Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and seventy-first, is of author and talk show radio host Francine Silverman. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Francine Silverman is a New York City girl, born and bred. As a child she loved writing letters and “poems” to friends and kept a diary. Ironically, her first published piece was at age 12 or 13 in the New York Post to columnist Dr. Rose Franzblau, complaining about her father’s failings. Fran never had any parental support on her writing and only discovered she had talent when a teacher at Bronx Community College gave her an A on a piece she penned.
Her first published article was in a judo publication. She and her husband belonged to a YMCA gym that had a track above the gym and they would watch the judo class below (their nephew was in the class). She got the idea to write about the beloved judo instructor while jogging around the perimeter. She recalls calling a writer she knew – the father of her daughter’s friend at school – and asking his take on the piece. He said it was full of clichés. It was but she was devastated!!
Fran honed her writing skills as a newspaper reporter. While married and raising a child, she worked at a local weekly newspaper as a sales person. She never liked it and one day interviewed a local doctor. She wrote the article and nervously asked the editor if she would publish it. Voila, she did, and from then on contributed articles. She remembers when she left the weekly, the staff said goodbye without fanfare. They were used to reporters and photographers leaving for greener pastures. She went on to freelance for a daily newspaper, doing feature articles. She was eventually hired by the daily and part of her responsibility was to go out and interview the man on the street about local issues – and take their pictures. Writing for newspapers was a wonderful experience and she recommends it to aspiring writers. Of course, there are less newspapers today but the Internet has many opportunities for writers.
During the time at the weekly and afterwards, she took myriad writing courses. A funny thing happened at one of them. She told the instructor where she would be working and he pooh-poohed the weekly. He must have assumed it was a rag. (Its editor later won a Pulitzer Prize!) A few months later, the instructor contacted her to ask if they would publish an article of his. Wonders never cease!
The second half of Fran’s life began with her ezine, Book Promotion Newsletter, launched in March 2003. She had written two guidebooks, Catskills Alive (Hunter Publishing 2000 and 2003) and Long Island Alive (Hunter Publishing 2003), but didn’t know how to market them or know any authors with whom to seek guidance. The ezine began with 10 authors and grew into the thousands. Recognizing the ingenuity of her subscribers through the questionnaires she sent them and their newsletter contributions, Fran took 325 of their best marketing strategies and put them into a book, Book Marketing from A-Z (Infinity Publishing 2003).
A reviewer at www.bvsreviews.com wrote: “In this book, more than 300 authors give the reader some insight on the who, what, where and when and how of marketing a book…There are a few known entities here, but for the most part, the authors in this book don’t have the recognition of someone like Stephen King, John Grisham… But that doesn’t mean their advice isn’t worthy. On the contrary, these folks get to the core of how to get your book out there, published and recognized.”
Truthfully, of all the books she’s written, that’s the only one that’s timeless.
Her last book, Talk Radio Wants You – An Intimate Guide to 700 Shows and How to Get Invited (McFarland & Co. 2009) was the result of starting her publicity service when she discovered how easy it was to place her clients on radio shows. Radio hosts need guests, she soon realized. (That’s about when I added the handle, “Talk Radio Advocate” to my name). Clients are comprised of subscribers and radio hosts she’s contacted. Tip – put something about your service in your email’s signature line – Fran has “Want to be on radio? Inquire about my low-cost on-line publicity service” and it really pulls.
The book was the precursor to her 16 ebooks of talk radio shows. Both book and ebooks contain all the information a potential guest needs before contacting a host, i.e., show title, host’s name, guest profile, theme, contact information, and best method of contact. Her ebooks are priced according to the number of shows and she mainly sells them through her newsletter and Smashwords, a wonderful affiliate.
In 2013 Fran started a blog devoted to radio hosts and guests. http://talkradioadvocate.blogspot.com. Having a blog inspired her to contact other bloggers to see if they would post her interviews with clients. She is still in the process of sending Q&As to clients who responded to her emails. She then formulates questions based on their bios and website. She spends inordinate time searching for blogs that match her client’s genres. That’s how she found Morgen Bailey, who, she says, “has been wonderful about posting her writing / marketing authors on her site”.
For years, Fran was pitching only radio hosts on behalf of her clients. When she started pitching bloggers she discovered that some of her clients who were hard to place on radio are the darlings of bloggers.
Fran is host of Fraternizing with Fran – where interesting people come to chat. Fran asks clients for their bios with bulleted points of the areas they are comfortable talking about. Many of her guests are clients, since she can use their bios as source material for questions. More details from http://www.blogtalkradio.com/franalive.
And now from the author herself:
Each new project is fraught with problems, surprises – and lessons.
At one point I wanted to become a travel writer, and went on a number of jaunts for travel writers – to Prince Edward Island and Indiana. You were expected to have something published after the trip. I had an article about Prince Edward Island published in Travel Agent magazine but the Indiana piece didn’t go so well. As I recall, I wrote about Abe Lincoln’s home in Indiana and sent it to a small publication. The editor changed my wording and a reader was up in arms about “my” mistake.
I’m betting that no freelance writer had as many rejections from magazines as me, all saying, ”Sorry, we are seeking ‘fresh ideas.’”
So, I couldn’t come with “fresh ideas” for Woman’s Day or Good Housekeeping….There were plenty of second tier publications to pitch. And I did. The subjects I covered were quite diverse: The history of the Dutch colony that would become Manhattan for Heritage Quest; the origin of the zipper for Fiberarts; The Steel Pier, about Atlantic City’s famous boardwalk in New Jersey, for Atlantic City Magazine; two articles for Editor & Publisher Magazine – the history of the first modern comic character, “The Yellow Kid,” and a profile of the founder of The New York Times, Adolph S. Ochs, in 1851, which was reprinted in the San Diego Jewish Times; medicine in China for Doctor’s Review; profile of a jazz couple for Interrace Magazine; the world of women’s books for American Bookseller; story of a swimming coach and his contender for the 1996 Olympics for In Flight Magazine; and a profile of the founder of ether for an anesthesia publication. Surprise, surprise, I was contacted by The Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology in Illinois – a member was interested in seeing the article I wrote about a decade ago. I dug it out and faxed it over and a few days later received a complimentary t-shirt. Now I jog with Crawford Long’s face on my chest!!
I came up with idea for the Catskills guidebook when my husband I spent a weekend at an inn in the Catskills near the Delaware River. One morning we walked down to the river and I remember thinking “It’s so beautiful – where is everybody?” In its heyday, the Catskills was known for its Borscht Belt, where celebrities like Danny Kaye and Eddie Fisher got their start. Air conditioning and air travel were virtually non-existent in the 1950’s and each summer and on holidays millions of people drove 100 miles from New York City to the cool mountains. Today the grand hotels are gone but people still think of the Catskills as the Borscht Belt though it only constitutes a small portion of the 4000 square mile region.
Because I was writing a book, I got comped at B&Bs and sometimes my husband came along. We liked climbing the mountains because there are so many relics along the trails. Once we joined a group and I wrote an article about the trek. One day I met the editor of the travel section of the Philadelphia Inquirer in a crowded hotel lobby and proposed my article. He said to send it to him and he published it in two-page spread with my photos. (The article was reprinted in The North Jersey Herald News). He called the piece “a good read.” What a thrill!
It never would have occurred to me to become a publicist. One day, I had lunch with a subscriber who recommended packaging my services. So I proposed to my subscribers – representation on the Internet, a subscription to the newsletter and an interview on my radio show (at that time I had a radio show for authors). I charged $60 a year for the service (the fee is now $125) and to my surprise it was easier to collect that fee than the $5 yearly fee for the ezine! An astounding number of subscribers signed up.
The newsletter has not only helped launch my various radio shows, publicity service and books, but I look upon my subscribers as “family.” When I have a problem, usually with my computer, I put the question in the ezine and inevitably my subscribers respond with advice. When I asked those with blogs if they would post my Q&As at least four stepped up to the plate and posted some of them. Sometimes putting together the bi-weekly newsletter is a nuisance but I would never give it up.
Talk Radio Wants You came about because I had made so many radio contacts as a publicist. The dearth of information on radio websites, especially regarding show theme and guest criteria. Moreover, the existing radio lists in Bacon’s Media, for example, only included terrestrial shows and no Internet shows. They also didn’t tell you which shows welcome guests and which are responsive to emails or phone calls.
I was determined to find a traditional publisher, having discovered that print-on-demand publishers have no professional editor and will print exactly what you send them. I could have written porn and it would have been printed!!
I assumed I needed an agent and found one on the Internet, signing a three–month contract. During that period, I kept asking her about progress and she kept telling me to be patient. I soon realized that I had neglected to identify the genre of the book – reference. I learned she had been targeting New York publishers, which weren’t right for my book. I may not have needed an agent at all. Lo and behold, I looked in Writers Market and found a well-respected, academic reference publisher that deals directly with authors. The editor there strung me along for weeks until one day I said to him, “how about publishing the book already?” My manuscript was transferred to another editor and ultimately published.
I used to spend lots of time in Barnes & Noble and Borders. One day, I picked up Writer’s Journal and noticed a section in the magazine called Writer’s Notebook. I sent them a short piece about my agent fiasco and it was published in the March / April 2009 edition.
You can find more about Fran and her writing via…
- Website: http://www.talkradioadvocate.com
- Blog: http://talkradioadvocate.blogspot.com
- Radio Show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/franalive
- and her other Talk Show-related eBooks include…
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