An on-line journal of articles and musings forbidden by the mainstream media.
Thursday, August 28, 2003
A Different Drummer
Rich and Famous: My (Future) Life As a Bestselling Author
By Nicholas Stix
Last year a veteran journalist told me I was never going to make any money, until I switched from writing articles to authoring books. So, I bought a "book-book": How to Become a Successful Writer, and Enjoy the Love of Beautiful Men, Women, and Transgenders.
How to Become is one of those cute books with each page broken up into bite-sized chunks of text, graphics, and lots of gray boxes with "Clues You Can Use," like "It is important to polish your writing skills as a writer." You know, the kind of book for people who don't like to read.
How to Become was written by a literary agent and a ghostwriter, and includes the most popular categories for fiction and non-fiction. In non-fiction, the two most popular genres are "self-help" and "spirituality."
My first proposal was a self-help/spirituality crossover:
12 Steps Towards Achieving an Even More Miserable Life Than the One You Already Have.
I still think 12 Steps was a can't-miss proposal, and I'm suspicious that some or all of the many agents who sent me rejection letters - not to mention the even greater number who somehow forgot to respond -- are going to pass along my idea to their top writers. It had "12 Steps," which is a great hook, as well as hype -- "Even More Miserable" - the positive verb, "Achieving," and the magic word, "Life." And a potentially unlimited audience!
Back to the drawing board.
My next attempt in the same crossover category, was:
You'd Better Sweat the Big Stuff - and It's All Big Stuff.
Thank you, I know it's great. It has hype appeal ("It's All") and a tie-in to an established if misguided brand. But try telling that to those myopic agents!
My next shot was pure spirituality. Why not give a straight genre a chance?
Spirituality in a Six Pack.
One agent called Spirituality "literary pi--water." She should know - she probably drinks white wine coolers!
I went back to self-help, but without doing the ac/dc thing, and hit the hugely popular dieting sub-genre:
The High-Fat, High-Sodium, High-Sugar Diet.
This proposal had the advantage of catering to an audience that numbers 100 million people in America alone! America is full of fat, borderline diabetics on their way to hypertension, who HAVE NO INTENTION of changing their lifestyle. Why not build up their self-esteem with T-bone steaks and coffee ice cream, instead of tearing it down with tofu and celery juice?
Unfortunately, America's alleged literary agents are apparently not only a tiny professional minority, but also a tiny, dietary demographic of people who never smoke, never ingest anything worth eating (no, real people do not eat skinless turkey breast!) or drinking, and exercise too much!
Seeing as sports books are popular among men, I took my best shot with a really topical title:
Spitballers, Headhunters, and Bat-Corkers: My Favorite Baseball Heroes, from Burleigh Grimes to Sammy Sosa.
One agent accused me of "racism"; another said "You must have been beaned in Little League, and never recovered."
My featherweight attempt at parody didn't take off, either:
The Me Show: How to Get Your Own Reality TV Show, Even If You're Not a Drug-Addled, No-Talent, Has-Been Rocker.
Seeing as the lighthearted stuff wasn't working, I decided to go for substance and tackle The Big Questions. Everybody's talking about the Middle East these days, so I figured this one to be a sure bet:
Kill Them All, and Let G-d Sort Them Out: One Man's Road Map to Peace in the Middle East.
One agent wrote back, that I should be under surveillance by the Justice Department. Hey, as the saying goes, "All surveillance is good surveillance." Or was that, "All publicity is good publicity"? In any event, I've yet to have a G-man run over my foot. They must be keeping a discreet distance.
At this point, I was considering writing a novel about a frustrated writer who kills off literary agents, especially those who get rich writing how-to books on getting published. I might have to self-publish that one.
But I wasn't done yet dealing with agents via non-violent methods. If Jerry Springer, Montel, and Dr. Phil are any indication, family crisis should be a bestselling genre. How about,
Spare the Rod, and Spoil the Child: Beating Your Child into Discipline and Virtue?
One agent's attorney wrote back that it was illegal to hit one's children, that she was forwarding my proposal to Child Protective Services, and that if I ever again contacted her client in any form whatsoever, she would be pressing criminal charges against me under the stalker statutes.
When it's fame, fortune, and the love of beautiful women/men/transgenders you're after, you have to be copacetic, while others quiver. This jail angle might be just the ticket. After all, agents swoon for convicts:
Better to Live on Your Knees Than Die on Your Feet, and Other Reflections on Life in Prison.
While I work that one up, I may have to return, reluctantly, to an old familiar genre, a short-short story with a guaranteed audience. It starts out, "Pay to the order of the Long Island Power Authority …"