There are downsides to being a published author. One: the groupies. It's almost impossible to sustain a healthy marriage when legions of lovestruck fans are throwing themselves at you every day. I try to keep their numbers down by avoiding the bestseller lists, but I still can't walk past a bookstore without someone throwing their panties at me. Or, occasionally, their tighty whities. A never-ending supply of free underwear could be a perk, I suppose, but I'd be happier if people kept their pants on and contented themselves with autographs.
Another downside: Authors are supposed to be smart. Publish a book and all of a sudden we're expected to know how it's done -- and, worse, to tell everyone about it. Is there a writer alive who hasn't been forced to churn out a "How to" column about "their craft"? Even James Patterson still does it from time to time, and his "craft" consists of dictating titles to other writers while soaking in a diamond-studded bathtub. ("I'm thinking we'll go with the ol' adjective-noun for this one, Rogers. Fatal Bond, Lethal Intent, Perspicacious Equanimity, Whatever Whatever…you know the drill. Give me 75,000 words by Wednesday. And hand me the Mr. Bubble.")
Even I've done it when I was hard-up enough for something to write about. The most popular post on my blog is "50 Dos and Don’ts for Wannabe Writers," which is basically 500-ish words of tap dancing around the fact that I'm NOT all that smart when it comes to writing and publishing. Boil the whole thing down and it's just me shouting "Oh, for god's sake…if you wanna write just go do it already!"
But guess what, friends. I need to update this website and I don't have any news to share. So…
Hockensmith's Four Little Rules for Big-Time Publishing Success
(1) Write stuff people want to read
Want to move units? Give the people what they want. They're not reading for their health, you know. In fact, most of them aren't reading at all. Who's got time for book-books when there's Facebook? The one in a million who will pick up a novel from time to time won't want to read your tender coming-of-age tale or heartfelt romance or gimmicky tarot-themed mystery or whatever. If the Amazon rankings are to be believed, they want Loch Ness monster erotica and lots of it. So fire up an In Search Of…, get in touch with your wild side and start typing something that moves your unit.
(2) Read stuff people (especially you) want to write
James Patterson was an ad man before he started writing (or dictating titles, anyway). Lee Child was a TV producer. J.K. Rowling was unemployed. Gillian Flynn drove an ice cream truck. Jonathan Franzen was a Chippendales dancer. Very different backgrounds -- yet all of these bestselling authors have two things in common. First, before they were writers, they were readers, preparing themselves for literary superstardom by discovering what they themselves love about books. Second, they're all members of the Illuminati, the shadowy cabal that secretly controls the world. Which gives them a bit of an edge, competition-wise. Still…read, people! It's good for you!
(3) Land a powerful agent, get a massive book deal and become a bestseller
Preferably in that order.
(4) Honor your commitments
Let's say, for example, that you try to update your website at least once a month. Well, by cracky, you'd better do it, even if it means recycling something you wrote during a blog tour or just churning out a lot of ridiculous bunk. If you're lucky, everyone will be too busy following your lame advice to notice....