Tuesday, October 19, 2010

For Aspiring Writers

If you want to write a book and make any money doing it, the odds are stacked against you, I'll admit. It's tough to get an agent to look at your work. And even if you do get published...well, book sales are down. Even a writer as well known as Robert Reich is bemoaning the necessity of promoting himself.

Well, there is hope. The Pentagon made Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer a best-selling author when they bought and destroyed the entire print run of Operation Dark Heart, his account of fighting in Afghanistan, on the grounds that the book revealed military secrets. Never mind that the final version of the text passed the Army's operational security review.

So if you've written a book--no matter what it's about, say it's about Afghanistan. Because clearly what's actually in the book doesn't really matter. The publisher will know they'll have a guaranteed best-seller. Nobody will have a chance to read it, but who cares?

Another trick you can try: put pictures of train stations in your book: what reader halfway through the latest Jonathan Franzen novel or triumph-over-addiction memoir wouldn't want to take a break by look at pictures of Union Station? A couple of years ago I was taking pictures in a Chicago commuter rail station and was stopped by the police on the grounds that my pictures posed a security risk. I'm not kidding. And remember the photographer who was handcuffed for not deleting photos he had taken in Penn Station?

So whatever you're written, whether it's serious literary fiction, a memoir, a mystery, slap in some photos of train stations. Then make an anonymous tip to Homeland Security. They love those.

Janet Napolitano will be writing a check to your publisher in no time.

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