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Star* Publish Times

Vol. 1, Ed. 13


Epstein Larue, author of Highway Hypodermics and the soon-to-be-released Highway Hypodermics 2007, is living proof that Star* authors come as tough as the proverbial mailmen, who guarantee to deliver through all sorts of weather.
As a traveling nurse, it isn't real certain whether she follows disasters, or if they are simply attracted to her. When asked about her history of weather, the following account proves the point.
I was in Phoenix, Arizona, August 2003, when a gas pipeline burst between Phoenix and Tucson...leaving Phoenix without gasoline for vehicles and bringing gas station shootings.  We would spend our "lunch breaks" at 4am to get the new gas coming in by truck.  It was also in Phoenix, September 2003, that my Ford Ranger, that only had 205K miles on and had had for 10 years, was totalled in a motor vehicle accident.
Then it was off to King City, California, where I experienced the December 22, 2003, 6.5 magnitude earthquake that rocked us while Christmas shopping at the local Target store.  This was our first earthquake, and we were quite disappointed since the new department stores are earthquake proof, and we didn't feel much...
In Lake Havasu City, Arizona, on May 27th, 2004, my mother called me to say that my father had been admitted to the hosptial with Guillian Barre Syndrome.  He spent the next 7 weeks in the intensive care unit on mechanical ventilation and the next five months in rehab.  For Christmas, he was able to return home.  This Christmas, I took Dad to play golf once again  :)
On my next assignment in Tupleo, Mississippi, on January 5, 2005, after 20 plus years of service, James Archer, pilot, was involved in a fatal accident after attempting to limp an injured helicopter back to the hospital. 
In Clear Lake, Iowa, we took a quarter-mile hike to the scene of the crash "where the music died" (Buddy Holly, Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens airplane crashed)...  During our time in Iowa, there was also a tornado that landed 75 miles away.  It  was on our way from Iowa to Florida that our RV (home) started to fishtail after a truck passed us going downhill while it was raining, resulting in the frame being bent.  When we arrived in Kansas City, MO, the trailer frame then slid over into the tires, allowing us the privilege of closing down I-35 AND I-70 for 30 minutes...
Then came the hurricane season...  Rita had already made it's appearance in New Orleans, and we only had a week to go of hurrican season in Florida, so what could happen???  We landed in Fort Lauderdale on October 23rd and Hurricane Wilma landed on October 24th...  We spent the next week without electricity and dodging trees in the road.
In Tennessee we were lucky in that we missed the tornado there by a month, but we did stop fishing in our float tubes once a piranha was found in our fishing hole!
Of course, we arrive in Washington State just in time for the most rain EVER in November.  We saw sunshine today, but that is only the second day that we have seen sunshine in a week...  They say that Mt. Saint Helens is also puffing up some smoke and that we might have an eruption...  with me here, what are the chances of that happeneing???
I have my volcano evacuation route already planned out!!!   I Am Ready To Rumble!!!
Life IS an adventure!!!
And her PS was this: "The newsmen are calling this the worst snow and cold front and the worst storm of the decade." Somehow, that comes as no surprise!


Or was that the wind blowing outside? In spite of threatening winter weather, die-hard Star* authors Kristie Leigh Maguire and Cathie MacDonald made their way to the Barnes & Noble store in Reno, NV.
The event was held in conjunction with the AAUW's (American Association of University Women) annual literary day.

The store CRM, Caddie, was extremely helpful, supportive and enthusiastic about the authors' appearance. The authors reported that the tables were set up near the front of the store, and as you can see in the picture above, there were times when they had people lined up, just like some of the big NYT bestselling authors. Well, after all, they are "rising Stars"!
In spite of the weather, they sold quite a few books. Bravo, Star* authors!

Kristie giving last minute instructions to Cathie
Why some Star* authors call her "Boss Lady"!

Meet Carolyn Howard-Johnson,
Star* Publish Author/PromoQueen
The Frugal Book Promoter Carolyn Howard-Johnson Harkening This is the Place

Rebecca Brown's Interview with
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of
The Frugal Book Promoter

This is the Place

I have always enjoyed your encouragement whenever we have corresponded, as well as the books you turn us on to as an Associate Reviewer. Your contributions in the form of Editorials about the publishing side of being a writer, have given me direction in this strange world of publicity. Now, after two books, you've put together this guide for authors to “do what your publisher won't.” Why?

I took time from my passions -- fiction & poetry -- to share what I learned from my professional experience doing public relations in the world of high fashion & from promoting my own two books.

I want other authors to avoid stumbling into the same potholes I did. With that goal in mind, I'm teaching a course at UCLA Extension's Writers' Program & I wrote this book as a guideline for it. An author not only can promote herself but, in many cases, should be the primary designer & facilitator of her own publicity. She just needs to know how to do it & often, how to do it inexpensively.

So, exactly what is the PR Game?

Anyone can look up the academic definition of PR so I'm going to give you my own. It is the art of caring & ethics applied to one's career, business & life. You called it a “game” & I love that. If practiced well, it should be challenging & fun.

How can authors overcome that numbing fear of success or rejection?

The very first chapter of The Frugal Book Promoter addresses this issue & includes easy steps to overcome them. After all, if we let our fears steer our lives, then we lose. It is much easier to overcome fears of success or rejection if we understand that no decision is ever permanent: second & third chances are always right around the corner. & (I'm getting philosophical here!) we can use affirmations to convince ourselves at the cellular level that our own direction or gift is the one we must be most concerned about, the one we must foster. We should allow others to take care of their own lives; our duty is to take care of our own.

What are two of the worst “No-Nos” authors in search of publicity do?

Two? There are lots but the most damaging one is the assumption that the media is duty-bound to promote us just because we have written a book. The reality is quite the opposite.

As authors we must provide the media with an angle & the cooperation that allows them to do their jobs creatively & efficiently. That's why The Frugal Book Promoter shows authors how to put together a media kit that practically writes a story for an editor, in fact a kit that offers options where the story is written for the editor. The other big no-no is that authors believe they should promote their book, when they should be branding themselves.

What do you mean by ‘brand’ yourself?

The mistake most writers make when they finally publish a book is that they think of that book as the total of what they are selling. It isn't. That writer will probably write another book, & another. She may also do freelance work.

There are many aspects of her personality & her career. Branding takes thought. A good way to think of it is, “How would I like to be remembered?” Using that as a mission statement, she should try to design a PR campaign around it. If an author chooses too narrowly, her early efforts will be wasted when she moves on in her career.

Why is a Media Kit so effective?

A media kit is only effective if it plays a tune that is music to a particular editor's ears. & it is only one part of a promotion blitz.

A media kit should not be expected to work magic on its own, not because it couldn't work on its own but because the media is generally inundated with galleys, kits & other promotional materials & a kit may get shuffled into a slush pile or into that trash canister near their desks. So, an author wants to do a media kit that is effective for authors, but they also need to follow up with well-planned telephone calls, faxes, & e-mails--all carefully balanced so that they don't become nuisances or “PR SPAM”.

Are Writers' Conferences really worth the expense?

I included a chapter in The Frugal Book Promoter on conferences because of a letter to the editor that was once on your site. The writer was most unhappy about her experience at a conference. My answer to your question is emphatically, YES!
 • Yes, if the author can afford it.
 • Yes, if she doesn't go with unrealistic expectations (like finding an “instant” agent or publisher).
 • Yes, if she goes prepared with a plan.
Conferences are also a good way for authors to network once they are already published.

I was thrilled when you mentioned our site on Page 201 as a Hint on how to say Thank You, even for a review that wasn't top-notch! Why is it important to write those Thank Yous?

Go back to your question about the PR game. If done correctly, the PR process helps us make friends. Friends of reviewers. Friends of editors. Friends of readers. That it is also networking is incidental. Sometimes going back to the tenets taught by our mothers is the best thing for our careers. It never hurts to spread a little joy with whatever we choose to do. If we understand Zen or any of the other great world philosophies, we know our efforts will benefit us. That benefit may be only that we feel better about ourselves but it may manifest itself in other ways as well.

You offer a lot of inside information on making the mammoth work for you. Does the Web really affect an author's sales?

Oh Yes! You may have noticed that I warn about measuring our PR efforts by trying to tie them to specific sales. It is nigh on impossible to do that, anyway, & most times that approach is counter intuitive. Branding includes a whole campaign, not a single effort. It may be very slow going. You are looking for exposure. Every little bit adds up. Even authors who appear to be overnight successes, aren't. They did their homework, learned their skills, were active in promoting their books & themselves. Then one day it appears to everyone that they are an overnight success & their books start to sell like crazy.

Thank you, Carolyn, for taking time out of your busy life to answer these questions for us. Is there anything else you would like to say to budding authors & promoters?

It is always fun to work with you, Rebecca. I'd like to remind authors that promotion -- like writing -- is a process. Keeping at it, learning more, are the secrets to success. I hope your readers will consider The Frugal Book Promoter one of the resources that was instrumental in pushing them along the path to that success.

Do catch the reviews of Carolyn Howard-Johnson's other books:
This is the Place; Harkening - I hope it makes you go out & buy yourself a copy!

Rebecca Brown
Published 10/24/04



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