Episode 299: Multiple New York Times Bestselling Author Gigi Levangie on The New Vs. the Old Ways of LaunchingFeb 19, 2020
Gigi Levangie is the New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including the recently released Been There, Married That. She's also the screenwriter of the hit film Stepmom, starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon.
"There are some books, there's nothing you can do to make them successful. Even though they might be better than some other book you wrote and there are some books that will hit the top 10 New York Times bestseller list and you think, 'What? Why?'”
“You need to ask for things [when launching your book]. I was not raised this way. I was raised to be self sufficient. But you have to ask for favors. I literally just started sweating thinking about it."
"I was thinking, 'Do I print up postcards for my book and hand them out?' and my friend said, 'No, that was 10 years ago.'”
Anna: 00:00 I'm double recording because I have bad luck with technology and these words are going to be so important.
Gigi: Can you imagine if they got lost? It should be in a tomb somewhere.
Anna: They may be if you're listening to these in a tomb that's so awesome. Now one, this is what I was telling you as you walked in, you, I remember the first time I saw you and doesn't that even sound like a love story? Can I tell you what it sounds like? Yes. It sounds like a closet of sorts in my brain. Like it happened this morning. I moved to LA, I worked at People magazine as a freelancer. I didn't know like what I was doing about anything and I got to cover The Nutty Professor premiere.
Anna: 00:52 So I'm standing there interviewing Brian [Grazer] and he says, “This is my fiance, Gigi Levangie” and I looked at you and I was like, I have never seen a more glamorous person in my life. Come on. Just the name.
Gigi: I know. I sound like a French porn star.
Anna: I remember, cause your hair was short. I haven't seen it short since then. It was short. Yeah. Long in the front and shortened back. And you were just wearing this little dress. I don't always like what would it be like to be that glamorous? Like can you believe I remember that so well that's why I write these books because I just take apart that whole notion. I know, I know, but like so, so there was that stuck in my head. Like I can't even tell you.
Anna: 01:40 And then when we were in the same book, the Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys book. I was just like, “Well I have made it, I'm like in a book with Gigi and, and now we're sitting here talking like I could almost brazenly say like colleagues…”
Gigi: Oh, we are, we're beyond colleagues, we're survivors. We survived publishing and the whole thing. I remember thinking about you during the, the little book signing we did for Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, which I love doing. And I still, I, I loved your story and my, you know, very close to my heart. But I remember thinking, Oh, she's just as pretty…Cause sometimes people look beautiful and photographs, but you are beautiful in person as well. Let's just keep talking about doc already.
Anna: 02:48 Oh, that means I was, yeah, I was so, so I was so excited to like be in a book with you then cut to my storytelling show and like, I was still very like intimidated, you know, not in a bad way, but I was just like, Oh this woman, I can't. And Tyson Cornell is like, let's have Gigi do the show. I was like, Oh my God, I died. And they look Tyson, you tell the craziest, most hilarious, most self-effacing story. Can we say what it is or we're doing like it's called killer pussy and it's the story of how one time I had sex with somebody and he had a brain aneurism while having sex with you. It was directly after.
Gigi: 03:33 Sure. And it was sort of a very special journey.
Anna: 03:38 Well my favorite part of the story is that you went to visit him in the hospital. Of course it had sex with them. The thing is you're in a hospital. So what could go wrong? TRO. True. And some people find that like hot a hospital, they do the God, this is a disturbing thing. I had a friend, this is like real sidetrack who was fairy kinky and she was stating at doctor and she's like, you know, I just have this fantasy. Like she would burn nurse outfits, not that kinky. Fine. And she'd go as so to serve and she goes, I'd have these fantasies of him cutting me open, you know, during sex. And I'm like, no, no, that is not normal. Like I don't want to make you feel judged, but that is not normal. And that's something that she wanted. She won't have it all right. And she said, that's not me. That would not be me. I never,
Gigi: 04:27 I don't even, I don't have fantasies about hospitals at all. In fact, I don't even watch hospital shows. But it just so happened it was in the [inaudible],
Anna: 04:34 The ICU and there were curtains then it seemed like a, and you were comforting and it was fine. Yeah. I'm a nurse. I'm like Florence Nightingale, you really are. But a much a much better version. Oh yeah. So, okay. So my whole, you know, vantage point on you, it's just that like, you know, you just get big book deal after big book deal. They're all options. You know, it's step one step. Mom was made, man eater was made there. They're not just option. They're made. What was that? Mom was your, you wrote it again. Right? The bottom was a script
Gigi: 05:09 Script I wrote in 10 days. Amaze. I was really motivated at the time, but that was that was really fun up to the point where it, where, well, in Hollywood what happens is you do own your first draft as a writer and that's it. You might get a rewrite, which I did, but I was, you know, very new writer and my script got Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon attached. So that was very exciting. But then after that, you don't own it. It goes off into Hollywood land. And you know, you'll, you may hear about a couple of years later, I did go on the set and I, I saw Julia and we were talking and it was weird because I was a stepmom. She was playing a stepmom. She had her hair done the way mine was and I, I got very nervous and I threw my, was been in there yeah.
Gigi: 06:06 To surf flirt. Yeah, she was lovely. And yeah. And then, okay, so, so what year did you sell your first buck? Oh my gosh. 99 99 I think. And, and when that came, how would you say launches? Well, how would you say publishing has evolved since then? Well, 28 for one thing, there's no money left. There was money then. There was a lot of money [inaudible] around. So it's the same thing in Hollywood. We, there was a period of time when a spec scripts were being option, were being bought for hundreds of thousands. I, I had friends who sold scripts for $1 million. I actually managed her was one of those that was optioned and my script was paid for, which I hadn't written yet for close to that. Wow. Yes. So I I was there during that wave, you know, and it was, I can't tell you, I hate to be in the stalls, but it was pretty fun and there was a lot of hope.
Gigi: 07:19 Yes. And people, there was more dignity. Yes. And I think that we're losing some of that. In fact, there's a new law in California that there's all kinds of lawsuits against it, against this freelancing, no more than 35 a year. It's psychotic. I know, I know. But who do you know who can get 35 jobs a year? Well, there's also that apparently freelancers who, who write for tons of online publications do that in a few weeks, which is also kind of, I don't know how you do that. Yeah. I feel like you know, I want to find hope and I, I know that people will always try new stuff and art will always find a way and some of it's not art, but whatever I want, I like for change to happen, for new things to find a way. But I would also like for people to be able to, you know, get that gold ring. And I know Spire and I think that's really, anyway, I've had a bunch of launches and every time they kind of, you know, the book now, some people go on book tours. I don't do literary fiction. Right.
Gigi: 08:38 I do hard things. I don't think, no kidding. I remember the conversation we had at that reading where there's a picture of us where you told me about this reporter's name. I remember, but I'm not going to say said something to you like, Oh, you just do silly books or something like that. And you're like, ah, what do you do? Books. She actually has written a book since then. I don't know if you remember who that was or I don't remember her name, but she wrote for the paychecks. Now, Oh yes, yes, yes, yes. So always find a very backhanded, yeah. It doesn't matter whether they're female or male, it's equal. But I think that's true of anyone that they see getting any kind of recognition or whatever. And, and frankly, I mean, I've had great reviews in the New York times, you know? So if somebody doesn't like me, yeah. Small opinion. I mean, I think
Anna: 09:33 It's just so interesting. It's like this thing happens and I'm how I've been as guilty of it as anybody where you see someone get this great success and you forget that there are all these problems that come with it, that it didn't make their life perfect and you did that. You have every right to find major fault with them and tear it apart. You know, but, okay, let's talk cold hard facts and numbers. Was that a big book deal? That first one?
Gigi: 09:58 The first one was a nice book deal, but not a huge one. But I got my agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh at William Morris at the, you know, she came on and she's, she was a terrific agent and we were together for many years. And I also sold that to Fox Searchlight. That was called rescue me. And that was basically kind of a gritty coming of age story. It was not comedic and it was basically about my life growing up in East Hollywood as a young woman and drug deals and all these other things that that happened. So that was, I didn't expect it to be option at all. And Carl Franklin came on as the director. That was never made. But again, that's Hollywood. It's Hollywood. It's still, you can make a nice living. And then after that, I forget, which I think Maneater might've been after.
Anna: 11:00 Well, so, okay. So then I mean this thing about, you know, there was, there was dignity and money and all of those things with kills me is all these people I talked to today that say like, Oh, I'm deciding between, you know, sort of publishing myself or selling it. And, and I'm just like deciding between, you know, do you know what the statistic is that two out of every 10,000 books proposal sell, I had no idea proposals, proposals, and, and I'll talk to people and they are so dogged about it. And they're like, well I want to be in bookstores. And I'm like, well, you know, my books were in bookstores for two weeks. You're in bookstores, whether you self publish, there's that too. So we have clients who have gone to the local bookstores and their books are in bookstores. And my Harper Collins books are not in bookstores. That's true too. You know, but, but okay. So let's talk about launch. So how, so what, what have been some of the most effective strategies
Gigi: 11:57 That you have employed during these book launches? For, well, for me, number one is getting on a morning talk show. Now that has become less and less likely and less, less helpful and less and less helpful. As we know, people are completely distracted by other things and they get their, their news and other ways on Instagram. So eggs. Exactly. And I'm on Instagram, we'll see if it works. But that used to be, you know, CBS Morning Show, Good Morning America. That used to be really helpful and publicists still want to get those shows. So eyeballs are really important. Now, I don't know, is it Twitter? I don't know. Is it Instagram? I'm not sure. I think sometimes you don't even know what's gonna hit and not hit. Like we have the literary darlings, you know, that go on book tours, 30 cities and blah, blah, blah. Does it help? I don't know. I look for it and I'm not sure it corresponds to how many cities that you've, I've done big book tours and you know, there are three people in the audience. You're in Iowa and you're like, hi. It's hilarious.
Anna: 13:17 Well, I've never been on a book tour, so I can't even commiserate over this. But it's not fun. Yeah, I hear that. It's your, that I know. I know. I mean, I think that when, when my first book came out in 2005 and it was totally, it was said to me, if you can get on The Today Show and in People magazine the same week, you're guaranteed at best. I'm trying to get in the people magazine with this one. Yes. I was fired from People magazine right after seeing you at the point. I've literally been fired from every job I ever think. I wonder. I wonder. I deserved it in that case. I didn't deserve it in other cases, but but so yes. So do you hire a publicist? Do you try to arrange it yourself? What do you do?
Gigi: 14:01 Say you don't, you know, you don't need outside help that publishers provide their publicists and those people are all working very hard, but they're working very, very hard on so many books. So you're special. But you're not, you're one of 12 children. Exactly. Yes. So I hire an outside publicist and trust me if I, if I could get away with not doing that, I would do it. Yeah. But you, I can't risk it. Yeah. You've done it on every buck. I don't know if I've done, no, I have not done it on every book. But again, I've been around for a while and so it was different. It was kind of a different era. Yeah. You know, and on this one, I do have an outside publicist too. I think it's great.
Anna: 14:59 That's good. I, I never, I always found, I was always frustrated with my publicists because, because that's who I am, but also because I felt like I could do more than they could. Well, that's because that can be true too. No one's going to care the way you do.
Gigi: 15:15 Right. Except that I'm kind of stubborn because I feel that I wrote the damn book. I spent a year and a half of my life doing this. This is what I do right now. I have to market it. Oh yeah. No, I have to be a different person and put on a different hat and I just want us kind of sit back and let the world decide. I don't think that's an option anymore. I know. And I hate that. So that's why you see me on Instagram.
Anna: 15:52 Right. And I saw you amp it up. I saw literally the day you were like, “Okay, I'm going to do this. If it requires me in a bikini, I will do it.”
Gigi: I'm 57. Like if I'm not going to show my body now, it's never going to happen. I mean, it's great. I mean, cause it's like I, you, I got to master the Instagram. Like I'm self-deprecating, but I'm proud. You know, it's like all [inaudible] there's so much to do and it really is
Gigi: 16:19 The hardest, not the hardest part of my day. I take that. That sounds very great life. Yeah. but it is, it's one of the, it's, I don't want to say it's a, it's a burden, but it is a challenge to sell yourself when you weren't raised to sell yourself. I don't even sell my kids. Right. They're great. Right? But am I that parent who said, Oh, my kid's four point this, my kid does it. It's never been like that. That's why you're tolerable because those people are not, I can't take it. So how do I become that person? You know, you have to walk a very fine line, I think, to gain people's trust and to make people like you. It doesn't really mean that they're going to buy your book though. No, it doesn't. People can have a couple hundred thousand followers on Twitter and not sell 30 t-shirts. Did you hear about?
Anna: 17:21 Yeah, there's, it's really, it's really bizarre. And you know, I always talk about this, there's this Kevin Kelly blog. He cofounded wired I think, but then as they might be Keith Kelly, I can't remember. And he has this blog post called a thousand true fans. Yes. And he says like, you don't need millions of people. You need a thousand people who will follow anything you do. Unfortunately, I only have about three. I'm working on it. Yeah, there's always those random people. Yeah, I know. Like you and yeah, you don't know why they share their politics. Right, right. They're just there for you, the re, but a true fan. It says, we'll drive to another city if you're appearing there. And I was like, I may not even have three of those. I mean my boyfriend. But like maybe a friend.
Gigi: I don't even want my sisters to drive into my brother.
Anna: Yeah, they live locally. Right?
Gigi: Well, Santa Barbara. And I'm like, yeah, don't worry about it. So, but, so terms of like quote successful launches and less successful launches that you've had, what has been the main difference?
Gigi: 18:29 This is a really interesting question and it's a really tough one because I think there's such an element of, I hate to put it this way…zeitgeist.
Anna: 18:42 Right time, right place.
Gigi: 18:46 There are some books, there's nothing you can do to make them successful. Even though they might be better than some other book you wrote and there are some books that will hit the top 10 New York Times bestseller list and you think, “What? Why?” And you'll read the book and you'll say, I can't get through the first 50 pages. So there is some, somehow you capture people's interest and I don't know if it has anything to do with how much you, how much effort you put into marketing. Although I have a friend who self publishes and he but he…
Anna: 19:28 Marketer. Yes. I was in PR before he was Gabby Bernstein. You know like the biggest self-help coach. Yeah. Publicist.
Gigi: I don't, I don't even know how to do that though. Like I feel like if anyone lived with me for three weeks, they’d get their shit together. But I can't tell people I can't tell people…
Anna: 19:47 You have all the answers. I know I am. The older you get, the more you realize you don't know shit. You don't know shit.
Gigi: 20:00 A concrete answer to give people out there how to, on how to make sure their book sells 10,000 copies or 20,000, whatever. My friend is relentless with his Instagram, relentless Twitter. I'll tell you, cause I didn't ask him. Yeah. Yeah. And I think he's sold a lot of books. He goes to the bookstores and every weekend, no, he finds them. He signs them. He, he's telling me how to do this and what to do. It goes against everything in my nature. I know I want that kind of like, I would love that, that kind of thing where you're known but you're not bothered. I could go up on stage and do stand up and people would love it.
Anna: 20:52 But aren't you that level of fame?
Gigi: 20:57 But didn't you say, you know, I, I one time I was in New York with a friend of mine and it was after Starter Wife, actually it happened in New York, in LA. And I got both times I was recognized and I got very good tables.
Anna: 21:16 Not even the table, just the, the fact which was okay. And that was kind of enough. That's all I got enough for me. You know, when I was first like coming up in the world or whatever, I used to say I want to be famous enough to be in a gap. That's all. Cause remember those Gap ads they would have like I remember Lily Zanuk was in one and I was like, she was something, she's still something that's like a, that's a thing. But, but like so, so chic, so chic and then they had to stop doing them and God knows like what would they do now? Who cares? But okay, so wait, but now I lost my thing. Okay. So your friend does all these things and he's advising you. I mean I do think it's marketing now. I think everything is, but here's my epiphany is that marketing to me is more creative than writing.
Gigi: 22:06 What do you think of that? That's probably true. And that's probably why I'm resistant because I'm a little lazy when it comes to pushing anything. I'm, I'm creative with my writing. We're all creative beings. But anyway, I utilize my creativity by writing, by cooking. Most days by knitting while I'm watching the great British bake show or baking show, whatever they call it. So, but by the time it gets to marketing, you don't, you're tapped out. I'm done. I'm done. I'm fucking done.
Anna: 22:41 I think that's why where I am with writing, cause I'm just like, Oh right. I know. I mean my thing with writing was that traditional publishing killed my love for it. I thought I hated writing. I realized at the end like no that, but right now I prefer to do it in like newsletters and Instagram posts than books right now. I really do.
Gigi: 23:01 There might be a point in time where you come back to it. There might be, I think that you have to be open to that. Like I write three screenplays a year, at least when I finished one, I'm onto the next one. Right now, I'm not writing a book because we, this book was optioned by Donald DeLine at Warner Bros and we want to utilize the sisters in this book. So, but my publisher wants my next book to be about sisters and it's too close. The relationship is too close. So I'm not writing a book right now and I just need to use the energy in some way. So I have, I have screenplays out there. I have a screenplay with Jennifer Todd from Team Todd about a female bull rider in the 80s, and she was a champion. And we have interest from major actresses, which is great. So I'm always, I've got all these balls out now. You throw marketing,
Anna: 24:16 Right?
Gigi: 24:16 No, I want to shoot myself. If I could just do what I'm really hoping is I get a nice review from this publication and that publication and people want to read something that's funny. Yes. And that's not, I make fun of, eh, it's the spectrum. I make fun of the spectrum. It's not political. It's not, you know, hopefully you get something out of it, but it's not going to change your life. It's just going to be a good ride.
Anna: Now let me ask you this, how come you don't write nonfiction about all of these experiences?
Gigi: Well, because in my life, when I've had tragedies strike or when I've had real issues, you know, 20 minutes later I'm joking about it. It's just the way I deal with life. So I have been called on that by more than one man. You think you think everything's a joke? I mean, during my divorce, during when it was the most stressful time because I wasn't sure how custody was, it was mostly for me about custody. So even though it was so stressful, I was observing it like a writer does or an actor does, and looking for the comedy bits in there and the characters and all that. And that's how I survived.
Gigi: 25:59 I don't know, that's just, that's my coping mechanism. You can do it in nonfiction too. Yes. If I wrote nonfiction, I would have to deal with stuff that's really serious and right.
Anna: 26:12 Potentially like litigious you mean kind of thing? I don't know. It depends. I just feel like you could, I mean it's interesting that you said that like, you know, Party Girl, my first book, I made a novel instead of nonfiction because I thought that I didn't know how to be funny in nonfiction. But then, you know, Jerry Stahl wrote Permanent Midnight, which is the funniest addiction memoir ever. So it can happen, but, but I don't know. I just know I'd love to read nonfiction from you.
Gigi: 26:40 For sure. I'm sure a lot of people would love it and some people would really…
Anna: 26:44 Hate it. Yes. That's why the rest of us would love it all the more, the more safe way for me to, I know, but everybody does. Do people know that that's based on this?
Gigi: 26:54 Not specifically, no, I, it's not, it's not that close. If I really went for it, I was in this town, I've been in this town for my whole life in Hollywood for 30 years. Like do they really want me opening my mouth about, I used to get in trouble all the time at dinner parties.
Anna: 27:19 Right. Or you just get into more trouble. Why not? I don't know. I say this selfishly as a reader eventually. So truly has there really been nothing that, like if you had to break it down to your top tips for a launch, what would they be?
Gigi: 27:36 Okay. I think you have to have social media presence and I think you have to bring a lot of energy to that. So, and, and be authentic so that you can do it over the long haul, not just for a book, but for your career. I think Instagram, to me, Instagram feels like the best social media platform for selling Twitter. There's so much noise and a lot of it's political and I don't know how you get through all that. I think pictures sell. I love, I love looking at people's Instagram. So that would be number one. Number two. I would say try to get in the bookstores and get to try to get a relationship with people in different bookstores. I think number three,
Anna: 28:38 Three, you get your email addresses. You do that. You have a newsletter? I don't have a newsletter. Okay. So when you say you get your email addresses, you mean of the people, you know…
Gigi: 28:47 I have as many people you know, to, to let them know when your book's coming out and all that. I haven't done that yet.
Anna: 28:56 Yeah. But I mean, yeah, I mean, you should have a newsletter. Let's not turn this into a marketing intervention. You already have that other friend, I'm sure doing that too, right?
Gigi: I don't even know how to do a newsletter.
Anna: Okay, well then you, that's when you outsource.
Gigi: Am I supposed to come to you? I'm supposed to do your course right?
Anna: You're supposed to do my course. Everybody should do my course. I mean if you really can, I think you have to open your heart more to this marketing thing. I truly do. Because, because here's the thing, it's like, it's like the difference between a borrowed audience and an owned audience. Like we don't know if Instagram's going away and Tik Tok is going to be the thing. I mean, I guess it already is. And like those are fickle people. You have no way to add, to get in touch with and, but it's like if you have a newsletter list, then you are regularly nurturing these people and they're invested. And maybe when you're writing your book, you're sending newsletters and you're going, “Should I make this character divorced or you know, blonde?” You know what I mean? And then emotionally people are getting invested so then they care and then they're kind of buying their book. Like there's all this stuff that I think really matters…
Gigi: Can’t I go the Norman Mailer route and like punch somebody at a party and just make enough publicity?
Anna: Yeah, I mean you could, you could try for the female Norman mailer of today. You know, but, but I think, I think that this is, this is what I wonder though, because I categorize you as somebody who doesn't need to do those things.
Gigi: But I think that's all changing. Look at movies. Who are the movie stars?
Anna: I have no idea there. I think there are people I'm too old to know about. There aren't really…
Gigi: 30:47 There. When I was coming it was like, “Okay, Tom Cruise, movie star, open any movie, Tom Hanks,” you know, all these people could open movies. Now who are the people who can open a movie, right? So everybody needs, that's why all these stars are looking to Instagram and Twitter and all that. And you know, and they're selling, I don't know, a kitchen utensils, right. Because it's not the way it used to be. You don't make 20 million a movie, you know, these things have changed, right? So, yeah, I'm not above it…but it goes against my nature and then it goes against the way I live my life, which is pretty quiet. And I love my rut and no, I have to like through a nuisance…
Anna: 31:40 Yes. I mean, I think that I look at it as I became a writer because I'm interested in words and psychology.
Gigi: So glad you came to my therapy session. It's very meaningful.
Anna: I'm Phil Stutz. I have a friend who just started going to him.
Gigi: Oh my God, I love him so much. You know, I started going to him when I was 28. I think. I did know that.
Anna: I think the first time I heard about him was from you. Yeah. But, but no, I'm not him. Nor have I met him. But I do know that woman who teaches like your workshops are with him and stuff. Like I love her. But so, so I, I find it fun because I became a writer because I love words and I love psychology.
Anna: 32:28 I want to know what gets a person to take action. I find that fascinating.
Gigi: Can I just show my tits? They're not that big, but they're going to be perky after I'm dead.
Anna: Oh, she made a smart investment back in the day!
Gigi: The smallest one's money can buy. But I right. Can I just, how about 57 year old ass? Does that work?
Anna: I mean, if it was going to work for anyone it would be you, but, but I don't know. So, okay. So back to the tips. So be on social media, be authentic, do emails even though you don't, do you send out a big email when it's, when the book is out?
Gigi: I have to compile an email list and, and do that. But a newsletter sounds interesting. If, if I have some sort of concept of what, what exactly that means. And my book comes out February 11th: Been There, Married That. Yup.
Anna: And this podcast will be released afterwards, so you can get it right now on Amazon and in bookstores. Yay. So how's that for marketing?
Gigi: Was that very thing? It's still a little more, a little more, just a little dammit. I forgot what I was going to say, but that happens. Okay. Wait, hold on. It was tips. It was, Oh, you're going to gather my estrogen. I just need to remember it. Yes. I need to gather up, do an email list. I think that was what my friend had told me was important because I was thinking, “Do I print up postcards for my book and hand them out?” and my friend said, “No, that was 10 years ago.” Okay. that takes one thing off my list. But doing a newsletter is sort of interesting to me.
Anna: 34:17 It's sort of like doing a blog. Yes. I mean sort of. Okay. In general, this is what I would say because your release is upon us. I would say you think about the newsletter as like a plan for the future for future books. It is something that like you start making that the link in your Instagram bio and you start telling people I mean this, I, it's like, I know it defines like the way you are so, but like I have no idea what if you had a thing a cheat sheet that was 10 ways to write a New York Times bestselling book, people would download that. Yes. So you say you have this on your website, this download, people download it and then you have their email address and then you start sending them regular emails so that by the time you are sending them emails about your book, they are used to opening your emails and they are super psyched to go buy it.
Gigi: 35:10 I always get those emails. I get a couple emails from people I remember signing up for, you know yes. Okay, I can see that. Yeah, I can see doing that. And okay.
Anna: So do you have media planned for release?
Gigi: Yes. I'm doing a book signing February 11th in LA. In LA at diesel. Yep. It may pass by the time this podcast was released. So sorry. It was so great. It was like the best book signing I've ever been to 100,000 people. That was shocking. Amazing. Yeah. Chrissy Tiegen showed up. John Legend, Tom Cruise, John Legend and Tom Cruise got in that fight. Oh, that was so weird. I didn't even know they knew each other. So sad. I think they had a thing back in the 80s.
Anna: Okay, so you have, you have the reading in LA, you have stuff in New York? Yes. Okay.
Gigi: 36:06 That's basically the tour, the book tour, the expansive book tour. And other than that, you know, Entertainment Tonight and…
Anna: 36:18 Like you're doing a bunch of TV shows they're asking. Yes, yes, yes. They're asking Gigi and you are saying yes, right?
Gigi: It's hard when you're living in the 1880s.
Anna: This sort of surprises me about you actually, it's interesting because I would imagine based on like preconceived notions that you live this big, you know, out there life and like, you're like, no, no. I, “I go to yoga and I, and I write and hang out with my super hot husband.”
Gigi: Oh my God. Yeah. Number three. Amazing.
Anna: Oh, you had an a husband before?
Gigi: I had a very short lived marriage in like early twenties.
Anna: And then did you acquire the name Levangie from the marriage?
Anna: You were born with that. Okay, good.
Gigi: My sisters and I are Susie Mamie, Gigi, Julie's Suzanne, Maryann Georgeann. Julianne's just so cute.
Anna: Are you the youngest?
Gigi: I'm the third. You're the third. Yeah. Interesting. Yes. And okay. And did you always want to be a writer? Did you have a sojourn into acting?
Gigi: 37:31 I was not good at there were so many things. I was not good at my sister's role, gymnast and track stars, and I was the little fat one who couldn't go play outside because of, because of the smog that blanketed Los Angeles at the time I was allergic to smog. So I sat inside and I read all day long. So my first love was reading, my second love was writing. I did, I played the violin and two orchestras. I was…
Anna: 38:06 So nerdy. I didn't know this about you. Yes, I was. When did you emerge as the butterfly?
Gigi: 38:14 Oh, see. And I was 10 years old in seventh grade. Okay. So that's really young. Yeah. So I was not mature yet on any level growing up here. I grew up East of here in Hollywood and then at like 16 on, I don't know, 13 I was in high school at Hollywood High and I grew and I became a cheerleader.
Anna: Lost the baby fat.
Gigi: Yes. It also at 10 years old and seventh grade at junior high started smoking pot because everybody that was, it was the 70s. And so I have this real nostalgic feeling when I, when I smelled pot, I remember my childhood one time, my sister and I hitchhiked. I was 13, she have been 15. We hitchhiked to Barham to the Oakwood apartments to stalk Black Sabbath. They were staying there.
Anna: 39:17 Oh my God. I love it. So and so and then, okay, so then you, so w so 16 I it all changed it all pretty much.
Gigi: I graduated high school at 16. But maybe a couple of years before that had changed. I became a cheerleader. I was, I was, I graduated class clown, so I was class clown and class legs.
Anna: 39:44 Come on now. Yeah. Yeah. So Hollywood watch out. So you just like a, and did you go to UCLA? Did I make that up?
Gigi: 39:52 But I walked before that I, my parents said we can't afford, we can't afford for you to live anywhere else and they couldn't. My mom was a teacher and principal and my father was an ex staff Sergeant in the Air Force who stayed home and raised four girls. So if we ever got in a fight at school, he would ask “Who got the last punch?” That was it. So I feel like we were real like feminists in the way that we take care of our shit. Like you're an, I don't blame anyone else. Yeah. Yeah. Like, let's go. Although it's not great sometimes. Now my marriage, my marriage is amazing, but it's not great sometimes for marriage when you are, when you quote unquote fight like a man…I don't talk a lot during an argument, but what you say make my point and that is it.
Anna: 40:44 Yeah. It's not great. Yeah. I really want to talk about it. Interesting. Interesting. I really want to talk about at all. Isn't that funny? Yeah. What's your sign?
Anna: Interesting. Jesus. Yeah, you are, you're like a cheerleading class clown. Jesus. It's so interesting. So and so and so.
Gigi: Okay. And then I went to LACC nd then I transferred to UCLA. Took two buses to UCLA, watched all the sorority girls would their white Cabriolets. At 16 though, I was, I was going to all the clubs because my sister, my, my older sisters were very, you know, involved in the nightlife. One of my sisters married Colombian drug dealer and she was later shot, but she's okay. But we, we’d like dance with Rick James and Eddie Murphy. I was 16 dancing Rick James. Oh, we had so much fun. Until AIDS, then I was like, no. Eddie Murphy is a genius on so many levels by the way. You don't want to play chess with him. He can, he can play piano. Like just not, he self-taught in all this. Wow. He really is one of the great geniuses.
Anna: 42:27 I didn't know that. It didn't know that. Now. Okay. But so and so I'm curious. So then you have this, this marriage that was like very high profile. So, so how long was that and how did that affect your writing career and what was that like? Cause those years you were very on the scene. You had to be. Yeah, I had to be. Well, we had…
Gigi: 42:51 We had a really great marriage until we did not, but we were together 16 and a half years, almost 10 years, married. I know. Really long time. Really long time. Yes. Especially in Hollywood because Hollywood is the mistress, which is why I talk about this in my book when they're married, that Hollywood is the other woman and you cannot compete at some point, especially if you're married to somebody. So successful. I mean, incredibly, like there was a time when I was like, “Hey Brian, I heard there was a show you didn't produce. Is there a problem? Like your name's not all over the trades today? Yeah. Are we poor?” Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's, so, it's so crazy. But like, but it was good. Yes, it was really good.
Gigi: 43:44 We fit each other cause he wanted somebody that my wedding, he made a speech about me. And by the way, I was the only person in my wedding. I did not recognize, but I'm sure it was ridiculous for a girl from the other side of town. Yeah. He made a speech about me. Lauding my work ethic. Like he was so happy to be with somebody who was like a fellow workaholic who worked. Yeah. Yeah. Who liked to work. Yeah. I cooked, I cooked him a meal, you know, just, I mean, just basic, but just nobody had really cooked for him. Right. Nobody had really done that thing where you nurture someone. So for some people that's very foreign. Yes. And I'm always by that, but that's the way I was raised. And so that's why I raise my kids. But he we suited each other for a long time and we were like the couple who would go on dates, just the two of us at Ivy at the Shore or Giorgio's and we'd see all the other Hollywood people and they'd always be in groups.
Gigi: 44:56 And in fact, I remember Arnon Milchan asking, How do you do that? How do you not run out of things to say? We never did. And sometimes even during the divorce I was like, “Brian, we're gonna, you know, we're going to end up being friends. Let's just like get through this. Let's not pay for our lawyers so their kids will never have to work again.” But it's a, so it was good for a long time and I was so grateful and to this day I'm so grateful because being with him I was able to quit my job. I worked so many hours for Fred Silverman. I had been working for him for eight years. I won one year. I got in three car accidents in one year because I was so tired. I never took vacation. I mean barely took Christmas Eve off.
Gigi: 45:52 It was that kind of thing where we had eight shows on the air and I could relax. I was getting up before that. I was getting up at five o'clock in the morning and writing and I would, a couple things were options, but after pre Brian, that was me post Brian, I was able to write, you know, get up or write, write, write, write, write, write. And so being married to him was really, really helpful. Yeah. And I was very much jealous in a sense that jealous of my time and I could be with him because he went to work and I wrote my thousand words a day and worked out and got the, got the food together for a very long time in a Hollywood. Yeah, it's very traditional relationship. It was very comfortable and we were good. And then it wasn't..it's a weird thing, you know, 14 and a half years into it.
Anna: 47:01 All of a sudden that's so I know nothing about, I'm with my boyfriend a year. It's the longest relationship I've ever had, so I know nothing about like 14 years.
Gigi: It's yeah, it's, it's like going on a journey in a boat, in an ocean. You don't know if you're going to hit what you're going to hit. You don't know what's going to come over the side of the boat. Yeah, you and there is no, there are a million reasons to break up there. There are a million reasons to stay together.
Anna: Lady Gaga has a song about this. Do you know that song? It's called a million reasons. I might play it under it. But, and so, okay, so this is fascinating. Thank you for letting me like devolve into that shit. I love it. So, okay, now let me ask you, this is prepping you for your in download that you're going to offer on your website. What are your tips for creating a New York Times bestselling book?
Gigi: Buy 10,000 copies of your own book as Donald Trump jr I know there was a yes. I'm not sure he did it, but I mean, I heard him say I, yeah. Gosh. I think you have to, first you have to work on your voice. You have to have an authentic voice. And that's number one. Ask yourself: is it interesting? Are you, are you either incredibly talented or is it a subject matter that people are interested in? I think mystery sell more than anything else. Think science fiction in the self publishing space. Then you have to do the social media thing. Gosh. Fuck.
Anna: Get Reese Witherspoon to Bookstagram in. Yes. Can you hook that up? You must know her and her books to her.
Gigi: But I didn't know her that way. I am the worst person in asking for favors too. And you have to get over that. Literally I just started sweating.
Anna: It's like I'm the same way. It's, it's like I go through this thing that I'm like, okay, if I know them and they haven't asked me to do this, then I can't ask them when like, no, you know them ask Marc Maron if you can come on as podcast, why not? That would be, yeah, but it's like I could never do that stuff. It's very difficult.
Gigi: 49:50 Try it. I've done it with I've occasionally done it with a screenplay, but it's usually when I really believe like, I really believe in this book, but I, when I really believe that this screenplay is right for this producer, boom, yes. You know that somebody beneath them is going to be, you know, the development person is going to be reading it. They don't necessarily have to read it. Right. Blah, blah blah. And actually feel, sets told me that a long time ago that you need to ask for things. I was not raised this way. I was raised to be self sufficient. I mean military, like I was raised like someone didn't know that put me like drop me in Syria or whatever. Right. You know, I've had my kids, I'm ready. Yeah.
Anna: You'll be so much more entertaining than most people there. Well this has been so fun and good and I'm so grateful to you for coming to do this so much for having me. So everyone, thank you so much for listening. Get the book. Been There, Married That. Do follow Gigi on Instagram. If you're not, it's worth it. It's so worth it. She does not. She does have a website, but there is no newsletter sign up. Is that correct information? That's correct. Okay. I have to have that. You have to have that. You guys, maybe by the time you go to this website, if it's there, know that I am single handedly responsible for it being there. Right? Exactly.
Gigi: Absolutely. I give you all the credit.
Anna: That's all. That's all I need to hear. Thank you. Thank you.