An Interview with Rick Frishman

Co-author of ‘Guerrilla Marketing for Writers’

KAREN: First of all, I would like to set the scene. How did you meet Jay Levinson and Michael Larsen and what prompted you to write a book together?


RICK: Mike is an old friend of mine and is Jay’s literary agent. he came to me about 2 yrs ago and had this great idea – the three of us do a book – a literary agent, the marketing guru and a PR man. Writers Digest loved the idea – and he sold the book pretty quickly.


KAREN: I think many people would be interested in finding out what the publishing process was like for you? Did you find success immediately or was it a long, hard slog?


RICK: It was harder than I thought it would be. Having a great agent to go out and sell the book was the first and most important part of the process, second everybody knew Jay – He has sold over 1 million Guerrilla books – so publishers like an author with a track record- and my name is pretty well known in publishing. Writing the book with Mike was harder than I thought it would be. A lot of time – and a lot of editing.


KAREN: It would appear from the brief resume of your achievements that you are all involved in different areas of the publishing industry and this must be a great asset when writing a book together? Can you give our readers a brief idea of how important it can be to harness different talents and approaches when considering writing a book?


RICK: I just started my 25th year of doing publicity. The business is totally different from when I started. We now do most tours via satellite — we don’t send authors on 30 city road tours anymore- There are easier and cheaper ways to get print hits, the internet has changed the world. We work with many famous people- and have them on media every day… from Sarah, the Duchess of York, to Richard Simmons, from Arnold Palmer to Henry Kissinger, from Robert Ludlum to Michael Crichton. Dealing with the ” big guys” gets you access for the smaller ones. The media has to take our call. We still will only take on a client who a) we believe in and b) is a great interview.


KAREN: Can you give me some idea of what Planned Television Arts is all about?


RICK: Planned TV Arts was founded in 1962. I got here in 1976 and we now publicize more authors than any PR firm in the USA. We have over 50 professionals who call over 750 producers and editors every day. we work with every major publisher from Random House, Penguin-Putnam to Hyperion. We also love working with the small publisher and the individual author. Our web site is


KAREN: It is often hard for writers, particularly in the UK, to understand that they must become part of the process when they have a book published, and that often writing the book is the easy bit. Often writers are very shy people. Can you give some pointers on how to begin the process of marketing and promoting a book, that first time authors could utilize without becoming too overwhelmed by the thought of having to push themselves forward? A sort of ABC primer for beginners!


RICK: Every author needs training. Most as authors are really good writers but really crappy promoters. Promotion is like anything – you have to ask a lot of questions, read a bunch of books – get trained and then it takes a lot of leg work, elbow grease and time. They can do it themselves – but they have to get media trained and most important… set goals – what do you want out of this book? Most authors don’t make money writing books – the book is a tool to promote something else. Go from there.


KAREN: What do you think is the future for e-books? And have you considered selling Guerrilla Marketing for Writers as an e-book?


RICK: This book I can’t sell as an e book (I believe- although I have to check with the publisher) but we are about 75% done on a new book ‘GUERRILLA PUBLICITY’ which will come out as an e book with I Universe. I think it will be successful – but nothing will take the place of a real -live book- you can cuddle up with in the middle of the night. Tune in.. time will tell.


KAREN: Many authors often write a book and then think of what to do with it when they have finished the book. Do you think writers must become more business like and begin the process of writing by finding a gap in the market and writing for it, rather than assuming that the first step is to write the book?


RICK: Authors need to start thinking and marketing their book no later than 4 months before pub date. I get calls to help authors at pub date. By then – you are dead! Start early!!!! Big campaigns we start 6 months before pub date on long lead magazines, quotes etc.


KAREN: What is the most important thing for writers to consider when they first begin their career?


RICK: a) you have to write a good book b) lots of great books go nowhere because nobody knows about them.- Marketing, promotion, distribution… if you don’t follow up with those three – you will have what I call “the calm before the calm” A great book that sold 2000 copies. Every book is an investment in your career. You will probably write another book and one after that – each one must be bigger and bigger – bigger advance – bigger promotion budget and bigger sales. This is a business and you are the product.


KAREN: Finally, what writers have influenced you the most?


RICK: Harvey Mackay,(Swim with Sharks) Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup) and President Jimmy Carter (we worked on several of his books) All different but all understand how to use the media- and how promotion and publicity can make their book.


KAREN: Thanks for your time, Rick.

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