Thinking outside the book cover

I’ve had not one but two completely new and possibly brilliant ideas and I have two brilliant people to thank for them. If they work, they will help me sell more books, but more importantly, they will be the two new shots of adrenaline I need to keep going. In this preoccupation with trying to sell books and land a publishing contract, I’d forgotten that there are other creative ways to express myself while getting my name “out there.” At least one of them is comedy-specific, but I hope they make you think outside of the confines of the book covers.

The credit for the first idea goes to Josh. He’s about to get up on stage for the first time in twenty years and try stand-up comedy again. He’d done it in his youth and had some success, but ultimately had to stop because the experience was so stressful and literally gut-wrenching. He’s been talking about an open mike night at the bar around the corner for nearly two years, and now that he has a looming deadline, he wants me to do it with him. I’ve said “no” before because while I love comedy, I feel that my calling is to write it, not perform it and because I don’t have any standup material to perform. But for some reason today, maybe because it’s so stinking hot and my brains are melting, it suddenly seemed like a great idea. First of all, I have tons of material – two books worth of it. All I have to do is take the one-liners I’ve been tweeting and put them together with some intro and transitions. Secondly, if I started doing that with any new material, still in draft, I can get instant feedback on what is funny and what may fall flat. I have just over a week to put together a five-minute routine, and I’m so doing it. There will be video evidence posted shortly thereafter and I hope it prompts me to do more open mikes in the future.

The second set of credits goes to my friends, a lovely creative couple who have genuinely “made it” by transitioning from acting and theater directing in their spare time to now running a successful children’s theater company. They are also involved in a monthly event in Melbourne called Crash Test Drama, which brings together scriptwriters, directors, and actors. Imagine this – as an actor, showing up one Saturday morning, receiving your one-sentence audition piece, practicing it for about fifteen minutes, and then getting up on the stage in groups of four or five, for an opportunity to say that sentence in some novel way. A group of writers and directors would then cast you (if you are lucky) in one of 10-minute plays chosen for the day. You’d have about an hour to rehearse and then would have to perform the play in front of the others (you’re allowed to read from the script). Talk about pressure!

I’d participated in Crash Test Drama before, but only as an actor. It didn’t occur to me to submit an excerpt from Shizzle, Inc, until a few weeks ago, when we were having a couples dinner out. We were talking about the next event, and for some reason, maybe because of the relentless heat or too many margaritas, it suddenly seemed like a really good idea to submit an excerpt. I’ve just submitted two – the scene in which Isa and Dad argue about science, housing market, and computers before he helps her with Yomama merger, and the one in which Mr. Hue spouts his dubious business advice while Isa tries to come up with a blame strategy for her failures. I should know by the end of March if I get to be on the other side of the audition game on 22 April.

What do you think? Are there any other ways to blow off humor steam? I’ve been doing it in meetings, too, but the problem is that I can’t follow a laugh with “Oh, you liked that? Then buy my book!” And that’s exactly what I plan on doing at the end of my standup routine. I won’t try to sell it to actors, they are notoriously broke, but in my previous dealings with Crash Test Drama, I was once approached by a TV program director. She wanted to know how she could find me if she ever needed Ukrainian actors instead of Australians trying to fake a Russian accent, and nothing ever came of it, but you never know. This time she may want to option Isa and the gang for a pilot. It could happen.

Hope this prompts a brilliant idea of your own.

22 Comments

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

22 responses to “Thinking outside the book cover

  1. Crash Test Drama sounds like a brilliant idea!

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  2. You are so brave to do stand-up! You will have to let us know how it goes. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Or maybe I should say, break a leg.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wish I had your energy, Ana.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Regarding the stand-up comedy idea: WOW! I’m so impressed that you could even consider doing that!! I know re ‘gut-wrenching’ since I go through it just *thinking* about possibly performing at a folk-music club open-mike night near me!

    BTW, is this a new verb you invented: “the one-liners I’ve been twitting “? Twitting… hmm… is it the Aussie version of tweeting? Inquiring minds wanna know! 😀 Good luck/break a leg, Ana!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love these ideas! You rock! I am in a marketing phase now where I am open to whatever the universe sends my way. Fortunately so far this has only led to me creating a new avatar and making a podcast. So nothing crazy- but we’ll see what happens next. So I admire your spirit! Have a blast!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It sounds like a good approach for testing the comedic elements of your book. It wouldn’t work for everyone because not many authors could deliver it in person, but a novel idea. Interested to hear how it goes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ben, it’s true – stand up is not for every one. I think that’s what makes Crash Test Drama such a good idea for others – you get (semi)professional actors to bring your characters to life. And who knows what else is available – for fantasy authors it maybe hooking up with a cosplay group…

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  8. Good luck with the open mic!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ken

    Ana. I have been following you since the very beginning (we self-published about one month apart), and I’m still rooting for you every day. I hope you don’t mind but I have been referring your ‘marketing’ blitz page around to other independent authors as it really is the go to place to find out what works, and what doesn’t.

    Additionally, I’m mulling ideas where we independent authors can pool our resources and creative minds to form a consortium of active users. No one else is going to help us, why can’t we come up with a way to help ourselves. I’d love to hear any ideas you might have and maybe have a guest blog post with you if you are interested. I don’t have that many followers yet, but am actively trying to gather like-minded individuals to discuss all matters of self-promotion with end goals of acquiring representation.

    Keep plugging away, there are many of us who are rooting for you and the book is great. Haven’t read the second one yet as I fell guilty when I spend time reading when I should be writing or promoting.

    Take care
    Ken Wheeler

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the kind words, Ken! And of course, please tell others about the marketing page, that’s why I started it. In terms of a consortium, I’m not sure what you had in mind, but I found KBoards to be a good platform, although you have to be thick-skinned, as those with more experience are sometimes harsh on newbies. I would love to do a guest post, but perhaps in July? I have this new job of 4 months and our financial year ends in June, the workload is crazy. Plus, I am doing the literary speed-dating in June, so I will have something interesting to talk about after that.

      Liked by 1 person

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