Friday, September 12, 2008

Author of the week: Patricia Fry

Hi Patricia! Welcome to Grit for the Oyster!

Can you give us a little bit of information about your publishing history?

A: I’ve been writing for publication for 35 years. I started out in 1973 writing articles for magazines on a manual typewriter. When they used to say, “Pounding out an article or a story,” back then, they meant it. And the only way to adequately correct any mistakes was to retype the entire page (or sometimes the whole manuscript).

I started out writing for horse magazines, but soon branched out into business, regional, women’s, religious, spiritual, cat, parenting and other publications.

In 1978, A.S. Barnes Publishers, with offices in New York and London, published my first book, Hints for the Backyard Rider. It didn’t make the bestseller list. It was a niche book, after all, but it did come out in paperback and hardcover and it was for sale in bookstores nationwide.

I established my own publishing company in 1983 and produced a comprehensive history of the Ojai Valley, (in California.). I now have 28 books to my credit. Some of them are self-published (through Matilija Press) and others were produced through traditional royalty publishers.

When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?A: Most of my books relate to writing and publishing. I teach courses for authors and I travel around and lecture on the subject of publishing and book promotion. I suggest to hopeful authors that they choose an A, B and C list of publishers long before they complete their books. And they should begin approaching appropriate publishers when they have a book proposal to show or they are close to having a completed, edited manuscript.

What struggles have you had on the road to being published?A:

When I was first published, 30 years ago, things were easier. Today, authors must somehow overcome enormous competition. Although, I didn’t experience many struggles on my road to being published, I am fully aware of what authors today face and, in fact, devote a lot of my time to helping educate authors so they have a more successful publishing experience.

Of course, this is not to say that I haven’t had my share of rejections from magazine editors and book publishers. Of course, I have. I have a few book manuscripts that never got off the ground. Since I am a career writer, I have to go on and pursue those opportunities that are available to me. I can’t spend a lot of time dwelling on what isn’t working.

What has been the best part about being published?A:

Well, for me, publishing is my way of justifying my passion for writing. So it is something I must do. In 1988, I began supporting myself through my writing and publishing. And I’m still doing so.

Will you share with us how you come up with ideas for your books?

A: My books are mostly audience-driven. I see a need for hopeful authors to understand more about the publishing industry, for grandparents to bond with their long-distance grandchildren, for young people to learn how to journal, for authors to discover new book promotion techniques and for freelance writers to learn the process of article submissions, for example. And I decide to produce a book in response to these needs.

I am working on a book of cat stories, however, which is purely for my pleasure.

Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?

A: I write nonfiction and I typically do create an outline for my books. I recommend it.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer? Any tips or suggestions for writers?

A: I am definitely a morning person. I get up every morning around 5 and start my day at the computer with a glass of orange juice. Of course, my suggestion would be, to follow your biological clock and schedule writing time when you are freshest—most alert, awake and productive.

What are your dreams for your writing? Where do you see yourself in five years both as a writer and as a person?

A: After 35 years in the business, I keep thinking that I should retire. But I can only see more writing in my future. Maybe this hardcore nonfiction, give-me-the-facts style writer will eventually write a novel. That would be novel.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given/learned in your life as a writer?

A: My whole life is about giving advice. After turning writer after writer down when they asked me to get involved in their projects, I have finally hung out my shingle. For the last 6 years, I’ve worked with dozens of authors on their projects. Since my roots are so deeply imbedded in publishing as well as in writing, I have become an all around editor and consultant, advisor, etc. for authors and freelance writers. I edit their projects and then advise them as to locating and approaching a publisher, establishing their platform, building promotion into their books, creating a marketing plan, finding a distributor and so much more. My authors have found the best of all worlds in my services, when they are new to the whole publishing scene.

In fact, I strongly suggest that all of my authors, before working with me, purchase and read my book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. Many of them already have, which is why they contacted me in the first place.

What do you wish you had known when you first started out as a writer for publication?

A: That’s a good question. I started out just like everyone else, with little knowledge and understanding. However, I did spend several years studying my field—writing articles for magazines—before jumping in and doing it. I knew, when my daughters were quite small, that I wanted to become a writer. But I put it off until they were young teenagers. During the interim, I studied my field and my craft.

When I published my first book, the publishing industry was more straightforward. It was not nearly as complicated and complex as it is today. What I tell new authors today, however, is study the publishing industry. Knowledge is the best gift that you can give yourself if you desire to enter into this highly competitive, complex industry.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

A: For me, it was fairly smooth with only a few bumps that are pretty much long forgotten. Once you become a published author, you must forget about the hassles and devote all of your concentration on promoting your book.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: I had an agent once who turned out to be a scam artist. You must be careful when seeking representation. I recommend

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A: A publicist! I’ve known authors who have sold thousands of books, and, by the way, kept extremely busy, once they hired a publicist.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

A: Self-promotion is crucial. If you want to sell books, no matter what publishing option you choose, you must promote, promote, promote. I promote my writing-related books through my website, my blog (I try to post daily), through newsletters, websites and magazines related to writing and publishing. I work hard to become known in circles where my audience is online and off. Outside of the internet, I travel to conferences and speak and conduct workshops. I also set up presentations at writers group meetings. During the last few years, I’ve conducted workshops in Nashville, San Francisco, Seattle, Wisconsin, Atlanta, Baltimore, the San Diego State University Writer’s Conference, and I’ve done several gigs locally.

Where can readers find a copy of your book?,, Barnes and Noble Stores. For a showcase of my books,

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers here (advice, website, etc)? Do you have a website for readers to go to? Visit my informative blog often, I am also the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network). This is a 14-year-old networking organization and resource center for anyone who is interested in being published.

Thank you very much for stopping by our blog. We wish you great success!


Faith said...

Patricia's mention of a publicist intrigued does a writer get a publicist? Where do you go to find someone who will do this?

Anonymous said...

I suggest that you consider publicists that have been recommended by successful authors—those who are actually selling thousands of books. If you don’t know of any, consider attending a local writer’s group or participate in your online writers or publishers discussion group. Ask for recommendations. Don’t hire a general PR person. It must be someone who knows how to promote books—who is accustomed to working with authors and who understands how to arrange for the gigs, reviews, etc. that will sell the type of book you are marketing. I can recommend a couple of companies. I have not worked with these people personally, but I know something about them.

Penny Sansevieri comes highly recommended. I’ve heard her speak several times throughout the U.S. and she has convinced me that she knows what she’s doing. Reach her through her website, And ask for references.

One of my clients is working with two publicists toward promoting her young adult fantasy. Bruce Merrin isn’t exactly a publicist for authors, but he gets speaking gigs for celebrities. My client is actually a celebrity (lady magician). He has helped her to get numerous speaking engagements and book signings throughout the U.S. She sold over 7,500 books the first 2 months out of the chute as a result. Contact Bruce Merrin PR in Las Vegas. She is also working with a literary public relations consultant (another name for publicist) through Media Masters Publicity.

A publicist can cost you $3,000 month and maybe more. Some authors hire a publicist just for a three month stint, for example. And most of them that I’ve talked to said the money was well spent. They warn other authors, however, “Don’t expect to relax and let the publicist do the work. A good publicist will keep you busier than you’ve ever been before.” But, if you cooperate, you will sell books.

Locate additional publicists and literary PR people and companies by doing a Google search using “Book Publicists” or “Literary PR,” as your keyword. Literary Market Place also lists book publicity experts. Find this reference book at your public library or access it online at I believe it is free for limited access. Again, if you find someone you like, study the site, study the contract, ask questions and always check references—talk to other authors who have hired this company or individual.

Good luck,