Friday, May 15, 2009

Promotion for the Shy Writer and Newbies

In The Frugal Book Promoter , I advise the shy writer to promote by what they love to do most, writing. Yes, you can sit behind your computer and promote. There are a litany of ways for both publishers and writers to get the message about a book out there; they’re all listed in The Frugal Book Promoter with advice for how to do each of them. But the ones that seem most appreciated are the ones that authors (and their publishers!) can utilize from behind their own computer screens. I also include methods that are accessible to those who haven't yet developed a lot of contacts.

Among those are publishing in anthologies and lesser-known or beginning journals. The emerging writer has a better chance of recognition with these kinds of publications and the shy writer need never show his or her face or even pick up a phone. And "anthology" and "lesser-known" does not mean you don’t have to sacrifice quality. New or small or online does not necessarily mean that a journal isn’t respected.

One of my poems about morning glories and chicken poop was just published in Writings from the River edited by Frederick Bridger ( It is Montana State University’s journal (so it has the academic cache), but they specialize in a Midwest sensibility which this little poem (borrowed from my childhood experiences) had in abundance. By the way, they will soon be publishing under the name Front Range Review.

I had a similar experience with Mary, a journal put out by St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles.

I also had the luck to publish with a brand new journal Pear Noir . When one submits to something brand new, one has no idea of what to expect. It turned out to be beautiful and this note today is mostly to urge you poets and short story writers to submit to them. When I received this well-designed volume, I was surprised to see that a fellow UCLA instructor, Les Plesko, was also published in it along with quite a few recognizable names in the literary world.

So, one can luck out. But even if the newbie journal doesn’t turn out to be all that you’d hope, it is always a thrill to have someone think enough of your work to want to include it.

Keep in mind that payment for some of these journals is often very low. Sometimes they pay only in copies. I wouldn’t submit, though, if they don’t offer at least one copy in return for using your work. That feels a little scammy. You’ll want to see your work, after all, and you shouldn’t be forced to buy a copy to see it. In fact, that’s one of the ways you can determine the difference between an authentic literary journal and one that will publish anything to get unsuspecting authors to buy lots of copies or one big, thin-paged, unedited, and generally awful volume.

On the other hand, it is nice to buy an extra copy or two of a legitimate journal to support the people who cared enough to publish the very best--YOU.

PS: All of these literary journals will qualify for Poets and Writers'list of published poets (and other writers)--even if they don’t presently have these journals on their list of publications. It is a nice little literary touch to be listed among the nation’s greatest authors on that magazine’s site.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is 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. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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