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Interview with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Author of The Frugal Book Promoter
by Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz

Carolyn Howard Johnson began her writing career by writing for her high school and college newspapers, and then became the youngest person hired as a staff writer at the Sale Lake Tribune. Her writing career took her to other areas of the United States including New York, Chicago and California where she now resides.

WFD: "Tell us about your writing."

CHJ: "I love to write fiction and poetry. I put that aside to go back to my writing roots as a journalist so that I could share what I had learned about promotion after I was published. The Frugal Book Promoter is the result of trial-and-error publicity, and I could see that my experiences could help many (others)."

WFD: "How long does it take you to write this book?"

CHJ: "It took me only a few months to write and publish The Frugal Book Promoter. I had been writing columns and articles on writing and promotion so I drew from that... Also, I found a new publisher who not only communicates well, but put Frugal into e-book format and paperback in about 30 days. (Starbooks.com)"

WDF: "Tell us about your non-fiction book, The Frugal Book Promoter. Why do you think it won the USA Book News "Best Professional Book 2004" award?"

CHJ: "In addition to the passion that drove me to write it, I think that the combination of professional expertise, practical experience and the idea that writers can do their own promotion INEXPENSIVELY, appealed to the judges. It is fun to read and useful."

WFD: "What do you do to promote your books?"

CHJ: "Oh, EVERYTHING except spend a lot of money. I've been there and done that money thing! And just about every single one of the things I've done is in The Frugal Book Promoter. Some were more successful than others. A couple were dreadful flops. Why should other authors go through the same thing when they can learn from another."

WFD: "Tell us how your first book was accepted."

CHJ: "I was searching for an agent when I realized that if This Is The Place was not released well before the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City (it is set in that city), I would be missing a great opportunity for promotion. I quit searching, ignored all guidelines and sent three chapters and a query letter to every publisher in Writer's Market that would look at a manuscript without an agent. I had three nibbles, took the one that could put TITP in my hands first. I'm not sorry I approached it that way because TITP sold in airports at Olympics time, and we all know how good airport sales can be. I also learned a lot from the process. I probably would do it the same way if I had it to do again, but I can see that taking it a bit more slowly would be an advantage over rushing."

WFD: You have won numerous awards for your writing. What do you feel makes your work stand out and be noticed for recognition?"

CHJ: "I believe that awards come to fiction that explores the human condition. In other words, the reader learns something about herself and remembers it after she has turned the last page. Nonfiction is award-worthy when it comes from the heart of the writer. In most good nonfiction the writer reveals her personality, her trials, her passion. If she doesn't do that, it will become very dry reading--no matter how valuable the content."

WFD: "Any helpful tips for new writers?"

CHJ: "You may love to write and be very good at it. Don't make the mistake, however, of believing that you don't need to learn from professionals. One of the reasons that This Is the Place went through so many drafts was that at first I assumed that experience as a journalist, a degree in English Lit, and having read hundreds of novels--including classics--would prepare me for that. Trust me. Writing a novel requires special skills, and they can't be learned without effort. In fact, if you're going to spend money on anything, spend it on writing classes and do your promoting in ways that cost little or nothing."

Note: More information about Carolyn and her books can be found at http://www.carolynhowardjohnson.com."

© Copyright 2005, Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz writes for adults and children and has over 150 articles and stories published. Information about her work can be found at http://www.pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com

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