How I Built on Past Writing Success to Land a Traditional Book Contract! by Jenny Roche

How I Built on Past Writing Success to Land a Traditional Book Contract! by Jenny Roche

Having a methodical, step-by-step approach is how I came to land two traditional publishing contracts.

I’d had previous success with comedy writing and wanted to increase my knowledge when I was asked to tutor a comedy writing course. So, I read about comedy writing, immersed myself in broadcast comedy, and made copious notes. Since I had some journalistic experience, I decided my lecture notes could become the basis for magazine articles. I was able to get some of these articles published in a UK writing magazine.

Later, I thought that maybe these articles and notes could be turned into a book. I knew from getting my course notes together that there were few books on the how-to of comedy writing, and none were as comprehensive as I intended my book to be. There was a gap in the market that I could fill. My comedy credits and experience would also give me the credibility for writing this book.

I researched how to find and approach the right publishers, and put together a proposal and the three obligatory chapters for review. Of course, I got rejections. However, perseverance prevailed and I hit the jackpot with my sixth submission when I sent it to Hodder and Stoughton for their ‘Teach Yourself’ series. It’s now out of print and has sold over 3,000 copies worldwide.

I kept in touch with what was happening in the comedy world, and began to notice that stand-up comedy had become the big thing with writers becoming somewhat sidelined.

From watching stand-up acts, I’d seen many comedians who had great performance skills and a lot of talent. The only thing missing was their limited, or in some cases, absence of, comedy material.

Considering all I’d learned and taught about comedy, I thought I might be able to offer something to help these talents, also those wanting to get started in stand-up. This could be another gap in the market for a book idea that was forming.

I researched, like I did for my first book and, within a week of a second submission, I had a publication contract with the Compass Books imprint of John Hunt Publishing for my book ‘Get Your Act Together: Writing A Stand-up Comedy Routine.’ Sales are currently over 200 copies.

My advice for success:
• Write about something you like and/or are involved with.
• Know your subject and research it well.
• Build up your knowledge and experience, it’ll give you credibility.
• Find a gap in the market and do your research.
• Have persistence and tenacity.

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Jenny Roche is a freelance writer, workshop organiser, speaker, occasional comedy theatre producer and comedy events organiser and former University writing tutor with many years experience of writing successfully for magazines, newspapers and book publication. She has also scripted drama for radio and theatre and comedy for radio, TV, theatre and stand-up. Check out her website at


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