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
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. More information can be found at: http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com/frugal_book_promoterII.htm#review