My name is metten, and I have come here to complain. Since I am putting out a book soon, my time in the dialysis chair has been spent reading books on how to market a novel. First and foremost, I do hereby admit that most of these people are correct and giving wonderful advice that, if followed to the letter, will result in a successful career as a writer. As a guy that has written one novel, I have no idea what I am talking about and I would be stupid to ignore their advice. Guess what, bitches: I am plenty stupid. It’s not that I feel like I am some sort of arteest whose work is sacred…I write poop humor, for Jeebus’ sake. It’s just that it makes me feel manipulative and dirty.
The first piece of advice is to watch the amazon sales charts for genres that are growing in popularity, then quickly bust out a book that fits that genre. They pretend like there’s some great debate taking place in the industry between write what you know and write what will sell. Can you imagine me writing a cozy mystery vampire slamdance coconut testimonial, or whatever? No, I am not going to spend my life chasing what’s trendy among the million people who are still willing to read a book.
Regarding the American economy, my father used to say that if things continued down the current path, we’d all end up selling each other cheeseburgers. He was lamenting the loss of American manufacturing and the American middle class, but it works for books too. The next piece of advice is to make as many friends within the writing community as possible. That way you can sell them books and use their opinions for your cover quotes and Amazon testimonials. I get it. Few people read more books than writers. I read too. What the books don’t tell you is that many of these people are pretentious, insufferable, humorless pricks. I love being around smart people as much as I hate being around people that need to feel smart.
I tried. I really tried. My twitter feed is full of writers and agents. I read my feed and sigh with exasperation. I am no picnic, but these dudes sssuuuccckkk. It makes me grateful for all the twitter sex workers that follow me. They are a wonderful, naked break from the tired conversations in the writing community. I am nerdy and awkward and anxiety-riddled and generally inappropriate, but I have made plenty of friends by being the real me.
The next advice is to always write a series, never just write one book. People like a familiar setting and likeable characters. They want to know what happens next. There are formulas for figuring out the “readthrough rate” from one novel in a series to another. Then when you’ve exhausted every possible story the series might contain, you’re supposed to write more within “the universe” of the series. It’s like when the wire that I go to for news leaves the last five words off a headline…I get it Reuters, you think I am going to click on this to get the end of the headline…often, they are correct, and I click to the link like a monkey, only to learn that Donald Trump is still a douche. Now, I am not above writing a sequel. In fact, I am planning on it. However, writing additional books in a series for no other reason than the fact that my readers will buy them is dirty. When the story is over, it’s over. I shamelessly pray to a god that I don’t believe in that you will like my stories and accept me, but I am not going to manipulate you.
There’s more, but I give up. When I end up selling a hundred copies of my book to family and friends who I bullied into buying it in the first place, I will know that the experts were right. Still, I will have failed on my own terms. I will have released the stories that are inside me, ended them where they end, and made friends with people I want to be friends with. I think I can live with that.