Saturday, May 16, 2009

Write Shots

Websnacker's A to Z Guide to Writing a Bestseller!!

Writing Great literature can be appealing but it doesn't pay the rent. Only a hot bestseller can really keep the debtwolf from the door, a new car on the road and your face in the weekend magazine. So what's the secret of a multi million- selling bestseller success?

Picture this - you're lying on a beach somewhere and you've just finished the last page of J.K.Rowling's latest. Through your mind, flashes the thought; 'I could do that'. Well, why not? A few months chained to the computer and before you can write “The End” you could be the proud owner of a seven-figure advance. However, you'll need a crisp guide though to steer you through the perfidious tides of book publishing. Follow this A-Z guide and you'll never sink.

A for Agent: The shrewder the better, you’re starting point on the road to bestsellerdom. He is your Personal Assistant, Lobbyist, Salesman, PR Guy and Marketing Manager - all rolled into one role. Get one, the rich bastard, whatever it takes. It's not easy; you're competing with over 50 other hopefuls every month for a top agent.

B for Bonking: I mean Sex and Sex sells. Anyway, anywhere, anytime, as often as you can, in as many positions as possible. Refer the 'Kama Sutra' if you run out of copulation ideas. Finish each chapter with UST - that's 'underlying sexual tension' to you dear.

C for Critics: They are a necessary evil so never ever think you don't need them. For once, be wary of bribery. This does not work, and they'd probably expose you anyway. What they want is a good copy. So give it to them.

D for Drugs: The one time you really knew you could write a best seller you were probably under the influence. And unless, you are Hunter Stockton Thompson, Don't be fooled: beat burble is history, dude, and no agent will touch you unless you are a celebrity. As subject matter, a winner though, preferably in an international crime ring.

E for Extraterrestrial: Remember ET, Contact and the Independence Day. The sky's the limit here, the wilder the better, though avoid the drug induced-variety (see D) - not even loop-the-loop of science - fiction fans will not know what you are writing about.

F for Fraud: 'Plagiarize', let no one else's work evade your eyes. And why not? If they get it right, you will too and if they sue, so much the better. The increased sales of your book will cover your Defense Lawyer's fee ten fold. Mine did, honest!

G for God: Hero of the best-selling book ever written. You'll need him to succeed in this business. Also an ideal protagonist, though controversial - are you sure you want to spend the rest of your life in hiding, sipping tea with Salman Rushdie.

H for Horse: If you've never sat on one, contact the nearest Riding Stable. Horses sell, and no self-respecting bestseller-chaser can afford to ignore them. Atleast One reference should do, as long as it's accompanied by sexual innuendo and competitive urges.

I for Intelligence: 'No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people', wrote H.L. Mencken. Believe the man: never overestimate your average reader's intelligence and if you have too much of it yourself, get rid of it. For the KG used to B/CIA/CBI variety, see S.

J for Jealousy: Folks, you will suffer it when you finally make the grade. Don't expect friends who are writers to help you. I've lost three dear friends out of nothing but envy. Still, popularity never made for million-dollar advances, did it?

K for Kissing: Less necessary than you'd think, too tame for an erotic thriller, too raunchy for an children's saga but a must in any book.

L for Law: Good news for the world's most pedantic species; all those years spent reading law books can win you a life of stardom if you put it down in print like Scott Turow and John Grisham. A brief stint in a prison also helps - it will give you more plots than you ever wanted.

M for Mistress: Those who can, have one, and those who can't, write about one. The latter's a lot less hassle and safer.

N for Name: A famous one helps, so change yours. Clinton is good, so is Vidal, Obama or Osama. You could always marry a Name, give birth to one, or best of all, link yours with one in a rampant fraud scandal.

O for Oral Sex: This hasn't quite made it to Mills & Boon yet, but in all other bestsellers it’s a must. If rude food is involved, so much the better.

P for Publicity: Be prepared to put yourself about. Any publicity is good but be selective. Be photographed with known intellectuals, but not with superstars and crooked MPs (see W). Attend parties, functions and high profile get together. Man, you can be famous.

Q for Quid's In: I mean the money, this is what you're doing it all for, unless you're a pure academic, in which case you might as well sign up for a life time debt right now. The good news is you can make wild amounts of money: Last year, J.K. Rowling earned $ 300 millon, James Patterson $ 50 million and Stephen King $45 millon. Even Danielle Steel earned 30 millons in 2008 and that's an amazing deal. The bad news is you can't be that lucky, dumbo.

R for Romance: Unbelievably big bucks. Romantic fiction accounts for 25% of all books sold in the World and Mills & Boon sells one book every two seconds worldwide. Not as easy as it looks though. M&B only take five new authors a year and they're very picky. If you don't enjoy reading romance, please don't attempt to write one.

S for Spy: Sign up to MI6/CIA or the Indian equivalent-RAW and then get yourself exposed in a tabloid - your subsequent advance will scare even the Americans. Failing that, sleep with one, preferably Pakistani and record their every groan. You never know, they could be moaning in ISI code.

T for Title: Make it short, make it sharp and make it memorable. Think of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, 'Primal fear' 'Juror' "Satanic verses'. One worders are good, foreign language is right out, and never overdo the name.

U for University: Of life in this context; the more you've done, the sexier your book. The academic variety also comes in useful as a setting for social satire, campus drama, romance, elegant crime, drugs and sex.

V for Villain: A suave Villain is a must and your novel’s actual hero. After all, he has the money and all the sexy girls.

W for Westminster: That is, The Parliament. Any connection with politics is a corker. Use every contact you have, and if that fails, use your body. Have an extremely hot-blooded affair three weeks before publication, preferably with a ruling party Minister and see how your book sells. Clearly this requires stomach.

X for Xenophilia: Wanderlust is a must. It doesn't matter if you've never been further than Cape Comorin, make it exotic and make it up. Julie Burchill is a good guide on this; the whole of one book is set in Prague - she'd never even been there.

Y for Y-Fronts: The Calvin Klein, Victoria Secret, Jockey and John Hopkins variety. Jackie Collins didn't get where she is today without recognizing the public's lust for labels, don't be deceived by bitchy critics who say labelology is passe, they're just jealous.

Z for Zenith: This is ultimately where you reach when you hit the jackpot. Unbelievably big bucks and a life full of fame. For those who have achieved it, it is yesterday and for those who haven't, tomorrow. Good Luck!


  1. A good read!

    F for Fraud... well many believe that the celebrated Steven Spielberg 'copied' the original script of the unmade film 'The Alien'... written and to be directed by Satyajit Ray and turned it into the 'ET'. 'Satyajit' means "Truth triumphs"... it really was a misnomer in this case... sadly.

    If the writer is an Indian... he/she should have the pictures/watermarks of our Gods/Goddesses in every page and a prominent one on the cover. This would be a reasonable insurance against the 'moral' brigade.

    Also, he/she should leave a few copies on the seats of the local trains or buses... this will guarantee an unprecedented word of mouth... !!!

    P.S.: Rushdie is not exactly in hiding, sipping tea. He is having a lot of candies... especially those of the 'eye candy' brand!!!

  2. Very interesting read. :) And you're right about this formula for success "social satire, campus drama, romance, elegant crime, drugs and sex."

    Just like every movie that becomes a block buster has a mix of everything, books need a mix too.

    I've never been a big reader, but if and when I pick up a good book I engulf it. The last few I read were the The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns - - both excellent. I'm taking some time off of the heavy reads and probably going to pick up a light, floozy summer novel, one that I can just pick up and read by the pool while sipping on a good drink. :)

  3. I am not much of a writer but I suppose all these things work... A very interesting post though... You seem to have had a good time writing your books... atleast now you know the A,B,C... of it...


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