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?!