From Writing to Riches -- Bill Kirton
For this month’s blog I had thought of conveying my despair, anger and profound sadness at the appalling inhumanity, cynicism, failures, and uncaring responses of those in power to such devastating news on all fronts. As part of my solution to many of the problems, I also thought of proposing an amendment to whatever laws govern elections that, as well as allowing us to elect candidates, would give us the option of comprehensibly preventing them altogether. But rather than compound the prevailing misery, I eventually reasoned that I ought to try to counteract it with some light relief. I hope this may provide a little.
Regular visitors to Authors Electric clearly have an interest in writing of all sorts. If they also happen (or want) to be writers themselves, they may be looking for hints, inspirations, encouragements. If that's the case for you, you’ve come to the right place. To begin with, consider this:
It is, of course, the signature of our greatest writer. But look at that surname - indecipherable. He clearly wasn't very good at the actual writing bit. No computers then, remember, so spare a thought for the poor editors who had to transcribe King Lear and the rest umpteen times, in their own longhand, to prepare scripts for every individual player.
So, having reassured you that, as exemplified by Will, it's pretty easy to get by, let’s start with blogging itself. There’s no doubt about it, blogging and the many other forms of online social networking are inescapable and absolutely here to stay and so you need to know how they all work and how you can make the most of them.
First, you have to write your novel, of course, or at least jot down a few paragraphs – enough to put extracts online now and again. But you can probably get away with just a few quotes. You’ll be telling the world you’re a writer and, with no evidence to the contrary, who’s going to contradict you?
Just to be safe, though, prepare a few snippets of writerly wisdom. Mix and match them a bit because you want to tap into as many potential readerships as possible. Intellectuals are the easy ones. For them, just look up some huge words and juggle them into sentences. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what they mean; if they sound obscure enough no one will dare question them because that might suggest inadequacy on their part.
Another easy target is the literary snob. To satisfy them, just check the Wikipedia entries for a few of the big hitters – depending on your genre, that could be Tolstoy, H G Wells, Brett Easton-Ellis, Balzac, Nietzsche, E L James, Jane Austen, whoever. Find out what their particular stylistic or thematic tics are (or were) and add little parallels to them in your own fragments. There's no need to point out these parallels yourself – a reviewer will find them, congratulate him/herself on how clever she/he is, and want to be first to point them out. This will make other reviewers hunt for similar echoes and you’ll soon be on the Man Booker short list.
Then there are the more difficult, easily-offended demographics, which it would be inappropriate of me to identify. My only advice there is to slam a metaphorical door in the faces of fundamentalists of any sort and, above all, maintain a linguistic balance. Talk and write winningly about ‘sensitive machismo’, ‘pugnacious fragility’ and 'caring conservatism'. Such oxymorons are as potent as cheap music.
Remember the size of the
relative markets. The largest English-speaking readership is in the
If you do all of that conscientiously, this is what will happen.
You’ll get followers. Some of them may actually read the books you’ve written, (a few may even like them). They’ll also approve of the things you write in your blog and recommend it to friends. But you’re looking for someone more specific. The favourite would be to find a major player in the movie industry who reads a couple of your paragraphs, flies you first class to Los Angeles for lunch and buys the rights to all your works for several million somethings. (She/he is so impressed that she/he lets you choose the currency yourself.)
The news gets out that your income from the books has already got people organising a whip-round for J K Rowling so now the critics who made you are desperate to sneer and scoff and rank you alongside James Joyce in the ‘who-the-hell-told-this-guy-he-could-write?’ stakes. But your imagination, creativity, command of language and idiosyncratic style disarm their criticisms, and their glowing reviews open up new, more highbrow audiences.
The ensuing popularity draws even more followers to your blog (which is now ghost-written because, beside the pool of your new home in Barbados, you’re busy quaffing a 2008 Didier Dagueneau Silex). Many of these new fans have lots of money and thousands of friends. They buy your books to give as presents to all their acquaintances and family and they mention their familiarity with your oeuvre to their friends. So word of mouth brings in even more buyers until your books are required reading in every school and university on every continent.
You appear on chat shows with a ready-made set of answers, ghost-written of course, each of which is tailor-made for the show’s specific demographic. For example, to the question ‘What’s the secret of your popularity?’ your answers might range from:
"I hesitate to indulge in hubristic speculation. I prefer to think I’ve tapped a vein in Jung’s collective unconscious which facilitates individuation as a liberator of synchronicity and posits stability as a regenerative thesis."
"Well, Kevin... dunno what to say really. Big surprise, awesome, wicked, mega … really cool."
You see? It really is that easy. Thanks to networking, you’ll soon be in a position to dispense with your ghost-writers and eventually give up writing altogether.