Wednesday 8 July 2015

Writing That Sitcom

Available for the Kindle/App now.
I’ve written a book that will be out soon. It's called Writing That Sitcom.

It’s based on this blog, but tidied up, considerably augmented, put in a useful order and the typos removed. It’s not full of hilarious showbiz anecdotes, because I’m a script writer. I never get invited to the kinds of places where those showboz anecdotes happen. Nor is it full of bitter complaints about how writers are being offered less and less money for more and more work, rights and graft. That’s for a separate, much longer book.

Since we’re on the subject of money and poor deals for rights, it’s worth mentioning that the book is only going to be available as an e-book, for the Kindle (or Kindle App). It was the only deal that made sense. I was offered a tiny amount of money for it to be a real book you can hold in your hands – that would be available from November. Next year. But as with all published books, the percentages are such that you need to sell a lot of copies to exceed even your modest advance. Given the market for technical books about sitcom-writing is pretty small, and the fact that almost all sales of this book would be a direct result of this blog and my tweets, it didn’t seem that the paperback route was very good deal.

This book doesn’t feature any whinges about money. As the title suggests, it focuses on getting from the idea in your head to a pilot script that you could bear to show another human being – and then what to do with that script, and how to use it to get you work on other people’s sitcoms. Then there’s some advice on working in other people’s sitcoms, as well as writing for radio and children.

So is this Sitcom-Writing Made Easy? No. No, no, no. Far from it. I’m at pains to point out that writing sitcoms is hard, and writing the pilot is the hardest bit. It is not for the feint-hearted. But knowing this is as important as learning about technical detail because if you don’t have the right attitude at the start, you will quickly become disillusioned at the amount of work it is. You might assume that it must mean you’re doing it wrong. But writing is hard, especially if you’re doing it right. You just need to keep going.

This is why the book is partly a pep-talk. And partly an intervention. I try to explain that if you want to be a sitcom writer, the road ahead is long and painful. But if you’re serious about it, going about it the wrong way is even harder. This is the wrong way:

The book will be out in the next few weeks. I shall obviously be keeping you thoroughly posted. In the meantime, listen to the Sitcomgeeks podcast.

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