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Author: Mark Fisher


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The show must go on

The next step

The money

The interviewees


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Does your venue care about the same things as you?

THERE'S an interesting insight into how an Edinburgh Fringe venue manager may be thinking in this new post on the website of Eco-Congregation Scotland, a charity that helps churches act in an environmentally friendly way. 

A number of Fringe venues are church halls, although the churches often have little or no involvement in the actual programming. How such venues behave is the subject of the post, which points out that:
Congregations who act as venues are being encouraged to see their letting as part of their ministry rather than purely a commercial venture.
There are two things to be said about this. The first, as discussed in The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, is that it's easy to assume your choice of festival venue is purely a question of economics and logistics: how much does it cost and what do you get for your money? These are crucial questions, of course, but for many participants, so too is the question of a venue's ethos. 

To use the example above, if your company has a strong religious conviction, it may prefer to rent a space in a venue that shares those beliefs than one that was indifferent or even hostile. The same is true in reverse: if you're putting on a satanic comedy, you may get a frosty welcome in a church hall. 

But it's not simply a question of religious belief. The Eco-Congregation blog goes on to talk about the audience as a "community" – and if that community is important to you (be it a community of physical-theatre fans, political thinkers, folk-music experts or whatever), then it will also be important to you to find a venue that has a similar sensibility. In such cases, the venue manager will be looking for performers who share their vision. The Fringe is more about love than money and you could be just who they need.

The second observation about the Eco-Congregation blog is to do with the increasing awareness of environmental issues on the Fringe, indeed all of Edinburgh's festivals. The question of theatre's impact on the environment is one I wrote about here in the Guardian a few years ago and it remains a subject of concern for all the arts.

In her introduction to last week's Annual Review 2011, Edinburgh Festival Fringe chief executive Kath Mainland praised a pilot scheme involving 20 Fringe venues reducing and recycling their waste. She said that towards the end of the 2011 Fringe, a recycling day resulted in venues and companies recycling "over two tonnes of paper". You can expect to see more such initiatives in festivals to come.

I've included more about green initiatives on the Fringe, including material not in the book, on the venues page of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide website.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fact by fact through the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

THE Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society published its annual report a few days ago. It includes name-checks for all the various board members, sponsors and partner organisations, as you'd expect. 

It also includes the following head-spinning facts:
  • • www.edfringe.com was viewed 12 million times between June and August 2011 (1 million up on the year before)
  • • The Fringe apps for Android and iPhone were downloaded 45,084 times in 2011
  • • An estimated 1,877,119 people attended registered events
  • • Something like 21,192 performers took to the stage
  • • There were 607 free shows and 1319 premieres
  • • Comedy accounted for 37% of the programme, theatre 30% and music 14%

Friday, January 27, 2012

In bed with Alan Davies

HERE'S  a rare picture of comedian Alan Davies (that's him on the left, hiding under the covers). It's from a student production  of Enchanted Night by Slawomir Mrozek in March 1986 at what was then known as the University of Kent at Canterbury. I know this because I was the director. Taught him everything he knows, I did.

Anyway, this morning's news is Davies is returning to stand-up for the first time in the UK for more than ten years with a run on the Edinburgh Fringe at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. He's already been touring the show, Life is Pain, in Australia according to this report in the Scotsman.

In his pre-Jonathan Creek and pre-QI days, Davies was one of the brightest stand-ups on the circuit, with a free-ranging conversational style that endeared him to audiences. He was very funny in a way that many of the most spontaneous comedians are. It'll be interesting to see if he's captured the old stand-up spirit when he returns in the summer.

The early announcement of such a big TV name – alongside Jimmy Carr, Jason Byrne and Rhod Gilbert at the same venue – reminds you that the Fringe operates on all scales, whether it's Davies playing to 1200 a night or a first-time student company pleased to get an audience of double figures. As The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide shows, it's a significant part of the calendar for artists at all stages of their careers and once you've got a taste for it, you can't stop yourself coming back.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adam Riches gives Edinburgh Fringe advice

CHARACTER comic Adam Riches is performing at London's Soho Theatre next month. In February, he's doing a five-week run of Bring Me the Head of Adam Riches, a highly acclaimed award-winning show spotted in Edinburgh by the theatre last year.

Before he does that, however, he's rather generously giving an impromptu talk on 27 January about getting a show together for the Edinburgh Fringe. It's a subject he knows well, having taken seven shows, including a self-confessed "one-star flop" and his most recent Fosters Comedy Award-winner.

He'll be recounting his experiences of putting on a show under his own steam and answering your questions about trying to do the same thing. More details about it here.

Sounds like a great opportunity. I didn't speak to Riches for The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, but I did interview Mark Godfrey, executive producer of Soho Theatre. In the book, Godfrey talks about the importance of the Edinburgh Fringe to his programming, the pull of the bigger venues and the best approach to take if you want to get a producer to see your show.

He also talked about the competition a newer comedian faces from the bigger-name stand-ups and the fine art of choosing the right time slot. It didn't make the final cut of the book, so it's a blog exclusive (yes, dear reader, that's how generous I am): "If you're going at 8pm and 9pm, which people seem to think are great time slots, then you're going up against the established comedians. If you’re slightly newer, I would think about trying to get a 5pm slot when you've got less competition. If you do well, people will want to see comedy at that time. When you're looking for shows to see, it's always nice to find something that's at a time you can do, whereas the other ones you have to trade off against each other."

In terms of the kind of work he's looking for, Godfrey said this: "You're looking for a spark of talent or something different, something that feels original or that you haven't seen before, something that feels fresh to you. People should do what they want to do and then they should look around and decide where they want to take it and I'm sure they will find the right match for whatever they want to do."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's a book!

A LOVELY surprise this morning in the post. The arrival of a new-born book. Coming into my world after an 18-month labour neither kicking nor screaming. And the young fella already knowing lots of words. 

My editor hadn't told me she was sending it, so I had no idea to expect it, which makes it all the more of a thrill. Still a few weeks before it'll be in the shops, but this picture is proof it hasn't all been a figment of my imagination.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fun, fun, funding

WHEN I was researching The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, I expected to hear lots of horror stories about people going bankrupt and re-mortgaging their house as a result of the debts they accumulated by putting on a show on the Fringe. My evidence is purely anecdotal, but generally that wasn't what I heard.

Yes, there are people who get their fingers burnt and are still paying off their overdraft five years later and, yes, as in the recent case of Remarkable Arts, it happens that a venue management runs into financial trouble leaving companies out of pocket. But on the whole, the message is that with a realistic budget you can break even.

How you draw up a realistic budget is the question. Today John Fleming has written a blog called How to finance a show at bottomless money pits like the Edinburgh Fringe which has a few tips on how to make ends meet.

If you have more to say about money and budgets, I've set up this page to do so: The money - your comments.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Late 'n' Live 'n' Lynn Ferguson

THERE'S an article of mine in the Scotsman today about a four-part BBC Scotland series about Late 'n' Live, the 25-year-old Edinburgh Fringe comedy institution that kicks off at 1am and finishes round about 5am. Audiences arrive at the Gilded Balloon with a whole evening of drinking behind them, which is partly why the club has a reputation for being the most raucous on the circuit. Comedians approach it with trepidation.

I watched the first episode on a preview DVD last night and can't wait to see the rest. As well as capturing a sense of the onstage antics, it gives a great insight into the thinking of the comedians as they look back on their experiences and reflect on the fun and the fear of it all.

In my telephone interview with Lynn Ferguson, who wrote and narrates the series, she told me how much the footage had reminded her of the importance of the Edinburgh Fringe. "The Edinburgh festival is an incredibly important institution," she said. "What it does and its effects on the arts and culture can never be over-estimated."

It echoed the feeling I had as I wrote The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide last year. Of course, I already knew the Fringe was a thrilling thing – just as Ferguson did before she made her series – but talking about it to performer after performer only made it seem more astonishing still. Everyone you meet has intense stories to tell about it and every story is different.

Ferguson also made a remark that is pertinent to the chapter in The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide about taking the next step beyond the Edinburgh Fringe. When you have a hit on your hands, the advice in the book from producers and performers alike is to be wary about signing up to the first offer that comes your way – especially if your discussions are out of hours.

"There were so many deals done in Late 'n' Live, I can't tell you," said Ferguson. "I think I arranged a tour of Hong Kong just over the bar one night. These weird things where you'd go, 'Yes, I'll do that,' and then you'd think, 'Did I just say I'll go to Hong Kong?'"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The money: your comments

Balancing the books

APPARENTLY, IT makes the world go round. It also makes the Fringe go round, although nobody seems very sure where it all goes. Let's just say you need quite a lot of it.

The message of this chapter in The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, though, is that with careful budgeting and proper management of your expectations, you shouldn't have to remortgage your house to pay for your show.

Those offering tips include producer Guy Masterson, comedian Ed Byrne, singer Martyn Jacques, Assembly's William Burdett-Coutts, the Stand's Tommy Sheppard, the Underbelly's Charlie Wood, the Pleasance's Anthony Alderson and producer James Seabright.

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The next step: your comments

Author Mark Fisher with a backdrop of Edinburgh Castle

Beyond the Fringe and back again

FOR MANY performers, the Fringe may be the first step towards a professional career. For many others, it is the place they return time and again to solidify their reputation and try something new.

This chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide considers your prospects beyond the Fringe and looks at how you can capitalise on your success.
Sharing their experiences of exploiting Fringe hits are practitioners including Judith Doherty of Grid Iron, Suzanne Andrade of 1927, Cora Bissett of Roadkill fame and John Clancy of Clancy Productions.

Also sharing their advice are international producers such as Tina Rasmussen and David Sefton, as well as Eugene Downes of Culture Ireland. 

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The show must go on: your comments

Author Mark Fisher outside the Fringe Office

First-night nerves and second-night wobbles

GETTING A show together and finding your way to Edinburgh is only the start of your adventure on the Fringe. Once August arrives, the serious work starts.

This chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide looks at the pressures you'll be under and offers loads of tips about how best to deal with them.

Among those sharing their first-hand experience are anthropologist Mark De Rond, playwright Simon Stephens, directors Alexander Wright, Jethro Compton and James Wilkes of Belt Up, venue managers Tomek Borkowy and Tommy Sheppard, actors Cora Bissett and Siobhan Redmond, singer Martyn Jacques and comedians Ed Byrne, Nick Doody and Phil Nichol

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The awards: your comments

I'd like to thank

THERE'S NOTHING like rounding off a successful run on the Edinburgh Fringe with a vote of approval in the shape of an award.

Often, there's not much you can do to maximise your chance of winning one, beyond putting on a good show, but if you know what's out there, you can try to put yourself in the running.

This chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide rounds up the major awards and talks to key players such as critic Joyce McMillan and award-giver Carol Tambor about the kind of thing they're looking for.

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The media campaign: your comments

Read all about it

THE COMPETITION for audiences is intense on the Edinburgh Fringe which means the competition for media attention is pretty ferocious too.

This chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide puts some perspective on whether or not press coverage can help you and suggests the best ways to go about getting it.

Sharing their advice are Fringe experts including playwright Ella Hickson, comedian Nick Doody, comedy critic Brian Logan, theatre critics Lyn Gardner and Joyce McMillan, editor Jonny Ensall, producer James Seabright, publicist Claire Walker, venue manager Tommy Sheppard and producers Aneke McCullough and Guy Masterson.

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The marketing campaign: your comments

Author Mark Fisher in front of the Fringe shop

Sell, sell, sell

YOU MAY be experienced at selling shows elsewhere, but once you get to Edinburgh in August, you realise the rulebook has been thrown away. This chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide deals with the various techniques you can use to let people know about your show, remembering you're up against phenomenal competition.

We talk about the audience, about images, about word of mouth and that old Fringe favourite, flyering.

Sharing their experiences from the Fringe frontline are experts including Charlie Wood of the Underbelly, publicists Liz Smith, Claire Walker and Fraser Smith, producer Chris Grady, Forest Fringe's Andy Field, comedian Nick Doody, producer James Seabright and magician Paul Daniels. We also meet Fringe performers working the crowds on the Royal Mile. 

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The law: your comments

Rights and wrongs

SORRY TO get all heavy on you, but you can't escape the small-print when you're putting on a show. It's nothing impossible to deal with, but you have certain legal obligations when it comes to copyright, performing rights and contracts and you should go in with your eyes open. 

This chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide is a clear and straight-forward breakdown of the main legal areas you should be aware of. Dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s at the start and you won't find yourself in an awkward corner when you're too far in to do anything about it.

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The accommodation: your comments

Author Mark Fisher with a backdrop of Edinburgh Castle

Rooms for improvement

YOU'RE COMING to Edinburgh to perform, not to have a luxury holiday, but there's no escaping the fact that where you stay – and how much it costs – will have an impact on how comfortable you are and, in turn, how smoothly your show goes.

This chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide rounds up the kind of property that is available and the best way you can go about getting somewhere that suits you and your fellow company members.

Contributing tips to this chapter are Fringe experts including comedian Nick Doody, director Renny Krupinski and producer Chris Grady, as well as letting agent Chris Boisseau.

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The venue: your comments

Author Mark Fisher with a backdrop of Edinburgh Castle

Enter stage right

THIS IS the chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide that introduces the oddball collection of university halls, classrooms, Masonic lodges and back rooms in pubs that Edinburgh offers to anyone wanting to perform. 

It gives tips about location, financial deals, technical facilities, time slots and reputation, as well as a section about running your own venue. As usual, it is full of opinions by experienced Fringe hands.

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The show: your comments

Making a spectacle of yourself

THE EDINBURGH Festival Fringe is so amazingly big that there's room for just about any kind of performance you can conceive of. That's the good news. 

It's also true some things are a better fit than others. So this chapter of the The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide looks at the kind of things that do well and the kind of things that struggle. It also considers the different challenges facing different types of performance from amdram to stand-up, from children's shows to foreign-language theatre. 

Fringe luminaries including Assembly's William Burdett-Coutts, the Pleasance's Anthony Alderson, Underbelly's Charlie Wood, director Suzanne Andrade, playwright Ella Hickson, producer Dana MacLeod and comedian Ed Byrne are among those sharing their advice.

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The motivation: your comments

Getting in the right frame of mind

THIS IS the most important chapter in The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide. Get the motivation right and everything else you do will flow naturally. If you get it wrong – or simply don't understand it – then you're building problems for yourself from the start.

Helping explain what this means are expert voices including Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Kate McGrath, producer of Fuel, Toby Gough, international theatre director, Ella Hickson, Fringe First-winning playwright, Marlene Zwickler, artist manager and Nica Burns, director of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards.

Because of its fundamental importance, this is the chapter we will return to most often throughout the book.

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The timing: your comments

Author Mark Fisher outside the Fringe Office

Month by month through the Fringe year

THERE'S A lot to do when you're putting on a Fringe show. The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide can't tell you how to write and rehearse – that'd be a book in itself – but it does describe all the many other tasks on your plate. They can sound daunting, but there's plenty of time to do them all well as long as you plan carefully.

Before we go into detail in the rest of the book, this chapter outlines what you should be doing when, whether it's talking to venue managers or doing a last-minute marketing drive.

Offering advice are experienced hands such as venue managers William Burdett-Coutts and Anthony Alderson, tech specialist Nick Read, publicist Claire Walker, theatre critic Joyce McMillan, actor Anthony Black and producer Nica Burns.

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The Fringe Office: your comments

Author Mark Fisher in front of the Fringe shop

The festival nerve centre

IN THIS chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide we look at how the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society came into being and how it functions today. We consider the paradox of an open-access festival that has an administration to look after it, and look at how the organisation copes with offering a service to Fringe participants without restricting what they do.

After giving a broad outline of the Fringe Office's services, the chapter introduces us to the key members of staff, including Kath Mainland, chief executive, Neil Mackinnon, head of external affairs, Miriam Attwood, former media manager, Christabel Anderson, head of participant services, Barry Church-Woods, venues and companies manager, Louise Oliver, participant development co-ordinator, and José Ferran, box office manager.

The chapter finishes with a consideration of what it might mean to go it alone and perform in Edinburgh without the assistance of the Fringe Society.

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

The city and its festivals: your comments

Author Mark Fisher with a backdrop of Edinburgh Castle

Welcome to the greatest show on Earth

IN THIS chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, we discover the incredible scale of the festivals that take over Edinburgh during August, not only the Edinburgh Festival Fringe itself, but several more besides. 

Fringe regulars such as New York director John Clancy, Montreal producer Sarah Rogers and Assembly boss William Burdett-Coutts explain what it feels like to stage a show in such an enormous event and how you start to get your head around it all.

We then go back in time to the origins of the world's biggest arts festival and take a look at how it grew to the thrilling event it is today. Comedian Ed Byrne talks about how compelling the Fringe is, while international directors such as Toby Gough emphasise its global importance.

After that, there's just time for a quick bit of orientation in the beautiful Scottish capital, then we're ready to go . . .

If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fringe registration

REGISTRATION is now open for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012. If you want to do a show in the world's biggest arts festival this year, then follow the links on the Fringe participant show registration page

If you register before 21 March, you'll qualify for a reduced fee. That means you still have two months from now to think about it. If you leave it later than that, you'll have to find another £100 or so. 

The final programme registration deadline is 11 April. You can register after that, but you won't be included in the printed edition of the Fringe Programme. As The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide explains, that can put you at a considerable disadvantage. This is a highly competitive festival, so no need to make the competition any harder for yourself.

In the meantime, you should click on this link to order your copy of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide It's out on 16 February.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Actors Guide to Surival documentary review

JUST watched a documentary called The Actors Guide to Survival (yeah, the lack of apostrophe bothers me too), which I stumbled across the other day while thinking about how to promote my book, The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide

If you are actually an actor looking for tips on survival, Mark Ashmore's low-budget, fly-on-the-wall film will tell you virtually nothing. But if you are a performer wanting to get a sense of the chaos, desperation and exhilaration of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, then it's definitely worth a look. 

You get a sense of it in this YouTube video:

Ashmore followed actor and comedian Jody Kamali as he performed his show The Backpacker in 2007 (or maybe 2008; the documentary is not big on detail), following him backstage, observing the different audience reactions and charting his sometimes tense exchanges with director and techie. If you learned how to "survive and thrive" from this, I'd be impressed, but you will get a real flavour of the intensity, passion and gung-ho spirit that the Fringe cultivates.

I found lots of it very funny, but that might because of my love of Annie Griffin's 2005 movie Festival, which is also set on the Edinburgh Fringe. Some of this feels like Griffin's out-takes or like something Christopher Guest might have done as a spoof. You can never quite tell if Kamali's show is brilliant or awful, which is kind of appropriate: isn't that exactly how it feels for every actor as they arrive full of hope in the first week of the world's biggest festival?

Also valuable for the would-be Fringe performer are Ashmore's scene-setting sequences in which Glasgow actor Vivien Taylor accosts performers, directors and producers on the Royal Mile as they publicise their shows. Some of them have useful tips to share, especially in the extended interviews included in the DVD extras. But rather than offering straight advice, the footage works best as a taster of Edinburgh at festival time. There's no substitute for the real thing, but this gives some pointers about what you've got in store.

It's nice that the documentary focuses not on the big success stories and the famous names, but on the average performer doing their best to be heard above the hubbub. Most of them have that special shell-shocked look that the Fringe generates. It accompanies the feeling of tremendous excitement and tremendous exhaustion, a sense that even if you're not enjoying it right this minute, you'll look back at it one day and think it was the most amazing time of your life.

So well worth picking up for a tenner off Amazon or direct from the filmmaker for even less - not so much because it teaches you a lesson but because it gives you a bit of a warning.

Public image II

ON THE basis that anyone who's anyone has a YouTube video to promote their show, I reckoned it was time I got one to plug The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide. It's impossible to capture the flavour of the Edinburgh festival unless you're actually filming in August (and even then, it's not an easy thing to do), so I had the challenge of how to suggest the idea of the Fringe even though it was a grey day in January.

It was my wife who suggested the solution. The video could be about the transformation of the city, focusing on various places around town that are evidently not buzzing with festival life and describing how much they will change. If you've never seen it happen, you have to take my word for it, but change they do.

Making the video took two attempts. I went out with my son last weekend and, in theory, got all the shots we wanted – views of the city, the Fringe Office, the Underbelly, the Bedlam Theatre, the Gilded Balloon, the Pleasance and the Stand Comedy Club – but we set out too late in the afternoon and it went from light to dark in the couple of hours we were out. Although this did mean some rather nice shots of Teviot House (aka the Gilded Balloon) with a changing pattern of coloured lights projected on the facade, it left us with some pretty gloomy footage and potentially confusing continuity problems.

It meant more work, but it was to our advantage. I was able to knock up a rough version of the video and identify its strengths and weaknesses. By the time, we headed out again yesterday morning, we had a tightened up script and a better sense of the images we needed.

I was still useless at remembering my lines to camera – you can see me stumbling over them on the finished version – but with a separately recorded voice-over, I think I just about got away with it. The shots of me wandering around town rather stiffly are a bit cheesy, but I hope it gives some sense of the atmosphere of the city and puts a human perspective on the book.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Public image

If you want Fringe information, step this way. Pic: Lotte Fisher
INSTEAD of writing the feature I've been attempting to write for most of the week, I headed out with my daughter to get some high-res photos taken. It's early days, but already I've had a couple of requests for pictures, so I thought it would be better getting images taken that vaguely related to The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide than just some snap of me on holiday.

We chose Calton Hill because it has commanding views of the city, taking in iconic sights such as Edinburgh Castle and the acropolis. It's hardly original thinking, but if the pictures suggest the city, it's a good visual clue about the book. It was a really clear day with some sharp low winter sun, which was great for lighting. 

Then we headed down to the Fringe Office for some more pictures. In terms of visual clues, that's the really obvious one - though not quite as easy to get a shot that draws everything together. Remembering my photo shoot the other day with the Scotland on Sunday photographer, we made use of the "Fringe Information" sign - a gift for a man with a book providing Fringe information.

I've put downloadable versions of five of the pictures on a new press area on my website.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Oh the glamour

TODAY I was photographed by Scotland on Sunday for the article Brian Ferguson is writing about The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide . Naturally, I suggested I should meet the photographer in front of the Fringe Office - and he was pleased to be able to take some shots beneath the sign that says "information here". Nice touch.

Despite it being January, straight outside the Fringe Office, there was a bloke juggling with fire for the entertainment of the half-dozen tourists who were ambling around. It's a terrible cliche that the Fringe is all about street theatre clowns and unicyclists, but it was too much of a temptation to make use of the opportunity, so we got some shots with him and the Fringe Office in the background. Better than a standard shot of another middle-aged bloke staring seriously into the camera.

The campaign begins

Ha, my evil masterplan works. Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday reporter Brian Ferguson spotted my recent twitter activity and called me up for an interview this morning. He liked the idea of me not only writing a book about the Edinburgh Fringe but also doing a show on the Edinburgh Fringe. I guess that's me committed to doing a show then.

I was working not far from the Scotsman offices, so was able to get down there at lunchtime for a spontaneous interview. It's a little earlier than I expected to get coverage, but the book is available for order from Amazon here: The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide so it'll all be healthy publicity.

That reminds me: I need to set up a press page on my website, both for journalists to have a press contact and for readers to check out the press coverage.

It was odd being on the other side of the interview table from where I'm used to sitting. Normally I do 10 per cent of the talking and 90 per cent of the listening; this time it was the opposite way round. 

I hope I gave Brian what he was looking for. It brought home to me that interviewees have to be focused and have to work hard to provide interesting and relevant material for the journalist to use. People I interview are always so good at it, I tend to take it for granted, but there's a skill involved.

I guess the more I talk about it, the better I'll get at focusing on the key stories and summing up the things that distinguish the book from all the others.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Getting word out

Seeing as it's only six weeks until the publication of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, I've been on a mission to get word out about it. It's a bit of a challenge not to sound like blatantly advertising even though I am blatantly advertising, but the good thing is I have a lot of followers on Facebook and Twitter who will be genuinely interested in the book, so I don't feel too much like a door-to-door salesman.

With that in mind I've set up a Facebook page for the book here. So far it's attracted a couple of dozen likes, which is heartening.

I've also started to send out two or three tweets a day with choice quotes from the book, especially from those with Twitter accounts in the hope of attracting the odd retweet. Guardian theatre critic Lyn Gardner kindly did that very thing with the first tweet of my one-man campaign this morning.

In addition to that I've been sending emails to contributors and press officers asking them to spread the word. New York director John Clancy, who's quoted in the book, gave a nice mention on his Scrappy Jack's World blog.

Normally I'd say I wouldn't expect any of this to change anything over night, but the book's ranking on Amazon has shot up. It might not sound such a big deal to have made it into the top 50,000, but only a couple of days ago, the book was at 469,854 and an increase in 400,000 ain't bad by my reckoning. No idea how that translates as sales, but for a book that isn't out yet, I can't complain.
© Mark Fisher 2012. Powered by Blogger.

About Me

My photo
Follow me on Twitter @MarkFFisher, @WriteAboutTheat and @LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.