In a dim Spanish restaurant in Washington, D.C., a room filled with comedy writers—a lesser known niche of writers—received sound business advice this week from a Dan Nainan, a veteran in the performance industry. After speaking for a short time about the ends and outs about making it as a standup comedian, Nainan’s lecture gradually shifted into a dialogue on the ways that comedians and writers can market themselves and sell their work more effectively.
“I’ve sometimes blocked doorways after shows so that more people could come to my table,” Nainan said, referring to the strategy that he uses to recruit people to buy merchandise from him after comedy shows. And judging by the line of buyers that approached his merchandise table after he finished speaking, he knows what he is talking about. He offered all writers at the meeting a special rate discount on his products: $10.00 for copies of his DVD show, book (titled How to Become a Full-time Stand-up Comedian) and a one copy of his business card.
There were a few points that Nainan made that all writers can find helpful, namely:
Speak Up. Nainan described an experience where he met a famous comedian backstage before a show and found himself too scared to promote himself. Now, Nainan says that he jumps at opportunities to speak to agents, managers and audience members. He makes it a habit to make sure that all audience members get his business cards after his shows. All writers can benefit from promote themselves to anyone who will listen.
Take the Business Seriously. Get a website and a set of business cards that highlight you as a writer. So no, handing out your daytime business card to agents and editors won’t cut it.
Educate Yourself. Take an improvisation class. Go to open mics. Join a sketch comedy group. Get as involved in the creative writing industry as possible.
Naomi Rappaport is a contributor for Wrightspeak.