Sunday, July 12, 2015

Guest Blogger Carolyn Howard-Johnson - XMAS BOOK GIVING IN JULY!

Christal Cooper

Article 956 Words

Book Giving Resolutions For Xmas In July

I’d love to give authors advice on setting goals for the New Year. Here’s the thing: I’ve done that and—in the doing of it—realize that no one author can help another set goals because each author and each title is so different.

I guess I sort of gave authors a whole book of possible resolutions to make in 2011 when I finished the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter (

 I even got general and told authors to pick and choose their goals from the book. That they wouldn’t be able to do everything that is in it and shouldn’t. I mean the whole idea behind writing it was to keep other authors from falling in the same potholes I did. I advised them to choose promotions based on their personalities, the titles of their books (different books call for different kinds of marketing campaigns!), and the health of their pocketbooks.

Still, I’m tackling this subject because I do think there is one thing that almost every author could and should put on his or her resolution list. Are you ready?  Buy books!
I often get e-mails from authors saying that their fellow authors don’t buy their books. And I do understand how that can happen. The longer we’ve been writing, the more author-friends we have and, at some point it’s impossible to support them all.

Having said that, we as authors shouldn’t expect fellow authors to buy books that don’t interest them. Books they don’t have time for. Or books that aren’t published the way they want to read them (paperback or e-books, anyone?) 

That’s why we promote rather than just depending on friends and relatives—which, after all, isn’t the biggest pool of buyers in the world.
Still, we authors should buy some books each year and I think we should set aside a budget for that. It’s about Zen. It’s about supporting the industry that we expect to support us. I even tell authors that they shouldn’t limit themselves to buying only my book on, say, editing or book proposals or wordtrippers or the marketing of books. Even authors who have read extensively on a particular subject may very well get new ideas from a book on a similar subject or be inspired by it.

But there are other ways to support our industry besides buying books we want to read. Authors on strict budgets should find books make relatively inexpensive gifts for holiday giving, for hostess and thank you gifts, for birthdays, and even to give to business associates on appropriate occasions.

But we all know that we tend to get lax with our resolutions. So, to make your “Buy Books” resolution work all year, go to your gift-giving list for 2014 and see how many people on that list could get the gift of reading in 2015 instead of something that will be promptly tossed in the Goodwill bin or re-gifted. Staple your gift list to your resolution list. And then make another resolution to read your resolutions and that attached list of gift-giving idea list at least once a month.

Heck, you could even give your own book to folks on that list. You are proud of it, aren’t you?
If every author gave books as gifts, I could see a bright, shiny year ahead. A year where agents take on more clients because more publishers are selling more books. And when that happens, just think! Books will be the gifts that keep giving. Books will be the gifts that give back as well. 

         Two of my favorites helpful web sites is Penny Sansevieri’s and Tony Eldridge’s (letting you know about these two websites is sort of my Christmas in July gift to you).

Both websites offer a mix of practical marketing advice for authors on a shoestring budget from an experienced Internet marketer and author;  how-to posts, guest posts from authors (maybe one of your articles?), book reviews, and a weekly link carnival; and free video subscriptions where authors can receive how-to video tips on some of the more technical aspects of marketing their books on the net.

And yes, I do give books for gifts.  I often give my how-to books to clients. I give my poetry chapbooks on most any occasion, from Christmas to Valentine’s to Mother’s Day. And, I do buy others’ books for my own shelves or Kindle reader but only when I actually yearn to read them or need to read them.

promises promises

christmas bright
marquee lights
twinkle bulbs
silver sprays
single star in the velvet
night, wonder of wonders
forever and ever

whisper of solar winds
hum of spheres,
of galaxies
(this one and its parallel)
all whimper away,
supernovas and hypernovas alike,
when their time is done

still surely as crystals
melt and sand disperses,
hope—a mobius strip
miracle of miracles

*Accepted for Poets & Writers prestigious list of published poets, multi award-winning novelist and poet Carolyn Howard-Johnson is widely published in journals and anthologies. She is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. One of her poems won the Franklin Christoph poetry prize. She was an instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program for nearly a decade. Learn more about all her books at:

Web site:


  1. Christmas in July is an ever popular concept - so applying it to our book sales is fabulous. The Hallmark Channel and Lifetime run Christmas movies in July, why don't we as authors get in the spirit as well. Thank you for a wonderful guest blog.

    1. Kathleen, it's always nice to hear from you. I hope you are doing better. Seem to remember a health issue posted on FB. Sending hugs. @Kathleen Shaputis.

  2. Chris, what a lovely page. You really do it up right! One thing I forgot to mention is the series of poetry books I coauthored with Magdalena Ball. They are slim books (chapbooks) and we designed them to work as substitutes for greeting cards at about the same price as a fancy greeting card (but--we think--lots more thoughtful). We even offer a discount for the Christmas entry (Blooming Red when purchased in quantities of 25. And I'll even arrange for them to be signed for recipients for those who order them in July (when people should be planning for Christmas so they can enjoy the season when it gets here. (-; ) Reach me at
    And thank you for this beautiful page!

  3. I lived by Carolyn's book The Frugal Book Promoter and it got me through my first years as a novelist, such fantastic advice.
    And in addition to being so wise, Carolyn Howard-Johnson is one of the nicest people I've ever encountered (albeit only virtual, so far).
    Terrific interview!

    1. Ahh, Chelle, it's always good hear things like that from writers like you who have been around the block and know what they're doing. An honor!

  4. Glad to be connected..thank you for your interesting and useful post, much appreciated

  5. Replies
    1. Lorilynn, it's been ages. Thank you for dropping by!

  6. A thoughtful and helpful blog! Summer is a great time to spend time relaxing and reading.

  7. Great advice Carolyn. You're spot-on about authors not supporting each other by buying books. Another author is not your competitor. They are your ally. If you like mysteries, do you only read Sherlock? Or do you read all the mystery authors you can afford to buy and read? Don't miss the cross-promotion this scenario creates with other authors in your genre.

    1. I've missed our chats, Larry. How is your barn/conference center going?

    2. Thanks to all of you for dropping by. If everyone can pass the word about putting our special book-related thinking caps on when we want to give a gift. Heck, we might even find a book to give among those written by one of our author friends! (-:

  8. I agree Carolyn, buying books is a great way to support other authors.

  9. Hi! Here I am searching for a signup by email. Got one?