Interview about the review with Carolyn Howard-Johnson


Carolyn, I have just published the next issue of my Bobbing Around, and suddenly realized that I haven’t received notification of your newsletter for a few months.

I hope this doesn’t mean something dire.

Please let me know how things are with you.


It means that I almost have the third book in my HowToDoItFrugally Series done! It’s been tough going. Would you like a copy to review? It’s How to Get Great Book Review Frugally and Ethically. And it’s a tome!

Thank you so much for caring.




Can you get a book review expensively and unethically?


Yes, if you pay for it it’s too expensive. Especially when you can get lots of them free and especially when the ones you get free are more ethical from a journalistic standpoint. When you pay for a review it is by definition suspicious to much of the professional publishing and media world. No matter how “fair and honest” the reviewer tries to make it, those in the publishing industry can usually tell money changed hands to get it. They are very unlikely to be impressed by the good things that reviewer has to say.

And it probably won’t be all that “fair and honest.”

So, why would an author want to do that when they can get reviews free. And keep getting them for the good of their book. They will be free, honest, and essentially forever (or for as long as the author wants to continue to promote his or her book), and they will be trusted.


Don’t you feel that venues such as Kirkus reviews and US Book Reviews have a high standing, and so people paying for them get value for money? Mind you, I never have paid.


They do have a high standing. Which is why they should have thought twice or maybe a dozen times before succumbing to the need of an additional profit stream. When an author discovers that a review they paid $300-$500 for isn’t respected by people in the industry (who know the paid-for review from a legitimate review) those journals lose a little bit of respect at a time.

Further, those paid-for reviews get put into a separate section apart from the legitimate reviews in the journal. It’s true! They do! So even casual readers may eventually ascertain that they are only second class reviews. I fully explain other aspects of the publishing industry that unsuspecting authors may not have a handle on yet in my new book How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. I even quote from some publishers who have been soured on the kind of reviews they get from these entities. In other words, they are paid for and they still aren’t enthusiastic enough about their contents that the publisher can’t extract a great blurb from them.

Bob, we authors must take some responsibility for these problems. We need to do due diligence–maybe even more when we are new than after we have been around a while. Books are a very frugal way to learn from experts before we make big-money decisions that don’t benefit our books.


Thank you, Carolyn. I’ve learned several things from this short reply alone. I wonder how many other gems your book contains!

But, staying with paid publicity, what about cheaper options, which charge under $50 for various services? I’ve always shied away from them, for the simple reason that I’ll merely get lost in the great crowd of other customers. Well, I succumbed once, and paid $14 for a listing. It was so well hidden that I couldn’t find it myself.


Bob, I guess that’s one good reason to read how-to books by authors who have been around a while. They usually share what works and what has worked for them (at least I do). And sometimes I even tell people the things I’ve tried and hated. There are several ideas in How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically I liked — things that cost considerably more than $50, too. I try to find the ones that have benefits worth the cost. One of them is the paid-for help one can get with online book tours. The reasons they can be worth it are listed in this new book and two of the services I’ve used and liked are listed in the book, too. Hint: Denise Cassino and Nicki Leigh. 🙂 Once you know some of their secrets for online book tours, you can do it on your own — professionally — forever after.


Thank you, Carolyn. But do blog tours sell books? For that matter, do reviews sell books?


For that matter, does any one thing we do in marketing sell books? It’s hard to tell which one. But when all of it is taken together, absolutely! 🙂 And remember, it’s not only about book sales. It’s about career-building (maybe so eventually we sell more books? ) The magic words here are “campaign,” “persistence,” “motivation” and, of course, “knowing the ropes.”


Carolyn, you’d better enlarge on that. Career Building?


The more your title gets seen, (even if it doesn’t result in a sale), the more you get known. Even more important, the more your name gets seen, the more likely a reader will eventually buy a book. Especially when its tied to authentic and memorable endorsements, either free-standing endorsements or those extracted from reviews. And, remember, online reviews often have permalinks. That’s a word — obviously — derived from permanent. So, your reviews increase your title and name recognition about as long as you want them to — maybe until you kick the bucket. Not that I’m looking forward to that.


OK, Carolyn. Suppose someone has read both your previous Frugal books. What does this one add?


Oh, lots! It’s really a fat book! But the topic of reviews deserves that kind of attention because it is such an important part of any book’s marketing campaign. Let’s see. It covers reviews and how to excerpt great blurbs (endorsements) from reviews. Here are just a few more:

a. Review scams. We touched on some of those in this interview. But there is lots more to say.

b. Why you need to get reviews — of course!

c. How to circumvent book bigotry — which is still out there, though nowhere what it was in the early 2000s.

d. Preplanning, including building reviewer lists, planning for an e-book pre-order plan, and how to get around some of the big review journals’ dreadful (from an author’s perspective) deadlines.

e. How to write a query letter that’s a cut above the competitions queries — and avoid ticking off reviewers.

f. Lots on how Amazon can help authors through reviews and related benefits.

g. And how to manage reviews and make them work for you. (Stuff like when to complain about reviews and how and how to get reviews back when they suddenly disappear from Amazon.

Really, this is a book that covers topics that many would have to struggle to find piecemeal, if they could find them at all.

By the way, I happen to know that you know that writing reviews of others’ books is part of a great marketing plan. Trouble is, many authors don’t know how to make those reviews really work for them (meaning get them the most possible exposure). This book helps with that, too. The book is now available on Amazon.


Carolyn, good luck with this book.

Also, I feel honored that I was the FIRST person you shared the cover with.

Thank you for gracing Bobbing Around with this interview.

Book cover design by Chaz DeSimone.

On the 15th of December, I randomly selected one commenter as the winner of one electronic copy of this book.

That winner is Bob Selden. Congratulations, Bob.


About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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19 Responses to Interview about the review with Carolyn Howard-Johnson

  1. As the designer of Carolyn’s “Frugal” series covers, I have read all her books, and they are pure gold. You know what disappoints me tremendously? Once I set my author clients up with the The Frugal Book Promoter which is the bible for success, many of them fall short of successful promotions because they don’t follow through and do what Carolyn suggests.(One client wonders why no one has purchased any of her books yet. Well, maybe it’s because, upon my recommendation, she ordered The Frugal Book Promoter the week after she hired me to design her cover and interior–but months later has not even finished reading Carolyn’s ultimate guide to success! I don’t care how good a book reads or looks, it’s not going to sell unless it’s promoted. Carolyn’s books are goldmines of information, and if people would only follow her advice they might get on the bestseller list. Read the book and do what she says, authors!


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you for the wise comment, Chaz.
      Yes. Any how to do it book only works if it’s implemented. No one has ever managed to live off eating a cookbook.


  2. bobselden says:

    Thanks Bob, most interesting interview. As someone who has written 100s of reviews for mags and publishers, and who has strived tirelessly to get reviews myself, I found Carolyn’s comments most illuminating. I very much look forward to reading her book and benefiting from it. This will be particularly useful with my new role as mentor and coach to aspiring writers at Lime Books Publishing. Oh, and by the way, congratulations on “Hit & Run” – a great book and deserves to be successful. Kind regards, Bob Selden.


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you for the visit, and the comment, Bob. Even if you should be the lucky person and win THIS book, you might want to check out her two other “frugal” books.

      Congrats with Lime Books.



  3. cindy bartolotta says:

    An interesting review. I know reviews are important, but my problem is finding time to write them. Heck, I barely have time to read a book.


  4. As always, I enjoy Carolyn’s insights. Thanks!


  5. Teri B Clark says:

    Excellent interview. I’m looking forward to reading all of her books – now that I have a novel in the editing stages! Thanks for reminding me to do my homework.


  6. Dr Bob Rich says:

    Bill, I actually have an essay prepared for the December issue of Bobbing Around on how to go about reviewing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bill Parker says:

    Another great topic might be how to write a great review for another author’s work. I would like to be able to write a nice review in return for one. So far, I have been using some examples but I would like to do a better job.


  8. Susan Hornbach says:

    Great review guys. Sounds like a book to grace every writer’s shelf. Wishing you great success Carolyn!


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you for visiting, Susan. I have read all three of Carolyn’s frugal books, and they are all storehouses of resources, contacts and tips. I hope your book is doing well, too.


  9. Bill Parker says:

    I cannot say how anxious I am to read this new book. I write science fiction. That is my passion. All of the rest of the publishing and marketing are required to support my writing, but I can truly use all the help that I can get. It being so close to Christmas, I have added your book to my Christmas list. No one ever knows what to buy me. Now they do.


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you for visiting, Bill. You can publicize your book(s) by sending me a 200 word promo item for Bobbing Around, or writing a 500 word essay, perhaps about some aspect of science fiction. That can then have a 50 word bio, with link.
      If you win this book, your family can buy you one or both of Carolyn’s easier frugal books.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bill Parker says:

        Works for me. Like I said, I can use all the help I can get. And, yes. I will send you a 200 work book blurb on my latest release – Zep Tepi.


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