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Monday, September 10, 2007

Promoting: Giving In to the Human Animal

The Frugal Book Promoter
Copyright: By Carolyn Howard-Johnson 2004
Pages: 243(Includes Index)
ISBN: 1-932993-10-X
Price. $17.95
Published by Star Publish 2004

Reviewed by Judith Woolcock Colombo

Humans are social animals. We like to associate with others to share our thoughts, blessings, and woes. But above all this, we love to express our opinions and demonstrate our knowledge about matters both mundane and extraordinary. Over the eons our penchant for giving advice has led to a phenomenon called the how to book. There are how to books on subjects ranging from the simplest household tasks to how to be a good parent or an amazing lover.

Authors are no exception to the rule, and are very eager to give advice to each other from how to write and publish your first novel to publicizing that novel and promoting yourself. Being an author, I know how important publicizing ones work is and how necessary it is to promote oneself. Because other writers know how eager their colleagues are to place themselves in the public eye, there are many books in the market place that offer publicity and promotion tips. More often than not, these suggestions require great expenditure and that is something most underpaid writers can’t afford.

However, The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard –Johnson offers solutions that cost more in time than money, and time is something any committed writer must be prepared to spend. The author admits at the start of the book that some of her advice is based on her opinion, but this is an opinion garnered from years of being in public relations and from successfully promoting and publicizing her first two books.

The book starts off with some simple and helpful hints. The author speaks about branding yourself instead of publicizing yourself. Later she goes on to explain this more fully. Every time an author writes an article, short story, or book review and publishes it in a magazine, newspaper, ezine or website, he or she should end with their tagline. A tagline can be the author’s name and works, for example, Gloria Fox author of One Missing Shoe along with email and website address.

In the first chapters, Howard-Johnson addresses normal author concerns such as plagiarism: how often it is really done and how to guard against it by copyrighting. She also discusses P.R or how to publicize your book through media releases, publishing excerpts from your book, and author interviews among other things.

The Frugal Book Promoter is so filled with information that it would take several pages to describe. Howard-Johnson spends time elaborating on the things to do before the book comes out, building a Media Kit, entering contests, making contacts by attending conferences and how to decide which ones to attend and what to do while there. She discusses the importance of having your own website and how to have one built for a reasonable fee. She gives you a list of websites to go to that will teach you how to build one or help you get ones for free. She also explains the necessity of making a personal mailing list of family, friends, co-workers, your church group and so on.

The author takes you through the process of what to do when you get a publisher’s contract, the questions to ask and the pitfalls to avoid. She also gives advice on what to do after the book is published, how to get reviews, the importance of book signings and book fares, how to use the media including internet radio and public announcements in local papers. Her section on Amazon.Com is excellent. She explains how to establish a free account and how to use tools such as Listamania, book reviews, and the All About Me section.

One of the aspects of this book that I thought most valuable was the list of websites included in every chapter. They ranged from websites that help you with the mechanics of writing to review sites, and sites that help you sell and promote the book. There is also an appendix filled with wonderful things, like sample query letters.

As a writer, I found this book a very useful tool. Even if you don’t agree with some of the author’s opinions, the share amount of research that went into this book will awe you. One of the results of this extensive research though, is that the book can seem overwhelming. The solution to this is to treat it as a toolbox. When you need a tool, open the box and take it out, or study the specific chapter or chapters in this case. Beginning authors will find this an enlightening how to book and even old veterans might learn some things they never knew. I did.

Judith Woolcock Colombo: Author of The Fablesinger, Night Crimes, The Gasman & The Death of Betty Pinto
Visit my web site at Or email for info & sample chapters/


Cherise said...

My book "KNOWING SPIRIT: Through Healing Your Soul" should be out fairly soon and I don't necessarily want to work with a publicity firm for a few months and then fade out of the limelight when I'm off the network roster. I deliberately choose not to go with a traditional publisher because I didn't want to adjust my material to what was most popular at the time. Valerie at Nightengale Press caught my eye and she had such integrity and professionalism that I knew I found my publisher. She does organize book signings and has a show dedicated to author networking but if I want to share my teachings I need to put my passion into action and find ways to do so.
This book sounds great, every author needs to know how, and I'm glad someone decided to show us how to do it.

Reverend Cherise Thorne

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Cherise, if I can keep authors from falling into the potholes I fell into with both my books, The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor, I will be a happy woman. BTW, I know Yvonne. I think you've found yourself an excellent publisher. (-:
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Reverend Cherise Thorne said...

I can't wait to order your book, I'm looking forward to...moving forward. I have a lot of time constraints, I'm working full time teaching as well as running a full time ministry. Initially I wanted to go with a firm because I have so little time, but last I heard Rome wasn't built in day either. Yvonne Perry has been a wonderful resource and I am very grateful I connected with her. I think she interviewed you for her Writers in the Sky podcast, I will check the archives.

Thanks, Rev.Cherise

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Yes, Cherise, I am on one of Yvonne's podcasts. I try to do lots of things where I can pass on free info to writers besides sell my books. You'll want to look at the Resources for Writers page on my website at There is a list of free news disseminators, book fairs, tons of leads. And, right. One thing at a time, step-by-step. (-: