Official Site of Author
Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 10:07 am
Turning the page: Former TV industry insider finds second career as an author Story and photo by Adam Gaub Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc.
His first career, more than three decades in network television broadcasting at ABC, brought Frederick Fichman into contact with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars and preeminent power brokers.
It wasn’t until he retired from that business and moved to Maricopa three years ago, however, that Fichman began a shift into a spotlight of his own.
Tucked away in an unassuming neighborhood in the Province subdivision, the home in which Fichman lives with his wife has become an alcove of literary activity in his retirement years.
More than two dozen books of various types have been published by Fichman under his own name or various pseudonyms – all made possible, he said, by the ease of self-publishing in the digital era. He even recently completed a how-to guide for self-publishing that is available for purchase for Kindle, Kobo or Nook.
Fichman said his experience in writing and self-publishing should be an inspiration to others who may be hesitant to make that first keystroke in the journey.
“You’ve always got something you can write about,” said Fichman, who studied journalism and English at the University of Kansas. “Some people have that hidden path where they have a ‘50 Shades of Gray’ in them and not know it.”
His love of writing was not something that began once he hit retirement age. His first major book, SETI, was originally designed as a script to become a screenplay in the mid 80s.
“I had started working with the producer of the ‘Karate Kid,’ but then Columbia Pictures got sold and (its head) David Putnam was out, so the screenplay never came to be,” Fichman said.
Disappointed but undeterred, Fichman turned the science fiction screenplay into a novel, of which he has now added a sequel and is adding a third book to complete the trilogy more than 20 years after the first book in the series was published.
While fiction writing – science fiction, in particular – is something Fichman greatly enjoys, he has found his niche in educational nonfiction.
His first major foray into that field is the “Visit the Zoo” series, which has been critically acclaimed by the World Zoo Association for its “little-known facts that will astonish young minds,” was published in 12 separate volumes in e-book format.
Fichman embraces technology such as smartphones and tablet computers as a way to create an increased demand for the types of nonfiction works he pulls together.
“I was at the Phoenix Zoo about a year ago, and I heard kids asking their parents questions that they didn’t have the answers to,” Fichman said. “I thought (‘Visit the Zoo’) would be perfect so that people can use it as a reference right there. The idea is to be almost like a docent, walking right with them.”
Taking the photos himself and researching the information he used from a multitude of sources, Fichman took the same approach and applied it to other guides he has authored on various states and national parks across the Southwest.
Fichman is always coming up with new ideas on both the fiction and nonfiction side of things, taking some time these next few months to explore the Grand Canyon and northern Arizona for some of his upcoming nonfiction works.
Some, such as the ‘Visit the Zoo’ series, may be published, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily complete. One of Fichman’s projects for the months ahead is to add interactive materials, including video, to each of the volumes in that series.
While the means for publishing materials have become available to nearly everyone, Fichman said the key to being successful is learning to self-market – something he didn’t have to worry about as much when “SETI” was published by Penguin Books in 1990.
“You don’t have a marketing machine behind you. You’ve got to haul the mail yourself,” he said.
That’s not just true of the marketing piece, but of doing the research for his fiction and nonfiction works and being dedicated to writing on days on even when it doesn’t come easy.
“I’m working more now than I was before (I retired),” said Fichman, who often puts in 12-hour days writing and developing his various books. “But I’ve got more ideas than hours in the day to work on them all.”
For more information about his books, visit Fichman’s website at FrederickFichman.com.
Posted: Tuesday, December 24, 2013, 9:00 pm
The Daily Courier - Prescott, Arizona
Local man transitions from creating television shows to sci-fi, children's books
The Daily Courier
PRESCOTT VALLEY - While working an 8-hour day may seem like an eternity for some people, working 12 to 14-hours at a time is normal for author Frederick Fichman.
"Sometimes it's just not enough time. Time disappears when you're sitting there banging away at the computer," Fichman said. "All of a sudden you're into a story. It's like you go into an altered state because you are so into what you are doing."
Fichman's most popular work is "Seti", which was published by Penguin Books in 1990. The novel originally began as a screenplay, according to Fichman.
"I was working with David Putnam, head of Columbia Pictures, to make "SETI" into a movie. It was very close to the time when "Close Encounters" came out," Fichman said. "They paid me some money for it, had me do a couple of rewrites, and it was put on the fast track. But then Columbia got sold, so David Putnam was out and all the line of films he slated to do were out."
Not wanting to give up on "Seti", Fichman pitched the book to Penguin Books. The company agreed to publish the novel. The book sold more than 12,000 copies in the U.S. and was picked up by publishers in England, Canada and Australia. He is currently working on a third book to complete the trilogy.
In addition to writing science fiction and mystery novels, Fichman has penned a variety of non-fiction works.
His "Visit the Zoo" 12-book series educates children, teens and adults on 120 animals often seen in zoos across the country. The books include information such as population status of each animal, if they are endangered or not, and descriptions of their natural habitat, diet and longevity. Fichman took all of the photographs contained in the series.
"The books are like a docent walking right with you," Fichman said.
Fichman's zoo series recently caught the attention of Prince William of England. Fichman proudly show off a letter he received from The Duke of Cambridge's private secretary, Miguel Head, on Sept. 30 singing the book's praises.
"His Royal Highness is certainly supportive of all and any efforts to encourage young people to appreciate the world around them," the letter read.
Fichman credits much of his success to the development of new technology and e-books. He has published e-books through Nook, Kindle, Kobo. However, with that success comes a lot of work.
"You have to be constantly marketing and promoting your book until it takes off. There may be a million books up on Kindle, so you are competing will all those books," Fichman said. "But you know what, even though it takes time and it takes work, there's something satisfying about doing it yourself."
While Fichman studied Journalism and English at the University of Kansas, writing wasn't his first career path.
Fichman worked as a television executive for ABC for nearly 30 years. He began his stint in the industry when he was just 21 years old, working for cartoon giants Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. The company produced a variety of popular cartoons such as The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones.
Fichman's job at Hanna-Barbera was to check all of the background cells that would be photographed to create the cartoons.
"It was all hand-done back then, there was no computer animation like there is today," Fichman said.
Fichman was promoted to a variety of jobs throughout his career in the television industry. From running ABC's music department, juggling a $50 million budget, to writing scripts for shows like "The Odd Couple", Fichman steadily climbed the corporate ladder in Hollywood.
Working in the television industry, offered Fichman the unique opportunity to mix and mingle with Hollywood A-listers and power brokers.
"I had so many experiences I could sit here all day and tell you stories about the people I met. It runs from presidents to celebrities," Fichman said, laughing. "I could write a book."
For more information about Fichman's books, visit www.frederickfichman.com.