Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Will You Buy This Star Wars Shakespeare Book?

I admit,  I get frustrated when I see projects like this "Star Wars / Shakespeare" mashup, which appears to be an "officially licensed" ebook that tells Star Wars in iambic pentameter.  In other words, there appears to be some sort of a business model for retelling well known stories as if Shakespeare had written them (Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, anybody?)

Once upon a time, an idea like this would have been little more than a blog post.  Slap together a scene or two to get the joke across, put up a post, and hope it "goes viral".  Or maybe you take a different approach, maybe you just dip into popular culture for a well known line here and there and give those ye olde' Shakespeare spin (hint hint hint, hint - how I spent my Twitter time...)

Where does the idea turn into, "We should make a book and sell it"?  I've actually spoken to an agent on the subject.  I mean hey, I'm not stupid, if there's a gravy train that I could hop on I have to at least see if there's room. :)   What I was told makes perfect sense, that basically ideas like this only work as books *after* they've gone viral on their own, and basically that unless somebody like the New York Times notices you or you've got a dedicated following of 50,000 fans, don't bother.

For some projects, like Lebowski, that seems to have been the formula.  I remember that one being an online project well before it was a book.  Same with some other McSweeney's piece whose name I can't remember about Hamlet's Facebook page.  They develop a following online, then a publisher is interested.

I'm reminded of the script comedy show Saturday Night Live, who once upon a time hit it big in movies with Wayne's World.  "Aha!" thought the producers, "Clearly a skit can be turned into a movie!  We must TURN ALL THE SKITS INTO MOVIES!"  And we all probably know how well that went.  Sometimes an idea that is funny for 5 minutes is not funny for 10 minutes, much less 90.

If the author happens to be reading?  Nothing personal.  See earlier gravy train comment.  If there's a market for these things and a brother can get paid for his trouble?  I'm not going to stand in the way.  On the contrary I'm probably going to show you my script and see if I can get a meetup with your agent.

I'm asking -- is there a market for this?  Are any Shakespeare Geek readers waiting for this one?

And perhaps most importantly of all, has anybody called dibs on The Princess Bride yet?

"From forth thy lips that word flies far too oft,
 I fear it meaneth not what you may think."
Where's my agent?!


Mary DeSive said...

I'll probably buy it. After all, it's mixing two of my favorite things. I'm hoping it'll be as awesome as a peanut butter cup, but if it's no worse than a peanut butter and mayo sandwich I'll still probably buy it for the novelty. I'm just really crossing my fingers that it won't be as bad as peanut butter & pickles.

(And while I'm waiting, I should probably do something about that peanut butter addiction)

Duane Morin said...

Easy, Mary - you must create a viral video of you singing PEANUT BUTTER SHAKESPEARE TIME! PEANUT BUTTER SHAKESPEARE TIME!!

Tom Brown said...

Can't say I'm not intrigued - but it's the kind of book I might ask for at Christmas, maybe have on my bedside table for two months, flick idly through a couple of times before sleep, then file away to be forgotten. None of which is necessarily a bad thing.

Duane, I've already introduced my own space opera/Shakespeare spin to you - but Mary, you may also be interested to take a look. It's not quite so overtly inspired by Star Wars as Doescher's effort, but the spirit (the force?) is certainly in there somewhere.

Duane Morin said...

Hi Tom! I wrote you back about "So Long, Shakespeare" ... did you get my message?

Tom Brown said...

Hi Duane, Last message I had from you was 11th Feb - to which I replied with copies of the ebook. Let me know if you didn't receive and I'll happily re-send (or indeed provide paperback copy).