Up Close And Personal With Richie Frieman.
Hello Richie Frieman and welcome to Authopublisher.com. It’s nice to have you with us.You are a self published author, tell us what your book is called and what is it about?
The rhyming children’s picture book I wrote and illustrated is called, “Terple – The Sky Is Just The Start” about a courageous young turtle, named Terple, who dreams of a life outside of the pond. Every day, Terple swims to the edge of his bond and looks out at the horizon, dreaming of a world outside of his reach. After everyone around him tries to tell him he’s crazy and he shouldn’t venture out, Terple packs his bag, gives his mom and long hug and heads out into the world.
This story is a lesson for everyone that’s ever dared to dream and wanted more from their lives. Granted, Terple wants to get out of the pond but everyone has something they want to chase but certain things they feel are holding them back. Just as Terple did – only because he believed in himself – anyone can fulfill their dreams if they just believe.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process? What methods do you use to write and how did you make it through the grueling process of writing your book?
You know, it’s funny but once I came up with the overall concept, rhymes would just start coming to me or ideas would appear at the oddest of times. I’d be in my car and literally pull over to write something down. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and write something down on my notepad I keep next to my bed. So, my story came together like a puzzle. Piece by piece, it slowly began to build and then I went back and restructured to how Terple’s tale would be told.
The illustrations – now that is an entirely different beast. First, I had to make him look completely different than any other character out there. Plus, I wanted kids to look at him and see something in him they see in themselves. To do this, I upped his attire! I gave him a navy blue hooded sweatshirt and patchwork madras pants that are pretty popular but you never really see in children’s books. That was his whole look. Madras patterns are filled with colors and patterns that draw your eye in and when Terple is next to another character he always stands out.
But for me, once I had the character of Terple, I had to divide the book up into which areas I want to illustrate. That was a big challenge too.
Explain to us the process you took to get your book published, from formatting your manuscript to preparing it for print all the way to getting an ISBN and the book cover design.
I am artist and graphic designer so formatting was fairly easy for me in that I knew the programs they needed. I designed my own cover, illustrations and planned the layout. But I needed to figure out the size and layout I was going to use. I looked at other books out there and figured what size works best. But I still had some setbacks. I went back and forth with the printer to make sure I was set. That’s the hardest part. If the book was published by a “big house”, I could have handed them the files and they would lay it out and someone would watch it through the entire process. Here, I was on the outside praying it would go okay. I turned out great but I have had some printing problems – mainly with color consistency in every book – with the printer. Most of it is only things I would notice but I notice them and I want to make sure it’s perfect. The company I self published with took care of getting me an ISBN.
Did you use the services of a book coach or a self publishing company to help you though the process or did you do it yourself? Tell us about your experiences.
I used to work for a printer, right after college so I knew of some to call on. I originally thought, “Okay, I’ll contact a printer to do the books and sell through my website.” But the costs were so high! I finally agreed to go through and online company called CreateSpace that is tied into Amazon.com. It’s a print on demand shop and they not only get the book printed when someone orders it but it’s on the Amazon site so people can find it. They also track your sales. They keep a cut of the profits but in the end, it’s one less thing for me to worry about and I can stick to what I do best and that’s promoting and marketing. Getting it noticed was key.
Going through CreateSpace was okay, but still a little costly. I had to make sure I was able to make my money back and it was worth it, which it was.
What would you do differently with the publishing of your next book?
That’s tough… right now I’m deciding that very issue. I have a great new book to put out and I’m debating how to go about it. I’m much farther along as a writer and artist than I was with my first Terple (this is a second in the series I have planned). Now though, I’m much more into the community as well so getting the word out is a lot more enjoyable. But with issues and success I had with CreateSpace, I’m wondering I need to stay or look other places. I’m still on the fence. Bottom line though, it comes down to what is best for your needs. Cost is very important.
How did you market your book? Can you share some of your creative/non-conventional ways/secrets on how you sold your book?
This is the part I love! Marketing my book is a blast because I get to reach out to people, share my work and talk to them. I HATE when authors sit on some high horse and try to remain hidden because it adds a bit more “mystery” to their image. That’s complete garbage. Whether you are musician, an artist, a writer or singer you put work out so people can enjoy it… so don’t try to act cool and be a mystery. You’re not fooling anyone.
For my book, I reached out to first friends and family to let them know about it. Many did not know I was writing one so they were very shocked to hear about it. Then, I wanted to do a big launch where I did a reading and signing. I approached a local bookstore that has a large kid’s section and asked them if I could do a reading/signing there. They were happy to! For the reading and signing, I had a puppet of Terple made, built a little puppet theater for him and had a friend do his the puppet. We read the book together and he did the voice of Terple whenever (in the book) Terple would speak. It went great! We packed the place, sold out of books (over one hundred in an hour) and that was that.
I’m a firm believer in doing your own PR whenever you can. Don’t be afraid to call someone up. Again, drop the ego and don’t be a mystery. Look, Time Magazine won’t take you on off the bat but others will. I contacted the local newspaper about my book, with the hook of a “Richie Frieman, 29 years old, Former pro wrestler launches his own children’s picture book!” Yes, being a pro wrestler made my “story” a bit more interesting and it worked. I am a wrestler and it is interesting but it’s me!
The paper took me on and they actually ran the story the day of the reading. My one time ever of luck. So that day I was fortunate enough to pull in some other people I didn’t know that read the article. From there I was able to contact my college (Univ of Maryland) alumni magazine and they picked up the story as well. That was a year later though (the magazine only comes out four times a year). A young male of 32 (now, 29 then), doing children’s picture books and a pro wrestler is a very odd thing so I stuck out.
As well, since then I reached out to more places and offered to do readings and donate my proceeds. I’ve partnered with nearly a dozen charities to help out their kids and me and my puppeteer are happy to show up.
Doing charity work is the basis for my books. ALL of my proceeds starting the past month go to charity. That includes eBooks of Terple (which I had made) and the print books. I partner with a charity, do a reading/signing for them and then donate money I receive from purchases offline and in person right to them. Giving back is something I am very passionate about.
Aside from that, I try to meet as many people as I can in and out of the literary world and make connections. I’m still working hard at that too.
Share with us the different platforms you use to sell your book (bookstores, signing, affiliate programs, website etc.).
The print book can be found at Amazon.com. I have it in one book store around my area. Other book stores are tough because they need the books at such a low cost, that if you are self published it’s hard to provide. As well most major chains (Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, Borders, etc.) all have very strict guidelines about their books and the stores rarely – if ever – take on self published books. You have to go through their ordering people or agents and you are more likely to see Big Foot, the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause having coffee at Starbucks before you find and the contact you need there that will promote you and take you on.
So, I utilize online services like Amazon, my own website (www.RichieFrieman.com) and have recently published it on eBook for iBookstore, Kindle, Nook and Sony eReader for only $1.99. Can’t beat that. I want as many people to get it as possible. I don’t care about the money I make, I just want it to be out there.
Also, public readings and signings are always good to because it lets you interact with people.
Do you use social media in book promotion, and if so, which platforms work best for you? Can you share some tricks you got making it work for you?
I make it my goal that every day I do 25 things for my book. Whether it’s emailing someone, posting someone, calling some place, etc. Every day. Haven’t missed yet. My goal is to be a best selling author – not the riches, I don’t care about that I just want to be the known as someone that made a difference. And I will keep at it. If could do 100 things a day I would! But there are only so many hours in the day.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are my bread and butter. Those are the top three social media sites in the world and I try to be as active on them as I can. Some more than others but reaching out to people is essential. Some tricks I do is look for people on LinkedIn in the industry by searching by keywords (literary agent, publishers, book store owners, authors, etc.) that meet what I need and send them a message. Sometimes they get back in and a lot of times they don’t. Still it’s worth a shot. Same thing with Facebook. I look for groups that involve authors or networking events and reach out. People are more friendly on Facebook than they are on LinkedIn. But anyway to connect is always fun.
Plus, in my immediate friends and family I am the only children’s book author and illustrator so I stand out on Facebook and in events because of that. So when babies are born, they usually want a Terple book for them and I am happy to help! I learned the very hard way that no one will support you if you don’t make them. People love to watch others fail and if you know that you keep proving them wrong. So when people come to me about Terple I am always happy to share it. Friends have been very helpful.
Care to share some numbers? How many books have you sold to date?
When I first got into the industry I was told that the average sales for self published books are 76-79 per book. Sad. Not the numbers I wanted. But it does seem accurate considering that most people sell to family and friends first. Still not the chart topping numbers I expected.
I’ve sold and donated (I do a lot of charity work) around 1500 books. Again, not the numbers I need to be the best seller but enough to still keep at it.
How was your book initially received? Has it been reviewed? What was your response to the reviews?
I love this question. The fun part about my book was I didn’t tell anyone about it until I was ready to launch it live. Then when I did everyone was so surprised! Especially people from high school and college I know on Facebook that didn’t know I was doing it. So “shock” was the first impression. Then, I don’t know what they expected it to be… not rhyming for sure. When I did the first reading I sent messages out and hoped they come. They did and everyone loved the book. So the doubters were a little taken back but that was a win for me!
It has been reviewed and depending on who reviews it, depends on what response I get. Good thing is it’s always been positive. They like the book, like the character but everyone wants to change something… especially when their job is to offer their opinions. It’s been rejected by agents and publishers because for one the children’s picture book market is the least desired market. Nine times out of ten, I hear this, “Great story but not for today’s market.” In that it’s very hard to bring a new character in the mainstream to battle the big characters that are already on TV.
The response to this is always the same… “Oh well.” And I say that in all honesty. When people tell me it’s not right for the market, I send them a video of my recent book reading where I have 300+ kids cheering and dancing with me. Not bad for a book with no market. I am just waiting for someone to see that there is something else different out there and people are ready for it.
Although it is frustrating in that I go to book stores and see books that have no place being sold. I am not saying they are bad but for books that are sold for $14 and offer nothing to the child, it is just scamming the parents and robbing the kids of a chance to learn and laugh.
How do you handle negative feedback from critics?
As an art student we did critiques all the time and it just comes with the territory. You can’t let it get to you. There are three phrases I live by and think about every time I get a rejection.
One is from my college art teacher, a painter, when during a critique, a person in our class asked about another person’s work, “What is it?” because it was abstract and didn’t resemble anything. My teacher said, “It’s paint on canvas.” Her response was basically saying it is what it is and it’s up to you to decide.
The second is from pro wrestling – a mantra about how people view wrestlers, wrestling and wonder why we do it: “For those that don’t get it, no explanation will do. For those that DO get it, no explanation is needed.” I love that saying because it says, if you don’t like it, then look away but if you do like it, then join the party!
The third is from a song called “The Cape” by Guy Clark and Eric Bibb. The chorus goes, “He’s one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith, spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.” It’s about a little boy that believes in himself when he ties a homemade cape around his neck like Superman. And it goes on about that belief as the boy becomes a man. But the chorus basically reminds you that if you don’t give up, you are “pretty sure you can fly”.
That’s how I handle bad comments.
Where are some of the places where you sell your book besides through book distributors, your website, book stores etc?
Yes, in one major store by me and on my website RichieFrieman.com that links to the Amazon page and the eBooks I had made for Terple. iBooks, Nook, Kindle, Sony eReader.
Do have any future projects you’d like to tell us about?
Well, right now, I have the next two editions of Terple written. I working on the illustrations for the next one and seeing when I’ll put it out. But my projects right now are my internet magazine called, Pen’s Eye View (www.PensEyeView.com) that features a new and different artist every 48 hours. We interview musicians from all levels, Grammy winners to emerging talent, from ALL over the globe… a new one every 48 hours. To date, since we’ve launched in 2007, we’ve featured nearly 1,000 consecutive people.
Also, I write a weekly humorous column on etiquette called the Modern Manners Guy that’s a part of QuickAndDirtyTips.com http://manners.quickanddirtytips.com
Thank you for being on Authopublisher, Tom, and I hope to hear from you again!
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You gotta hustle if you’re to make your dream happen!