Interview: Alison Skate, author of Ambush Proposals

ambush proposals cover 207x300 Interview: Alison Skate, author of Ambush ProposalsWhen my fiance and I became engaged last year, the story of our engagement went a tad viral, with Galleycat, the HuffPo, Instapundit and even glossy mag Thats Life picking it up. It seems that everyone loves a bit of romance, and Alison Skate, author of the recently launched Ambush Proposals, is no different.

The inspiration

Like many fine things in life, Ambush Proposals'arose out of an afternoon of procrastination. I was avoiding working on a project, and'found myself on YouTube.' One click led to another, and somehow I ended up watching a beautiful video of an event-managed proposal in the US. In the video, the gentleman proposing to his partner worked in collaboration with lifestyle television channel WEtv to freeze time in order to make his proposal truly memorable.

I think I've watched that video clip about 30 times, and I still get teary-eyed each time, says Alison. So inspired by the clip was she that she decided that she wanted to have a hand in creating these types of meaningful moments. Some months later, Ambush Proposals'was born.

The audience

Recognising that in large part the act of proposing is something that tends to be done by the male of the species, Alison has targeted her book squarely towards the 25-40 year old Australian male. But rather than targeting the type of bloke who drops to a knee on the beach or in a restaurant, the book is geared at those who might like to do something a little creative with their proposal.

But the book will no doubt appeal to a wider audience: I suspect that a number of women will buy the book and 'leave it lying around' for their partners, or mothers will buy it as a resource-slash-hint for their sons, says Alison. I know of one woman who has already sent the book to her boyfriend, who is in the Army and deployed overseas.' She hasn't read the book as she doesn't want to ruin any surprises!

According to Alison, the surprise is increasingly a focus in a modern-day proposal.

The ingenuity

There has definitely been an increase in pressure on guys to be more unique or spectacular in their proposals over recent years, and I think this can be attributed to the thousands of hours of YouTube videos that show more and more creative proposal concepts.' I don't think it is necessarily the men who are fascinated by these videos but they are certainly aware that their girlfriends are impressed by what they see.

Alison points out that YouTube celebrities may be supplanting the current crop of reality TV stars, citing as an example Matt and Ginny, whose'cinematic movie trailer proposal has already received over 21 million views.

But thats not to say that those behind the proposals are necessarily seeking infamy and internet stardom.

They'understand that the delivery of the proposal needs to suit the personality of their intended spouse. A gregarious and outgoing boyfriend would do well to ditch the flash-mob proposal on Sydney Harbour Bridge if their girlfriend is uncomfortable with that kind of attention.

Fortunately, for those who arent the flash-mob type but are a bit stuck for ideas, Ambush Proposals'features a variety of different proposal ideas. This isnt due so much to luck as it is careful planning. Alison spent a good deal of time devising proposal genres to suit different personality types, prepared a number of proposal scenarios over a little more than a month, and then put out a call-out for real-life proposals to complement the ideas already in the book.

The real-life proposals

Everyone who responded was female, recalls Alison. (Including, er, me.) However I found that their husbands/fiances were more than willing to answer my questions and give tips to readers who are thinking about popping the question.' A good male friend of mine also shared a proposal from his perspective.

The most difficult part of the writing turned out to be maintaining the tone throughout the real-life proposals section.

In the end,'I chose not to try to change things too much to reflect my writing style.' Instead, this section of the book is more reflective of the collaborators' styles than my own.' I'm happy with that outcome.

The production process

It helped, too, having an editor who was able to share her vision. Another author recommended editing and design freelancers in Canada and I couldn't be happier.' The editor, it turns out, is a Melbourne-born expat who was able to appreciate the Aussie vernacular and maintained the easy, laconic style of writing.

One aspect of the process that took a little longer than expected was design and layout, but the results were worth the wait.

Ambush Proposals'is available in both print and ebook version, and there are no notable differences in the content or layout of these two versions.' The freelance designer I used from Canada was experienced in both print and digital publishing, and she did a fantastic job at formatting the book appropriately for each format.' She also understood the upload requirements for the major POD (print on demand) and distribution services and provided me with everything I needed for each platform.' I had some delays with uploading the book files onto the POD platform, primarily due to my inexperience!

The launch

Photographer Ric Frearson Quest Newspapers 300x200 Interview: Alison Skate, author of Ambush Proposals

Image by Ric Frearson for Quest Newspapers

If theres a book that needs to be launched with a bang, then its this one. After all, it would be a tad anticlimactic to make do with the ho-hum when a books content is all about being creative and putting oneself out there. Fortunately,'Alison was no slouch in this area.

Months back Id had a discussion with a flight simulator centre about the possibility of the words Will you marry me? appearing on the runway during a simulated plane landing, she says. The owner of the business was quite taken by the idea, and set about to have the simulator reprogrammed so that a landing in Paris would include four billboards with these words erected alongside a remote runway. On their invitation I decided to launch the book in the simulator with a real Ambush Proposal engagement.

Confident that finding a chap to pop the question in such circumstances would be a cinch, she began calling around. But though Alisons phone was running hot with interest from journalists, no one had come forward.

There were two days until the launch.

But at last, thanks to the affordances of social media, Alison finally found her couple with a little more than a day remaining until the big moment, and everything proceeded smoothly.

Their moment was beautiful, and captured by our cameraman.'The groom-to-be was very nervous!' This launch resulted in articles in three regional newspapers, Courier Mail's online news website, and a 6-minute interview on ABC radio.

The extras

Alison has enjoyed making Ambush Proposals so immensely that shes extended the content well beyond the book. My friends and'I also decided to create a unique and interactive wedding proposal planner, which appears to be a one-of-a-kind in terms of book promotion.'' The viewer makes three decisions about their desired wedding proposal before being shown one of eight proposal ideas.' The third option, Public or Private Proposal, is a fun one to watch all the way to the end of the video.

A literary proposal

We cant let Alison go without learning about her favourite bookish proposal, and what a boon to find out that its one thats close to RIASSs own heart.

I think some of the best proposals in literature have been rejections, she says. I find it hard to recall a single marriage proposal that was accepted in literature that I would rank up there with the rejections. Of these, Alisons favourite is the declined proposal between'Anne Shirley and Gil Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables series just before they leave for college.

Gil's determined persistence, despite the refusal, and Anne's steadfast reasons for not getting married are portrayed with such a sense of inner-conflict and desperation.' It is clear that they two are very much in love, yet despite Anne's tendency to be romantic and histrionic, she calmly resists the expectation to submit to the proposal for reasons that were unprecedented in their community.

Buy the book:

The book is available for purchase from for $12.95 as a digital download, with the paperback version becoming available soon for $19.95. Alison notes that some retailers are also offering the book for a discounted rate. And the Fiance and I are in itbonus!

Ambush Proposals'has also been entered in the Independent Publisher Book Awards under the Best Book Marketing and Best Regional eBook categories.


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