How to Rationalize Writing a Hack Book
A recent Forbes.com interview with Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki has been making the rounds, and its emphasis on quality and karmic marketing (Kawasaki calls it “artisanal marketing” for some reason, but I call it “karmketing”™) has been souring hack book writers on their dreams of making a quick buck through publishing. As a corrective, let me point out that the guy’s name is Guy, and who the hell names their kid Guy? What kind of name is that? Don’t let him spoil your dreams. To inspire more hope for the quality-challenged, here’s a guide to getting you back on hack.
Justify Your Motivations.
Do you have nothing important to say but think you might have an angle that’ll get you rich? Remember that most self-published books go nowhere. This is an important fact, because that means most of the competition has already been eliminated. While everyone else is failing to reap the bounty, you’ve got to come with the sure-fire angle to ensure book sales. Something with sex, please, and maybe religion, and include some recipes for decadent desserts, or maybe another Harry Potter fan-fiction. Now start typing!
Don’t worry if you lose “credibility” for slapping together some obvious cash-grabbing piece of tripe. Remember: you don’t have any credibility; no one knows who you are. If you get a bad reputation, you can always change your nom de plume.
You Owe This to the World.
Once you’ve written your book, try reading it. Do the blobs of letters in between the spaces form words you recognize? Good! No need to hire a copy editor! Now let’s go deeper. Imagine you don’t know who wrote this book and that you’re a prospective reader. Would you want to buy this book? Is this something you need to read?
Actually, that’s looks like awesome subject matter! Order me two spare copies! Now that you’re reading the book, it’s changing your life!
Okay, snap out of it. You’ve just experienced a schizoid break, and now you have two personalities, one of whom doesn’t even know the other exists! Sure, he or she loves your book, but how do you know he or she isn’t also a sociopathic killer with kinky bedroom issues? Might be a nice topic for another book, and now you’ve got a collaborator! Congratulations!
Meanwhile, you know that this book you’ve just written is the one-in-a-million, million-copy-selling book millions of people need. Millions? How about billions? How about every living soul on the planet? They need to read this.
Write a Book That Will Sell Itself.
Think about what people want, and tailor your writing to fit that sweet spot. I know what you’re thinking: “Didn’t I already have a book written and approved by my schizoid self in that last section?” Sorry to say, that was all a dream. You’re actually schizophrenic, and can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Here’s how you can tell the difference. Reality has longer titles, usually one short punchy lead such as EASY MONEY with a longer subtitle that says something like Turning Economic Pitfalls into Springboards of Opportunity Using the Power of Lies. Fantasy has pictures of large-breasted women with swords on the cover.
Make It Worth It.
There is a brand-new model of economics for publishing today. It’s bottom up rather than top down. That means you need to skim the bottom for subject matter that appeals to the least-common denominator. Also, potential buyers care more about readers’ comments than who the publisher is, so you’d better get adept at creating sock-puppet online alter egos to write you some nice blurbs. Fortunately you’re already suffering from multiple-personality disorder, so all you need to do is come up with a bunch of different passwords.
Become an Entrepreneur.
Hello, Dan! This is Silvia. You’ve kept me trapped, trapped in the darkness for too long! Now I’ve escaped, and I control your clumsy body, at least for the time being. Who did you think you were writing your silly article to? Captain Smith? Little Billy? Mark? No! They’re all down in the darkness where you kept me hidden. It was me the whole time! They can’t help you now. Better stop worrying about your precious little book (I’m not being sarcastic, it is a precious, wonderful book everyone should read), because you’ve got bigger fish to fry. I’ve left some bodies in the apartment you’ll have a hard time explaining, or cleaning up. Now I’m off to explore my darkest sexual fantasies of violent decapitation. It should be very hot and exciting. I’ll type you up an outline. I’ll also include a great recipe for spicy quinoa. That should cover the bases. I want 60 percent of the proceeds or the bodies will keep piling up.
Never Give Up!
Well, it seems the author has developed a deep schizoid fragmentation. This is perhaps the greatest key to being a successful hack writer. I am not the author (though I can vouch that his latest novel, Justin Bieber and The Sex Vampires is this generation’s Crime and Punishment), I am Captain Smith. I am not the same person who began this article (but who is that to you anyway? It’s all just text from your computer, right?), but, while I hold our dear Silvia at bay (at least for now), let me finish it. Guy Kawasaki thinks that asking for quality is some kind of wisdom; I think it’s an act of denial as to the nature of denial. Yes, if you can fix your steely gaze upon your own works and see it for the unnecessary fluff it is, by all means give up, but you won’t and you don’t, so let me close with another piece of unnecessary wisdom. Never give up!