Sunday, May 31, 2009

Carolyn Howard Johnson News letter

Spring, 2009

Sharing with Writers
A newsletter that is also a community. Share your ideas. Learn from
theirs! Associated with the multi award - winning series of
HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers,

From the Desks of
Carolyn Howard - Johnson
and Sharing with Writers Subscribers

In the spirit of the advice I give in the Frugal Editor - - that is to
use an extra pair of eyes whenever possible - - this newsletter is
voluntarily copyedited by, Mindy Phillips Lawrence ~
~ I also tell writers to be patient with
other writers when they make editing boo - boos. We're all human, this
letter comes out weekly and it's long!

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This is an all tips edition except for:
~Note from Carolyn (Amazon being good to authors?)
~Letter to the Editor

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Note from Carolyn

Dear Sharing with Writers Subscribers:

This is your AllTips edition. And I am cranky this morning. That’s not the
best way to start your semi annual edition of Sharing with Writers
newsletter, I know. But it comes with a very important tip so you or your
publisher or your press won’t rile up the editors/reviewers/authors/ you
send your books to.

I am reprinting the note I just fired off to a press. You’ll see what I

Dear Publisher:

I received a copy of a book XX yesterday. Lovely cover. Good title. But no
note, no review copy label. No business card. No cover letter. Nothing.

What to do with it? Endorsement? Review? A mention in my newsletter (is
the author a subscriber)? There wasn’t even an e - mail or Web site
address for the author. That means I have to research my mail before I
begin to schedule my week’s work.

Sorry to be grumpy, but this is one of the reasons that reviewers get a
bad name and why authors get called “snooty” because we don’t answer our
mail. We (authors, editors, freelance writers) often wear many hats - -
and we also have very short memories!

I'm only mentioning this so that you might fix your system. Perhaps you
could include a little postcard in your mailings? It could include author
contact information and/or mentions the purpose for which it is being
sent. Some publishers/presses put a label on the inside cover. I'm fine
with that but some, like Midwest Review, ask that you not "deface" their
copies in any way. There is no one "right way" but there is a wrong way.
And that's to leave your contact without essential information.


I might mention that I often get beautiful post cards for new releases and
they don’t include an e - mail address. I can’t help if these authors
prefer ticking editors off or wasting their own money. And readers? Mmmm.
Don’t they deserve to contact you with fan mail or questions? MUST you
force them to go to your Web site to contact you? I know that there are
authors on the Web who actually advise that authors send people to their
Web site's home page and hope that that person will spend a looooong time
nosing around. This may be one of stupidest pieces of advice for authors
being circulated. Your job as your own publicist (even if you have hired
one) is to make things as easy as possible on your readers, editors,
agents and others. Give them what they need to work quickly. They will be
indebted. If you don't, they may drop you . . . or at least not ask come
back for more mistreatment.

I realize that, as authors, we often don’t have control over what our
publisher or the press that may send out our copies, so that leads me to
another tip:

I remember agent Michael Larsen mentioning this at one of the first writer
’s conferences I attended. He said, "Follow up!" If, a couple of days
after I received something in the mail I didn’t know what to do with, it
would be a help if the author asked if I got the review copy (or whatever
it was!), not a hindrance.

We authors are in business, after all. And good business communication is
essential for good business! We hear all the time that agents and
publishers and editors don’t like to be hounded. Well, no. They don’t. But
they do like to be helped.

By the way, I didn't mention plain old manners in the letter I sent. (I
guess I wasn't in such a bad mood after all!) I mean, what would it have
hurt to include a thank you? But you all know I am a mother who insisted
my kids write their thank yous and, that I nagged my readers to send their
thank yous inThe Frugal Book Promoter

You also see a regular thank you column in this newsletter. It’s about
thank yous, but it’s also about resources for my readers. I always try to
include a link or information in those thank yous that will give authors
access to another place to promote. So what can you do with a
mother/editor/author/freelancer like that? Smile and take her advice?

AAhhhh! Glad I got that off my chest. I feel better already

Happy Writing, Promoting and Editing, too!
Carolyn Howard - Johnson

PS: No Sharing with Writers will be coming to you next week. I'll be in
New York launching A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In - Store Promotions: How
To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with
Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. I'll be on the tradeshow floor of the
National Stationery Show at Javits Center. Then I'm going to meet my
gorgeous brilliant granddaughters for a Broadway show, lunch at the Tavern
On the Green and anything else their little hearts desire.

PPS: I had so many people contribute Tips there will be some carryover in
the next issue of Sharing with Writers.
Please note the new Resource for Writers page on Contests at

Letters to the Editor

Carolyn - -

I'm back from three days of writers' panels in Chicago, Programs. Each
year, Association of Writers and Writing (AWP) (holds a conference at a
different city in the country. Last year was in New York City where John
Irving was the keynote speaker. This year was in Chicago with graphic
novelist Art Spiegelman as the keynote speaker. (You can learn more about
the Conference and AWP itself by going to

One thing I was reminded of at a panel on promotion was "In your media
release headline, don't use your name or your book's title. If people
don't know you, it's not going to grab. It's probably something you've
said often, but it's easy to forget, especially after my first press
release on my book simply announced my name and book's title and the
publication date.

Thus, I went back to PR Web and wrote a new release with the headline,
Kidneys Fail and Moon Brightens for Rising Writer in March. You can see
the release here:
Perhaps the second time is the charm.

I hope this finds you well.

Best, Christopher Meeks, author of a new novel, "The Brightest Moon of the
Century", - meeks

Please pass this letter on to others. Unlike many, I do not mind if you
use only portions of it as long as you credit the writers and include this
subscribe information: "To subscribe to 'Sharing with Writers' send an e -
mail to with 'Subscribe' in the subject line."

Tip: You need to be familiar with BISAC even if you're not self
publishing. You and only you know best what your book contains and,
therefore, how it is best categorized. If you're self publishing, you'll
need to decide the category for the copyright page yourself. If not, you
need to double check your publisher's decision to see if he - - through
an incorrect decision - - sent your book to a shelf in the library or
bookstore where it will never be found. So, go to and follow
the links through to BISAC Committees and then to BISAC Subject Headings.

Please paste this little blurb - - perhaps with a little endorsement - -
in your newsletter or website: "To subscribe to Sharing with Writers send
an e - mail with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line to or go
to for an auto subscribe box."

Tip: See how one author offers free chapters to promote her novel - - in
a free REAL chapbook: Get yours as a sample at:

My blog, War, Peace, Tolerance and Our Soldiers is where I get to nag and
rag and try to make things better for our troops and maybe for the world.
I'd love to have you leave a comment.

Tip: Read the book Your First Novel even if you're working on your second.
It's by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb (one is a novelist, the other an
agen!), published by Writer's Digest. I reviewed it and you can find that
review at That's
my F r ^ ^ article page. Scroll down to the Reviews for Writers section.
And feel free to mmmm . . . swipe any article or review you find on that
page for your own newsletter or blog.

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Tip: Annette Fix, author of a memoir, BreakUp Diet, printed flyers a month
in advance of her signing at Barnes & Noble and stocked the counters with
them. They sold out 20 of her books before her signing and had to re -
order! Yay, Annette! And thank you for letting me use this in this AllTips

Connie Gotsch
Imagination on Board
Author of Belle's Star Artemesia Press

Author of "A Mouth Full of Shell" and "Snap Me a Future"
Featured in "The Complete Writer's Journal"
Find out more at


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