So I’ve finally released an eBook that’s gaining some modest traction. It’s called the little book of SITCOM, and since you’ve been looking over my shoulder for the past year or so as I’ve tried to start a fire in this little self-publishing model of mine, I thought I’d share both the story of how it came about and a couple of key lessons we can take away.
Years ago, as some of you know, I wrote a book called The Comic Toolbox: How To Be Funny Even If You’re Not. It was, and remains, a steady seller because it makes the inviting promise to new writers (both of comedy and not) that, hey, this is easy and you can do it, too. Well, the book came to the attention of some guys in London who were writing a book about writing situation comedy, and wanted to borrow a concept or two from my work. Of course I was flattered, and agreeable, but when I took a look at their manuscript, I realized that there was much more to say on the subject of sitcom than they had addressed in their slender (15,000 word) effort. So I proposed to write a “companion” to their book, of roughly the same length, amplifying and expanding upon their themes by sharing some of the tricks and tips I’ve accumulated in two decades of writing situation comedy and teaching others to do the same. For a percentage of their royalties, I would let them exploit my content in the United Kingdom, while reserving the right to publish it myself here at home. Of course the concepts of “there” and “here” are a bit murky on this globalized globe of ours, but in practical terms it came down to this: they got Amazon.co.uk and I got Amazon.com.
I sat down and whipped out the text in two weeks. It came in at 22,000 words, and I purposely put the word “little” in the title, so that buyers would know that they were getting a small, modestly priced workbook, and not some giant tome. Well, almost from the moment I released it, and without much marketing muscle from me, the book has turned into a steady seller. I think there are a few reasons for this. [Read more…]