Monday, April 4, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Phil Fragasso, author of 'Going Both Ways'

Phil Fragasso sold his first article at the age of 16. Since then he has written and published a wide variety of books and articles, including the recent bittersweet love story, Still Counting. After many years as a corporate marketer, he left to pursue endeavors that were more fulfilling personally and more contributory on a societal level. Today he focuses his time on writing and teaching.

His latest book is Going Both Ways.

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About the Book:

Author: Phil Fragasso
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Pages: 276
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Satire/Humor/Mainstream Fiction

After a prolonged rant about how easy women have it, Patrick awakens as a woman (Trish). But rather than staying a woman, he's male one day and female the next. The male and female characters share a single mindset – so Patrick is always in Trish's head and vice versa.

As much as Patrick tries to keep his situation private, he eventually becomes a worldwide sensation sought after by luminaries as diverse as the Pope and Hugh Hefner. While attending a party, Patrick meets a rap superstar named Gi-Slam. Their connection is immediate and powerful.

Gi-Slam's onstage biker-bitch character contrasts with her genuine girl-next-door persona (Gigi). Gigi is bi-sexual and she has a relationship with both Trish and Patrick. As the relationship with Gigi deepens, Trish takes her leave and Patrick experiences true love for the first time.

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Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

As a novelist, most of my research comes about during the course of my daily activities. I like to write about relationships – pulling them apart and (sometimes) putting them back together – so the most effective research comes from watching and listening. I’ve always had a lot of female friends, and in my heart of hearts I do believe women are superior to men in the vast majority of ways. I think that’s why my two most recent novels feature guys who tend towards frat-boy boorishness while the women are far more evolved and mature.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I have a literary agent who sold two of my recent nonfiction books, but he handles very little fiction and declined to represent Going Both Ways. I tried to find another agent who specialized in fiction but couldn’t find any takers. Many of them said how much they liked the writing, but they declined primarily because I was an unknown in fiction. I loved the book and decided to self-publish – but I first tried some small independent publishers. That’s when Wild Rose Press and I discovered each other – and I couldn’t be happier.

If published by a publisher, what was your deciding factor in going with them?
The Wild Rose Press has an excellent reputation among authors. They have a strong corporate culture focused on frequent communications. Their editing and publishing process is very efficient and involves the author at every step of the way. I was impressed with the way they considered my query, requested the complete manuscript, and kept me informed as it moved from editor to outside readers and then up to senior editor for contract.

If published by a publisher, are you happy with the price they chose?

I think the eBook price of $4.99 is excellent. The paperback is a little pricey at $15.99 – but I fully understand that small publishers struggle with printed books and often do it more as a courtesy for the authors than for their own bottom line.

How did you choose your cover?

My publisher has a team of independent designers who design the bookcovers. Once the book was in the pre-production process, I was given access to samples from all the designers. One designer, Debbie Taylor, jumped out at me as having the kind of style I was looking for. I was able to provide specific input following the first round of design and the final result was dead-on.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?
I edit as I go and then do two in-depth copy edits before I consider a manuscript “final.” I’m not very good at outlining. I tend to have a general idea about the primary characters and storyline – and then start writing. I very rarely know how the story will resolve itself, and that was indeed the case with Going Both Ways. I loved the idea of a gender-switch that alternated every other day. I wrote almost half the book without knowing how the story would end. Some writers get freaked out by that, but I find it energizing. To me it means the characters have taken over the story and they will lead it wherever it needs to go. And that’s exactly what happened. The lead character got into a situation that forced the book to move in a new direction – a direction that gave it more power, breadth, and resonance (if I say so myself).

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?
Making video trailers is my favorite part of book marketing. I use Final Cut on my Mac and I edit like crazy to make sure the pace, images, and music all work well together. I became even more disciplined with cutting extraneous material because Twitter only allows 30-second videos. Take a look here and let me know what you think:

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?
I think it’s a tactic that’s better suited to self-published books. Publishers make a big investment when they sign an author and hope to receive a return on their commitment of time, resources and money. Having said that, I do believe in raffle-style giveaways of the sort that Goodreads offers and have participated in several for my books. The exception to all this, of course, is books that are part of a series. If the reader likes the free book, they’ll likely buy additional titles in the series.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?
First, stay with it. Bringing a book to life is akin to having a baby – and similarly is sometimes accompanied by post-partum depression. On publication day and the weeks immediately after, sales and promotional opportunities are all you can think about. For any author who’s not a household name, initial sales tend to be low – probably lower than expected – and it’s easy to become disheartened. In addition, marketing takes a ton of time – 25% to 50% of your day – and is virtually impossible to measure; so it’s another catalyst for disappointment. You simply have to believe in your work, believe it will find an audience, and stay with it.
Second, write something else. The best way to boost sales and visibility of Book ABC is to publish Book XYZ. In addition to helping sales of the first book, writing another keeps your head in the game. Keeps reminding you that writing is what you do and what you’ll always do.
Third, sit back and enjoy the moment. Writing a book is a big accomplishment. Everyone thinks they have a book in them, but very few make the commitment to go through with it. I’m a believer in celebrating the big and little things in life. Too many people focus solely on the past or the future and miss the opportunity to savor the present.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out?
I added the book to my website, Facebook author page, and Twitter account masthead as soon as the cover was finalized. I created a short “teaser” video trailer that I promoted on all three of those platforms. I signed up for this tour with “Pump Up Your Book,” added the book to Readers Alley to encourage reviews, and created a Goodreads giveaway that ended one week after the publication date.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?
In my mind, this book is destined to be a movie. It has all the characteristics of a big-screen hit – humor, sex, and suspense. So my plan is to keep promoting it as a book, trying to boost sales and visibility, and either write a screenplay myself or pitch it as a film adaptation.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?
Writers write in order to be read – not to garner fame or riches – but simply to be read. Going Both Ways was a true labor of love for me and I want it to be read by as wide an audience as possible. I believe it’s a book that will make readers laugh out loud while also delivering eye-opening insights. I always encourage fans to spread the word and to contact me via any of the social media platforms to share their thoughts and ask questions.

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