Saturday, June 26, 2010

Carolyn Howard-Johnson on Publishing Options

Multi Published Author Carolyn Howard-Johnson

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Website Address:

Email: HoJoNews[AT]aol[DOT].com

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an award-winning author of fiction, poetry and nonfiction. Her HowToDoItFrugally series of books has helped writers and retailers worldwide. Learn more at

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s first novel, This is the Place, won eight awards and her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, won three. Her fiction, nonfiction and poems have appeared in national magazines, anthologies and review journals. A 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 speaks on Utah ’s culture, tolerance and book promotion and editing and has appeared on TV and hundreds of radio stations nationwide. She is an instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program and her how-to book, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t was named USA Book News’ “Best Professional Book 2004." and the Irwin Award. Her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success also won a nod from USA Book News and won Readers' Views Literary Award. Her marketing campaign for that book won the marketing award from New Generation Indie Book Awards.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, the Book Publicists of Southern California's Irwin Award and her community's Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly's list of 14 women of " San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen."

The author loves to travel and has studied at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom ; Herzen University in St. Petersburg , Russia ; and Charles University , Prague . She admits to carrying a pen and journal with her wherever she goes. Her website is: and

Interview with Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Aday: You amaze me. I can’t wait to see what you have to say about publishing avenues and building a platform and name for yourself.

Carolyn: It has been a pleasure getting to know you over the years, Aday.Watching you publish and grow your platform. You make me happy.

Aday: Can you share with us the venues you used to publish your many books?

Carolyn: I’ve published almost every way there is, Aday. I think that puts me in a good position to advise other writers about publishing. I know what works for some titles, what works for others. And I don’t come to the table with the prejudice that there is but one way to do things.

Aday: Why did you choose one method above another?

Carolyn: Early on, I didn’t really choose. Though I had a background in marketing and a background in journalism, I didn’t know anything—really—about the publishing of books. I learned the hard way. Generally speaking, I like the traditional paths for novels and the self-publishing path for how-to books. I’ve used both for poetry. There is a long history of poets publishing their books on their own and I’ve done that with a Celebration Series of gift chapbooks I’ve done it with Magadalena Ball. But I also published Tracings, a chapbook of poetry, with Finishing Line Press. And with more than a dozen books and booklets published, I don’t think you want a list of each! There is an excellent book coming out in its 4th edition that wouldn’t hurt any writer to read. Even ones who think they’d never want to self publish. It’s Marilyn Ross’s Everything You Need to Know About Self-Publishing.

Aday: What should someone consider before they choose a method for publication?

Carolyn: Because of the amazing number of ways to publish (and ways I’ve published), Aday, I think this would take a book to explain. A WHOLE book. LOL. Having said that, whether a book is mine or someone else’s the best way to publish it depends on

1. Their own dreams for publishing.

2. Their goals for literary success.

3. Their goals for monetary success (they surely are different!)

4. The title of their book (nonfiction may do better than fiction in one of the so-called self-publishing paths).

5. How much they can afford to invest in the success of their book—in terms of both time and money.

There may be other issues that would influence a choice, Aday, and those might come out in the consultations I do with authors. But these are the major ones to consider.

Aday: In retrospect what would you do differently?

Carolyn: Oh, greatest of all questions I wouldn’t be in such a rush to publish my first book, which was a novel, This Is the Place ( I’d have been more patient, even maybe put some of my marketing plans aside until I knew a bit more.

Aday: What are three of the most powerful tools you’ve used to market your books and why?

Carolyn: Speaking and teaching are the most powerful, across the board in publishing any genre. That’s because the ability to speak is important for teaching, for radio, for TV appearances, for podcasts, for Webinars—you get the idea. I advise everyone to “just get over it”—meaning that fear so many of us have about speaking.

The next most powerful is online promotion. It can reach soooooooo many people with so little effort. Of course, with many of the online possibilities, the ability to speak is still a plus!

I’m going to turn this around a bit. Generally the least successful ways to market are the ways most beginning authors dream of—like book signings and book launches. There are exceptions to that, of course. But the best marketing is out-of-the-box marketing.

Aday: You are the “go to gal for frugal marketing”, how did you create this platform beyond writing your frugal books?

Carolyn: Actually the “beyond marketing” is the platform I had been creating all my life because I loved writing. One of the secrets to that is keeping records of everything you do. If you don’t, you’ll forget and then—when your book is finished—you’ll say, “Oh, I don’t have a platform!

BTW, one of the most important platforms you can have is your LIST. I explain in great detail how to build your list (or lists) in The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won’t. I think that explanation is one of the most important parts of the book. (

Aday: From author’s marketing their books and themselves, to retailers marketing their stores and wares, to poetry you write it all. Do you write them all at the same time? What’s your writing schedule/nonscheduled?

Carolyn: I used to do only one thing at a time. The Internet got me into more multi tasking. I’m not sure that’s good. But I do find I can work poetry into small snippets of time and that my novels need huge segments of uninterrupted time or they get lost and forgotten. And to be honest, I write and promote all the time that I don’t have some of life’s normal pursuits scheduled. You know, like eating. Well, OK. Sometimes even when I’m eating.

Aday: Take a peek at all of the books Carolyn has written.

This is a list from my media kit. BTW, that record keeping we talked about? That building of a platform? That will one day be an author’s media kit. It is never too early to learn to do that! Again, The Frugal Book Promoter (

Mini Synopses or Loglines for How-To Books for Authors

For: The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t
ISBN: 193299310X Star Publish Awards: Winner USA Book News, Irwin
To Order:
In Kindle
For only a few cents a day The Frugal Book Promoter assures your book the best possible start in life. Full of nitty - gritty how - tos for getting nearly-free publicity, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, an instructor for UCLA’s Writers’ Program, shares her professional experience as well as practical tips gleaned from the successes of her own book campaigns. She tells authors how to do what their publishers can’t or won’t and why authors can often do their own promotion better than a PR professional. A recommendation from Feather Schwartz Foster, an author, September 9, 2004,
Packed With Wonderful Information! For anyone who has written a book of any kind - this is a must-have, and must-keep guide! Every chapter is filled with insights and how-tos and a whole bunch of where to finds!

For: The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success
ISBN: 9780978515874. Red Engine Press. Awards: Winner USA Book News, Reader Views Literary Award, New Generation Marketing Award
To Order:
Kindle Edition:
There are gremlins out there determined to keep your work from being published, your book from being promoted. They -- resolved to embarrass you before the gatekeepers who can turn the key of success for you -- lurk in your subconscious and the depths of your computer programs. Whether you are a new or experienced author, The Frugal Editor will help you present whistle-clean copy (whether it's a one-page cover letter or your entire manuscript) to those who have the power to say "Yea" or "Nay."

For: The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need To Know To Sell Your Book in 20 Minutes or Less
ISBN: B000YG6O5U Publisher, Amazon
To Order:
The perfect learning experience for those who want to learn to wow an editor in no time flat and only 49 cents out-of-pocket!

For: Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper
Perfect Copy EAN-13: 9781450507653
Order at:
June Casagrande, author of Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies (Penguin) and syndicated grammar columnist guru says, "By creating a guide designed specifically to get writers past gatekeepers, Carolyn Howard-Johnson has created something of unmatched value: usage advice that cuts through the contentious world of grammar to offer real help. Writers polishing their manuscripts and query letters will find Howard-Johnson’s guide more useful than Strunk and White." This little booklet is carry-with-you protection against grammar gremlins and at the frugal price of $6.95.

Mini Synopses or Loglines for How-To Books for Retailers

“Having paid thousands in tuition to learn what you have provided in your HowToDoItFrugally series of books for retailers, I can tell you right now, they are priceless! Great work!” ~ Anne L. Holmes, Boomer in Chief, National Association of Baby Boomer Women,,

For: A Retailer’s Guide To Frugal In-Store Promotions: How to Beat Out Competitors to Make Your Store the Go-To Place in Your Community
ISBN: 9781441467249 Publisher: HowToDoItFrugally Publishing in conjunction with Thinking Stone Press
To Order:
To order for Kindle:
Award: USA Book News Finalist, business category Retailers need more than crossed fingers to get and keep customers. In-store promotion—everything from in-store branding to events—is the most effective and economical way to do that. This book gives retailers the benefit of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s nearly three decades experience as founder and manager of her own chain of stores, a stint as a New York publicist and as a retail consultant and journalist. It is the first in the Survive and Thrive series for retailers in her USA Book News award-winning books.

For: Frugal and Focused Tweeting for Retailers: Tweaking Your Tweets and Other Tips for Integrating Your Social Media
ISBN: 9781451546149 Publisher: HowToDoItFrugally Publishing Sponsored by Gift Shop Magazine (
To Order:
Twitter has become the Web phenomenon of the decade even though many say they “don’t get it,” and even those who think they do "get it" appear to be missing something. Frugal and Focused Tweeting for Retailers will help those with businesses—large or small, online of off—use Twitter in ways they never imagined by “doing it right” and integrating their efforts with all the other marketing they do. It gives retailers the benefit of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s nearly three decades experience as founder and manager of her own chain of stores, a stint as a New York publicist, retail consultant and journalist and a veteran Tweeter (If there can be such a thing as a veteran of such a new concept!). It is the second in the Survive and Thrive series for retailers in her USA Book News award-winning books.

For: Your Blog, Your Business: A Retailer’s Frugal Guide to Getting Customer Loyalty and Sales—Both In-Store and Online
ISBN: 9781451591040 Publisher: HowToDoItFrugally Publishing Sponsored by Gift Shop Magazine (
To Order:
Ahhh, the beauty of blogging! It is open to so many styles, so many approaches. Retailers can tailor their blogs to fit their branding and then connect them to everything else they’re doing with their Web sites and their social media from Facebook to Linked In to Twitter. A blog—done right—is promotion magic.

Mini Synopses or Loglines for Fiction and Poetry

For: This is the Place
ISBN: 1588513521 AmErica House Awards: Eight awards
To Order:

“When you live amidst beauty sometimes you don’t recognize discrimination and, if you do, you prefer not to acknowledge it.”
A young journalist realizes that because she is half Mormon and half Protestant she is not suitable material for love. She delves into her Mormon heritage and journals her way through prejudice into redemption. She learns to mend her own life when she finds she cannot mend her world. This novel, set in Salt Lake City in the 50s, reveals not only complexities of the heart but the secrets of what some consider a mysterious place and culture. "This is the Place" has won eight awards including the Critics' Choice award. "Howard-Johnson strengthens her novel with behind-the-scenes details of Mormon life and history in a book suitable for all collections, particularly those where . . . Orson Scott Card's religious books are popular" ~ Library Journal

For Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered
ISBN: 1591295505 AmErica House Awards: Three Awards To Order: Harkening explores the little white lies and solemn truths that one charming, idiosyncratic family loves to repeat. Each story is stitched to the next to become a saga of their sojourn from Michigan through a vanishing railroad town in New Mexico, then into Utah and finally (and happily), to a place where individuality can thrive. "Harkening" has won three awards including Word Thunder's Excellence in Writing award. ---

For: Tracings, A Chapbook of Poetry
ISBN: 1-59924-017-3 Finishing Line Press. Awards_ Award Excellence Military Writers Society of America
To Order:
Tracings touches chords--both major and minor--for readers interested in nostalgia, tolerance, culture and aging. The author traces her life's experiences and for her it feels like "a movie reel running backwards." "Tracings" was named to the Compulsive Readers' Ten Best Reads list

For: She Wore Emerald Then, Reflections on Motherhood, A Chapbook of Poetry
ISBN: 1438263791 ISBN 13: 978-1438263793 Co-Authored with Magdalena Ball Self-Published in the fine tradition of poets everywhere
To Order:
Awards: USA Book News finalist for poetry
"[Both] poets continue to write poems that don't sound either like banal Hallmark cards or the bitter-at-dysfunctional-family jeremiads that habitually torture MFA writing workshop participants." ~Kristin Johnson, screenwriter and founder of the Warrior Poets Project
She Wore Emerald Then is collaboration on the subject of motherhood by award-winning poets Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson, both of them mothers and daughters. They worked together on a book of love poetry called Cherished Pulse to the acclaim of reviewers. She Wore Emerald Then is available as both an e-chapbook and paperback and is illustrated with tender photographs by May Lattanzio. As it happens, it was released the week of death of Carolyn's mother—a fitting tribute.

For: Cherished Pulse, A Chapbook of Unsyrupy Love Poetry
ISBN: 1438263791 ISBN 13: 978-1438263793 Co-Authored with Magdalena Ball Self-Published in the fine tradition of poets everywhere
To Order:
Awards: USA Book News finalist for poetry
Carolyn calls this unsyrupy love poetry. It is part of the Celebration Series she and Magadalena Ball offer poetry lovers in place of traditional cards--for about the same price.
For Willie Elliott says it is “snapshots of love by two gifted poets.”

For: Imagining the Future: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions
ISBN: 144997774X Coauthored with Magdalena Ball Self-Published in the fine tradition of poets everywhere.
E-book available at
Paperback at:

Coming in 2010: A chapbook from the Celebration Series of little giftbooks from Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson,
Blooming Red: Christmas poetry for the rational. As part of the special celebration gift book series, Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball have produced a new poetry chapbook focusing on fathers, husbands, and men in general. This makes a wonderful gift for Father's Day or anytime you want to say something unique in a way that only poetry can to a special male in your life.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Making the Scene Come Alive

Today I want to share a tip I learned from a class in fantasy fiction.

Draw a map of the...
  • World
  • City
  • Building
  • Rooms with furniture placement
***It is a royal pain, but very worth it.

Does your main character have a hobby?
  • Shop for the tools he/she needs to do their hobby.
  • Collect images of these item
*** I create these items in a Power Point document and refer to them when I'm writing about them.

In my current book, I have my maps in Power Point and jpegs of my main character's art tools. She likes to draw and is quite accomplished and takes it seriously.

She has a studio and I have mapped it out. My character is in a wheel chair. It's important that the furniture be placed to accommodate her free movement.

By drawing the rooms, their decorations stand out. The setting becomes more real to me, and I can make the scene come to life for my readers.

What do you do to flesh out scenery and your characters? Leave a comment and let us know.