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So, a Stand-Up Comedian Walks Into an Editorial Business

As evidenced by the title of this blog post, I could never be a stand-up comedian.

Never. Ever. Ever.

Like so many other writers out there, I’m a total introvert. So the thought of being up on stage in front of a bunch of people without a properly planned speech and a PowerPoint presentation to work off of?

I can’t say that scenario is in my top 3 list of worst fears in life. Sharks, for one, are definitely scarier than that.

But if I stopped to compose a top 10 list, it would probably make the cut.

What I’m trying to say here is that, if you’re a stand-up comedian, I admire your hutzpah. Personally, I couldn’t do it.

But if you’re a stand-up comedian who wants to write a nonfiction humor book, let’s get to talking.

This week in Innovative Editing’s writing world is all about you.

In the nonfiction world, there are some very clear-cut and obvious genres. Hate to break it to you if you want to write a nonfiction humor book, but nonfiction humor isn’t one of them.

Here’s why.

Nonfiction Humor:

Nonfiction humor isn’t actually a genre. Unless you ask Amazon. Which made up its own set of genres to better organize its offerings.

Think of it this way... Your nonfiction humor narrative is almost certainly going to center around someone. And that someone is almost certainly going to be you. And doesn’t that make it an autobiography or memoir?

Innovative Editing would argue yes. But it’s willing to explore the non-genre as its own separate entity anyway.

If you want to write a nonfiction humor book and shop it around to literary agents and publishing companies… you really need to know the information above.

Otherwise, you’re relegating yourself right to Amazon’s KDP self-publishing platform. And while I am a self-published author who’s rather content with her lot in life, that may or may not be the best path for you.

Comedian or not, every writer has to decide for himself.

Going back to Amazon for a moment, their classifications really are weird. Type in “nonfiction humor” into their search bar, and the very first book that comes up is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***.

Clearly, Jeff Bezos was too busy swimming in his silos full of money to classify that one properly.

Since he’s no help whatsoever, let’s think about some major nonfiction humor books on our own. The names Chelsea Handler, Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey come to mind.

And guess what all their books have in common?

They’re each biographical in nature, telling funny (or supposedly funny) personal stories from start to finish.

(Sorry if you’re a fan of any of them. I just don’t find Chelsea Handler remotely funny, Mindy Kaling’s last book was average at best in my humble opinion, and I’ve never read nor ever see myself reading Tina Fey.

But hey… to each their own!)

There’s even a book out there called Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir. While I know nothing about the author, Jenny Lawson, she clearly gets how to write a humor nonfiction book.

She understands that when a comedian writes a book, it’s not just a collection of her best jokes.

It’s a narrative of experiences she’s had.

Save the collection of jokes for stand-up. They’re typically best delivered there anyway.


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