Pat Iyer's Blog

Those of us who remember a pre-Internet world may have grown up reading Reader’s Digest, whose basis was condensing information. It also had features like “Laughter is the Best Medicine” and “Life in These United States,” made up of humorous and inspirational anecdotes.

Reader’s Digest continues to flourish, now with video stories, innumerable tips, and other bite-sized pieces of information. Its enduring success proves that people love small chunks of information.

We can find other evidence for the popularity of information crumbs in the popularity of Twitter and other social media platforms.

Scientists have investigated the roots of this popularity and learned that the neurochemical, dopamine, once believed to be related solely to pleasure, causes us to desire, seek, and search. One of the things that activates it is small bits of information. The addictive nature of social media is related to the positive feelings associated with a dopamine rush.

This phenomenon also explains why tips books have such popularity. Whether you’re a new or an experienced writer, you have a good chance of attracting an audience with such a book.

Promote Your Business with a Tips Book

This book format can also help you effectively market your business by subtly highlighting what you offer.

A book of tips can range in length from ten to 101-plus tips. Sometimes the author devotes a page or more to each tip. Others put more than one tip on a page.

In my book, 52 Writing Tips: Fast and Easy Ways to Polish Your Manuscript, I made each tip a short chapter. While the information I provided had more detail than the average tips book, it followed the format in that each tip stood on its own, offering useful and easily digestible information.

How to Get the Most Out of a Tips Book

The number of tips you choose may depend on the use you plan for your compilation. One way to use this format is to create not a book but a free download for visitors to your site.

Offering useful free material is a proven strategy for collecting email addresses. You can also use a short list of tips to spark interest in a longer version covering the material.

Manufacturers of household appliances can compile tips for each of their products and either include these in their delivery boxes or make them available for download or—perhaps most effective—include them in a thank-you letter or email to the purchaser.

Make It Special

Whether you’re writing a short tips list or a book, do avoid collecting run-of-the-mill tips that most people interested in the subject will already know. If you own a gardening business, don’t offer the tip that some plants don’t do well in sunny places. That information is widely available.

People might be more interested in learning what plants repel deer or that planting sunflowers is like sending an invitation to every bear in the neighborhood to visit. Far too many people (like me) who planted catnip for the benefit of their feline friends learned too late that catnip is a mint. And mints take over a garden.

Search for little-known facts and unexpected information. The unexpected particularly satisfies dopamine-thrill seekers.

Including anecdotes also makes the information more interesting. I can’t say too many times that people love stories. In a tips book, of course, they should be very short.

Don’t Neglect the Details

You can probably write a tips book very quickly. The start to finish time could take no more than a month.

However, although your book may be small, that doesn’t mean it should be written carelessly. In fact, when the word count is low, typos and grammatical errors will stand out much more than they would in a book with more text. Make your book stand out in every way.

A Great Way to Begin Your Writing Journey

While I said that either beginning or experienced writers can benefit from writing a tips book, I want, in closing, to emphasize the special boost of self-esteem the beginner can get from successfully completing a tips book. It can stand as a foundation for more ambitious and longer works.

See how Reader’s Digest has kept up with the times.

If you have a book trapped in your head, I’d love to talk to you about being your ghostwriter. Use the contact form at patiyer.com/contact to set up a request to chat with me.

Pat Iyer is an editor and ghostwriter and the host of Writing to Get Business Podcast.