by the beginning of 2013. I am interested in learning about the tip sheet. It was the first time I heard of it. Thanks
    for the information.I will printout your discription and learn to write one for
    my up coming book, Earth Angel.

    1. Glad to hear it, J.! When you write yours, remember to focus on sharing advice and tips that solve a problem. Some authors list reasons to buy their book and this isn’t an ad for a book — it’s helpful information about a problem they need solved.


  4. So, I get the idea of a tip sheet but I am unclear about what to do with it then. I have a fiction in which my characters deal with anger issues. So a tip sheet on practical ways to destress would work (right?). Now what do I do with it? Sorry, New to this game. Thanks for the patience.

    1. L.G., exactly! Yours might be about managing stress or DIY anger management. You send it to appropriate media outlets and blogs. In your case, I’d recommend the living sections of daily newspapers. You can create your own media list and send via e-mail, or pay an online distribution service (learn more about how to use my favorite one with a link to a list of free services on this blog post: http://bit.ly/xKeXfQ) to send it for you.

      I hope this helps!


  5. Brilliant idea re tip sheets. It particularly appropriate to myself as I have just published a self-help/positive thinking book “Charting Your Lief’s Roadmap in an Uncertain World” – Choose Happiness daily. I need to get this out there fast as it refers a lot to Goal Setting for New Year plus Self-Esteeem issues etc. etc.

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