Publicity Tips from an Author Who Knows

Need some nitty-gritty how-tos for getting nearly free publicity? Try Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s The Frugal Book Promoter. The third edition has just come out and it is filled with updates suitable for 2019. Whether you are doing it yourself or partnering with someone, you’ll find tips for promoting your book by doing what you love. By the way, you can learn to love publicizing your book.

Need a sample query letter, media release, or blog entry? This book has them. How about a sample script for a phone pitch? The book includes that too. The Table of Contents will help you find exactly what you need.

This is a valuable guide you will come back to again and again. Along with all her other strategies, Howard-Johnson reminds writers to build relationships and say thank you. No way kindness can do you wrong. Read about her strategies in the interview below.

BLG: Please share your writing background. What did you first have published? What prompted you to write  The Frugal Book Promoter?

CHJ: I published a book called This Is the Place (you know it as This Land Divided from a rewrite I entered in your Scintillating Stories contest years after that book was no longer in print. It is available on Amazon’s third party sales stream (that feature isn’t all bad news for writers!) and the rewrite is being handled by my beloved agent, Terrie Wolf at AKALiteraryManagement.

BLG: What prompted you to write a third edition of  The Frugal Book Promoter and what’s new?

CHJ: You know how the publishing has been changed by the Internet! Lots. And quickly! So, tons has happened in the way things work, in the advice I give to my clients, and the information in my books since the first edition was published way back in 2004!

This lovely third edition is published traditionally by Modern History Press for one thing. It is updated in many ways—everything from my copyright suggestions to adding a new reference section because my publisher says libraries look for those.  Sometimes backmatter like this can be a convincer for them to carry a specific book. The Frugal Book Promoter is also published as a hard copy for the first time!

BLG: What’s the biggest change in your writing and promotion skills since the first edition?

CHJ: I figured out there is no one-way-fits all for a specific title to be published. It took me a while to explore the new possibilities with my own work and I don’t suggest anything in The Frugal Book Promoter I haven’t tried myself.  One of my reviewers, Karen Cioffi Ventrice, was amazed that I even share of some my major booboos. After all, it’s been proven that we all learn better from our mistakes than our successes.

BLG: How has teaching affected your writing, publicity, and outlook? Do you still teach?

CHJ: These days I teach through my writing, speaking, and workshops. I taught at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program for nearly a decade, which is probably why you mention it. I loved teaching on campus but so much is done online these days. I already spend too much time sitting in front of a computer!

BLG: I love the way you phrase that. I reach out on Facebook and Twitter all the time. What are some off-line ways to promote a memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62, which has been out 18 months? (It’s fine to tell me which chapters in the book cover this.)

CHJ:  I see lots that you do online so you are doing lots right. It is never too late to keep a book alive or begin to make it into a classic. I love Twitter because they don’t discourage marketing like some social networks do. Have you checked out for very frugal tweeting that helps you go viral and find new publishing and marketing friends. reaps you retweeting contacts. It’s impossible to trace “sales” but that should never be the goal. Think “exposure.” Think “branding.” I can trace benefits like an invitation to present at Bookbaby’s first conference in Philadelphia to Twitter.

BLG: Most poets don’t promote their work effectively. Any idea why you are different?

CHJ: I’m not afraid of it. Fears can be deadly. I cover the fears authors face in one of the first chapters in The Frugal Book Promoter. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of marketing. The latter is often caused by the misguided belief that “selling” is somehow beneath an artist or writer. The truth is, a book isn’t truly published unless it’s marketed and publishers don’t have the budgets for marketing as they once did.

BLG: How did you find your publisher?

CHJ: I knew him from a podcast we worked on ages ago. He is living proof of the advantages of networking mentioned earlier. He said yes. No arm twisting. I’ve learned from him and—I hope—he’s learned some good stuff from me.

BLG: Where can people subscribe to your newsletter and learn more about you?

CHJ: Easy. Put “Subscribe” in the window of an email and send it to me at  Just a tip, though. No e-mail should ever be sent without text in the window of the email. Having a voice and using it for the good of your book can’t be overestimated!

My website is and is being reworked. It still has lots of helpful things on it. I just urge a little patience.

BLG: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

CHJ: OK. I’m going to market, here! Writing brings me so much joy, but It makes me sad when authors reach out to me too late for me to save them tons of money, time, and mistakes. It is the reason I started my HowToDoItFrugally Series.

If you hate to read, contact me using the contact feature on my website and I’ll spend an hour saving you from publishing with someone who charges you for stuff you can do yourself, stuff that will hinder your acceptance in bookstores, libraries, airports and other places. If you’ve already made those mistakes, my books will help you get out of them. That’s the frugal way. My consultation service will, too. That’s the fast and personal way.

Think of it as finding the people who need your books, not “selling.”  I know you already do that. Even Coke doesn’t “sell” their product. We have come to think of it as “The Real Thing.” And lots of us love it!

BLG: Speaking of selling books, do you know of any person or organization that might like a copy of Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62?

CHJ: I try to help authors at no charge. On my website. And with my free blog,  Submission guidelines are in a tab at the top of the home page.

Also, when you tweet things that will interest my publishing industry followers, include @frugalbookpromo.  I’ll try to retweet to my 39,000 plus hand-picked publishing industry peeps every time!

If you have any questions, please write back. I hope we can help you sell books.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically launched to rave reviews from Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Midwest Book Reviews and others:

How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically [and other books in the series] could well serve as a textbook for a college Writing/Publishing curriculum.”

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment 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 “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.

The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing 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 wherever she goes. Her website is


Lynn Goodwin is Managing Editor of and the author of Talenta young adult novel,  You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers and Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 ,  honored by National Indie Excellence, Human Relations Indie Book Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards & Best Book Awards and NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winner.

Special thanks to Carol Smallwood who gave permission for us to excerpt this from her blog post

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