Rick Frishman ’76 tells writers “How to Get Published in America.” by Karin Fleming ‘09
After two years in the theater department at Ithaca College, aspiring actor Rick Frishman ’76 was told by one of his professors a couple of things that might have sent a lesser man running off to join the circus: one, that his short stature would never land him a leading role, and two, that he just wasn’t good enough in general.
Or at least that’s how Frishman remembers it. Not one to give up on his theatrical dreams, the young man walked down the Dillingham Hall stairs to the television-radio department and started his own radio show. The show was all about theater, and he called it The Best of Broadway. For the next two years, he played different musicals on air, discussed their plots, producers, and stars, and hosted a trivia game. This entrepreneurial spirit helped him continue his career in radio after his graduation from IC (where he finished his B.F.A. in theater and earned a B.S. in communications).
Today, Frishman is a publisher of nonfiction books with the New York–based Morgan James Publishing and the founder of the public relations firm Planned Television Arts. He has amassed a wealth of knowledge during his career, and in April he came back to campus to share some of his tips on how to publish a book successfully. Avoiding standing behind the podium — because “then you wouldn’t be able to see me,” he joked — the experienced public speaker regaled the audience with stories about some of the best-selling authors he has worked with, including Stephen King, John Grisham, and Caroline Kennedy, and gave tips to the aspiring authors in the audience.
“I realized I wanted to be an author,” Frishman told the audience, “but I had one problem: I am the crappiest writer on earth.” Despite his self-deprecating humor, Frishman has actually cowritten nine successful books, including Author 101, a four-book instructional series for writers on how to get one’s work published. “I know how to get books published,” Frishman said, and then couldn’t resist adding, “and I have excellent ghostwriters.”
In addition to Frishman’s 30 years inside the publishing industry, he is a traveling lecturer and cohosts a weekly radio show out of WCWP in Brookville, New York, called Taking Care of Business.
Frishman was happy to share his expertise with the Ithaca audience on such topics as how to find a literary agent and how to promote your book for free. He also stressed the importance of the Internet and advised writers to purchase the URLs of their yet-to-be-published (or, for that matter, yet-to-be-written) book titles.
For Ithaca resident and aspiring author Jemma Macera, Frishman’s advice was just what she was looking for to help her market her book on her experience with Alzheimer’s. “I’m totally computer illiterate,” she says (and it wasn’t just modesty; during Frishman’s talk, Macera raised her hand and asked what a URL is*). “I need help. I’m so delighted I’m here because Rick is giving the help I need, or he can point me in the right direction.”
* URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is a reference or address to a page or resource on the Internet. For example, the ICView’s URL is https://www.ithaca.edu/icview.