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The Frugal Book Promoter:
How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t

Written by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Published by Star Publish 2004


Reviewed by Beth Morrow 2006– All rights reserved

If you think you need to wait to get published before you consider how to market/promote yourself, you could be making the costliest mistake of your budding career. Think you know all there is to know about creating author recognition and successful book promotion? Give this quick quiz a try:

Name eight different ways to promote your first (or next) book. (Note: printed items with your information count as one way).









List five ways to reach readers and an audience before publishing your first (or next) book:






Check off each of these items you have ready and available for promoting your current (or next) book

a. Media contact list

b. Media release

c. Media announcement (a short, sweet version of your release)

d. Your bio or ‘about the author’ piece

e. Sample review of your book

f. List of appearances

g. Sample interview

h. First-person essay

i. List of available seminars or workshops you can present

j. Fellow expert (or published fiction colleague) list

k. Your photo

l. Your business card

m. Your galley or advanced reader copy

n. A color photo of your cover

How did you do? If finishing question one was a challenge for you or there are items on question three you’ve never heard of (or don’t quite know what purpose they serve), stop reading this review right now and download Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t. On second thought, even if you aced the answers, check out the book. Whether you’re working on your first book or are promoting your twentieth novel, it’s an easy guarantee you’ll learn at least one new way to get free publicity for your work.

Once you start reading, don’t let the thirty-eight chapters or 278 pages intimidate you. Howard-Johnson’s book is an easy-to-read reference book full of more resources and bits of useful information that you’ll be able to digest in one sitting, but that’s part of the beauty of the work as well: just when you think there isn’t something else you can do to build interest in your book, Howard-Johnson provides one more simple (and generally low-cost) way to gain a reader.

Before diving into the meat of how-to, what and why, section one provides a short, sweet dozen of Publicity No-No’s—a primer on what not to do in promoting your work and what not to take for granted when your work is published. From there, she launches into the only part of the book that has little impact on marketing: quelling the fears of writing. My advice? If you’re interested in a quick introduction to marketing and PR, skip to chapter two.

From there, chapter three addresses the need and necessity for all the items listed in question three above, also known as your media kit. If you’re a little lost at the thought of creating a media kit, chapter three’s step-by-step directions will clarify what you need and the importance of the well-rounded media kit. Need credits for your media kit? A plethora of ideas and suggestions are the heart of chapter four.

Section two focuses on the business end of what you need to consider after signing on the contract’s dotted line. Do you need a publicist? How can you maximize the impact of your cover design? What promo items are most creative? What free publicity avenues exist? Any amount of summary here regarding section two can’t possibly address every element Johnson includes. The best way to get the most out of section two? Read it yourself.

After the book is published, what then? Howard-Johnson’s insight in section three ranges from book signings, book fairs, libraries, Amazon, corporate sales and how to revive slowing sales to stay in the game.

Think she’s done? Think again. The appendices include some of the most valuable resources in the book: sample media releases and queries to get out word of your work. Despite writing a five-hundred page book, many authors find it difficult to know what to say about their work. Howard-Johnson helps get the ball rolling with solid examples of what to include to build hype for you and your work.

The supreme value of Howard-Johnson’s book is that it isn’t merely a book on promotion, but an entire course on how to make a name for yourself and your work. Think you’ve read everything on promotion? Think again. Give The Frugal Book Promoter a try and see what you’ve been missing.



About the author: Beth Morrow is excited about the prospect of promoting her current fiction novel—that is, once it’s finished and published. In the meantime, her freelance articles can be found in education, writing and child development magazines near you. In addition, she authors an (almost) daily blog of resources for writers at: www.fountainpeninc.blogspot.com and offers her take on the writing life at: www.writer-in-progress.blogspot.com. Visit her online at: www.bethmorrow.com


         Last updated: February 23, 2007