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Interview With Rick Frishman and Michael Larsen
Interview By Jenna Glatzer

Rick Frishman and Michael Larsen are two of the co-authors of Guerilla Marketing For Writers (Writer's Digest Books, 2001).  Rick, the president of Planned Television Arts since 1982, is the driving force behind PTA's exceptional growth. He is also one of the most powerful and energetic publicists in the media industry. Rick continues to work with many of the top editors, agents and publishers in America including Simon and Schuster, Random House, Harper Collins, Pocket Books, Penguin Putnam, and Hyperion Books. Some of the authors he has worked with include Bill Moyers, Richard Preston, Mark Victor Hansen, Hugh Downs, Henry Kissinger, Jack Canfield, Alan Deshowitz, Arnold Palmer, and Harvey Mackay.  Rick is a sought after lecturer on publishing and public relations and is a member of PRSA and the National Speakers Association. 

Michael Larsen worked in promotion for three major publishers before starting his own literary agency (Michael Larsen/Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents) with his wife.  They represent book-length fiction and non-fiction for adults.  Michael  frequently writes and speaks about the publishing industry.

What qualifies you to write a book like this? 

[Rick Frishman] We all have different specialties. Mike has been a literary agent since 1972 and has written books on proposals and agents, Jay has written or coauthored 18 guerrilla books, and I have been doing book publicity for 25 years.

Isn't promotion the publisher's job?  What percentage of marketing is usually done by the publisher versus the author now?

[Mike Larsen] The six conglomerates that dominate trade publishing unleash hundreds of books a year. They can't do enough promotion to make all of them succeed, so they focus on those they have the best chance for success. It's been said that publishers spend eighty percent of their annual promotion budgets on twenty percent of their list. This leaves twenty percent of their budget for the other eighty percent of their books. This, in turn, leaves most authors in the position of promoting their books or watching them fail. Whatever publishers do for most books, they do early on and shortly after publication. After that, the success of most books is in the authors' hands, which is the best place for it.

What's "viral marketing?"

[Mike Larsen] Viral marketing online is creating information so valuable and/or enjoyable--and that includes information about your book and website--that whoever sees it will forward it to everyone they know.

How can a writer get appearances on major forums like television shows and radio?     

[Rick Frishman] First read this book. We tell you all of the publications you need, where to find the contacts and exactly what to send to them. You have to have a great press kit, a good book and a super pitch.

Then this whole game comes down to one thing: follow up.  You have to know the right people at the shows, and then know how to speak to them. It takes an enormous amount of time and a lot of work and persistence. If you don't want to do it yourself, you can hire a PR firm. We talk about how to find the right firm in the book.

Is it worth the investment to send out lots of free advance copies of the book?  Should an author bother sending to big-name people who would make impressive blurbs, but with whom the author has no connection?

[Rick Frishman] Yes and yes. The advance copies should go to specific reviewers in cities all across America. The more quotes you get, the better. Never stop trying to get more quotes.

What do authors do on a "grand tour?"

[Rick Frishman] A grand tour can be two things. The first is doing a 20-to-30 city road tour and doing book signings, events and TV, radio and newspaper interviews in each market. The other way to do it is what I call the "virtual" tour. You do it electronically. You do a satellite TV tour, a morning drive radio tour and a TelePrint conference.  

Let's say an organization has asked me to speak next month.  What should I do to prepare?

[Rick Frishman] Find out who will be in the audience, what they are interested in the most, how many people they expect, whether they want handouts, slides, PowerPoint, how long a presentation they want. Then prepare your notes on index cards and practice by yourself and people who can give you feedback. Videotaping yourself is another way to judge how you are doing.
What goes into a press kit?

[Rick Frishman] A press release, a bio, a 5x7 head shot, a list of suggested questions, newspaper stories done on author and a quiz are the basics. 

How does an author approach his or her own personal contacts to alert them to the book's printing and encourage them to tell others without coming across as "needy?"

[Rick Frishman] Authors have tell their contacts and the world that their book is coming. Everybody know 250 people. Send a postcard, make calls, email your friends and tell them to pass it to as many people as they can. Do whatever you have to do make your contacts and the world aware of your book, including walking down Fifth Avenue on an elephant.

How does an author know if he or she should hire a publicist or web designer?

[Rick Frishman] It depends on that nature of your book, your budget, your time, and the size of the market for your book. It is less expensive to do it yourself if you can. A publicist is your next best option. Publicists have the skill, contacts and experience; you have more time and elbow grease and you may have more imagination. These are three substitutes for money that make a guerrilla marketer.

You suggest writing op-ed pieces and letters to the editor.  How can an author sneak in their book info tastefully?

[Rick Frishman] Don't say "in the book." Put the title in a sentence describing a particular strategy or story that you a taking "from my book [title]." Or at the end of your letter, add the title of your book after your name. The essential challenge is making what you have to say relevant to a news story, a subject that's in the news or that's of general interest.

What's the biggest mistake authors make in book promotion?

[Rick Frishman] They stop! You have to do it every day. Never stop thinking about your book. Always have it with you. Commit yourself to The Rule of Five. Do five things every day to promote your book.

Anything else you'd like to add?

[Rick Frishman]    Buy our book (just kidding). Attend promotion seminars. Ask questions of pros like Dan Poynter, John Kremer, and Dottie Walters, whose websites are in the book. Never stop learning. Try to use as many of the book's 100 weapons as you can, and your guerrilla marketing arsenal will grow more powerful with every book.

Visit Rick's site at www.plannedtvarts.com and Mike's site at www.larsen-pomada.com


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