Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Advice for Indie Authors: Local book signings - sell yourself!

One of the hardest things to come to terms with as an indie author is that it is up to you to sell yourself. If you had the luxury of a publishing deal, you would have a team doing that for you! But you don't, so it is time to get busy!

There isn't any real rocket science when it comes to getting a book signing at a local bookstore. A good press release will help, but it's really just about making contact and asking if you can do one. I was actually surprised at how easy it was to arrange a book signing. At the start of September I went into my local Waterstones in Sutton and simply asked the manager if I could do one - that was it! I had seen other authors doing book signings before so I thought why not - the worst they can say is no.

But as I said, they were quite open to the idea. I simply explained to the manager that I was a local author and wondered if they held any events or book signings for local authors. At the end of the day they are a business and they have to think of ways of getting people through the doors and then buying copies of the books of the shelfs. Having an author in their store signing books is a bonus.

Initially they arranged for me host an event called An Evening With Steven Scaffardi. The idea would be to have people pay (yep, I said pay!) £2 per ticket to come and spend an hour and a half with me as I talked about my stand-up comedy and The Drought for an event at the end of November.

Two tickets got sold! I couldn't believe it either - that is two more tickets than I expected, and it wasn't even my mum who bought them. It was a total stranger!

But two strangers staring at me for 90 minutes for the paltry sum of £4 wasn't seen as a good business model, so it was decided we would switch the to a daytime event where I would simply stand in the shop and sign copies of my novel for anyone who wanted to buy a copy. (Pen Press are helpful at this stage, as they will make sure the bookstore where you have arranged book signings are fully stocked with copies of your novel.)

In the meantime, I simply went on to Waterstones website and looked at where the nearest stores were to me, and then fired off an email to those stores asking for further book signing opportunities, and I am pleased to say I got one at the store in Croydon on December 2.

As for yesterdays book signing, I think it went well. I managed to sell 10 copies (including one copy to the lady who had bought the two tickets to come and spend an evening with me!). The most challenging thing is making yourself speak to people in the store, and to keep doing it for 3-4 hours. Most people won't be interested, but they will be polite enough as long as you don't hound them too much and you just have to remember that these people are in a bookstore for a reason, and it is not to buy a kettle! Sooner or later you will find someone who is interested in the genre of your novel, and the opportunity to buy a signed copy of a book is a good selling point. And then we are back to word of mouth - if they like it then they'll tell there friends about it.

It is certainly something I highly recommend any indie authors doing, especially around the Xmas period. You don't have anything to lose and everything to gain. Not only will you sell copies of your book to people who did not know who you were previously, but I now have copies of my novel stocked in both the Sutton (and soon the Croydon) branch of Waterstones. For me, that is a huge achievment and a big step in the right direction.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Advice for Indie Authors: Sharing my book with the world... literally!

In a previous post I mentioned that I would be sending copies of my book out into the big, bad, wide world to fend for themselves. Well sort of.

Bookcrossing.com is a community of book fans - old school printed books and none of this eBook malarky! The idea is simple, yet brilliant. You take one of your books and you find it a new home, whether this is by passing it on to a friend to read or leaving it on a park bench for someone to find. The only catch is that you register it on Bookcrossing.com and generate an individual code to identify that book by. When someone is given the book or finds a copy that you have sent out into the "wild", they can then go onto Bookcrossing.com and insert that code to submit their own comments about the book. That person is then encouraged to pass the book on again once they have read it to continue the cycle.

For me this was a brilliant way of getting my novel in front of people who would have never heard of me or my book.

Originally I planned to send out 25 copies, but I didn't quite make that number (I managed a measly four copies!), but it is certainly something I am going to stick with. I left two copies of the book on the London tube (they have never been registered and no feedback has been posted yet), but I was contacted via Bookcrossing.com by two readers - one in the Netherlands and one in Australia - requesting copies of my novel.

Within a couple of weeks of sending the books out they had been registered to say they had been received, and in the last couple of days both of the readers posted comments and feedback after reading a copy of The Drought. Both copies have now been passed on and hopefully the cycle will continue.

In 2012 I want to send out a few more copies to see what happens, because I believe that word of mouth really is powerful tool, especially for an indie author. For every person who reads my book and enjoys it, maybe they tell three of their friends, and they tell three of their friends, and so on and so forth.

I am under no illusions that this is going to ensure I shift hundreds of copies of my novel, but it is just another piece of the puzzle that is self-marketing. Happy Christmas all and if you are looking for a late Christmas present (for a man or a woman!) then why not check out The Drought.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Coverage in Event magazine!

So this weeks last-minute entry into the Next Big Thing comedy competition got me a little mention on the Event magazine website. You can check out the article below or be clicking here. There was also coverage on the Sternberg Clarke blog.

Event Christmas party rocks Jewel Covent Garden 
by Chantelle Dietz

Event's annual Christmas bash rolled into the West End last night, the great and the good of the industry gathering at Jewel Covent Garden to celebrate the festive season. 

Were you there, or did you miss out last night? Make sure you check out the pictures here. 

The drinks were flowing and the entertainment schedule jam-packed with guests hearing performances from five acts in the first round of The Next Big Thing talent competition. 

Singers Kirsty Keogh, George Ide and Event’s Melody David impressed the judges, but it was comedian Steven Scaffardi and songstress Natalie Bunting who got the most claps from audience, sending them through to the semi final at International Confex in March. 

As the party picked up carnival dancers strutted their stuff on the bar and an exotic dancer roamed the room with a snake draped around her neck.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Next Big Thing?

So the thing about those indefinite breaks is that they are indefinite! My break from stand-up comedy came to an abrupt end last night when I was asked to stand in as a contestant in The Next Big Thing talent competition. Allow me to try and explain...

Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon drinking at my works office Xmas party. I work for a media company called Haymarket, and around 6pm we headed to Jewel Bar in Covent Garden for the Event magazine Xmas party. Event is one of the magazines we produce at Haymarket, and as media partner with International ConFex, which is the UK's leading event for event organisers, they host one of the first round heats of The Next Big Thing talent competition (which is run by International ConFex in conjunction with entertainment agency Sternberg Clarke) at this Xmas party.

Okay, are you still with me? Good! So we are in the taxi heading to Covent Garden when we get a phone call from Event magazine editor Jeremy King. He tells us that two people have pulled out of the talent competition and he needs two people to stand in.

Remember, I'd had a few drinks at this point so my early retirement from stand-up comedy was a little bit blurred, and I agreed to stand in along with a colleague of mine, Meldoy David, who would sing.

We got there just in time to make the contest, and when it came for me to take to the stage (or to stand on one of the sofas because they were having technical problems with the mic), I was already half-pissed. Getting drunk and getting on stage is something I vowed I would never do after I had crashed and burned after getting a little too drunk earflier on in the year.

But with my inhibitions thrown to one side and a bottle of beer in hand, I gave it a go. There were four judges watching, including Sternberg Clarke director Adam Sternberg, and the feedback was really positive.

After the six acts had done their thing, it was down to the audience to put their favourite through and then the judges got to choose one act. Singer Natalie Buntting got the audience vote, and the judges gave me the nod!

So this means I am now through to the semi-final in March where I'll be performing at - and this is the best bit - the London Excel! I kid you not! Apparently if I get through to the final, I perform in front of around 1,500 people! And if you win, you get a £1,000, a stand at ConFex 2013, and a 12-month contract with Sternberg Clarke! These guys have the likes of Micky Flanagan and Tim Minchin on their books.

You couldn't make this shit up!

Perhaps I should get some practice in before!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Second interview with the Sutton Guardian

Sophia Sleigh from the Sutton Guardian interviewed me at the Golden Jester comedy competition final last week. Here is her write-up...

Comedy Gold
by Sophia Sleigh

Steven Scaffardi, The Drought, Stand Up Comedy, Stand Up Comedian, Comedian, Comedy, Lad Lit, Chick lit for men, funny books, The final of a comedy competition took place in Sutton last week, writes Sophia Sleigh.

Great Comedy Nights' Golden Jester competition was held at the Holiday Inn, on Wednesday, December 7.

The audience voted for the wittiest stand-up and an X-Factor style panel of judges, including representatives from the Sutton Guardian and hotel manager Marco Firk, 52, decided the overall winner.

The show was the culmination of several months' worth of auditions and was orgainsed by Alan Sellers, 53, from Epsom.

Mr Sellers doubled up as the compere for the night, and joked that out of the 200 comedians who auditioned, they had gone through "the good, the bad, and the ugly" to get to the final five acts.

Steve Scaffardi, 33, frfom Carshalton, came runner-up in the competition, along Chris Blackmore, 17, from Raynes Park.

Mr Scaffardi was the most contemporary comedian, making tongue-in-cheek jokes about the racist tram lady from Croydon and this summer's riots.

He provided cringe-worthy sketches, which made the men in the audience nod their heads in acknowledgment and their girlfriends laugh in embarrassment.

Just after his performance, Mr Scaffardi said: "It's been good fun - stand-up is always something I thought about doing and you get such a good buzz when you do it.

"I take a lot from my experiences and try to find things people can relate to.

"You know by the crowd's reaction how you are doing and tonight's my 50th gig."

The well-deserved winner of the overall competition was Iranian comedian Vahid Jananguard, 58, from Oxford, who had the audience members crying with laughter and was a hit with the judges.

Mr Sellers said: "It was really excellent, it was the first year of the competition and we were using this year as a gauge. We already have 400 comedians entering next year.

"Comedians have heard it was a fair competition and it shows by the fact Vahid won and didn't bring a large audience to support him."

For further information on the Golden Jester competition 2012, visit greatcomedynights.co.uk

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Amazon reader review update

Amazon reader review update
Book reviews for The Drought by Steven Scaffardi...

Amazon Reader Review #14 (Kindle Edition): Brilliant read
This book is one of the funniest I have read in a long time. The author's descriptions and observations are spot on and means that you can really identify with the characters (even as a woman). Cant wait for the next book! 5/5 stars

Amazon Reader Review #15 (Kindle Edition): Badly Behaved Men
This book is a laugh from start to finish and an excellent debut novel by Steven Scaffardi. I suppose this is what you would call `lad-lit' but I'm most definitely a woman and I found the storyline, the characters and the humour every bit a woman's read as well as a man's. The story centres around four blokes - they are blokes, not gentlemen - the main one being Dan, who after treating his girlfriend dreadfully at New Year, finds himself dumped and without on-tap sex. The whole of the story then centres around Dan's desperation to find himself a girlfriend, or at least any female who will sleep with him - `the drought' being the length of time without sex. With the help, or in some cases hinderance, of his trendy mates Rob and Jack and a rather less trendy Ollie, Dan finds himself in some awfully cringeful situations, sometimes life threatening but always hilarious. The drought does eventually come to an end in an unusual but fairly predictable way. With overtones of Men Behaving Badly, this story is full of satirical comments and observations of life in general which will amuse and entertain the reader - much recommended. 5/5 stars

Friday, 9 December 2011

Close, but no cigar... or a winners medal!

Steven Scaffardi, The Drought, Stand Up Comedy, Stand Up Comedian, Comedian, Comedy, Lad Lit, Chick lit for men, funny books, Golden Jesters: Compere Alan Sellers  (left) with finalists Chris Blackmore,   Vahid Janaguard, and yours truly!
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #50
So my last gig of the year took place last night in the Golden Jester comedy competition and I had to settle for the runners-up spot alongside Chris Blackmore, finishing behind the winner Vahid Janahguard.

It is always nice to take top spot, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to win, but I think I knew early on it was going to be tough. I drew the short straw, literally, and had to take the dreaded opening spot on the evening. My set went well, and I delivered 10 minutes with some new stuff, including my input on the racist tram lady!

Then in true X-Factor style, it was time for the dreaded judges feedback. Stand-up comedian Spencer Hayes gave me the thumbs-up, as did the Sutton Guardian's Sophia Sleigh. But then I had my Simon Cowell moment in shape of Holiday Inn manager, Marco Firk from Holland.

"I didn't appreciate the foul and vulgar language," the Dutchman informed me and the audience to a chrous of boos and jeers.

I knew I was up against tough competition on the night, with Darren Walsh and James Michael Alderson making up the final five, but I was pleased to hear my name being read out in the top three. I also know how these compeitions work, and the fact I had strong support for the local gig in Sutton obviosuly played a factor with the audience voting.

Still, I like to think that after my first 12 months on the scene it was a well deserved pat on the back. Getting up there on the stage isn't easy and I applaud anyone who does it.

As long as they're funny of course. Some people I have seen over the last 12 months should probably just kill themselves to put us all out of our misery, but hey, that's just my opinion! :o)

Despite taking the runner-up spot, I think I will still go ahead and take an indefinite break from the stand-up circuit. It has been great fun, but I feel it is time to take a rest.

But it is nice to go out with a bang, and compere Alan Sellers had some nice words to say about me: "Steve always delivers, despite the fact that he is a relatively new addition to the comedy circuit. With great stage presence and excellent varied material, he would appeal to virtually any type of audience."

Monday, 5 December 2011

Lad Lit Book Reviews: Bringing Down The House by Ben Mezrich

Books For Men Book Reviews! Bringing Down The House by Ben Mezrich
For anyone who is lucky enough to have been to Las Vegas, you will understand that this town is unlike any other town on the planet! But when you get past the glitz, the gimmicks, and the amazing sights and sounds, gambling remains at the heart of the place known as Sin City, and it doesn't take a genius to work out that more people lose their hard earned cash than they win!

Simply put, the big chiefs in Vegas don't like winners, and the more you win, the more they dislike you! So when six MIT students turn up and take the casinos for millions, you know you are going to get much more than just a tale about hoe to play Blackjack!

Based on a true story, author Ben Mezrich is given creative licence to dramatize the events as told to him by MIT graduate Kevin Lewis who was part of a team of mathematical geniuses who made regular trips to Vegas, and work together to 'count cards' in order to swing the odds of winning hugely in their favour.

The story is fast-paced, and Mezrich writes in a style with one eye on that Hollywood movie deal (which he succeeded in getting when Kevin Spacey starred in the 2008 film adaption, 21). The more money the blackjack team win, the deeper they fall into the infamous Vegas underbelly, and it isn't long before the darker side of Vegas starts to engulf them.

Without giving away too much, the team starts to fall apart due to in-house fighting and the teams principal leader, Mickey Rosa's increasingly obsession to have complete control over everything the team does.

I probably would have given this book five-stars (as I thoroughly enjoyed reading it) had I not recently read about the numerous claims of inaccuracies in the story. I appreciate that Mezrich had some creative freedom to exaggerate events in order to create a really interesting read, but from what I can gather, there wasn't a great deal of truth in this book based on a true-story!

But please don't let that stop you from giving this book a go! It is a fast-paced exciting read, plus it makes geeks look like the coolest kids on the block!


Friday, 2 December 2011

All good things come to an end...

All good things come to an end...
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #49
It is just a week away from the big night, but I am seriously thinking that whatever happens in the Golden Jester final, I think I might hang the comedy gloves up, so to speak, or at least take a bit of a break.

The last 12 months have been great fun, but trying to juggle the day job, gigging in the evening, and promoting The Drought has finally started to take its toll.

Nothing has been decided yet, and you never say never, but recently it has been nagging away at me - especially when you turn up at a bar and there are three people in the crowd!After next weeks gig, I would have done 50 gigs and 12 months on the circuit. I think that is a decent run!

Great Xmas present for men... and women!

Steven Scaffardi, The Drought, Stand Up Comedy, Stand Up Comedian, Comedian, Comedy, Lad Lit, Chick lit for men, funny books, Christmas presents, Christmas present for women, Christmas present for men, Gifts for men, Gifts for women, Books for men, Books for women,
The festive season is now upon us, and if you are looking for the perfect present or a stocking filler for the man in your life, then why not give him a copy of The Drought? Men of all ages will love this book as they will relate to the trials and tribulations every a young man has gone through on the dating game!

And as last months review on BestBooksToReview.co.uk stated, this is a novel that women will equally enjoy, so fellas - who not buy her a copy as well?!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Gig Number 50: Golden Jester Comedy Final

Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #48
 After nearly a year of performing and 49 gigs later, I am getting ready for next weeks Golden Jester Final and my 50th stand-up gig.

It's a nice round number and it would be great to finish the year on a high. So please come on down if you can on Wednesday, December 7 at the Holiday Inn in Sutton from 7.45pm. It is certain to be a great night - click here for more details!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

It's been a quiet month...

Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #47
Hey, long time no speak! I know that I have been a bit quiet lately, and that is basically because I have had nothing to say! I have not been gigging in November at all apart from the not so great night in Green Park for the Laughing Horse competition.

Open mic stand-up comedy

So this month has not exactly been the best preparation for next weeks Golden Jester comedy final, but hey, shit happens! The truth is the real world took over this month and unfortunately I had to give way to the day job. Plus I have been moping around with man-flu. Still, there is one more gig left this year so time to go out with a bang - hopefully!

Last night was the second semi-final for the Golden Jester so I now know that I'll be facing James Alderson and Darren Walsh from my quarter final, along with Vahid Jahangard and Chris Blackmore from my semi final. I'm gutted Gemma Beagley didn't get through last night, especially as I know how good she is, but it is a tough line-up but fingers crossed it'll be alright on the night!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Interview with Flavour Magazine

This month I was interviewed by Melody David from Flavour Magazine for their Young & Ambitious section. It's not often I get called young, let alone ambitious, so I was more than happy to talk about my experience on the stand-up comedy circuit, and The Drought. You can check out the interview below or click here to read it on the official site.

Young and Ambitious – Steve Scaffardi
by Melody David

Steve Scaffardi may be a stand-up comedian but his self-publishing efforts are no laughing matter. Flavour catches up with South London’s funny man about self-publishing The Drought, a hilarious novel about a young man going through a dry patch

When did you realise you could make people laugh? And what makes you laugh?
I have always been a bit of a joker within my group of friends. The things that make me laugh are everyday situations. People are funny, whether they’re trying to be or not.

You’ve been doing stand-up gigs since January, what was the first gig like?
I was so nervous! I brought down lots of friends to support me. Someone filmed it for me and its funny watching it back, mainly because of how bad I was!

Which came first, the comedy or the writing?
The writing, I studied journalism at university and worked as a journalist for three years. I’d tried to write a book several times and then I had the idea for The Drought.

You chose to self-publish your novel; how did you discover self-publishing?
I’d tried getting my book published the traditional route by sending my manuscript to literary agents but I got the standard rejection letters. Then I spoke to a friend who had self-published, and the more I found out, the more appealing it became.

Can you explain briefly the main steps in self-publishing a novel?
Self-publishing is D.I.Y. So after you have written the book, you can either pay a company to help you or go it alone. A self-publishing house will do things such as proof read, edit, design the cover, arrange the printing, registration and get you on Amazon. Self-published books are printed on demand so when someone orders a copy online, the book gets printed and sent out.

What tips would you give to someone wanting to write a novel?
Be prepared to work hard, put lots of hours in for little return, and develop thick skin but you need to enjoy it. When I was writing The Drought I came home and wrote every evening and every weekend for three months. You need to write everyday but you also need time to just think of ideas.

What do you think are the advantages of self-publishing over a traditional book deal?
The big advantage is that you have more control over what you write and publish. A big publishing house may force you to make changes you don’t want to make.The book is about a young man, who goes through a dry patch in his love life after a break up, how much is based on your experiences as a single man? Unfortunately quite a lot! There was a period a few years ago where I had basically forgotten how to talk to women. The book contains real-life stories from my own attempts with girls and some from friends. Some of the stories are exaggerated for comedy affect, but sadly most are true!

His friends are pretty bad at giving him advice, what help did you get from your friends when it came to writing your book?
I got help from my male and female friends. I would basically listen to their horror stories over a pint and then write about them. The girls simply confirmed my suspicion of how rubbish us guys can be when we’re trying to impress a girl.

It’s a very funny story, what has the response been like from those who’ve read it?
Most of the guys who have read it have said they can relate to the stories and situations, which is what I wanted. I think the funniest stories are the ones you can relate to.

Which authors would you say have inspired you?
I am a big fan of Danny Wallace. I also like Mike Gayle as he writes about relationships from a man’s point of view, and that is certainly something I have tried to do with The Drought.

What does the future hold for Steve Scaffardi?
I’ve just got into the final of the Golden Jester comedy competition. I’m now in the final five so hopefully that will lead on to some bigger gigs. As for the writing, I am already planning a sequel to The Drought and I would love to turn the book into a screenplay as lots of people have mentioned it reads like a film.

You can buy ‘The Drought’ now on Amazon in paperback & e-kindle version.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Lad Lit Book Reviews! Love... From Both Sides by Nick Spalding

Books For Men Book Review! Love... From Both Sides by Nick Spalding
Being an author of lad-lit (or chick-lit for men) myself, I always like to do a bit of research to see who else out there is writing the same genre of books as my own debut novel, The Drought. I already knew about the Mike Gayle's and Nicky Hornby's of this world, but Nick Spalding I was not familiar was a name that kept appearing on Amazon whenever I did a search.

Just last month Spalding signed a three-book deal with Hodder & Stoughton on the back of the success of his self-published novels.As a fellow indie author, it is great to see someone like Nick Spalding so bloody well! It gives you hope...!

So I decided to take the plunge and see what Love... From Both Sides was all about, and I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed.

I have to say that I wasn't gripped from the first chapter, and I have seen a couple of reviews say similar things, but keep faith with it as I did because it is very funny from there on after. The first chapter describes quite an awkward sexual encounter for lead character Jamie Newman. Perhaps I just didn't know Jamie well enough at this point to appreciate the comedy value Spalding tries to get across. It's a bit BANG in your face!

However, what follows is a very clever concept of inter-changing chapters as told by Jamie, and the other main character, Laura McIntyre, as they go about their single lives looking for love. The benefit of getting both the male and female perspective works really well, and this is an idea which has been used by Mike Gayle since in his novel The Stag and Hen Weekend.

Like most novels in this genre, you know where things are heading and that the two main characters will eventually meet and get together, but in a way you don't care, because by the end of it, you want them to be together. The laughs come in the middle and how they get there.

Spalding is clever in that he keeps it simple. You can relate to the trials and tribulations that Jamie and Laura go through during the dating period, and he is great and conjuring up those feelings you have felt during those times in your own life, which perhaps isn't a surprise seeing as Spalding says he has based it on 'real-life of dating disaster and relationship blunders'.

All in all, a really good read, especially for those boring train journeys to work!


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Advice for Indie Authors: How do I get those reviews?!

Advice for Indie Authors: How do I get those reviews?!
A couple of weeks before my novel was published I got busy identifying certain publications that I could send my book to for reviews. The nature of my novel - a story about a guy trying to get his leg-over - would appeal to lads. So I opted for lad mags like Shortlist, FHM, Nuts, Zoo, and Loaded.

But I have also had good feedback from women who have read the book, as they were intrigued (and a lot of the times appalled!) at what goes through a mans head. It was often getting called chick-lit for men so I sent the book out to a few of the womens magazines like Glamour.

I also decided that some press coverage would be nice, but perhaps the readers of The Times or The Guardian were not ready for my book- not yet anyway. I went with my own advice to stick with the local papers. After all, I had been given some pretty good coverage in the local press so far. I sent copies to papers such as The Evening Standard and the London edition of the Metro.

That was two months ago and guess how many reviews I got? That's right - a big fat zero!

It is tough. A lot of these publications are inundated with similar requests, and unfortunately there is still a stigma attached when it comes to self-published novels. Maybe because publications get so many self-published novels that they have to draw a line, maybe a lot of the really badly written self-published novels harm the chances of those well-written novels, or perhaps there is an element of snobbery. I would guess one of the main reasons is that it is a much safer option for a publication to review a novel by an established author or to accept work from a big publishing house.

The guys at Glamour magazine did actually reply, but they had already gone to press and therefore missed my publication date so the opportunity had gone. I learned a valuable lesson though, and that is to make sure you send copies of your novel out at least 4-6 weeks prior to publication date.

So now I was back to square one. I had yet to get my book reviewed anywhere other than Amazon - and then I had an idea! When you look at reviews on Amazon you will often see certain reviewers have a ranking such as Top 100 Reviewer. These are the people who have not only reviewed the most products on Amazon, but they have also been ranked the most helpful by other customers. In other words, people trust these reviewers.

If you have a bit of time on your hands, then it is well worth searching through the list of Amazon's Top Customer Reviewers and looking at the type of items they most commonly review. Most of the reviewers will have contact details, so I contacted a dozen reviewers and asked if they would be interested in reviewing The Drought if I sent them a copy.

Two replied and said they would be happy to review it, but offered no promises in terms of giving it a postive review. They would read it and give it a fair and honest review. I was more than happy with this arrangement - after all, this is what a review is all about. You have to be confident in your work.

I sent the copies off and I am pleased to say that this week I had my first review from one of the Top Customer Reviewers. It was given a five-star thumbs up and as an added bonus, in turns out that this particular reviewer has her own book review website and uploaded her review at BestBooksToRead.co.uk.

I could not have hoped for a better review, but it also made me realise that there are dozens of independent online book review websites - all with an audience of keen book readers. This is now starting to get interesting again!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Fantastic book review at Best Books To Read!

I have been trying my best to get The Drought in front of as many people as possible in recent months, and today I was delighted to get a cracking review on BestBooksToRead.co.uk. Here is what it said...

If you like crude, rude, and true - you will love this!
Occasionally I receive emails from authors asking if I would be interested in reading their debut novels. Steven was no different and to be honest when I checked out the bio of him I was a little shocked. Yes I had heard of ‘Lad Lit’ but to be honest had never really delved into the world of the Mike Gayle’s and the Nick Hornby’s. I figured that as I was being offered a chance to read it free, then why not. What I didn’t realise was that Lad Lit is the perfect combination of humour and reading for me and my dry and crude sense of humour!

When I read the synopsis I realised that Lad Lit really is just that; Lad lit! The stories regarding love and romance; albeit from a slightly different perspective than that of a woman! As soon as I started reading a few things became apparent. The first was that this author’s humour was right up my street. Brash, crude and direct but laugh out loud funny. Dan Hilles is a ‘typical’ bloke. In the beginning of the book we see him break up with his terrifying girlfriend (blimey, she was enough to give all us women a bad reputation). Dan was a likeable bloke though and it didn’t take me long to realise that Dan’s life was not going to be as easy as he thought.

The whole idea of the book is that we see Dan struggle through single life on a ‘drought’ meaning no sex and even less female interaction. I read a review on Amazon which said that the book was repetitive in its nature and that the reader knows that Dan is on a sex drought. Well I have to be honest and say I was confused by that statement. Yes we know he is on a drought, that’s what the whole book is about, and believe me it is very funny.

Yes, you certainly have to have a certain type of humour, but I cannot imagine one of my friends not liking this book. Obviously if you are somebody who prefers to read books that don’t involve swearing or sex, then maybe pass on this one. If not, do yourself a favour and give this book a chance.

I was reading this book on the train on my journey home and actually managed to spit my tea out where I was laughing so hard. The man opposite me was not impressed! As the story moves forward we see Dan’s attempts at getting some female attention becoming more and more daring, and to be honest more and more of a failure. This book had me cringing, laughing and smiling all the way home. I read it in a day and a half and have already started telling my friends about it. The women will (like I did) laugh at the shocking truths some of which will be close to home, and the men will laugh at the sheer truth of it all.

I can tell you now that I didn’t know an awful lot about the author until after I had read the book and I checked out his website. I was shocked to realise that he self-published. Maybe, having not read any other ‘Lad Lit’ I cannot compare his book to others in that genre but I honestly think this would be a fantastic author for a publisher to pick up! All I can say Steven, is I seriously hope that even if you don’t sign a publishing deal, you continue to self-publish because I will definitely be buying the next one.

Overall, an absolutely cracking debut novel and I will be waiting for the next one. HIGHLY recommended!!!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

A couple more reader reviews from Amazon...

A couple more reader reviews from Amazon...
Book reviews for The Drought by Steven Scaffardi...

Amazon Reader Review #12 (Paperback Edition) The Drought
Refreshing to have a more accurate perspective on life for the modern man. The Drought is a real page turner - Highly recommend this for your next holiday read. 5/5 stars

Amazon Reader Review #13 (Kindle Edition): Not bad, made me laugh
When I read this, it was like reading a friend's diary. I could actually see some of my friends as the male friends. The one who is the stud, the dumb one, the one who would bang anything and one is who is relatively sane - in this case that would be the main character in the book. It is definitely a book you would read while traveling/commuting. Would I read another one of his books? Yes I would. 3/5 stars

I blame it on the man flu!

Last night I went crashing out of the Laughing Horse New Act of the Year 2012 at the first round heat stage! I had not exactly been feeling great all week as I had come down with a severe case of man flu, but I decided to soldier on as I am just that type of guy - brave, tough, a real soldier.

Apparently not very funny though. It was a bit of a car crash to be honest, and although I take my hats off to the guys who got through (including Tommy Barnes and Emile Gavroche), I didn't really feel that I did myself justice.

But good luck to all of those who went through and back to the drawing board I guess.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Lola & Lulu Show: ONFM 101.4 - my first radio interview!

This morning I was in Hammersmith and in the ONFM studios for a chat on the Lola & Lulu Show to promote The Drought and my stand-up comedy.

It was good fun as the girls questioned me on a whole range of subjects. There should hopefully be a podcast uploaded soon that I will be able to post here.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Four... Three... Two... One?

Into the final of the Golden Jester!
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #45
Can I get a whoop whoop! I did it! Last night I progressed into the final of the Golden Jester comedy competition! It was a fantastic evening, five great acts, and I am bloody delighted to have made it through!

This competition started back in January, when 150 comedians from across the South East entered. In what was only my 48th gig, I finished a very close second behind Vahid Jahangard.

Chris Blackmore was third on the night, and could be in with a chance of making the final if he is the highest scoring runner-up. I have to say that seeing as Chris is only 17-years-old, he would definitely deserve his spot. I find it hard enough to get up on that stage at 33, so God knows how he feels! Hats off to him.

Special mentions to Katy 'Blossom' Evans and Palan who took fourth and fifth spots.

Alan Sellers was on top form as the MC, but the great Bob Mills stole the show as the headline act. He made it look so effortlessly and was bloody hilarious. His opening line was fantastic:

You guys have paid £6 to watch some new acts tonight, but you shouldn't complain because in six months you won't be able to afford to these guys in concert... because some of you will be out of jobs!


But now it is on to the final on December 7, and who knows what might happen then! In July at my first round heat, I finished fourth on the night. Then in my quarter final earlier this month I came third, and my second-placed position last night means that I am starting to see a nice pattern starting to develop here...

No, not that I never bloody win! That hopefully I will take top spot next time. Sometimes I wonder why I bother...!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Two weeks without any practice...

Two weeks without any practice...
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #44
Tomorrow night is my big semi-final in the Golden Jester comedy competition and I have not gigged for nearly two weeks. I had to cancel last weeks gig at The Alchemist due to work commitments, so I will just have to keep my fingers crossed and hope I don't suffer from ring rust.

I've had ring rust before and me and my mate vowed never again...!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Those crazy Americans!

Book reviews for The Drought by Steven Scaffardi
Today I noticed that The Drought had it's first US reader review on Amazon.com - and it is certainly the most bizarre review yet! Check it out...

Amazon Reader Review #11 (Kindle Edition) This book is the answer
I was reading this book in the park when this very fine dime-piece came up to me. She was all like, "Oh my gosh, no one reads a book anymore, let alone in the park!" I responded coolly by placing the book on my lap and meeting her gaze with a slow sweep of my head. Yeah we chatted. No I didn't get her number. No I'm not taking her to dinner. The point is this is a good book. Every man should read it. While drinking whiskey and wearing flannel. That's how it was meant to be done. Cheers to Steven! 5/5 stars


Monday, 17 October 2011

Lad Lit Book Reviews! Accardo: The Genuine Godfather by William F. Roemer, Jr

Books For Men Book Reviews! Accardo: The Genuine Godfather by William F. Roemer, Jr
Any man that is nicknamed Joe Batters because he beat two men to death with a baseball bat is probably not the sort of man you want to mess with. Add to the fact that he got his monicker from Al Capone – the most notorious Mafioso of them all – only adds fuel to fire that this is one vicious gangster.

And who else better to tell his story than the one man who tried for years – yet never succeeded – to bring Tony Accardo to justice than former FBI Agent William F. Roemer, Jr. Whilst the likes of Capone and John Gotti will inevitably go down in American folklore as the two most well-known gangsters of the 20th Century, it was men like Accardo who achieved the highest status within their criminal underworld circles as one of the most powerful Mafia bosses in the history of the American Mafia.

For seven decades Accardo, a.k.a. Big Tuna, was embroiled in a life of crime, from his teenage years in street gangs to being recruited as a member of the Chicago Outfit in 1926. Roemer maps out Accardo’s life as a career criminal from his participation in the infamous St Valentine’s Day Massacre to seizing control of The Outfit in the 1940s.

Throughout the book Roemer speaks in a tone of grudging respect for Joe Batters (being a good family man, his foresight to expand the former Capone regime into new territories that greatly increased their power and wealth). but at the same time keeps the reader focused on the fact that this was a ruthless and merciless man, who had murdered his way to the top with some incredibly vicious and torturous methods.

Roemer uses his many experiences with Accardo and The Outfit to try and paint us a picture of how this criminal organization used the great wealth made from the prohibition era to sustain a period of dominance that would see the American Mafia wield power the like they have never seen again. Men like Accardo made that happen, rather than the ‘celebrity’ gangsters that are referenced in popular culture. Mobster Paul “The Waiter” Ricca summed Joe Batters up by saying, "Accardo had more brains for breakfast than Capone had in a lifetime."

This story is not simply portrayed as a ‘Good vs Evil’ story which would have been easy coming from a law enforcement officer who was never able to put one of his biggest nemesis’ behind bars. Instead Roemer takes a more human approach to the murderous men he is writing about; such as detailing their wishes for their sons to never follow them into this life.

In the end Roemer can only reflect on the ground work that the FBI laid in those days to help bring the mob of today to its knees. Men like Accardo will remain infamous through the annals of time, but that part of history that should not be neglected. After all, we are talking about a street thug who was expelled from school at 14 and went on to become leader of one of the most powerful – if not the most powerful – factions of the American underworld, before dying at the age of 86 a free man. Lessons can only be learned from men who rule with an iron fist just like Joe Batters did.

Perhaps not my favourite book about the American Mafia, but certainly worth a read if this is a genre that interests you.


Saturday, 15 October 2011

Back to the Railway and back in the saddle!

The Comedy Bin have taken over at The RailwayDiary of a stand-up comedian Entry #43
Last night it was back to The Railway, but for the first time without the legendary Openmic Matt! It was good to see Bobby Freeman again last night, one of the original Railway comics, and despite the excellent Andy Storey as MC, I couldn't help but feel it wasn't quite the same without Matt. However, I really like The Railway as a venue and I am delighted the Comedy Bin have kept it going.

Mainly because it doesn't take me that long to get home from!

It was nice to lay the ghost to rest that was last weeks gig at The Old School Yard, and it has got me back in the mood for my upcoming Golden Jester semi-final.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Interview with the West Sussex County Times

I spoke with another local paper last week about my debut novel The Drought and yesterday the story was printed in the West Sussex County Times. The story did not go up on their website, but you can read the article below...

Debut novel is 'chick-lit for men'
by Tim Hopewell

 A former Broadbridge Heath man's debut novel The Drought has been described as 'chick-lit for men'.

Steven Scaffardi, who used to work for a local paper in Crawley, said his book has received positive feedback from TV presenters and has been described as similar humour to The Inbetweeners.

"I decided to leave the life of a journalist behind me in 2005 and joined the dark side of sales for purely financial reasons, but I still enjoyed writing in my spare time," he said.

"Several times I have tried writing a novel, but often I would try and write about things I thought were cool or edgy, like crime or gangsters.

"The big problem was I knew nothing about this world and after about three chapters I would inevitably re-read my work and laugh at it. Not really the reaction I was going for.

"In 2009 I decided to write The Drought after growing tired of my girlfriend making me watch ridiculous rom-coms or telling me about the chick-lit book she was reading at the time.

"The one thing that always struck me was how these men are portrayed. Your normal run-of-the-mill guy would not react to situations like these men did.

"I needed to put a few wrongs right, no matter how much women might not like what they read this is how men really think."

The Drought was published on September 24 and is available through Amazon and bookshops. 

Steve now lives in Surrey, although his parents still live in Broadbridge Heath.

He has also been performing stand-up comedy since January and has performed at open mic venues across London. 

"A friend of mine who does stand-up comedy encouraged me to give it a go at the start of he year, so after several drinks I got up on stage at a pub in Stockwell and did five minutes of comedy," he said. 

"I told the story of how I awkwardly lost my virginity, a story which unfortunately ended up with me describing my terrible performance in bed as being down to hayfever!

"I loved the buzz I got from making people laugh, and I have just kept going on the London open mic scene.

"I do about two gigs a week now. I share funny observations combined with self-deprecating humour about life as a 30-something man, especially stories about how hopeless I am with the opposite sex.

"The comedy is something I feel goes well with the book, as a lot of people have told me they can relate to the stories I am telling." 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

An audience full of art students = an audience full of *****

Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #42
Well, that was the message I posted on my Facebook and Twitter accounts last night. Perhaps looking back I was a little sensitive. As one friend commented on Facebook: A bad workman blames his tools and all that...

So last night at The Old School Yard was not my finest hour. In fact, it was pretty awful. I have done bad gigs before. I have died on my arse and lived to fight another day. But last night got to me. The last few weeks have been brilliant, what with getting through to the semi-final of the Golden Jester, and then smashing it at Dirty Dicks last week (Dirty Dicks is a pub by the way, I obviously wouldn't smash a dirty dick - this is not that type of blog!), it was pretty annoying to be standing there (delivering material which has been doing the business for me in recent weeks) to a bunch of silent spotty teenagers.

It is the first time I have really wondered why I do this. Why do I put myself through it?

At the start of the year, and until recently, I never moaned about having a bad gig, or a quiet audience, but now - nearly a year in - I feel like I have paid my dues, and if I want to rant, then I will rant dammit!

I'm not the funniest guy in the world - hell, I'm not the funniest guy on the open mic circuit - but I have a set that works! Comedy is subjective and all that, but right now I just want to rant. I am going to see how I get on in the Golden Jester, and then after that, who knows? Maybe it is time to give comedy a break for a while...

Knob-head students.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Golden Jester semi-final date confirmed!

Bob Mills, stand-up comedy,
Bob Mills: Headline act at
the Holiday Inn in 2 weeks
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #41
Back in January, 150 acts entered the Golden Jester comedy competition and now only 10 remain - including me! On Thursday, October 27 at the Holiday Inn in Sutton, I will be going up against five other acts in the first semi-final. Two acts will go through from both semi-finals (the second SF takes place on November 22), with the best runner-up also advancing to the December final.

Bob Mills will be the headline act on October 27. Tickets cost £6 from the Great Comedy Nights website, or £7 on the door. The doors open at 7.15pm and the show starts at 8.15pm sharp!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Advice for Indie Authors: An online audience is a great starting point

Advice for Indie Authors: An online audience is a great starting point, Bookcrossing.com
If there is a huge excitement on the day your book actually gets published, you will unfortunately experience an anti-climax in the aftermath once the dust has settled. Please don't misunderstand what I am saying - I am not trying to put a downer on things! But seeing your book on Amazon is one thing, now getting people to buy it is something completely different.

Once you have exhausted your friends and family, if you are serious about getting your book noticed, you are going to have to start branching out. Previously I have talked about how I had got the ball rolling with a series of interviews with local newspapers. But now I need to find an audience of potential buyers for my book and that is not easy. I did not realise how time consuming this part of my book publishing adventure would be. I knew I would have to put time and effort in, but I wasn't quite prepared for just how much time and effort!

It has literally taken over my life! If you are thinking about self-publishing but you are a bit work-shy, then I would give up now! Seriously, give up and find a different hobby, perhaps something like bingo, or even bowls - that is quite slow-paced. Because a day has not passed in the last couple of weeks without me doing something to try and promote my book.

The first thing I did was trawl the internet (no, not for that you filthy beggar!). I have continued to build on the in-roads I had been making with social media. Try to find out what the relevant hashtags are that will attract readers to your book. I have been using a series of hashtags including:
  • #books
  • #ebooks
  • #fiction
  • #paperback
  • #kindle
  • #indieauthor
  • #selfpublishing
  • #readthis
The thing is, I am only scratching the surface with this list, and for every Tweet I post, there are a thousand others like this. I whole-heartedly recommend you use Hootsuite, as this is really is a fantastic tool to schedule your social media posts, and saves you having to put time to one side every time you want to post something on Twitter or Facebook.

But the one hashtag I have had the most success with has been #competition. About two weeks prior to The Drought being published I set up a competition using social media, offering a free signed copy of my novel and a £25 Amazon voucher. As well as using the #competition hashtag, I also posted my Tweets with tags such as #win and #giveaway. All people had to do was follow me on Twitter and Like my Facebook page. In less than a week I had over 400 followers on Twitter and over 300 Likes on Facebook. It is amazing what people will do for free stuff! I now have strangers Re-Tweeting my posts and leaving comments on Facebook. I now have an audience.

I continued to build upon this audience using online forums. I posted information about the competition and picked up followers there, but now I was picking up genuine book lovers and avid readers. But you have to be careful with with forums and not go too overboard with the self-promotion. You have to remember that the people on these forums are like little communities. They come to these online meeting points to discuss their favourite books with like-minded people, and you will slowly irritate them and lose their interest if you simply post topics about how great your book is. You need to fully immerse yourself within these online communities; get involved with their discussions and engage in debate with these people. Forums are a slow-burner but they are well worth the effort and the benefit will be worth it in the long-run. I have already managed to sell a couple of eBooks and get some reviews on Amazon from people in these communities.

And last. but by no means least - blogging. Content is king with it comes to people finding you on the net. I have already established a healthy amount of content on my own website, but a good blog will encourage people to engage with you. It also puts your book in the shop window, and by using Amazon Associates, you can also advertise your book on your blogs to boost sales.

A special mention for book sharing website BookCrossing.com. I am planning to send copies of my book out into the 'wild' for people to find. For example, I left one book on a London Tube for someone to find. Each book you leave is assigned a special ID number generated by BookCrossing.com. When someone finds that book, they can log-on to BookCrossing.com and post information about where they found the book, and a review, before passing the book on for someone else to find.

I plan on sending about 25 copies out into the wild between now and the end of the year, so make sure you check out the blog to find out where they turn up (see you're interested already!).

This blog was originally posted on printweek.com

Made in Chelsea? Yep, couldn't agree more!

The shop in Chelsea named after the cast of Made in Chelsea!I hate the programme Made In Chelsea. I detest the spoilt brats that are paraded around pretending to live such perfect lives. I also hate that my girlfriend insists on watching the damn thing all the time! So I guess I should not have been surprised when I spotted this store on the Kings Road last week. Rumour has it, this is the casts favourite store!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Great book reviews on the back of the paperback release!

Amazon book reviews
Book reviews for The Drought by Steven Scaffardi
The positive reviews continue to rack-up for The Drought. Here are the latest reviews on the back of the paperback release two weeks ago...

Amazon Reader Review #8 (Paperback Edition): The funniest book I've read in ages
This is an awesome read! Hilarious, brutally honest and easily the funniest book I've read in ages. Steven Scaffardi is a new writer but you never would have of thought it. Simply put: GET IT! 5/5 stars

Amazon Reader Review #9 (Paperback Edition): A fantastic read
I was a little dubious at first as Scaffardi is a new writer but my fears were blown away within the first few pages. The story is cleverly written and full of characters everybody can relate to... Some of the tales may seem far fetched until I recalled them happening to me or one of my friends! This is a fantastic read which doesn't just cater for the 'lads' (my wife loved it!) and I would strongly recommend this book to anyone! 5/5 stars

Amazon Reader Review #10 (Paperback Edition): The Drought
The Drought is a witty tale which will stir memories for any group of lads, reminded me of some of my own group of friends shortcomings with the fairer sex!! A fun read 5/5 stars

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Top night at Dirty Dicks!

Dirty Dicks, Liverpool Street, Comedy, Open Mic Comedy
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #40
That was a frickin' awesome night! Hot on the heels of last nights success at the Golden Jester, it was down to Dirty Dicks in the city. It's a great little venue, and every time I have been there they have had a good audience. But I have never felt that I have done myself justice there - until last night!

All of my gags went down well last night, and I even got a round of applause for the lack of female rioters joke. A couple of lads from Essex said they were nearly in tears laughing, while Brendan O'Donoghue said that I smashed it (and he was excellent finishing the show!). And to top it all off, the promoters gave me a ticket to the Scott Capurro show on October 28! That's what I call a right touch!

I also got to see some really funny acts for the first time including Dave Flynn, Naomi Hefter, Tin Vodopivec, Buster Joe Loveman, and Brendan O'Donoghue.

I am through to the semi-finals of the Golden Jester comedy competition!

I am through to the semi-finals of the Golden Jester comedy competition!
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #39
Last night I came third out of 11 acts to qualify and progress into the semi-finals of the Golden Jester comedy competition. There was a great line-up of comics on the night, with the very funny Darren Walsh taking top spot, and James Alderson taking second.The event took place at the Holiday Inn in Sutton, and being a local gig for me, I had great support with friends and family coming down. It probably swung things slightly in my favour as the audience voted on the acts to go through, but Alan Sellers and the guys at Great Comedy Nights did say they had weighted down the scores to make the result more balanced.

Palan Ns and James Loveridge also progressed into the semi-finals that will take place on October 27 and November 22. Special mention to Sophie Richardson who I thought was really unlucky not to get through.

Roll on the semi-final!