You want to write a book. Congratulations. Any idiot can do this so you’re already in. Even better, there is only one way to accomplish your goal. That makes your endeavor so much easier. Do not listen to anyone who tells you all roads lead to Rome. I-95 does not lead to Rome; it doesn’t even lead to a California so these people are f***ng liars and not to be trusted.
Here’s exactly how you do it:
1. Do not have your own ideas. This is the worst. Skim the charts and determine who is king. Not your preferred genre, not a genre you’re comfortable writing? It doesn’t matter because you are not making up the story! A NYT bestseller has done it for you. Just change Harry to Larry and name your magical school after an animal and a skin condition and boom. Harper Collins is emailing you the business equivalent of your ex’s drunk-texts. Magic. You’re a sorcerer, Larry!
2. You must have a social media platform. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. This is so crucial because it’s where you will spend most of your writing day, sharing Hemingway quotes, pictures of your pet, and bitter wisdom such as ‘OMFG writing. Amirite, guys??’
3. When you have written a chapter or two, stop there. Don’t make the mistake of writing an entire manuscript. How do you even know if it’s fire? When you have a few thousand words – and this should take you several months to accomplish, on account of your social media – constantly share carefully tailored excerpts until you have shared the whole damn thing and are forced to alter Taylor Swift song lyrics to keep up appearances. Your need for constant praise is totally healthy and reaffirming. It will add a bounce to your step during the hours you spend at Target buying pens and notebooks and crispy cheese sticks for the decorative bowl on your desk. Whatever. Just don’t write anything because until it has fifty likes and a retweet, are you even living?
4. Really this should be 3A. If anyone responds to your excerpt with criticism, unfriend and block them. I don’t care that she’s been your grandma your whole life; ‘grammar’ is a hate-word and if she loved you she wouldn’t say it. If she knew you at all she would inherently grasp the nuances of your choose-your-own-adventure plot style, but she doesn’t. You know what you need to do, World’s #1 Grandson. Do not consort with anyone who does anything except respond to you with hearts, omg’s, or unfettered praise. I wouldn’t even trust those shady af thumbs-uppers. Seems jealous, tbh.
5. As for 3B, you must read each excerpt posted by writing acquaintances or by members in one of the many, many writer’s groups your frequent (it must have Writer in the group title or you’re doing it wrong). Hunched and slurping your coffee, rake your monitor through slitted eyes, veering wildly between soul-knotting jealousy and smug assurance that you will, one day, send them some writing advice – when you have a moment to remember the little people. These posers are either a threat, or a joke. Bless them with a thumbs-up and peace out to wherever the real writers are.
6. When you have a completed manuscript, and who knows when this will be, you will need to be vigilant. All sorts of unscrupulous people may approach you and try to destroy what you’ve worked so hard to create. They go by a lot of names: Agent. Editor. God forbid, beta reader. You must not trust them with your manuscript. They will structure-shame it, criticize your ‘excessive’ use of the word ‘very’ as though there is some other way to convey to readers how serious this line is. They will, Dear Writer, stab your soul by suggesting you rewrite portions. It’s not your fault that they’re completely unfamiliar with the literary world. They can go hang out at your grandma’s house with the other haters. Kill my darlings? Okay, well… I hope you don’t have a favorite child. Monster.
7. Congratulations. You are traditionally published. Kidding! That’s for conformists and people who write normie books. No traditional publishing house is going to appreciate your gift. You’re a self-pub rebel now. MS Paint yourself a cover, write a seven-paragraph book description which basically lays out your entire plot, and get to making Neil Gaiman your bitch. Also charge $15 for your staggering work of heartbreaking genius. Affordable? Have a little self-respect. Peasants can’t read anyway.
8. Now we come to 2A. That social media platform you’ve so lovingly cultivated into a garden of daydrinker memes? It’s about to undergo a fairy godmother magic-wand m****rf***ng transformation. Like Picard being kidnapped by the Borg, your social media should be stripped of every last trace of humanity. You are Book. You will be assimilated. Let every person who is already hyper-aware that you are producing a book know that you have produced it. Subtly hint that your sales dashboard logs the city and IP address of each person who bought a copy, so…Looking at you here, Rhonda in Twin Falls 22.214.171.124. Way to be the MVP, unlike grandma.
9. Conversely, do not pay for advertising. In fact, do no promoting of any kind. This is like admitting you wrote a mediocre book. Smart readers are already looking for you, and they’re going to pass you by when they discover you’re the idiot who paid to let a portion of 8 billion people know that you did something that a layman would foolishly assume might go unnoticed. Your readers will discover you probably. Don’t look desperate. Not even after a year when your stagnant two reviews – both five-stars from your family, blink back at you like a pair of jaundiced eyes beholding the hopeless inevitability of a dead writing career. It’s fine. Stop crying. It’ll be fine.
10. Hark! A plebeian. They wander into our happy place now and then to hurl abuse. Two stars; writing was incoherent. Two stars; riddled with grammatical errors. Two stars; book was four-hundred pages of Wingdings. Bitter hags. Authors and so called ‘experts’ will tell you to ignore this grave insult but, Dear Writer, they are only using you as bait to keep these vicious animals away from their own books. If you don’t strike fast and hot, you will be a target for. ever. But that doesn’t mean you go in Gary Busey-mugshot style like a crazy person. You have to be professional. Start with an unassailable fact such as, “Okay. Well, I see that you obviously don’t read a lot of books…’ Follow this by explaining how you’re Revolutionizing the Genre and you don’t even write fantasy – you write stories with Important Human Themes set in the complicated world of Fantasy Alabama. If their review mentioned discomfort with your ham-fisted handling of gender, sexual orientation, or disabilities, mock them openly – this is the internet equivalent of hamstringing your foe. Check their previous reviews Catfish-style. You need this intel to really bring the hammer down and illustrate how their taste in books is equal to a tin of potted meat and a loaf of Wonder Bread. Be vigilant, resist war-weariness. No matter how many times they respond, you must do likewise. Otherwise, the terrorists win.
And here we are. You’re a published author in ten easy, inflexible steps. Sit back and wait for the royalties to pour in. You can even pretend to count them while your next manuscript waits.