Category Archives: ACTION WRITING ASSIGNMENTS

BOOK PROMO 101

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GUERRILLA BOOK PROMO 101

Several authors have asked me to teach them how I promoted my book L IS FOR LION. Here’s a quick list for you!

PARTY
Your book needs a party. Invite everyone you want to thank. Everyone who’s helped you along the way to this special day. Have books for sale, and have someone else handle the cash. I made paper roses out of manuscript pages. They were gorgeous, fun, keepsakes, gifts for the guests. At one point in the party everyone read some phrases out loud from their rose. It was fun to see who got what part of the book. I asked friends to help make this party happen. One friend donated the room. Another brought a case of prosecco. Another hosted a ritual, played DJ, etc… The publisher said “yes” when I asked for some money for food. I went to the best Italian deli and got broccoli-rabe, mozzarella, sopressata, olives… a feast.. I got blue glass champagne glasses for a buck a piece on-line at Dollar-Tree. Plan the party a couple of weeks after the publication date, to make sure you get the books on time, and all is set. Confer with the publisher about a safe date, so the books definitely will be in hand.

WEBSITE
Make sure your web designer understands SEO (Search Engine Optimization. So that when someone googles your subject area, your book has a chance of popping up at or near the top of the list. When you google Bronx Italian Books, my book pops up number 1) Keep your website on-point. If you’re a renaissance woman, keep the website focused about the book, at least for the first year or so….

VIDEO TRAILER
Make a 3 minute video trailer of you talking about your book. Post to YouTube. Eblast the link. You can do this yourself. Keep it simple, focused, fun. There’s plenty of book trailers on YouTube to watch for examples. I had a friend hold my iPhone and I sat on a mailbox and talked. I edited in iMovie. You can watch it here. http://annielanzillotto.com/video-trailer/ Have fun doing this!

PROMO TIMELINE

15 months out:
Schedule book readings. Give the first dates to priority spots — people will show up to support you and your book. Some venues book their schedules 12 months out, so you want to make sure you get on their calendar. Some venues offer an honorarium for authors, others don’t. The places to approach are: bookstores, college profs who can invite you for a campus talk and reading, centers that deal with your subject area, libraries, spots that are special to your book. If you want to book other cities or countries, you gotta figure it out: travel, lodging, book shipping, venues, etc… I did not have a “tour manager” – I did what I could figure out and afford. And I’m still doing it…

Talk with your publisher’s PR person and ask what exactly they’ll do, and what you need to do. Ask if they recommend you hire your own PR person, (for print, radio, social media, or all three…) Ask if they can donate books for you to mail to print reviewers and radio hosts, or if they’ll do it for you…

12 months out:
1. Make a spreadsheet of your contact list for book promo. Ask other authors to share contacts of reviewers, radio hosts, professors in your subject matter. Decide if you want to pay for a Kirkus review. It’s over $400.

2. Contact book promoters to see if you want to hire one. I raised funds on kickstarter and hired a PR person who deals with radio shows. I bought a landline phone, a headset, and they prepared a list of potential interview questions from the book and sent to their contacts in radio and web-radio. This was a lot of fun and got the word out. These curated conversations were phenomenal. Having an outside pro do this work was great since I was too close to the material in the book at the time… Now a year out, I have much more distance and can pitch better. If you want to do this guerrilla style, look at authors’ publicity pages on their websites, and see who they interviewed with… Listen to the programs. Send a press release and letter to who you like. Here’s my page: http://annielanzillotto.com/interviews/ And there is lots of links to my interviews on my Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Lanzillotto

6 months out — Send galleys go to prime reviewers and radio hosts. (Terry Gross “Fresh Air” etc…) (Ask your publisher if they will print you some galleys for this purpose.)

PRINT THINGS TO HAND OUT
1. Postcards & Business cards
A year after my book came out, I am still giving out postcards and business cards everywhere I go. When I teach I give them to all the students. When I’m in a bookstore, I leave a stack, or post two (one front – one back) to the bulletin board. Order enough, and keep the copy on it timeless. On the front, the book cover. On the back, your website, a blurb about the book, etc… A USB code if you wish to connect to your website via scan. (My fave printshop is a Mom and Pop shop in Hoboken. You can order over the phone or email… Full House Printing. 201 798-7073 / larry@fullhouseprinting.com.

2. Press Release
Collaborate with your publisher to write a press release. You can use your jacket copy.

3. READER ACTION CARDS Give your friends, networks and audience a list of ways to get on board. Here’s a long list. Pick your top ten and make a hand-out for audiences.
23 Ways You Can Help This Book Have its Life in the World

1. ORDER now at: (publishers website or http://www.amazon.com or http://www.barnesandnoble.com)
2. ORDER through your local bookstore, public library, campus library.
3. VISIT (author website) read excerpts, view photos, video trailer.
4. “LIKE” on Amazon.com. “LIKE” and “SHARE” on Facebook
5. WRITE a brief “customer review” on Amazon.com. Also post your review to goodreads.com, shelfari.com, librarything.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other literary social media lists. Reviewing helps readers find the book, and boosts in search engine algorithms.
6. CLICK on Amazon.com, “request this book to be available in kindle, nook and e-book”
7. BUY a copy to donate to your local (list relevant social agencies… for me it was: Gilda’s Club, LGBTQ Center library, school library, domestic violence shelter, cancer center waiting room)
8. E-MAIL blast your friends about the book.
9. WRITE a note about the book on FB, LINKED-IN, GOOGLE +, Twitter, INSTAGRAM, etc.
10. LINK my website address on your FB page, website, twitter, blog…
11. BLOG about the issues raised in the book. Start a blog.
12. TALK to your local librarian and recommend the book for their “one book one city” program.
13. RECOMMEND for your Book Club, or a friend’s book club. Start a book club.
14. RECEIVE a tax donation by donating to my book tour and audiobook taping sessions. (provide 501C3 fiscal umbrella info….)
15. RECOMMEND the book to someone who can review it for a newspaper, blog, magazine.
16. TEACH the book in your class; or tell a professor in: (name relevant curriculum categories, for me: Queer Studies, Working Class Studies, Narrative Medicine, Literature, Ethnic Studies, American Studies, American History, Immigrant Studies, Italian American Studies, Memoir Studies, Health Advocacy, Medical Anthropology, Urban Studies, Performance Studies.)
17. FORWARD this email to anyone you think might be interested in the book. If you know any newspaper editors, reporters, magazine editors, radio producers, TV show hosts or producers, columnists, bloggers, send them a copy of the book, or direct them to my website.
18. ASK me to mail you a stack of full-color postcards for you to place at your local theater, bookstore, campus center, coffee shop, library.
19. INVITE me to come read in your town at your local book store, library, classroom, or a home gathering.
20. Recommend your company buy this book in bulk for company fundraiser gift-bag.
21. HELP ME SELL THE RIGHTS If you have a connection to an actor, producer, director, who might be interested in making the movie, give them the book & my contact info.
22. COME to a reading. All my events are listed at: (website) click EVENTS
23. Buy a couple of books and donate as a prize for your local public radio station for fundraising drive.


EMAIL and SOCIAL MEDIA

1. Make a Mailchimp or Constant Contact email blast list. Send Book Tour updates.
2. Make a FaceBook page for your book.
3. Have friends boost or trash the book on Tumblr. Whatever starts a buzzzz…

BOOK TOUR PROPS
1. tablecloth to sell books on. (I made mine out of the last manuscript, filled with pen corrections.) You know, you show up for a reading, and there’s a folding table. Bring a cloth that looks good with the book.
2. Retractable Banner. This was the best thing I bought. It slings over the shoulder and pops open like 7 feet tall, easy as an umbrella. So, for conferences and book talks, I made a beautiful presentation of the book cover. Order from Full House Printing. 201 798-7073 / larry@fullhouseprinting.com.

Okay, that’s it for right now. I’ll do ADVANCED BOOK PROMO later…

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ICEWOMAN (press here for video)

What do you love? Here are things I love and how I turned these loves into solo performances…
I love throwing Spaldeens at a chalked X on a brick wall.  This is what I grew up doing. — So, my first solo show was built around that core image/action of chalking an X on the wall of the theater and throwing not one but a succession of fifty Spaldeens over and over at the X over the course of the 30 minutes.  The show was called “Confessions of a Bronx Tomboy: My Throwing Arm This Useless Expertise” and premiered at Under One Roof Theater, and Manhattan Class Company Performance Mix in NYC. Directed by Victoria MacElwayne, with Live Sound Action by Eliza Ladd.

I love street cries from pushcart peddlers.  I love fish peddlers, and the wailing cries in Arabic and Napolitan. I love walking through the Bronx and listening inside myself to the imagined memory I have of the days when all the street peddlers were calling, hawking, squawking.  —- I became the pushcart peddler.  I wrote my own pushcart peddler cries. The melodies came to me by my process of phrasewalking.  I interviewed elders in The Mount Carmel Senior Center about cries they remembered from their youth.  I found some old wooden wheels and had my friend build me a pushcart.  I wheeled it around the Bronx, barefoot, and cried my pushcart chants up at the windows.  I named my character “Chimaroot” which is a dialect slang for fingers like ginger root, something my grandmother used to say. I brought these pushcart cries on stage in many shows and even a radio interview. One show was called “Rule 23” named after NYC mayor’s little known policy to outlaw hawking and squawking in the city streets. “Rule 23” played at Roulette, NYC for the UMAMI Festival of Food and Performance.  Street Cries From Around the World  (click here to listen to radio interview of Annie Lanzillotto by radio host Jean Feraca. Annie brings special guest Jacque Dupree)

I love big blocks of ice that are crystalline and weigh 300 pounds.  I love the way the ice cracks, the way the crack moves through the ice when I stab it with a pick.  I love the way light throbs through the ice.  I love that I can spin ice and spin the light through the ice onto the audience.  I love my naked skin on the ice, the way the ice melts and my skin freezes.  I love the history of the men ancestors in my family who all carried ice around the Bronx to the people’s iceboxes.  I love that I know the history of the Hudson River, that the river used to freeze up and be cut into chunks for people’s iceboxes.  — I prayed at the graves of my ancestors. I went to all the graves of all the icemen in my family.  I visited ice-houses.  I bought ice tools. I hunted for the most crystalline pristine clean ice.  I experimented with lights and with spinning the ice.  I brought the ice on stage and figured out what to do when it melted.  I learned how to carry ice.  I pushed my body to the limit with lifting and breaking ice.  I created the character ICEWOMAN.  To date, I think of this as my signature role, signature prop.  I am so connected to block ice.

I love sitting on the blue corner mailbox and hanging out.  I love banging the heels of my feet against the mailbox. I love that the mailbox was the site of New York City storytelling.  That’s where we hung out as kids.  I love the echo of my voice between two giant mailboxes when they are side by side.  —-  I chose the corner of Prince and Elizabeth Street where there’s a great mailbox, for me to sit on and regale my audience with stories, and then “host” the mailbox by having audience and passers-by get up there and tell their New York stories.  The first half of the solo show was in a theater, in Dixon Place, and act two was on the corner at the mailbox, on the mailbox.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE?  Gimme three things.  And write about it like I did here.  Gimme three paragraphs…

Assignment: SCRIPT or SCORE

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Assignment: SCRIPT or SCORE

Write both a script and a score for a short solo-performance.  The distinction I’m making is that a script in this case looks like a monologue on the page. You can add your ideas for stage action or direction if you want.

A score is a sequence of images, action, sound, text.

Here’s the score for my 3 minute solo:
Zebra Diva

1. Zebra Diva enters stage naked in full body zebra paint dragging a wheelchair that she is handcuffed to.

2. Music starts: Annie’s track “Blue Pill”

3. Zebra Diva smashes wheel chair against upstage wall.

4. Zebra Diva whirls wheel chair overhead rodeo style.

5. Music fades as Zebra Diva sits in chair.   

 

Here’s a section from a score from my solo show “How To Wake Up a Marine In a Foxhole” that premiered at The Kitchen, in NYC, “Solo Voices” series in 1998.

Spin the block ice in white side light so that light flashes into audience.

Hugs the ice until it is still.

Take ice-pick from holster and stab the ice.

Pick up a large chunk of ice, hold it overhead and recite:

“You remember my father? You remember his name?”

 

Assignment: GENUINE RISK

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Assignment: Answer these questions:

  1. What’s a GENUINE RISK for you, on stage?
  2. What’s a GENUINE RISK for you, in life?
  3. What GENUINE RISK have you witnessed other artists do onstage?

GENUINE RISK is the name of my favorite Kentucky Derby winner.  She died August 18th, 2008, and a few weeks later I came to Louisville and became aware of her.  I taught solo performance at The Actors Theatre of Louisville Apprentice Program.  Outside the theater is a statue to Genuine Risk.  I’d walk to work and pet the statue.  I went to Churchill Downs to see the horses run early mornings. I watched videos of the old derbies.  I watched Genuine Risk’s run.  Genuine Risk won the Kentucky Derby in 1980, one of the few fillies to do so, ever.  She was grand, a chestnut mare with a bold white stripe down the center of her nose.  A racing stripe.  One day in class, I was trying to make a point about what was really important about stage work.  I asked the Apprentices if they knew the name of the horse whose statue was right downstairs.  No one knew.  So they all ran out of class and raced to the statue and came back with the answer: Genuine Risk.  Her name became our call to action.  The core of our work: to identify what would be a genuine risk for each of us as artists, to name it, and take it.  Year after year I’ve kept instilling this message to the actors: Take a Genuine Risk.  One year I received a photo from three Apprentices, Katie, Zoe, and Chris, who tattooed on their feet a note I had handwritten them that read: GENUINE RISK

Assignment: GENUINE RISK

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Assignment: Answer these questions:

  1. What’s a GENUINE RISK for you, on stage?
  2. What’s a GENUINE RISK for you, in life?
  3. What GENUINE RISK have you witnessed other artists do onstage?

GENUINE RISK is the name of my favorite Kentucky Derby winner.  She died Aug 18th 2008. A couple of weeks later, I became aware of her.  I was teaching solo performance at The Actors Theatre of Louisville Apprentice Program.  Outside the theater is a statue to Genuine Risk.  I’d walk to work, get a coffee, and pet the statue or just stand next to her.  I went to Churchill Downs to see the horses run early mornings and I’d watch videos in the museum of the old derbies.  Genuine Risk won the Kentucky Derby in 1980, one of the few fillies to do so, ever.  She was a grand champion, a chestnut mare with a bold white stripe down the center of her nose who flew around the track.  Her racing stripe was fierce.  One day in acting class, I was trying to make a point about what was crucial about stage work.  I asked the Apprentices if they knew the name of the horse whose statue was right downstairs.  No one knew.  So they all ran out of class and raced to the statue and came back with the answer: Genuine Risk.  Her name became our call to action.  The core of our work: to identify what would be a genuine risk for each of us as artists, to name it, and take it.  Year after year I’ve instilled this message to the actors as the heart of our work together:  Take a Genuine Risk.  Then I received a photo from three Apprentices: Katie, Chris, and Zoe, who went together and got tattooed on their feet a note I had written: GENUINE RISK.

Assignment: CAVEWORK

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CAVEWORK

  1. Let the walls tell our stories
  2. Write fast
  3. Write big, open up the wing of the arm,
  4. Hold the writing instrument like a paintbrush, try different markers, graphite, colors
  5. Press your heart onto the paper, on the walls, on the floor. 
  6. Breathe.
  7. Close your eyes.
  8. Listen to instrumental music.
  9. SHOVEL LINES to dig deeper into the text.  11 rounds
  10. PHRASEWALK  take a phrase from the cave and walk with it, in an iambic pentameter walk.  Vocalize the phrase over and over like a mantra, til the words circle in on each other, the last word seems first…  Let the phrase jump into surprising rhythms. Work with a phrase with different physicality. As your heartbeat and breath change so will melody and rhythm.
  11. MINING THE CAVE: observe the artifact of the cave, heiroglyphs of the psyche, the drawings, lines, words, look at their placement in relation to each other.  honor what is there.
  12. Invite someone else into your cave. Have them spontaneously perform from what they read on the walls.
  13. Invite three people into your cave. Direct them in an improvised choral reading / singing.
  14. Make artistic choices about how to identify what can be mined from the walls.  What’s a potential lyric?  What’s the beginning of a litany?  What stories are there?  Characters? What is missing?
  15. SCORE THE CAVE:
    • find a stage direction
    • find a choreography
    • find monologue
    • find clues to blocking
    • find something to sing
    • find a physical challenge
    • find a character
    • write several sketches of scores that you can work on as a solo show

Assignment: Whose Solo Work Do You Love?

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Goals

  • To know what you love about solo performance
  • To generate material for your solo show
  • To identify images you want to create on stage

Assignment: Research the work of three of these artists.  Find an aspect of the work that turns you on. Why does it interest you?  What image did the artist create?  How did they create it?  (body, prop, what media?) What was the effect of the work on you, did you laugh?  did you learn something?  What image would you love to create on stage?  What is it comprised of?  Your body?  Your voice?  A prop?  A costume?  A projection?  A movement?  What’s the action of the image?  Is it a still life?  Does it move?  What are some of the images you’ve seen in life or on stage that have stayed with you?

A LIST OF SOME SOLO ARTISTS

Vito Acconci

James Adlesic

Mark Ameen

Laurie Anderson

Eleanora Antin

Joey Arias

Penny Arcade

Elia Arce

Ron Athey

Pina Bausch

Jan Bell

Reverend Billy

Nicole Blackman

World Famous Bob

Victor Borges

Kate Bornstein

David Blane

Michael Burke

Reggie Cabico

David Cale

Laurel Jay Carpenter

Carl Capotorto

Ann Carlson

Jessica Cerullo

Yoshiko Chuma

Sean Clute

Susanna Cook

Jackie Curtis

Rob Curto

Earl Dax

Mark Dendy

Krista DeNio

D D Dorvillier

Michael James Esper

Ethyl Eichelberger

Karen Finley

Carrie Fisher

John Fleck

Coco Fusco

Tanya Gagne

Diamanda Galas

Guillermo Gomez-Pena

Marga Gomez

Spaulding Gray

Whoopi Goldberg

Dynasty Handbag

Scotty Heron

Murray Hill

Shelly Hirsch

Danny Hoch

Patricia Hoffbauer

Dan Hurlin

Imani Henry

Otis Houston

Holly Hughes

Mike Iveson

Miranda July

Rhodessa Jones

Sarah Jones

John Kelly

Stanya Khan

Lisa Kron

Eliza Ladd

William Pope L

Annie Lanzillotto

John Leguizamo

D’Lo a.k.a. D’Loco Kid

LuLu LoLo

Lollo

Erin Markey

Glenn Marla

Shelly Mars

Salley May

Robbie McCauley

Yvonne Meier

Nick Slie / Mondo Bizarro

Jennifer Monson

Deb Margolin

Shelly Mars

Amapola Prada Mendoza

Jennifer Miller / Circus Amok

Tim Miller

Meredith Monk

Tom Murrin a.k.a. The Alien Comic

Yves Musard

Julie Atlas Muz

Ellen O’Grady

Yoko Ono

Jaime Ortega

Nam June Paik

Yoonhye Park

Marty Pottenger

Reno (“Rebel Without a Pause”)

Carl Hancock Rux

George Sanchez

Carole Schneeman

Lucy Sexton

Felice Shays

Peggy Shaw

Claudia Sheer

Karen Sherman

Jackie Shue

Judith Sloan

Anna Deavere Smith

Hank Smith

Jack Smith

Roger Guenvere Smith

Pamela Sneed

Annie Sprinkle

Paz Tanjuaquio

Lilly Tomlin

James Thierry (Charlie Chaplin’s grandson)

Carmelita Tropicana

Diane Torr

Adrienne Truscott

Maurice Turner
Howling Vic

Deke Weaver

Cathy Weis

Martha Wilson

Rae C Wright