Monday, March 02, 2009

Exclusive tip from the Frugal Promoter!

My guest today is Carolyn Howard Johnson! She is an award-winning author and the master of frugal book promotions. Her book, The Frugal Book Promoter, is a must for anyone preparing to market a book and most certainly resides on my book shelf. (Well-worn, of course.) I asked if she could contribute something in the area of writing for my blog and online writer’s club. This is a little excerpt (an exclusive at that!) from The Frugal Book Promoter:

Mindshift: Getting Over Wrong-Headed Beliefs About Promotion

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

We all know what negative thoughts can do to our writing. But we often fail to recognize that all the wailing we hear about promotion-- on the Net and in our critique groups--is destructive, too. It keeps us from doing what we must to build our platforms which in turn helps us get a good agent or publisher and sell our books.

We writers need to stop believing what we hear other writers saying about the horrors of promotion. Or what our little brains keep whispering to us. There is a way to promote that fits every writer's pocketbook, book title, and even every writer's personality.

As an example, writers love to write. . But there are many ways writer can use their writing to promote. Here is a list of ways to promote that require you to write. It comes straight from chapter headings in my multi award-winning Frugal Book Promoter:

Write and Recycle Articles.
Write a Column.
Syndicate Your Column.
Self -Syndicate Your Column.
Publish Your Own Newsletter.
Write Reviews.
Write for Anthologies.
Write Introductions.
Write Tip Sheets.

For those who moan most about the time promotion takes, well, you have a point. But see the first entry? That word "recycle" is important. Anything you write to promote can be recycled. It can be recycled from your blog to your newsletter to your Web site to your handouts when you speak or teach. And back again. In the Obama era, we're all getting into a green mode and green can include efficient time use, too. That means even the issue of time become less of an argument for avoiding promotion.

So, though your promotional writing must be balanced with your creative efforts, it's a lot easier to do than most think. Unfortunately, that balancing act is a topic all its own, but my favorite tip for that is to get up in the morning, put fingers to keys and write for one, two hours. Whatever you find you need. Don't turn on your e-mail program until after that time is up. Then it's promo-writing time. Go for it!

------Carolyn Howard-Johnson's first novel, This Is the Place, won eight awards. Her second book, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, creative nonfiction, won three. Her chapbook of poetry Tracings, was named to the Compulsive Reader's Ten Best Reads list and was given the Military Writers' Society of America's Silver Award of Excellence. She just released She Wore Emerald Then, A Reflection on Motherhood, coauthored with Magdalena Ball and self-published in the time-honored tradition of poets everywhere. Those efforts on behalf of so-called hard-to-promote books lead her to write The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't which was named USA Book News' "Best Professional Book 2004." It is also an Irwin Award winner. Her Web site is and she blogs at Writer's Digest 101 Best Website


Anonymous said...

Well now - talk about synchronicity - and also a tip on how well HoJo markets herself. She is the featured guest on my Free Spirit blog today too!

Enjoyed this!

Prill Boyle said...

Always love your frugal approach to book promoting, Carolyn. I'm sure you didn't know when you began that you'd be occupying the premier niche for these financially uncertain times. (Marvin--I'm going to your blog next to check it out.)

Helen Ginger said...

I definitely agree with the part about not opening email until after you've done some writing. Email can suck away your time and leave you without as much time as you need to write. As can Twittering, visiting other blogs, and participating in other social networking sites. To try to get all of those things in, I use a timer.

Mayra Calvani said...

Thanks, Carolyn!

Great advice! Is it easy to syndicate a column? How do you self syndicate one?

Or is this info in your book? Then I better read it again!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Thanks for the tips...lucky me I'm already doing them! Cheers!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Breeathe. Decided not to open my own e-mail this morning--per my own advice and now I'm late getting to all of you. As you can see, no adivce is perfect.

Marv, you did a great job on the presentation on the Free Spirit blog. I hope everyone will check it out, too. http://tr.i/gVGf.

Prill, that FRUGAL is an in buzzword right now is just evidence of another piece of advice I give oh, so freely. LOL. Be yourself. You'll never be able to clairvoyant pick the next trend but if you are yourself, the world will catch up to you! (-: Thanks for being so loyal.

Helen, nice to see you again on this blog. Ahh, that opening e-mail thing! (-:

Mayra, I talk about self-syndicating columns in The Frugal Book Promoter. It's an easy way to start and especially good in this time when newspapers are cutting back on freelance expenditures. You didn't mention this (shame!) but Mayra wrote a wonderful book on using your writing to promote--it's on reviewing. But, yes, that's another way to promote.

And, Nancy! You're just a hopeless case. I'll have to think of something else for you. LOL

Diane, thank you so much for featuring me in your inimitable spunky style. (-:


Mayra Calvani said...

Okay, thanks, Carolyn. I'm going to look at the book again. I read it a few years ago... and my memory is not what it used to be LOL


Morgan Mandel said...

Great advice - recycling and changing articles around a bit can also make you seem like an expert on a subject.

Morgan Mandel

Allyn Evans said...

When Carolyn talks, I listen!

Great always