Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Sarcastic Guide to Book Publishing

So, I get a lot of emails from people who want me to help them publish their books -- sometimes these books are written down, sometimes they are simply great ideas still lodged (unencumbered by language) inside of various heads scattered across the US and beyond.

You all know that I'm devoted to giving genuine advice to committed writers -- click here for a lengthy list of examples. I've said every kind and cajoling thing I can. I've gently urged people to, well, work on their craft. I've urged them to invest in reading. But sometimes, I confess, Dave and I both go through spastic sarcasm-fests before we respond which brings me to


Julianna Baggott

An Excerpt from the Introduction

Dear Aspiring Writer --

Let's be honest. Only four-year-olds are ASPIRING writers. I mean, once you know how to make your letters and arrange them into words, you're a writer! I mean, you can write, right? So, first off, let's just get rid of the idea that writers are somehow more worthy of being published than kindergarteners. (Lesson #1: If you can write words, you're a writer! Now say it over and over, "I'm a writer. I'm a writer. I'm a writer.")

Other books will tell you that you should read books to figure out how to write them. But, listen, they're all written by writers who, OF COURSE, want you to read their books. They make money off of you reading their books, and one day, you should give the same advice so you can make money off of other people reading your books. (Lesson #2. Never Trust Writers -- and you are one!)

You don't need to read! I mean, published books are just filled with all the ideas that someone's already CALLED DIBS ON. They might as well be lists of stuff that's been done. Passe. (Lesson #3: Stop Reading! And if you've read a lot, try to forget it all.)

Another thing you'll hear writers mouthing off about in an advisory fashion is that you need to spend hours -- 10,000 hours or 3-4 hours per day of guided practice for 10 years -- trying to learn to write. Are you kidding me?

Here are a few things to debunk that myth.

A. Let's not forget that you're a writer because you can write AND you repeated it three times in Lesson #1. So, seriously, eff off, stupid myth.

B. Me thinks all you need is a good life story! I mean, Hemingway! He ran with the bulls! That's really all you need. And, listen, if you can't actually run with the bulls -- I mean, who would, right? -- all you need is to have had some weird stuff happen to you or to really not get along with your parents. Freud made a career off of that stuff. Weird things happens to you when you're LIVING, not sitting around practicing your craft!

C. If your BFF has told you you're funny or a really good storyteller, THAT is what really counts.

D. And wait. I take back B. altogether. You don't even need to have weird stuff happen to you. All you have to do is think up some weird stuff. Case in point: Dr. Who -- even though that's a TV show, it still counts.

E. And wait again. I take back B. and D. because Twilight came to Stephenie Meyer in a dream. Remember that! All you have to do is sleep.