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How to be a successful writer

How to be a successful writer

How to be a successful writer

You know how the literary industry works. The Da Vinci Code sweeps through the subway readings and we’re rained on by the wild marketing of hundreds of thrillers exploring the hidden meaning of Cassius Marcellus Coolidge’s sixteen poker-playing dog prints. The Men Who Didn’t Love Women is crowned as a blockbuster and a collection of thriller writers suddenly sprout in the frozen landscapes of Northern Europe. Paulo Coelho publishes the backup copy of his Whatsapp conversations on paper, it becomes a hit, and his readers sentence that so much depth has changed their lives while urinating in rainbow hues.

Someone writes a flyer welcoming new age thinking, titles it The Secret, hires Geronimo Stilton’s layout artist, and ends up piling up bags with dollar signs stamped on them. A yuppie says that a fable about stolen dairy products is indispensable for any company and a wall of children’s stories, disguised as revelations for the corseted, will end up entrenching the Current Events section.

And someone is busy simply writing an essay. Learn more about this class here How to be a successful writer, who knows? And above all, who cares?

Step 1: Find a publisher

In 1887 a poem titled “Like a Giant Refreshed” landed on the desks of five publishers. Three turned it down and two agreed to publish the work if the author would pay for it. Among the official responses received were a “The market is full of similar things,” a “We have our list of editions covered for next season,” and an “It clearly has something special in it, but not enough to ensure sales.” The person who had sent the manuscript was a correspondent for St. James’s Gazette, but the truth is that he was not the actual author of the play.

He had actually copied word for word the poem “Samson Agonistes” that appeared in Paradise Regain’d, a work by the poet John Milton, for some the second most notable literary figure in Anglo-Saxon letters after William Shakespeare. The goal was obvious, to demonstrate that scouts of new talent have no nose for genius.

One hundred years later, an idle Chuck Ross rewrote Jerzy Kosinski’s novel Steps. He signed the work as Eric Demos, stuffed the text into fourteen envelopes, and tossed them into the mailboxes of fourteen publishers. Despite the fact that Kosinski’s Steps had won a National Book Award For Fiction, and that David Foster Wallace would later take to his knees to praise the work and draw parallels with Kafka, the text did not pass the first cut of any publisher, including the one that had originally published Steps. And among the rejection responses Ross came across this:

How to be a successful writer

Many of us have read your novel admiring the writing style. We find a point of comparison to Jerzy Kosinski when we read the raw, chilling chapters you have constructed. The problem with the manuscript, such as it is, is that it fails to become a rounded work. It has some very spectacular moments, but it gives the impression of being an incomplete sketch. We see no way to publish this particular work in its present state.

In the 1980s the writer Doris Lessing, a future Nobel laureate in literature in 2007, suspected that her publisher was accepting her manuscripts because they were stamped with her name and not because of their quality. To corroborate this, she submitted two novels under a pseudonym (Jane Somers) and the result was as expected: both were rejected. In 1991 a journalist from The weekly named David Wilkening commissioned his secretary (evidencing a hazy knowledge of administrative work) to copy Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ 1939 Pulitzer-winning novel The Yearling.

The volume wandered through twenty-two publishers (including the original publisher) retitled A cracker comes to age, to collect as many as thirteen rejection responses. Only one of the publishers, Pineapple press, noticed the photocopy and acknowledged the original work. The Sunday Times repeated the test in 2006 with forty publishers, sending the first chapters of two Booker Prize winners, In a free state by V.S. Naipaul and Holiday by Stanley Middleton, changing the names of characters and the author. The result: a score of rejections and only one interesting response for one of the works.

Step 2: Self-publishing = Profit

“Set up a blog”. Online self-publishing started with Manel Loureiro narrating a zombie apocalypse in a blog and today the man walks three books of the Apocalypse Z saga and sells mountains in the United States. Erika Leonard (E.L. James) started writing an erotic-pornographic-festive Twilight fan fiction (titled Masters of the universe and with no apparent relation to He-Man) and published it on the internet under the nickname Snowqueen’s Icedragon. The success of visits would encourage her to retouch the work to eliminate the Twilight characters and turn it into her own work called 50 Shades of Grey. Another lucky one was Amanda Hocking, an unknown author who made a fortune by putting her paragraphs for sale on Kindle.

How to be a successful writer

How to be a successful writer? Ask someone who is.

Or get writing, whatever it is, right now. And stop wasting your time with cheating articles that pose a question you don’t have an answer to, nor care to have an answer to. You guys can be the next Jim Theis, that’s the only important thing.

How to be a successful writer

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