12 Steps to Becoming a Famous Writer
I’ve been reading a lot of articles dealing with depression, self help and addiction lately as market research, because it’s always a good idea to be familiar with what potential markets have already published. Along the way I ran into a couple articles that mentioned twelve-step programs. So I decided to come up with a semi-serious twelve step program for writers. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
1. Write a trilogy. Everyone loves trilogies, right? In the world of fantasy, famous trilogies are everywhere–Lord of the Rings being the most obvious. Sometimes you’ll even see two or three connected trilogies–Star Wars, anyone? So there’s no denying that trilogies work. In order to get famous, you should write your own trilogy so that readers can obsess over your characters while waiting for the next book to come out, increasing your fame level. Don’t sweat it if your trilogy turns into four or five books along the way–it worked for Douglas Adams, after all.
2. Write something controversial. Even better than a trilogy is a controversy. Stories about things like teen pregnancy and spouse abuse are sure to get people riled up–which means they’ll be talking about you. But be careful when including violence, because if it’s gratuitous, no-one will publish it. Of course, you could always self-publish and people would probably read it, but that can be expensive and time-consuming.
3. Employ the use of bad puns. Monty Python, anyone? This doesn’t just work in movies. Include some puns that would make even the Python gang groan and your book is sure to hit the bestseller lists–after all, it’s hilarious.
4. Accept that whether or not it gets published is totally out of your hands and pray. The thing about publishing is that you need other people’s approval: the editors and worse yet, the marketing team, decide whether or not your book is saleable. Why not skip all that and let God decide? Pray over your printed out manuscript every night. Leave copies in churches near you and hope the priest will pick it up and recommend it to all his friends–and call you to tell you about it.
5. Join every writing forum you can find. And tell them all about your work. By casting a wide net, you’re sure to get some returns in the way of readers.
6. Blog about it. Make your own blog and record your thoughts, goals and all that praying you’re doing to get published. People are sure to listen up, and if God hasn’t sent you a contract before you have a few hundred followers, you can always self-publish your trilogy and sell it from your blog.
7. Twitter! Everyone loves Twitter. And most people are already there. Through Twitter you can share your favourite sentences from your books, your blog posts, and what you ate for breakfast. People might not care what you ate for breakfast now, but they sure will when you’re extra-famous.
8. Write another trilogy. Obviously you can’t just stop writing and leave everything to God. In between praying and sharing your prayers with the world, write another trilogy. Stick with the trilogy format because it’s proven to work well. You can even apply all the things you learned from writing your first trilogy to this new one. If you’re feeling really brave, you might even edit this one, too.
9. Go to conferences. And introduce yourself to every agent, publisher or already famous author there. Throw around business cards like confetti. Sit in lessons, take notes, and occasionally correct the teacher. Famous authors love it when you correct them–and agents do even more. You’re sure to make friends this way.
10. Read stuff by famous authors. If you read everything ever written by the most famous authors in your genre, they’re sure to rub off on you, and soon you’ll be famous too. Reading stuff by unknown authors is pointless, because obviously they don’t know what they’re doing–otherwise they’d be famous, right?
11. Make stickers and T-shirts for your books. Obviously, if people see that you have T-shirts and stickers with awesome logos on them, they’re going to want to find out more about you and even read your books. CafePress allows you to do all this for free. Once you’ve created your awesome merchandise, don’t forget to plaster pictures of it all over your blog and link all the products individually to your Twitter page.
12. Self-Publish if God’s not on your side. You’ve been following all these steps for years, and you’re still not getting any contracts? Self publish. Beg, bribe or coerce your friends into reading your trilogy and writing awesome reviews. Hopefully you also have friends you can coerce into doing your cover art and formatting for cheap, because otherwise this gets expensive. Finally, if you don’t have any friends… start over from step one until you get some.
All right, that turned out a little less serious than intended… but most of this is almost good advice. I think.
If you enjoyed this article, please check out my new blog, The Dabbler, where the conversation about writing continues