Some of us write simply because we can't not write. Ideas grab
us, move us, and demand to be written. We strive to make it as
real as we possibly can, to improve at our craft every day,
hopefully to make it into the realm of literature as well as
entertainment. We want to craft an entire world where the places
and people are so real that the reader doesn't feel like he's
reading a book as much as he is going to another place. In the
lofty world of literature that we strive for, the reader will
still think about the book after reading that last page. It's
our gift to the reader, something to take with him. Given
sufficient skill, this can even happen long after we are dead.
Then we learn that doesn't sell. Oh, there are exceptions. Some
novelists make a living by consistently writing quality
literature. But, there are quite a few best sellers who have no
such goals. They write for money, and they make it.
Even the writer who has written great literature has trouble
marketing it that way. We have to look at our "target audience."
Who will buy this book? Let me see, our heroine survived spousal
abuse, so there's an audience. There's a suicide, so we can get
the bereavement crowd. Where's the setting? We can get a local
audience. The hero's a cop. Maybe the teen boys will go for that.
Nah, too light on action. But there's a romance. Maybe we'll
market to the romance readers. Give the hero bedroom eyes and
pass him off as a romantic hero. Yeah, that might work.
But if you want to write to get rich, even that's not enough.
Nah, the time to think about your reader is before you write
the book, not after.
Throw in lots of gratuitous sex, preferably extramarital. One
(and only one) character who flirts and is sorely tempted and
walks away from "love" to remain true to his wife.
Use taboo words for shock value. Ram, hump, scream, oral sex,
voluptuous, female orgasm (the great revelation). Make sure a
lot of your leads enjoy sex. Horny women are a good way to pull
in the readers you want. We all know men are horny, but most of
your readers haven't discovered that some women enjoy sex too.
Tell them this. Give the female readers a balm for their
consciences and the male readers someone to dream about.
Your heroine should be tough, sweet, sensitive, and very horny,
and has to think she's not attractive even though every guy in
the book except her husband falls off his chair with a tent in
Don't let the length of a novel faze you. Just throw some people
on the stage, move them around a bit, and get them into bed.
Then, change the rules so they have to move around a bit again
and get them back into bed. (It doesn't always have to be a bed.
Office desks and car seats work too.) When the book's long enough,
stop. Don't worry about the "climax," because people are
climaxing all over the place.
Exotic locales. Foreign countries with beaches. Lots of rich
people. Remember that you're writing for the lowest common
denominator, because they spend most of the money that you're
trying to reel in. Make it sleazy. No one ever went broke
underestimating the public.
How to publish? To do it right, write the sales pitch before you
write the book. Make sure the book follows the pitch and the
formula. If your cover letter alone has eight typos, no problem.
Nobody cares. The publisher will wanna rush this baby to print
and get you, or an attractive stand-in, doing as many TV
appearances as possible before the book reviewers have time to
draw breath. Heck, your target market doesn't read book reviews
anyway! Also keep in mind that once that reader buys your book,
you've won. They won't get a refund just because you're
illiterate. So don't worry about hiring an editor. Hire a
Think Hollywood. You want your book to become a movie. It
doesn't have to be a good movie, because most of them aren't. It
just has to sell, baby, sell! Write parts for all the hottest
stars. True, today's hottest stars will have faded by the time
they start filming your movie, but no matter. Someone just like
them will replace them.
I've been doing it wrong for all these years. I started writing
over 20 years ago, and the five books I have on the shelves are
enough to make it a hobby that barely pays for itself. Meanwhile,
I work at a job for my money. But if you follow my advice, you
won't make the same mistakes I have. You'll get rich!
Copyright 2005, Michael LaRocca
Michael LaRocca's website at http://www.chinarice.org was
chosen by WRITER'S DIGEST as one of The 101 Best Websites
For Writers in 2001 and 2002. His response was to throw it
out and start over again because he's insane. He teaches
English at a university in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province,
China, and publishes the free weekly newsletter WHO MOVED