Archives for June 2011

CONTESTS: Awards Set Your Book Apart But Ya Gotta Enter Contests to Get Them

CONTESTS: Awards Set Your Book Apart But Ya Gotta Enter Contests to Get Them

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Excerpted from The Frugal Book Promoter (

I pity the poor reader these days. Reviews can’t be relied on for unbiased opinions, so a reader may have trouble telling which book is most likely to set her heart a’ beating. As she shops, she often turns to the blurbs or endorsements on the back of the book. She may read a few of the first pages. But a book that has won a contest for book awards from organizations like Jeff Keene’s USA Book News award ( or the New Millennium award ( or, yes, from universities like Columbia’s Pulitzer, will probably clinch a sale faster than many others.

Let’s take that one step farther. Authors who have won literary contests (contests run by journals, publishers and the like for poetry, short stories, novellas, novels and other literary entities) also gets bragging rights that might get inserted into their media kits, query letters, and Web sites. That makes it easier to sell a promotion idea (or a next book!) than someone who is new to writing. Gatekeepers—anyone from acquisition editors to feature editors at newspapers—can be influenced by a contest. Make that a contest win, place, or show. It may be what’s needed to set you apart from the many authors clamoring for attention. In fact on a slow news day, just about any award looks like a nugget of gold to a busy editor.

So why are authors so ready to hate contests? Fear of rejection is an easy answer. An article in the revered Poetry & Writers’ magazine mentions that writers often consider contests rigged and resent the fees (usually from free to $25 for literary contests and from free to $125. for book awards.). The magazine article pointed out that publishers and organizations become dependent on the fees they charge for contests and note that rarely does an unknown author win. I’m not sure the last part isn’t sour grapes; the point of many contests is to find delicious new voices that will keep the not-so-voracious appetite of publishers for new material well fed. If it is the truth, perhaps we should do something to hone our own skills to approximate those of more established authors.

Hint: There are other benefits to contests. Some offer critiques of entries—a value that cannot be overestimated in terms of learning more about the contest-winning process and one’s craft. Some publishers sponsor contests to attract submissions of great new manuscripts.

Regardless of the category (and there are some that don’t seem to fit neatly into either category), a contest win is a contest win is a contest win in terms of marketing.

Some contests only accept nominations from publishers. You may need to prod your publisher a bit if you know of a contest for which you think your book would be suitable.

Here are some guidelines for using contests to gain exposure and expand your credentials:

  • Choose contests that fit the size of your pocketbook. No-fee contests work well until you refine your contest IQ. Those include following submission guidelines to the nth degree and selecting contests that suit your material and your voice. Pick contests that impose fees at least as carefully as you might select a tomato from the produce department at your market. Sometimes journals that award prizes to the best work submitted for their pages in a given year are a good, frugal way to start.
  • Choose contests based on the kind of writing you do. Read up on past winners. Examine past winners for genre, voice, length.
  • Find contests from a source that lists less popular contests as well as those that have names attached to them like Hemingway, Faulkner, and Pulitzer. (See resources for finding some later in this chapter and some I like because even beginners have a chance at winning on my Web site at
  • Pay attention to the contest’s guidelines, except for the one that calls for no simultaneous submissions. This rule is patently unfair to the author. You know it and they know it. It’s a rule, not a law. It is a courtesy, however, to notify those contests or journals you have submitted to if your entry wins elsewhere.
  • To increase your chances and to keep you from worrying about each entry, submit work to several contests at a time.
  • Keep track of entries so you don’t submit the same material to the same contest twice.

Hint: Some journals still don’t accept online entries. Don’t recycle paper copies that have been returned to you. Editors complain about entries that look as if they have spent a night in the rain.

Find suitable contests on the Web, in books, and through organizations. Here are a few leads:

  • Use the “Deadlines” section of Poetry & Writers magazine to find reputable contests. Most are very competitive and charge fees. Check them out at
  • CRWROPPS is an announcement list for contests and calls for submissions. To subscribe send an e-mail to
  • A fat volume called Writer’s Markets ( publishes an updated edition each year. It lists contests, publishers, agents, and tons more. Buy the book and get online access to updates.
  • Check professional organizations like your local Press Women, the National Federation of Press Women, and the Wisconsin Regional Writers’ Association (WRWA).
  • Do a Google search on “writing contests” plus your genre.
  • Subscribe to Winning Writers newsletter at I love this one for finding free contests.

Once you’ve won a contest—finalist or first place—you are newsworthy:

  • Add this honor to the Awards page of your media kit. If it’s your first award, center it on a page of its own. Oh! And celebrate!
  • Write your media release announcing this coup.
  • Post your news on media release distribution sites that allow you to post your release yourself. Find a list of these sites at
  • Notify all your professional organizations.
  • Notify bookstores where you hope to have a signing and those where you have had a signing.
  • Notify your college and high school. Some have press offices. Most publish magazines for alumni and their current students.
  • Add this information to the signature feature of your e-mail program.
  • Add this honor to the biography template you use in future media releases—the part that gives an editor background information on you.
  • Use this information when you pitch TV or radio producers. It sets you apart from other others and defines you as an expert.
  • If your book wins an award, order embossed gold labels from a company like You or your distributor can apply them to your books’ covers. If you win an important award, ask your publisher to redesign your bookcover or dustcover to feature it a la the Caldecott medal given for beautifully illustrated children’s books? If you don’t know this medal, visit your local bookstore and ask to see books given this award.
  • Be sure your award is front and center on your blog, your Web site, your Twitter wallpaper, and your social network pages.
  • Your award should be evident on everything from your business card to your checks and invoices.

Robert W. Schaefer, one of the readers of the first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter, wrote to tell me that he would appreciate a plan of attack for getting an award for a book:

§ First and foremost, write a great book. One with great content. One that is organized well. A reminder here. It’s almost impossible to do this without some personal guidance, which is why I recommend writers conferences (see the next section of this chapter), and well-vetted writing classes in your genre.

Caveat: When you change genres, take another class. Do it even if you have been supremely successful at writing in another genre. Authors who have achieved stature should be especially cautious about embarrassing themselves by launching into another arena without knowing all the new stuff they need to know. Poetry is not fiction. Writing a romance requires some skills science fiction does not, and vice versa. Journalists have a great start, but they’ll find knowing more about some elements of fiction like dialogue may inform their news stories as well as help them write a better novel.

§ Get your book edited by a professional editor. You’ll have an easier time of selling it if you do this before you begin the submission process, and because many publishers have cut their editing budgets, you’ll be more assured that the job is done well enough to have it qualify for an award. Read my The Frugal Editor ( to know more about editing and how to choose a qualified one.

§ If you are self publishing, hire an excellent book cover artist. Mind you, I didn’t say a graphic designer or fine artist. People like Chaz DeSimone ( know things about book cover design and marketing pitches that others may not know.

§ If you are self publishing, hire a good formatter or interior book designer, too, one that knows the intricacies of frontmatter, backmatter, headers, footers, and page numbering.

§ If you write nonfiction, learn the art of indexing. It isn’t as easy as the word processing programs seem to make it, but I think it’s one uphill battle that’s worth fighting on your own because no one will know your book—know what you feel is important for your reader to know—like you do. There are, of course, also excellent professional indexers who will work closely with you. If your publisher provides an index for you, check it to see if important categories or details have been overlooked.

§ Follow the guidelines above for finding the perfect contest, one that is a match for your book.

§ Attack this process with confidence and be willing to make an investment of time and some money.

As you can see, the more you know about publishing, the better equipped you will be to produce a product (and your book is a product!) you can be proud of—perhaps even a prize-winning book. You wouldn’t expect to become a computer programmer without knowing how the hardware worked, now would you?


Carolyn Howard-Johnson promotes her multi award-winning poetry and fiction using contests of all kinds. She also sponsors contests as a way to market her writing career. Learn more about her methods in any one of her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers:


I told her not to buy my program

Today I hosted a free teleseminar on how to make money with membership programs. The response was fabulous. With nearly 1,000 people registered for the event the energy was great.

I gave over an hour of nonstop content and an hour and a half of Q&A time. It was fabulous. The feedback from participants was amazing. Many couldn't believe I shared so much in a free session.

As I often do, I invited those who felt they wanted me to work with them on a deeper level to join me for my four week mentoring course called – Short Term, High Profit Fixed Term Membership Programs.

Should I invest?
One woman asked me if I thought it was a good idea for her to invest in the program.  “I have bought lots of great programs but I never seem to apply the information. I have several excellent programs that I have not yet used. Do you think your program is for me?” this woman sincerely asked.

“No, I don't. If you have not yet applied the information from the other programs you purchased you are likely going to repeat this behavior. I would suggest you NOT buy my program but rather dig into the other programs you have invested in and put those to work first. It's up to you to change the pattern,” I responded.

Like many people, I invest in information from other experts. These investments can range from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars. Regardless of what the cost I don't let the information collect dust.

My standard practice is to put time aside to study the material. I make a commitment to a specific amount of time that will be used for application.

Recently I invested $2,000 in an information product.  I applied one idea and within 48 hours more than made my money back. Was it by luck this happened? Not at all. It was by application.

What's your practice?
What do you do when you invest in a program? Do you apply the information or do you let it collect dust moving on to the next bright shiny object?

Personally, I would much rather someone NOT invest in my programs if they are not going to apply the information. Those who know me know I am very passionate about what I teach. My teachings are based on real life experience and a proven track record. I know the information works, but only when someone works it and has the right mindset.

Skills are only part of what will lead to success. Mindset, belief and intention are all aspects of success. Another key element is action. Without action you are literally spitting in the wind.

When Joe talks I listen
I just got off the phone with a dear friend who is incredibly successful in his industry. Joe will be the first to tell you not only do you have to invest in training, you have to have the right mindset and beliefs as well as the willingness to take action.

Coming from someone who is in the top 2 – 3% of income earners in his industry, in a 35 year happy marriage, in great physical and emotional health, with a strong religious and spiritual beliefs I would say Joe knows of what he speaks.

So what does this have to do with my upcoming training program? In a word; everything.

I sincerely want to work with those who are ready to take their business to the next level. I thrive on working with people who are willing to take the necessary steps to achieve an outcome.

If you are serious about wanting to start a profitable membership program I encourage you to check out what you will learn over a 28 day period.

In four short weeks you will be given all the information you need to put your own program in place.

There's just one thing. The program has only 97 spots available AND the price goes up on Friday, July 1st.

Take action now to see if this is a great fit for the direction you are taking your business. There's just one thing; if you plan to invest and do nothing, do both of us a favor and don't get the program. It's not for you.

On the other hand if you plan to apply the information, great! This program is for you. Click here to learn more.

What has been your experience with information products? Do you use the information or do they collect dust among all the other purchases you make? What is your advice to someone who wants to learn how to discipline themselves into a higher level of success?

Comments welcome. Retweets also welcome.


3 Things that Irritate the Heck Out of Me

Although I don't often complain today is an exception. However, for every complaint I explain the reasoning behind my frustration AND I offer a solution.

So here it goes…

1. The first complaint has to do with those who sign me as a member of a Facebook Group without my permission. This trend seems to be on the up-rise, not just for me but for many people I know.

I'm not even sure how a group owner can sign someone up without their knowledge, nor do I care to because I certainly won't register someone to one of my groups without their knowledge and permission.

For whatever reason there are group owners who think we will appreciate becoming a member of their group without so much as asking us if this is what we want. I don't care how good the cause or theme of the group, if you are doing this to others, you need to stop because most everyone I know does not appreciate this. I sure don't.

Now mind you, I am a member of several groups in the various social networks I belong to but I made the choice to join out of a particular interest not because someone else joined me without my permission.

With the amount of information overload we are all on it's common courtesy to invite someone first. Simple as that.

Solution: Take a few minutes to invite someone to join your group and convey benefits for them. However, don't be offended if they don't accept.

2. My next complaint… a so-called expert claiming they can teach me something when they have never achieved that something.

I'm not talking about someone referring the expertise of someone else. I'm talking about those people who claim they are an expert at something when in fact, they have not yet accomplished the very thing they are either trying to teach you or sell you their own program on. Aghhhh!

Whether it be health and nutrition, marketing, leadership, making money, having great relationships, or whatever; walk the walk before you talk the talk.

Amazingly there are those who claim if they have not succeeded at something they can teach you what not to do. Take a relationship expert. Dang, why would I want to learn how to have a long term, loving, joyful, abundant and giving relationship from someone who has never gone past a year or two in a relationship?

Call me old fashioned, but I want to learn from someone who knows how to make things work based on real life experience and a proven track record.

Solution: Before you believe everything someone says, check them out. You may be pleasantly surprised that they are even more accomplished than you originally thought. Or you may be surprised that what they claim they can teach is nothing they have ever accomplished.

On the flip side, before you claim you are an expert at something you better be darned sure you can back up your claims. For example, I have a teleseminar I am offering at no cost that I am more than qualified to teach. Two years ago I could not make this claim. To see what program I am referring to click here.

There are lots of qualified experts in countless markets that can back up their claims. Are you one of them?

3. Complaint #3 … the misguided teachings that all you have to do is visualize what you want and it will appear with no effort whatsoever. To this I say, “Get a life!”

Now that may seem harsh but the fact is there are a lot of people who seem to think they don't have to work for what they want. Where this all started is beyond me yet, there are countless people who are perpetrating this lie.

Talk to some of the so called experts who are touting the bill of goods that you simply have to visualize what you want and it will appear at your doorstep are causing more harm than good.

Do you have to visualize what you want? Absolutely! But there is to any type of success than this.
With the visualization comes action. Depending how much success you want determines the level of action. This doesn't mean you have to run yourself into the ground. It does mean you have to have a plan and you have to work the plan.

I know there will be some people who don't want to hear this truth. They would prefer sit back and simply “attract” everything to themselves.

Attraction is all part of it, but far too many people have been led to believe attraction doesn't take any work at all. Notice what is right in the word attraction.

To achieve the level of success you desire you need to believe you can achieve it, visualize what you want, know there are elements of attraction in the process, develop a plan, work the plan, adjust as needed, surround yourself with the right support system and circle of influence and be willing to adjust as needed.

Want to find out how to do anything? Find someone who has “been there, done that” and find out what they really had to do. Chances are it was a heck of a lot more than simply visualizing the outcome.

Solution: Like my mamma always said, “Anything worth having is worth working for.” This doesn't mean work is not fun. Actually, work can be lots of fun. Especially when you see the results of your efforts. Now that's lots of fun.

Okay, that's it for my 3 frustrations. What are some of yours? Leave your comments by clicking the link at the top of this post. Be sure to add in the solution too.

“Visionary Leaders BreakThrough – 7 Keys to Reinvent Your Life!” hosted by Anastasia Montejano

Ever Wonder How To Redesign the Blueprint of Your Life When Your Work No Longer Serves You?  Stop Wondering and Learn From Those Who Did It!

24 Extraordinary Achievers – Transformational Thought Leaders, Conscious Leadership Experts, Bestselling Authors and Visionary Leaders – pull back the curtain and share how they successfully made their Conscious Reinvention a Reality.  Hear the inspiring back story of these movers and shakers: learn where they came from, how they faced and overcame challenges and be motivated by their thought provoking wisdom. Discover how these people came up with brilliant ideas, and against all odds, succeeded at creating services, products and organizations that are transforming the world.

Uncover the Principles, Process, Tools and Community You’ll Need to Make YOUR Conscious Reinvention a Reality!

  • Sue Frederick – the Master of Career Intuitive Work will share profound, yet simple principles to quickly identify what you came to this life to do to align with your destiny.  The answers will delight you!
  • Robert Rabbin – a groundbreaking speaker, author, leadership adviser, and self-awareness teacher. His résumé of speaking engagements includes State of the World Forum, Institute of Noetic Sciences, JFK University School of Management (to name just a few!) will teach us how to live an authentic life in ten words.
  • Kellie Olver – a former TV host shares her 1.6 Million Dollar  Transformation on her path to find the true meaning of self worth and how you can leverage the wisdom gained from her experiences for your reinvention.
  • Richard Whiteley – A Harvard Business School educated management consultant who moonlights as an urban shaman will reveal how to move into transformational and conscious leadership.
  • Christine Kloser– well recognized leader expert in “Conscious Entrepreneurship”, a three-time award winning author, host of the Transformational Author Experience, creator of the Get Your Book Done program will show you how to master the four levels of transformation to share your message with the world.
  • Tom Schulte – recognized as an emerging leadership thought leader, Executive Director of the Linked 2 Leadership Group (17,500 members), publisher of one of the most popular management & leadership blogs called Linked 2 Leadership, and publisher of the LeaderBrief Leadership Newsletter will share you how recalibrate your leadership effectiveness by tapping into what’s really important to you. .
  • Paula Langguth Ryan – A contemporary Prosperity Advisor who has worked with heiresses to newly bankrupt consumers, with Olympic athletes to corporate executives and spiritual leaders – will reveal how to release financial fears that block personal & professional peace.
  • And so much more!

This truly unique global series will inspire and empower you to think bigger, strategize better and make the contribution you’re here to make personally, professionally and globally.

Get immediate access to all the details for the Visionary Leaders BreakThrough Series by clicking here.

Linkedin Groups – Getting the most out of your blog post

In the world of online marketing, social media and getting the word out about our products and services there are countless ways to optimize our efforts. Yet, many people do one or two things and wonder why they are not getting the best results.

Take blog postings. When you post something to your blog don't rest on your laurels and finish your efforts there. You can maximize your efforts by letting your opt in subscribers know about the post (as long as it's relevant to them), post the permalink on your FaceBook wall, post a note on FaceBook, tweet about it, and let your LinkedIn group members know about the post.

Getting the most out of your efforts mean you have to put effort into your efforts. What else would you do with the video above if it were yours? Comments welcome.

Quit being so afraid to give information away

Do you give free content away in the form of eBooks, eReports, teleseminars, MP3s and videos? If not, why not? If yes, is it high enough quality that you could justify charging for it?

An area there seems to be a lot of confusion (and hesitation) with is whether or not to give information away. I say, “Give it away! And give lots of it away!”

“But if I give it away, why would anyone pay me?” is the concern I most often here.

The fact is, you can give great content away and still generate incredible revenue streams.

I think most people would agree we live in a” try before you buy world.”

Many people want to “test the waters” with your information before making a substantial investment. Why not let them?

The problem does not always reside in giving the information away. The greatest challenge can be in asking for the sale. It's amazing how many people are uncomfortable asking to get paid. Holly molly. If you don't get paid, you don't have a business.

Back to the topic of giving information away. Be willing to offer great content without getting paid. If you've done a great job of providing stellar information you win on many fronts.

You've gained the trust of the market. You've begun to build a nice relationship with whomever got your information. And you have created a win for the person who opted in.

Here's a great example. The following 3 part video series is definitely one I could charge for. Even though I would make money with this I would much rather use this series as a way to introduce potential customers and clients to my information.

Why not see for yourself what I mean. Simply opt in to begin receiving the information right away.

Fair warning though. This is more than a 3 minute video series. Be sure to put time aside to enjoy it fully. And… have pen in hand so you can take notes.

Simply click the image below to be taken to the next page.









Why many people avoid marketing like the plague

Have you ever cringed at the thought marketing? You're not alone. Many people avoid marketing like the plague and their business success reflects this fact.

The truth is, marketing is just about everything we do. From blogging, article writing, talking to others at a live event, posting on our Facebook wall, tweeting, creating a short video for YouTube and even talking to a neighbor about what we do.

Another truth is it is much simpler than many people realize, but because of various fears around marketing many entrepreneurs don't reach their fullest business potential.

Marketing is Simple
There are very simple ways to market and of course, very complex ways. One thing that stops people from reaching their marketing potential is the thought that they have to jump into complex strategies that take hours and hours to implement.

It doesn't have to be this way at all. As a matter of fact, it can take as little as 10 minutes a day to market. You read right; 10 minutes a day.

To get the most out of your marketing here are a few quick tips.

  • Think in terms of adding value. The more you focus on this the more natural your marketing becomes.
  • Be willing to give your information away. This is an area lots of people cringe at. “Give my information away! Why would I give away what I can sell?”It's simple; we live in a try before you buy world. With all the “stuff” available your job is to build trust, credibility and visibility with your market. Offering something for nothing is a great way to do this. It should go without saying that whatever you give away should be of extremely high value. Unfortunately, some people don't realize this. Free doesn't me garbage.
  • Think in the long-term. If you plan to be around for any length of time you absolutely must think in terms of, “How will what I am doing today impact my long-term position? How will what I am doing serve my market in the long-term? When you have this type of thinking you are sure to be highly successful.

Learn From Top Experts
Actually, rather than me sharing only my insights why not learn from other leading experts too?

Here's a great way to give your business a powerful advantage – and it's absolutely free, no strings attached.

My friend, marketing expert David Pierpoint, has just released a new ebook called “10-Minute Marketing Success”. And, yes, I’m one of the featured interviews.

I was so impressed with all the content, I arranged for you to get a copy for free.

It features 10-minute interviews with leading experts who spell out their single best marketing strategy or tactic, and explain how you can easily implement it within your business.

Some of the chapters include:

John Jantsch – author of Duct Tape Marketing — reveals how to use his powerful seven-step system to build your “marketing hourglass” and grow your business.

Dan Ariely – author of Predictably Irrational – explains how to establish premium value positioning for your products and services, and what to look out for when making a “free” offer to prospects.

Andrea Lee – CEO of Thought Partners International – shares how becoming a “thought leader” in your market can drastically improve your marketing and build a stronger connection with your customers.

Plus more business-building strategies from several other marketing experts including: David Fagan, Fred Gleeck, Ray Davis, and David Pierpoint.

You can get your FREE copy of this ebook by clicking here:

Your pass code to get free access is: 1007

I hope you enjoy this valuable gift. And I know it will give you the kick-start you need to make your business as successful as possible. You can download it here:

Don't forget to use the pass code: 1007

What's your best easy to apply strategy? Why not share it with others in the comment box?

Retweeting welcome.

Why most strategic partnerships don’t work

It's likely you've heard one of the best ways to build your online business is with strategic partnerships. Also known as joint venture partners and affiliate partners building solid relationships is a huge part of the success formula.

Yet, lots of people are really missing the mark when it comes to building relationships.  Watch this five minute video to find out why and what you can do to avoid the big mistakes.

Like this video message? Why not retweet it for others to enjoy? Comments welcome.

Can you make $100,000 and be hands free?

If you could develop a system for generating revenue in a hands free way would you do it? Most sane people would say yes.

I know I did when I first discovered how to do this. And now I want to share with you exactly how I did so.

Advanced Marketing tactics for hands-free income with sustainable businesses. If you take time off, what will happen to your business. I have systems that sustained me through long periods of family care. I will demonstrate how to create sustainable income even when you can't be at the computer every day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT

Click here for full details and to register.

1% or 99%…which are you?

1%. This is just about the percentage of people who buy information products, attend seminars, listen to CDs to learn something who will actually do anything with the material.

I am in the 1%. Why? Because I have a philosophy that has served me well. Whenever I invest in something I will immediately figure out a way to recoup my investment. This simply means I am going to study the information and implement the information.

Will I implement everything all at once? No. But I will do something to gain value from what I purchase and the time invested.

90% of the time I recoup my investment back within a very short period of time. Whether it's a $10 investment or $10,000, I will do what needs to be done to gain an incredible return. [Read more…]