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HoJo022BestJPGsCarolyn Howard-Johnson’s several careers—journalism, teaching, retailing, marketing, acting—prepared her for promoting her own books and those of others. She was the youngest person ever hired as a staff writer for the Salt Lake Tribune—“A Great Pulitzer Prize Winning Newspaper”—where she wrote features for the society page, a column under the name of Debra Paige and, in that capacity, spoke at high school assemblies. Those experiences taught her to love presenting to large crowds, and to understand the needs of editors, the very people authors must work with to get free ink. Being familiar with the way news is handled helps her see how different books fit into different news cycles.

Later, in New York, she was an editorial assistant at Good Housekeeping Magazine. She also handled accounts for fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert who instituted the first Ten Best-Dressed List. There she wrote media releases (then called press releases) for celebrity designers of the day including Christian Dior and produced photo shoots for Lambert’s clients.

She also worked as columnist, reviewer, and staff writer for the Pasadena Star-News, Home Décor Buyer, the Glendale News-Press (an affiliate of the LA Times),, and others. She learned marketing skills both in college (University of Utah, and University of Southern California) and as founder and operator of a chain of retail stores. That molded her understanding of how authors might best partner with retailers to affect both of their bottom lines.

Carolyn’s experience in journalism and as a poet and author of fiction and nonfiction helped the multi award-winning author understand how different genres can be marketed more effectively. She was an instructor for UCLA Extension’s renowned Writers’ Program for nearly a decade and earned a certificate from that same school’s Instructor Development Program (2005). She also studied writing at Cambridge University, United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University in Prague.

She turned her knowledge toward helping other writers with her multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers, including her flagship book The Frugal Book Promoter and her favorite, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Her marketing campaign for the second book in that series, The Frugal Editor was the winningest book in the series including the Next Generation Indie Best Book Award we well as their best marketing award. She also has a multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books for retailers.

Howard-Johnson was honored as Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment by California Legislature members Carol Liu, Dario Frommer, and Jack Scott. She received her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing and the Diamond Award in Arts and Culture from her community’s Library and Arts and Culture Commission. She was named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of fourteen women of “San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and Delta Gamma, a national fraternity of women, honored her with their Oxford Award.

Carolyn is a popular presenter at tradeshows (writing, retailing and professional organizations) and writers’ conferences and has lost count of her radio show guest spots. She is an actor and has appeared in TV commercials for the likes of Time-Life CDs, Marlboro, Blue Shield, Apple, Lenscrafters and Disney Cruise Lines (Japan).

Born and raised in Utah, Howard-Johnson raised her own family in sunny Southern California.

Short intro

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books for writers including USA Book News’ winner, The Frugal Book Promoter. An instructor for UCLA Extension’s Writers Program for nearly a decade, among her awards are Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment given by members of the California Legislature, and Women Who Make Life Happen, given by the Pasadena Weekly newspaper. She is also an award-winning poet and novelist.

They call you or you call yourself The Frugal Book Promoter! Why is that!

Answer: I came to realize that writers need big help and that as a marketing consultant I was hearing from authors….well, after they had already spent $4,000. That was 4,000 dollars I could have saved them. $4,000 they could then have used to market—or sent themselves on an inspirational tour of the Arctic.

How did your first job help you to be frugal.

Well, when you make 75 cents an hour, you learn to be frugal. My very first job was as a telephone operator at my uncle’s plumbing supply business—you know, those old-fashioned phone boards with the poke-in cables for different extensions? My second was an elevator operator for a department store—you know, before elevators were as smart as they now. Now, you have an idea of my age! But my real first job was at The Salt Lake Tribune as a staff writer and later a columnist when I was only eighteen. That was when we still used teletypes and they set the plates for a newspaper by pouring hot lead into forms! Journalism has never been more exciting than it was then!

How did your experience at Good Housekeeping Magazine help you as a poet or author of books for authors.

You mean beyond telling people how to perm their hair or get cool before houses were air conditioned? Well, I learned that I liked the speed and fluster of real journalism better than the slow, careful, detail-oriented stuff of magazines. We usually worked on an issue three months in advance so nothing was really current. Of course, the world wasn’t as speedy then, either.

You travel a lot. How does that help you to help others to be frugal.

Travel inspires. It’s as simple as that. From there I learned more about frugality so I could afford to travel, afford to write. By the way, I also learned the cheapest way to travel is to study overseas. I studied writing at Cambridge University in the UK, Herzen University in St. Petersburg Russia, and Charles University in Prague. The latter claims to be the oldest in Europe.

How has extensive travel helped your career?

Howard-Johnson: Travel has been a major catalyst for my return to writing poetry.

Where did you get your marketing skills you share with writers?

Howard-Johnson: I think everything I’ve done contributed to those skills. My jobs with magazines and newspapers helped me see what authors and publicists do wrong when they send queries for publicity. My retail stores helped me see how an author might best pitch a signing or workshop to them. Success in marketing is always more successful when we come at it with the needs of the bookstore or media in mind. The importance of tying ideas to current events is also important. And, of course, having to market my own books helped me see how important marketing is for writers and the best (and most frugal! Ha!) way to market books.

What book won you the Next Generation Indie Best Book Award?

My least likely book to win an award was the winningest book in my HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, The Frugal Editor. It turns out that the chapter of agents’ query letter pet peeves is everyone favorite. Turned out that agents are loving, funny, and ahppy to tell it like it is. It also helped win the stand alone prize for the best marketing campaign.


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