VBT Author Reviews Expanded Edition of Frugal Book Promoter

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

The Frugal Book Promoter: Second Edition:
How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Paperback: 416 pages, August 25, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1463743291
Also available for Kindle

It doesn't matter how many books you've published. Self-published or traditionally published, gaining publicity is always tricky, always critical, and always a moving target. If your budget is limited, it's even harder, and perhaps, even more imperative. Enter Carolyn Howard-Johnson, the queen of frugal promotion. Her frugal books are pitched at the modern writer: time poor, financially parsimonious, and publicity hungry. The Frugal Book Promoter is the jewel in the crown. As with the first version, The Frugal Book Promoter is full of ideas, strategies, and tips for promoting your book cheaply, in innovative and effective ways, but it has been updated with a much greater focus on new technologies, the all-important social networks, and a range of strategies designed to help authors with less commercial offerings such as poetry and fiction.

Of course the book is rich with classic techniques too, such as media releases, query letters, and a whole fantastic chapter pulling together a media kit. There's information on using bylines, writing a biography, obtaining endorsements and blurbs, distribution of releases, obtaining reviews, tradeshows, book fairs, setting up a website, and many more 'must-do' items that have really become part and parcel of any author's promotional toolkit. Ignore this kind of stuff and unless you win some kind of book lotto, your book will almost certainly fall into the obscurity that is an ever-present risk of modern authordom. What I like best about Howard-Johnson's book is the simple, informal prose which is both warmly reassuring ('of course you can do this'), and deceptively intelligent. The reader is encouraged and reminded of his or her own innate capabilities even as they're goaded onto to raising the bar:

You’ve been practicing PR most of your life. Getting along with family. Impressing a new boss. You’ve been a customer and know why you like some products and businesses better than others. All it takes is some examination of the processes that influence you to get a grip on public relations—even on marketing as a whole.

The new version also contains a chapter on some of the most current topics, including information on blogging, working Amazon, using social networks, and even some common pitfalls to avoid in blogging and networking. Howard-Johnson totally practices what she preaches, so her advice comes directly from her many years of experience, and is rich with innovative ideas to minimise the time involved and maximise the input through such things as integration and cross-linking, clever use of soundbites and re-tweetable tweets, setting up a "Quotable Quotes” page on your Web site (I love that one), using RSS, and many other novel ideas. Throughout the book there are links, anecdotes, worked examples, and excellent templates including queries, a sample media release, blog entries, invitations, and even a tip sheet.

No, you don't really need a copy of The Frugal Book Promoter. You could hire a publicist for $100 an hour, or organise a retainer for anywhere from $1,500 to $20,000. But if you're looking to do your own publicity, or to augment your publishers and don't have the kind of budget that can support a publicist, or you simply want to do the legwork, connect with your reading public, and do your best to ensure that your wonderful work of art reaches a maximum audience, then this book is really the self-promoter's bible. You don't have to read it cover to cover, although it's certainly accessible and enjoyable enough to do so. The book is well-referenced and perfectly designed to enable the frugal author to dip in once a week and pull out a new publicity idea to try, or to use as a reference when it's time to pull together a marketing plan for your book, or at that moment when you need to write a press-release and want a template and guide, when you're looking for ideas to maximise your book signing. Whatever kind of promotions you want to do for your book, you're sure to find it in The Frugal Book Promoter. Howard-Johnson makes it all sound simple, and provides such easy instructions, that you'll want to go out straightaway and get to it. Put simply, The Frugal Book Promoter is the best guide around for create interesting, fresh, inexpensive, and relatively easy promotion for your book, whatever the genre.

~Magdalena Ball runs the popular review site Compulsive Reader and is an award-winning author and poet in her own right.

BSP - Finally Home cover available

Thanks to Heather Paye, illustrator, book layouter and cover designer extraordinaire, I have a cover for my YA paranormal mystery (front cover at least), Finally Home. Check out my blog for the cover and leave a comment to let Heather know what you think of it.


Back blurb: It isn't just history against progress - it's daughter against father, or is it? Find out what secrets Kelly learns as she works to preserve an historic house in a small town that will help her bring her father Finally Home.

Final book should be between 200 and 250 pages. It will be self-published using createspace as well as in all ebook formats (kindle, nook and smashwords). Release date is tentatively around the 25th or so of October.

Elysabeth's bio: Ms. Eldering is the award winning author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series. Her stories "Train of Clues" (to be re-released in the near future), "The Proposal" (no longer available in print), "Tulip Kiss" (no longer available in print), and "Butterfly Halves" (no longer available in print) all placed first, second, or runner up in various contests to include two for Armchair Interviews and two for Echelon Press (Fast and .... themed type contests). Her story "Bride-and-Seek" (also no longer available in print) was selected for the South Carolina Writers' Workshop (SCWW) anthology, the Petigru Review. Ms. Eldering makes her home in upper state South Carolina and loves to travel, cross stitch and crochet. When she's not busy with teenaged children still at home, she can be found at various homeschool or book events promoting her state series and soon to be YA paranormal mystery. For more information about the JGDS series, please visit the JGDS blog or the JGDS website. For more information about Elysabeth's other writings, please visit her general writing and family blog or her website.

We're Looking for New Members!

Writers on the Move has under-gone a number of changes over the last several months and now we seem to have a very effective marketing group strategy:

Information is Power.

Since, we are gaining in visibility and readership through our blog posts and the writing and marketing workshops we offer, we've decided to open our doors to new members.

I'll answer a few of the potential questions that might come up for those who are interested in joining our 'visibility generating’ writing and marketing group:

1. Is the group membership free?


2. Do I have to be a published author to join?

No, you don't have to be a published author. You can be a writer, or an aspiring author. And, if you're published, it doesn't matter if you're traditionally published or self-published.

3. What are the requirements to being a member?

It's pretty simple - you will need to post one article per month to the group blogsite (here). That means you'll need to be a contributing author on the site - which I'll take care of. The articles should be focused on writing, book publishing, or book marketing

And, if you have something to share, you can present a Writers on the Move workshop on writing, publishing, or marketing. Participating in this feature of the group will help build your mailing list, and we offer After Workshop Packages - take a look on the related page on this site.

4. The WIIFM (What's in it for me)? In other words, What are the benefits I'll get out of joining?

Well, if you're an author, aspiring author, writer, freelance writer, ghostwriter, or other, you'll be wanting to promote either your books, e-books, articles, podcasts, workshops, teleclasses, services - you get the idea. This group gives you a platform to do just that.

Through article marketing (the posts we share on this site) and monthly workshops, Writers on the Move is gaining in visibility and readership. Joining our group will allow you to join in on the 'visibility' ride.

You have the association of other members who are all talented writers, and who are generous with their knowledge and experience.

5. Can my posts be promotion for my books? 

While you can add a bio and your books information at the end of your article, our posts are geared toward helping our readers. We want to provide information on writing, book publishing (self-publishing and traditional), and/or book marketing. Our intent is pay-it-forward and help writers on their writing journey.

Also, remember that in your bio, you can link to your site/s, your landing, or selling pages - your posts are a conduit to you and your offerings. Don't underestimate the power of article marketing!

If you have a question, that I've missed, please leave a comment or email me at karenrcfv [AT] yahoo {DOT} c o m. Please put "WOTM" in the subject box.

If you'd like to join our group, you can go to our Yahoo Group and request to join:

Or, you can email me at the email address above.

We're accepting a limited number of new members (for manageability) and not sure when the 'open door' will be closed, so if you're interested please act now.


PLEASE SHARE this article!

And, to be sure you don’t miss any posts here, simply subscribe to the blog (RSS feed).

If you’d like to check out my books, go to Karen’s Books Page:


Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance Writer

Member of the Professional Writers Alliance, the International Association of Professional Ghostwriters, and the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors.

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KarenCV
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kcioffiventrice

Writing for Children: Submissions to Contract to Book Promotion to Career Part 2

Welcome back! Yesterday was Part 1 of "Writing for Children: Submissions to Contract to Book Promotion to Career" and today we have the rest of the article, numbers two to four.

So, without further ado here are the next three tips.


2. The Contract 

If you do your homework, your manuscript will eventually find a home. Don’t let initial rejections, if you receive them, deter you. A published writer may not be the best writer, but she is definitely a writer who perseveres.

Read your contract carefully, if you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation.

After you sign a contract, you’ll be ‘put in queue’ and at some point begin editing with the publisher’s editor. From start to actual release, the publishing process can take one to two years.

3. Book Promotion

A couple of months prior to your book’s release, you should begin promotion to help with book sales. This will involve creating an author website and platform - your will need to create visibility for you and your book.

After your book’s release, you will want to take part in virtual book tours, do blogtalk radio guest spots, school visits, and all the other standard book promotion strategies. You can take this on yourself, or you can hire a book promotion service or publicist.

You can check out these articles for book promotion tips:

Book Promotion: The Foundation

Book Promotion: Creating an Informational Funnel

Book Promotion: 20 Strategies that will Broaden Your Reach – Part 1

Book Promotion: 20 Strategies that will Broaden Your Reach – Part 2

4. A Writing Career

Now, you’ve got your book and you’re promoting it like crazy (this is an ongoing process). The next and final step is to repeat the process. You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, so hopefully you’ve been writing other stories. If not, get started now. On average, an author writes a book every one to two years. 

Along with keeping up with writing your books, having published books opens other writing opportunities, such as speaking engagements, conducting workshops and/or teleseminars, and coaching. There are a number of marketers who say your ‘book’ is your business card or your calling card; it conveys what you’re capable of and establishes you as an expert in your field or niche. Take advantage of these additional avenues of visibility and income.

To read Part 1, go to:
Writing for Children: Submission to Contract to Book Promotion to Career Part 1

Until next time,
Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance writer, and
Editor for 4RV Publishing

Member of the Professional Writers Alliance, the International Association of Professional Ghostwriters, and the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors.

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KarenCV

Walking Through Walls 

Anyone Lose an Eyeball?

Summer is over.  The kids are back to school and there’s a bit of a chill in the air.  That means that Fall is here and Halloween is on its way.  An Eyeball in My Garden: And Other Spine-Tingling Poems is the perfect book to get in the spirit (pun intended) of the season.

Now is a great time to introduce yourself to some ghoulish delights like the monster in Winking Wot Warning, or to try a dish off the Mummy’s Menu, or to really find out Where Nightmares Dwell,if you dare.

An Eyeball in My Garden: And Other Spine-Tingling Poems is a collection of forty four spookalicious poems written by fourteen terrifyingly talented poets. Containing everything from the humorous, to the creepy, to the absolutely sinister, this collection is designed to tickle your funny bone and then perhaps, gnaw right through it.

Please visit An Eyeball In My Garden website for Halloween craft ideas, fun and spooky interviews, and cats wrapped in tin foil.

What Others are Saying

Horn Book (Spring 2011): "This compilation of new poems covers scary as well as silly Halloween territory. For every truly chilling ghost train, there's a witch's shopping list or a monster that turns out to be the speaker's own reflection. Easily flowing meter in most of the pieces makes for smooth read-alouds. Black-and-white ink illustrations are appropriately spooky."

Publishers Weekly August 9, 2010- Gr 4-7— Readers should be prepared to shiver and shake through these 44 poems about ghosts, gargoyles, and more. Olander adorns each page with ominous ink images of spiders, monsters, and other terrors, while the verses temper horror (Craig W. Steele’s “Where Nightmares Dwell”: “I know too well/ What creatures lurk/ Where nightmares live and grow.../ The shadows found me years ago!”) with humor (Stella Michel’s “Mummy’s Menu” includes “Blackened pudding filled with flies,/ Crispy scarab beetle pies”). Whether it’s Halloween or not, this creepy collection will please readers with a taste for the supernatural.

This book is available from Marshall Cavendish, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or ask your local book store. 

Be sure to check out my poems, Our Neighborhood and The Gargoyle

Kevin McNamee is a writer and poet living in Yonkers, N.Y.  He is the author of several children’s books and is a contributing author to this poetry collection.

To find out more about Kevin, please visit his website at www.kevinmcnamee.com or his blog at http://www.kevinmcnameechildrensauthor.blogspot.com/.

Underground Railroad children’s story book The Golden Pathway earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval

Tappan, New York – Donna McDine’s children’s book, The Golden Pathway has been awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval in the Picture Book – Early Reader category.

A word from Children’s Literary Classics

The Golden Pathway, written by Donna M. McDine and illustrated by KC Snider, is an inspiring story of a young boy, named David, who helps his father's slave escape to freedom. Day after day, David watches from a distance as his alcoholic father brutally and mercilessly beats their slave, Jenkins, who is just a boy himself. David knows all too well that the beatings will only continue and becomes concerned that Jenkins may not survive the onslaught of physical abuse. Eventually David finds a way, with the aid of those operating the Underground Railroad, to help Jenkins escape his life of slavery and affliction.

The Golden Pathway is a tale of compassion and courage. This book earns the Children's Literary Classics Seal of Approval, a designation reserved for those books which uphold the rigorous criteria set forth by the Children's Literary Classics review committee, a team comprised of individuals with backgrounds in publishing, editing, writing, illustration and graphic design.

Children’s Literary Classics, an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in children’s literature, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic children's literature which appeals to youth, while educating and encouraging positive values in the impressionable young minds of future generations. To learn more about Children's Literary Classics, you may visit their website at http://www.clcawards.org/ or http://www.childrensliteraryclassics.com/ 
About the Author

Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 – Top Ten - Children’s Books category – The Golden Pathway, and 2011 Global eBook Finalist Award – Children’s Picture Book Fiction category.

Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna has three more books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing, Hockey Agony, Powder Monkey, and A Sandy Grave. She writes, moms and is the Editor-in-Chief for Guardian Angel Kids and Publicist for the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI and Musing Our Children.

Visit Donna at: http://www.donnamcdine.com/ and http://www.thegoldenpathway.blogspot.com/

About the Illustrator

K.C. Snider, a prominent Oregon artist, has branched out into a variety of styles and subjects. Her collection of oil paintings, lithographs, and pencil drawings include the All-American Cowboy and Cowgirl and their historical lifestyles with magnificent wolves, buffalo herds, eagles and birds of prey along with horses and domestic animals. Her artwork has won numerous awards including the Snaffle Bit Award and the Pioneer Award.
Snider lives in the high desert with majestic views of the Cascade Mountains' snow capped peaks. K.C. also illustrates children's books: Alleycat; The Christmas Angel; Preston, the Not-So-Perfect Pig; One Family's Christmas; Cartwheel Annie; The Magic Violin; Does Heaven Get Mail?; Andy & The Albino Horse Series; Baby Jesus is Missing' Katydidn't; A Short Tale About a Long Tail; Monster Maddie; RV Mouse & Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind.

A three piece triptych from the second book in the Andy & the Albino Horse Series won 1st Place in The Western Art Roundup 2008 and another Andy story triptych won 2nd Place in The Western Art Roundup 2009.

Visit K.C. at: http://www.kcsniderart.com/
The Golden Pathway purchasing information:

www.guardianangelpublishing.com/pathway.htm or for autographed copies with added bonus of the teacher’s learning guide http://www.donnamcdine.com/.
Thank you for your time and interest.

From small publisher to self-publishing

This author has been and is still contracted with a small publisher. She is also a self-published author using createspace for her printing purposes. The steps to go from having someone else do all the work to being responsible for your own books completely are not too dissimilar. As an author, it is our responsibility to write the stories, edit them and then make sure that the publisher has everything needed to produce a print-ready copy of the story. The publisher is responsible for interior illustrations, cover and layout. On the other hand, as a self-published author, it is our responsibilty to write the stories, edit the stories and make sure we have everything necessary to produce a print-ready story. In some cases, we hire someone to do covers and interior illustrations (as is my case) as well as the layouts. In others, we decide to do our own covers and if artistically creative, interior illustrations (if applicable) as well as the layout ourselves.

So why choose self-publishing using a print service like createspace.com? For me, it was the only option I had after a small disagreement with my publisher about the title of my, at the time, fifth state story (published as my now fourth state book) and the need to get books out quicker than was possible through my publisher. I don't have any problems with going a traditional route but when you are doing a large project like a 50-book series, it is necessary to go a different route to accomplish the goal of getting the books published.

There are many options for self-publishing (xlibris, Trafford, lulu.com, booklocker, iUniverse, AuthorHouse and createspace.com). Angela Hoy from Writersweekly newsletters does an excellent job comparing all of these but what she doesn't talk about is the "free" side of two of these - lulu.com and createspace.com. But are such services absolutely totally free? Other than the cost of printing a proof copy, createspace does have a totally free option, but you get no distribution with that. The last time I had published with lulu.com (eons ago when I first published some short stories), I had to purchase my ISBN but I think they have gone to providing ISBNs now (haven't checked it out in a while, so don't quote me on this) and I think they have a totally free option as well, other than paying for proof copy printing.

Making the decision to self-publish? Not sure why createspace.com is a good option for you?

Join Nancy Famolari and myself Friday, September 16th at 4 PM EST for a free workshop on using createspace.com for printing or self-publishing needs. We will discuss the two sides (doing all the work yourself versus hiring out persons to do covers and layouts) as well as some of the actual costs in using createspace, being your own publisher.

Elysabeth's Bio

Ma America, The Travelin' Maven, is a traveler from birth. She has traveled with her family due to her father being in the military. She has lived in several states and overseas during her childhood. Ms. Eldering calls South Carolina home these days with a mindset of "Southern by choice, not by birth." She entered her first writing contest at the age of 41 and took second place for a children's mystery story, which has inspired her to take that story and write a series for children, the premise being that each state would be the mystery. Her series has a Jeopardy!® like style to it but for guessing the state in the form of a question. Each book concentrates on one state and there are supplemental study guides available, which take the series cross curriculum. For more information on the series, please visit the JGDS website. Elysabeth may be reached at eeldering at gmail dot com with any questions or to place an order.

Elysabeth is also working on a YA paranormal mystery (Finally Home) which will be released soon. More information about her other writings can be found on her non-JGDS website.

JGDS website
JGDS blog
Elysabeth's everything else blog
Elysabeth's other writings website

Bringing Characters to Life isn't as Hard as it Sounds with Fiona Ingram

One area I sometime struggle with is developing my characters. However, I know a few writers who happen to be really good at it and I've asked one of them to share some tips with us today. Fiona Ingram is the author of the new series the Chronicles of the Stone. 

Creating Characters and Naming Them
When any young writer starts out creating a story, it’s more likely he or she will think of the story first, with only a vague idea of the characters. One or two may stand out in the beginning of the creative process, with the others remaining in the shadows until their time comes. Bringing characters to life is not as hard as it sounds. Often the plot and storyline help develop the characters. The action drives the characters to react, and then they show the reader who they really are, and what makes them so special.
  • Make Your Characters as Interesting as Possible. Tip: take them from real life examples. You could write about someone like yourself, or else model the characters on friends at school, teachers, or other people you know. If you have a hero or heroine, make them just a tad different to the people around them, to help them stand out from the crowd. Maybe they have a special talent, a dark secret, or a particular quirk.
  • Use Dialogue to develop Your Characters. The dialogue between your characters is also important because that’s one place to develop the plot line. Their interaction will reveal the chain of events as the characters work out various situations. Dialogue is also a great way to include details about your characters. As they speak, they reveal their intentions, their hopes and fears, and the workings of their minds. Don’t forget to break your dialogue with various activities so that readers don’t get bogged down in lots of talking but no action.
  • Make Your Characters as Real as Possible. Real people are not perfect. Your baddie should not be all bad. He or she can become more interesting by having a soft spot no one knows about. Your goodie will become boring if he or she is too good. Maybe the hero could lose his temper at the wrong time or do something he feels ashamed of later on. All humans are made up of good and bad; make your characters a fascinating mixture of both.
  • Make Your Information to the Reader as Interesting as Possible: You can do this by weaving it into the story. Don’t say that it’s cold. Get your character to shiver because he left his jacket at home. Use adjectives and adverbs to enhance your descriptions and actions but don’t overdo it. The reader is also going to use his or her imagination, so don’t overload your writing with too many descriptions. You can help the reader along by using your five senses to engage theirs: sight, sounds, touch, taste, smell. Is your hero in a hot, exotic climate? He (or she) will be sweating, the sounds will be different, the taste of the food unusual etc. Is your heroine (or hero) in a strange place – what is she experiencing e.g. confusion, anxiety, excitement or curiosity? You can create the environment for your readers so they appreciate exactly what the hero is experiencing.
  • Naming Your Characters. This can be huge fun. The character’s name can add so much to the reader’s understanding or perception of them. Use traits that stand out to help you create a name. For example, a fussy neighbor could be called Miss Twittering; a stern headmaster could be called Mister Gruff. An imaginative choice of name will enhance your character’s personality.
The young writer needs to pay attention to details and help the characters develop as the plot unfolds. Well-rounded characters will bring the story alive, and make readers eager to find out what’s going to happen next.

Fiona Ingram’s earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, she entertained her three younger brothers and their friends with serialized tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favorites in the cast of characters. Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. Ingram has finished the second book in the Chronicles of the Stone series, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans—which is due to release soon.

Naturally, Ingram is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.

Remembering kids today are computer savvy, ALL of Fiona Ingram’s books are available both in hard copy and eBook.

You can find out more about Fiona Ingram’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/FionaIngram.aspx. There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Ingram and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Ingram will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the tour.

In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children. The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Fiona Ingram about her children’s book series, writing, the publishing industry, and the trials and tribulations of the writer’s life.

The show will be live September 26, 2011 at 2pm EST. You can tune in at the World of Ink Network site at http://www.blogtalkradion.com/worldofinknetwork.