Tag Archives: comedy

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.

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#ComedyBookWeek is coming – do you want to participate or help?

Marketing funny is hard. If you are a humor writer, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. If you are a humor consumer – it may come as a surprise.

Before I started trying to market my books, I naively assumed that funny should almost sell itself – after all, the biggest blockbusters are usually comedies, and isn’t it a natural for the word of mouth? When it comes to books, however, humor is a tiny category, dominated by autobiographies of famous comedians. In fact, most ebook marketing sites don’t even have a mailing list for it, so I’ve had to slot Shizzle, In into Action&Adventure or YA with mixed results.

I was reminded once again of how few comedy writers are out there when I joined KBoards and saw the invitations for author cross-promotion. They were all either for fantasy, paranormal, or romance. Or the combination of the three. That makes sense, of course – those are the largest categories of ebooks on Amazon. I was sad for all of three minutes, and then I did what I tend to – take some initiative.

I decided to start a humor/chicklit cross-promo. I was a little nervous at first – after all, I’ve been a member for all of five minutes, but the response has been overwhelming – so far a total of 24 authors have signed up! Not only that, one of them made a banner for the event, so we are all legit now:

humor_book

So what is planned? At the moment, the main emphasis is on gathering numbers, and starting to promote #ComedyBookWeek as an event designed to help readers discover new Indie humor authors. All funny books are welcome, by the way – chick lit, satire, whatever, as long as it makes people laugh.

The rough plan at the moment is that during the event week, participants will post blogs with links to participating books, post interviews, guest blogs, tweets, and whatever else they usually do with their social media platforms. The aim will be to generate buzz with the hashtag #ComedyBookWeek, to help people connect and find new funny reads. We also plan to approach book reviewers and maybe some outrageous ideas as well – suggestions are welcome!

If you want to participate by submitting your book or by offering to host an interview or review, please let me know, or join us on KBoards!

 

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I need your help!

I finally got my draft cover from the designer! Maybe because the buildup to this day was so intense, I can’t help but be a little disappointed. I know it’s just the concept, and it looks professional, but at the first look neither one of the two versions grabbed me:
ShizzleInc_cover1 small ShizzleInc_cover2 small

After a few hours of staring, however, it occurred to me that it’s not about whether I like it, it’s all about whether you do. Do you? Please let me know what you think. I’ve decided to wait a couple of days before I get back to the designer, but here are my thoughts so far:

What I DO like about this concept:

1. It looks like a “chicklit” cover, which is helpful for potential buyers.
2. It’s simple, with bold lettering.
3. Cute treatment of the “S” in my last name.

What I DON’T like:

1. It’s not funny or original and does not let the reader know that it’s a bizzare comedy.
2. It’s static and the girl has no emotion. None of the adorable innocence and bewildered ignorance of Isa.
3. The lift does not say “corporate offices of a billionaire”. It looks like she’s just going to work in any office.
4. The title and author name are competing in size.

This was my mockup, provided to the designer:
Cover mock up bubble girl and man arms

I wanted a juxtaposition of a bubbly girl and a cutthroat corporate world. The torn paper represents the chaos Isa brings to the empire of Shizzle, Inc. Once again, though, it’s my opinion. What do you think?

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