Saturday, March 21, 2009

Q&A a la Ann Landers: More on Tip Sheets as Promotion

Below is a letter written to me by a new writer who is trying to promote her book by doing something she loves, writing. In this case she has written a tip sheet. I suggest a whole cadre of ideas of ways to promote for those who would rather write than do many of the other things we commonly think of as promotion. Writing tip sheets is one of them. Thanks to Diana Dodson for allowing me to reprint her questions.

Diana Dodson Asks:

I recently sent you a copy of my, Tip Sheet. I had told you that a paper had asked me for a press copy and we did not know what they meant by a “press copy.” The paper wanted a copy of my book to look at.

I did have another question though. I had thought about this when I was reading your book. If we sent tip sheets to newspapers, why would they necessarily want to use one, where they know nothing about the author or the book?


To entice a paper to be interested, you want to make you tips something that would interest the public. Or the specific audience of the media you are submitting to. Example, one of my tip sheets is on “Everything You Wanted to Know about Utah but Were Afraid to Ask.” I only send it out right after there is a big brouhaha in the news about polygamy or some such thing. My book is set in Utah. So the tips aren't about the book but they are related to the book.

Diana asks:

Is there a form letter that should be included with the Tip Sheet?


You may adapt the query letter examples I’ve given in both The Frugal Editor and The Frugal Book Promoter (they’re all a little different). You tailor them to become a query for your tip sheet. Remember, with a tip sheet you are asking for something to be published. Thus it is a query letter, not a cover letter. There is no possible way to cover all the exigencies for anything an author might submit for consideration to a variety of people including agents, editors and publishers. Thus, the ones in both books are templates and you will need to make them fit your different needs.

Diana Asks: Do you feel papers will put these in, even if they know nothing about you?


When you write a query letter you let the editors know a little about you. Did you see the section on building relationships with editors in my book? If you submit releases, tips sheets, etc. often enough, eventually they will come to recognize you. And, of course, the whole idea of tips sheets is that newspaper and magazine editors often need--really need--little fillers. So, if a tip sheet that might appeal to their audience comes along, they very well might use it, whether they know you or not. Don’t forget to tell them they can use it at no charge and be sure to include a 25 word or less credit line, usually only your name, the title of your book and maybe your e-mail or Web site.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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