Author Spotlight: Frank Morelli

See full issue for 2018 05-28

If you had a writing motto what would it be?
I'm the guy who can find a sports analogy in just about any situation on the planet, so my writing motto is "just do it" which is easily the most overused tagline in history. What is not overused, however, is a writer's sense of autonomy. We're so conditioned as individuals to spend our lives in pursuit of money and security. These are important resources, don't get me wrong, but a writer needs to forget about these vital requirements sometimes if there's any hope of completing work at the level and consistency that would gain even a shred of attention. For me, I decided to "just do it" two years ago when I informed the headmaster at my school that I'd be taking a leave of absence from my classroom and pursuing my writing career exclusively. I had no idea how or if I'd make a single dime, how I'd pay bills, or how I'd get my work in front of publishers. My headmaster was so impressed by my passion in this respect that he offered me a position as writer-in-residence, which provided me with a small amount of pay to follow my dream and teach a few classes per week. The rest is history. Best decision of my life. Even though I didn't fill the bank vaults with overflowing treasure chests during this period of time, I did fill my notebooks with some of the best writing I've ever been able to accomplish to date. Now I have a book in print and another one to follow next year. I also have two more novels and a screenplay I'm currently shopping. So don't wait for the right time to achieve your dream. Just get out there and do it already.

Where do you draw your inspiration?
I get my ideas through my daily observations of humanity. I'm a quiet, unassuming person for the most part, and I like to make meaning of the words, actions, and deeds of ordinary people. I also draw from personal experience and attempt to use my reflections to provide commentary on things I see as injustices in the world. I'm kind of obsessive about stuff like that. Imbalance really bothers me and I often use my anger or sadness or shock to motivate me as I write.

What is one interesting fact about you?
This might sound weird, but I have no spleen. You read that correctly. No. Spleen. I was born with one, but then tragically lost it in a collision that involved a baserunner, a shortstop (that was me), and a botched double-play ball. Long story short, I suffered significant internal bleeding, lost an organ, spent about eight months doing rehab, and was left with a pretty solid story to tell at cocktail parties. Oh, and a nasty scar the origins of which may or may not change in severity and heroism to match a particular audience. What can I say? I'm a storyteller.

Have you learned anything from the self publishing process and would you do anything differently next time?
No Sad Songs is my debut novel, so it’s really the first time I’ve had to think of marketing strategies. I relied heavily on advice from more experienced people in the industry including my publisher, Jon Wilson, and numerous authors who have enjoyed prolonged success in the business. I don’t think there’s a secret recipe for marketing books, so it’s important to reflect back on the strategies you used and make adjustments as you move forward. It’s also important to always be open to trying new approaches. If there's anything I'd do differently next time in terms of marketing it be to start earlier in the process. There's really no telling how long it will take take get reviews back and find locations to hold events. The early you start the easier it will be to reach your goals without having a heart attack.

What has been your most successful marketing strategy?
Marketing is tough for an independent press because many of the large chain bookstores are not all that interested in shelving a book that doesn’t have a massive publisher name behind it. Therefore, we have to take different avenues. At Fish Out of Water we engage with independent bookstores, librarians, and schools to set up appearances and events. We also connect with local media outlets to help us promote these events and connect us to readers. We rely heavily on spreading the word through social media and by eliciting reviews from major reviewers, book bloggers, and even your common reader. It’s not easy, but it’s kind of cool to see your book pop up all across the country and know that your marketing strategy played a part in it.

What is the best kept secret you have found in regard to indie publishing?
I'm not sure if this is a "best kept secret" to people with publishing experience, but to a first-time author used to receiving rejections from literary magazines on the regular I was surprised by how supportive the indie publishing community is. Once I began the process and started contacting established indie authors for advice and to obtain blurbs, I couldn't believe how open and helpful other authors were willing to be. I still communicate on a regular basis with many of these authors, who happen to be people whose books I've adored for a much longer period than I've been an author. If your next book is slated to be released by an indie publisher, be sure to reach out to the community (myself included). We all know what it's like trying to get that first novel over the finish line and most of us are more than willing to help you do it.

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Read No Sad Songs  

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