About Andy Martello:
Award-winning author, professional comedian, variety performer, and generally cool dude. Originally from the Chicago area, I now make my home in Las Vegas, Nevada where I emcee VIP events, perform for corporate clients and at speaking engagements, and I tour the U.S. and Canada as the announcer for The Price is Right LIVE, Fremantle Media’s live stage version of the world’s most popular TV game show.
You may have seen me on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, in feature films such as Last Vegas, The Company, and The Hangover 3, and as a member of the elite team of business professionals known as the Mystery Diners on the popular Food Network program of the same name. I brought the subject of my first book (the El Rey Club) to national prominence on the hit History Channel program, American Restoration.
A writer since birth, my humor and opinion columns have appeared in the North Las Vegas Voice newspaper, TheCheers.org, and AbsoluteWrite.com, and elsewhere. The King of Casinos: Willie Martello and the El Rey Club, my first book, has earned 13 AWARDS, including a Readers’ Favorite Book Award, an International Book Award, a USA Best Books Award, and it was named Book of the Year by the Casino Chip and Gaming Token Collectors Club.
My first book of poetry, ‘Pretty Words. Nothing More. An unlikely Book of Poetry’ was released in January of 2015 and has already generated the demand for future poetry books, including The Broken Mirror, and ‘Pretty Words. So Much More,’ which will be a deluxe, coffee-book edition of my first poetry endeavor.
Upcoming book projects include Andy Martello’s Roommate Chronicles, Seven-thousand Feet Closer to Heaven: The History of Nevada’s Mt. Charleston, And Here’s Your Host: Insights and Interviews with Game Show Greats, and Andy Martello’s Stupid Stories About Famous People.
What inspires you to write?
As an entertainer, I am often able to express myself creatively. However, unless it is one of my comedy shows or a panel discussion, I am rarely afforded the luxury of creative freedom and I cannot always express myself the way I would like. I am frequently required to say someone else’s lines or talking points. Scripted dialogue here, corporate double-talk there. When you are a person in a creative field and accustomed to the attention from an audience, you find you always have something to say about most any subject. Unfortunately, you don’t always have an audience to perform for, so you must find an avenue to release your ideas. Writing provides a perfect outlet for me to speak without the confines of a prepared statement and with the liberty that comes from being able to tell a story my way. It doesn’t matter if it is a humorous piece, a story from my own life, a work of poetry, or an historical work. When I write, I am allowed to communicate my way. It is a wonderful release for me.
For years, I simply wrote things down with no intention of ever doing anything with the pieces. With the dawn of the Internet and blogs, I found it was a great way to make good use of funny concepts or clever observations. Whether or not it did anything to build a following or not it irrelevant to me. I hope it brought more fans my way, but I was always happy for the release. I suppose this is all a long-winded way for me to avoid using the classic writers’ cliché, “My NEED to write inspires me.”
As for inspirations for specific works, a photo on a museum wall led to the publication of my first book eight years later. That was a biography/Las Vegas casino history book and easily the LAST thing I would ever expect to be the subject of my FIRST book.
My first book of poetry was brought about by falling in love with the wrong person. There’s your cliché for you.
My humor and opinion works all stemmed from real life events and my need to spout unconventional wisdom on the world.
I infrequently pick a subject to write about. I just start writing about something which is interesting to me at the time and, eventually, have a book to show for it all.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am fairly confident I am the least organized writer on the planet. I would love to say I always outline everything with the latest software, create bibliographies Kate Turabian would admire, and format every page in ways any copy editor would welcome on their desks. Nope!
I DID have a rough outline for my casino history book.
I HAVE sketched out a few ideas ahead of time for certain projects.
I DO have a good idea of where I am going with everything I write.
I just don’t do a lot of those things every “How to Be a Great Writer” seminars tell you to do.
I do, however, find when I do get into a writing groove, there is some structure to the circumstances which leads me to writing. I agree with most who say you should plan time to write every day and do your best to stick to that schedule. Two excellent examples pertain to my first book and a book which is near completion.
I used to be a school crossing guard in Las Vegas. As a result, I had an odd schedule, requiring me to be awake very early, get some things done during the day, and then be back at work in the late afternoon. Thinking about what I had planned on writing the night before and then following through the next day is what worked for me. Those thoughts would bring me to sleep and I would hone them in my head while I had 30 minutes of quiet time (occasionally interrupted by helping children cross the street). There wasn’t a lot of opportunity for chit-chat with anyone and it is very easy to watch out for cars while thinking to yourself about other things, so, by the time I was done with my shift and on the way home, I had a near-perfect idea of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. Twice a day I would do this and then before bed time, I would start the process all over again. My first draft was done in about ninety days.
Earlier this year, I was on the road with The Price is Right LIVE and touring the United States and Canada. There is often a lot of down time while on the road, particularly when we were in Canada, where the weather was not always optimal for sightseeing and the locations where we were staying didn’t allow for a lot of doing much other than staying in your room. Rather than watch TV or sleep, I wrote. The first draft of that book was done in three weeks.
For me, I find I end up with a need to get writing as soon as I have a great first sentence in my head. It seems as though that first sentence in every chapter, or at least one which gives me the launching point for the great story within a chapter, is what makes me think ahead to what comes later in a sentence, a paragraph, and eventually, a chapter. Sometimes I will go weeks without writing a thing. Then, an opening sentence pops into my head, and it’s off to the races for me.
So, my process is…I write when I feel like writing.
What advice would you give other writers?
I don’t think anyone would want me to give advice to other writers because most wouldn’t take it from me. Writers flock to writer’s conferences to listen to people being paid to tell them what makes a great writer. They pay great money to attend these things, spend more money of books about how to get published, and even pay extra for special Q and A sessions with famous and successful authors, all of whom have books about how to become a famous and successful author. In their minds, I am not famous nor am I successful. At least, I don’t think I am any of those things. I assume other writers view me the same way. With that being said, none of the aforementioned means I have not given advice when asked, and I believe those who felt I had something valuable to offer would say it was sound advice.
First, do not spend your money on writer’s conferences and books about marketing, writing, etc. Unless you are looking to improve format or get a few new ideas you may not have already considered, most of that information is available online for free. Better yet, and I know this seems like a no-brainer – GO TO A DAMNED LIBRARY, WANNABE! You could also ask other authors for information, but only if these people are actual friends of yours. Generally, authors don’t want to help other authors because we all had a miserable, painful time getting our books out into the world and we either feel you should suffer like we did or we feel there are already too many authors (good and bad) cluttering up the works for us to care. If you do not have any author or publishing friends, don’t bother asking any of your friends if they do. Mysteriously, nobody known anybody in publishing. If they do, they don’t know anyone who can help you. So, save your cash, start learning by doing, hope you don’t be part of the problem with publishing. If you must spend your money on publishing…
ALWAYS choose to spend it on one to three highly qualified, PROFESSIONAL editors. I am just as guilty of not doing this with my first book and I am happy to say I learned my lesson well. If you don’t like reading poorly constructed sentences, misspelled words, and paragraphs which read as though you were a little drunk and even more tired when you used our own cut-and-paste proofreading style, it stands to reason nobody else will like reading it either. The money you spend on professional copy editing, proofreading, and content editing is so much more valuable than ANY writer’s conference you will ever attend.
Second, as trite as it sounds, write what you know. Your experiences form who you are. Your story should be told your way and it won’t have any passion or feeling if you are trying to be Hemingway, but you write like E.L. James.
Next, DO NOT WRITE LIKE E.L. JAMES!
Lastly, I offer the single best piece of advice I ever received. This came to me from New York Times bestselling author Robert Graysmith (Auto Focus, Zodiac). Prior to starting my first book, he stumbled upon a lot of my research and stories online. He contacted me asking for permission to use some of the research for one of his next projects since our two projects crossed paths somewhat. I mentioned to him during a conversation I had no idea how to even start writing a book and was certain I would have no idea when a book was “finished.” He simply told me, “Write a page a day. You’ll have a book in less than a year.” This was simple, clever, and brilliant advice. Once you start with that one page, regardless of how good it may be, you get into a habit of writing every day. What is truly genius about the advice, though, is what Graysmith DIDN’T say. He didn’t tell me after getting into the habit of writing one page a day, before long, I simply wouldn’t be able to STOP at a single page and the book would feel as though it were writing itself. I have never received any better wisdom that that little nugget. I still force myself to start with a page when I am embarking on a new project. Even though I only have a few titles published to date, I have many in the hopper awaiting their days in the sun. Everyone is being meticulously edited and everyone started with a great opening sentence and a single page.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
With my first book, The King of Casinos, I spent two years going the traditional route. I queried agents like mad and was fortunate enough to get into the door with many people. I was very happy to even be read by anyone considering taking on my book. However, with the exception of the NONFICTION agent who told me he would take on my book if it were about a vampire or a zombie, almost to a person, the standard response (when one was given) was they were unsure if my book had national appeal. Being a book about vintage Vegas featuring stories about mobsters, prostitutes, Hollywood celebrities, and the true story behind Francis Ford Coppola’s first film, I was certain national appeal was in the bag. The agents saw otherwise.
Then, I ended up finding a billboard from the El Rey Club (the location for my book) and managed to get it on the popular History Channel program, ‘American Restoration.’ This had a national audience of 3 million people per new episode, per week and subsequent viewership reaching the one million mark for repeat broadcasts. With the book still not committed to any agency or publisher, I contacted everyone who had taken an initial look at the work and explained, the national audience was not only there, but would be seeing the book and story soon, hoping someone would see the opportunity before them and agree to start shopping it around. Everyone passed once again.
With that, and the realization that more than ten interview subjects passed away in the eight years since I began work on the book, I decided self-publishing was the route for me to go. I may not have become a national bestseller through my own self-promotion, but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing I brought out a product others were too afraid to carry themselves. Since its release, the book has earned thirteen literary awards and, while it is WAY too early to get excited, is being considered for production as a motion picture or television project. A script is in development right now.
I cannot advise a new author as to what is best for them since everyone will have different results. I have decided for myself self-publishing is the way I will continue to go. Since I firmly believe nobody actually reads or buys books anymore as it is, then it is better for me to utilize the many professional an inexpensive options for publishing. If I am, indeed, only writing for myself, then why should I spend all the time and postage on narrow-minded agents or publishing houses who only want “guaranteed bestsellers” in the first place? How they can even guarantee a “guaranteed bestseller” from anyone other than Stephen King or David Sedaris, is beyond me. But hey, maybe that’s what those overpriced and under-informed writers’ conferences are for.
It bears mentioning the aforementioned NYT bestselling author and mentor, Robert Graysmith, contacted me after my book came out to specifically gather information about self-publishing. He has told me many a story about how, even with the success of his many books, the publishers rarely spend a dime promoting the book anymore. I cannot say this is all that telling or not, but for me it screams from the rooftops that agents and publishers are on the endangered species list.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I know most book-lovers and authors hate me whenever I say these things, but I, myself, have never been much of a reader. If I didn’t write it, it is very unlikely I will ever read it. I hear people all the time going on and on about how much they love to read and simply cannot get enough time to read a good book. Yet, where are all these Burgess Meredith characters whenever a new book comes out? They are certainly not there for the many self-published authors who are hoping to gain a following. They may attend book fairs, places where they can buy books and meet the actual authors, but they surely do not buy a single book while there. The mom and pop book stores are empty because Barnes and Noble has a great coffee shop or cafe, and still, I do not see anyone leaving the store with books. Besides, if they do buy a book, they will do so online where they can get it cheaper or in electronic form. But, who am I kidding? If they are not buying books at a garage sale for a dime a piece, they aren’t getting them online, in remainder bins, or at used book stores.
I can say people will continue to publish books. Thanks to all of the self-publishing options, blogs, and social media sites, people will continue to publish them. However, they will most likely be electronic books instead of print books which nobody will buy. Nobody will buy the electronic books either now that Amazon offers a pay service where they can get unlimited e-books for free, authors are forced to give away their e-books or sell them for a buck just to find readers. After all, it’s only data and not a book, so it shouldn’t cost anything anyway. Moreover, there are now virtual libraries where nearly every e-book is available for free regardless.
People will publish so they can say they are published authors. Will there be anyone there reading or buying the books? Probably not. Unless…
If you are already famous, and I mean, big time famous, write lots of books. Publishers will line up to give you advances and will actually promote your book. Get your own TV show and a few million Twitter followers, a publicist to make yourself even MORE famous, and then write a book. If you’re already famous, you are a “guaranteed bestseller” and therefore, you are “a safe bet” to publishers.
Failing that, write or publish at your discretion. When someone DOES buy your book, the thrill is immeasurable.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Humor, Opinion, Entertainment, Poetry, History
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.