How I Intend To Sell Cheap Books With Even Cheaper Messages.
Or just as cheap—I haven't decided yet.
“I don’t know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens.” E.B. White
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a pretty cheap guy. If I don’t have to open my wallet, I won’t. I used to wear the same clothes, the same shoes, the same cologne. I’m too cheap to wear cologne now. I gave up smelling pretty when my skin stopped springing back. Quid pro quo.
I figure deodorant is all the scent I need these days. Sometimes I’m too cheap to even use that. Soap, on the other hand, I buy in six-packs. It’s Ivory soap. When I was young, my mother used it as laundry detergent.
It came as shavings called “Ivory Snow.”
I could’ve been the “Ivory Snow Baby.” Unfortunately, Brooke Shields beat me to it. I’m older than she is. Explain that.
Anyway, when I became a writer many, many years ago, I decided I’d write really original things. They’d be so original, people would think I was deep, and pay big bucks and make me a millionaire. If that happened — which it didn’t — I wouldn’t be cheap anymore.
I’d spend money like a drunken sailor.
I have no idea what a drunken sailor spends like but, obviously, if I’m ever going to be a best-selling author, I have to stop being original.
Nobody wants that — and I probably don’t, either. It’s like my old clothes. They’ve been around for years. The knees are worn out, the cuffs are frayed, the crotch is stretched.
That’s what people want with words these days.
They want stretched-crotch words.
What is it about stretched-crotch words?
This is where my being cheap really works for me. I know what it means to step into old stretched-out clothes. My balls are free as angels.
The same thing occurs with words. When we see words we expect, we’re comfortable. We know where our minds — and our balls — are going to rest. If words are really comfortable, we call that a “relaxing read.”
Most people want a relaxing read.
It’s like cereal boxes. I grew up reading cereal boxes. I don’t think it hurt me at all. I know a lot about cereal.
How to turn cereal box copy into literature
Having written cereal box copy during my advertising days, I know the average reader is usually doing two things at once (reading, eating). You have to approach a novel the same way. You can’t jump around willy nilly. Imagine reading a cereal box that says: “Ten years earlier…”
Nobody with a spoon in their mouth wants that.
In other words, stick to ingredients.
Kurt Vonnegut once wrote in the beginning of Slaughterhouse Five, “I would hate to tell you what this lousy little book cost me in money, anxiety and time.” Well, I don’t have money, so I figure the cheapest way to write a novel is by sticking to basic ingredients. Write what you know, in other words.
I’ll probably write in first person, since I don’t want anyone saying I’m stealing their story (even if I am). I also know a lot of slang.
Comfortable words contain a lot of slang.
Now the cheap message part.
Since I’ve given up being original, content should be breeze. I’ll just pull out a bunch of comfortable words, string them together, and I’m done. I can take a nap. Or shake my cologne bottle.
The contents remind me of a lava lamp.
Welcome to the peanut gallery
Since nobody’s telling me what I can sell my novel for (thank you KDP), I’m going to discount it right off the top. Let’s say I’ll ask a buck. That’s peanuts in today’s marketplace. Who doesn’t want a book called “My Balls Are Free As Angels” for a buck? I’d pay that for a book about balls — or angels.
Marketing? I don’t need no stinking marketing
I used to be a big believer in marketing. Now I don’t care. Readings? No one comes. Giveaways? I once gave away twenty copies of my first novel. I even mailed them out with a thank you note written on rice paper.
One woman said I changed her life. After reading my book, she went back to school and became an accountant. I don’t hear from her anymore. It’s funny how accountants always desert you first. It’s a numbers game.
Success — according to my dog — is a bowel movement
If I sound like a cynic, I’m not. I’m careful. I’ve always worried about embarrassing myself. All writers do. We have terrible nightmares involving dangling participles and split infinitives. Then my dog came along. Every day he goes outside, walks around, and waits for that moment to come. When it does, he walks away satisfied, kicking up some grass.
He sleeps like a baby.
Something to think about.
What if I do make The New York Times Bestseller List?
Then I’ve been right. Comfortable words and cheap messages do sell. Which means all those years of trying to be original were a waste of time.
Maybe reading Kurt Vonnegut was a waste of time.
I don’t think so, though.
I still find him funny as hell.
Maybe someone will think “My Balls Are Free As Angels” is funny as hell, too. I’m hoping it’s that accountant woman. Like I said earlier, I haven’t heard from her in a long time. This might be just the thing to get us communicating again.
We could talk about how funny my book is.
Or my dog’s successful bowel movements.
She’s going to desert me again, anyway.
I can sling anything at her at this point.Robert Cormack is a satirist, blogger and author of “You Can Lead A Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive).”
in Café beBee
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11 months ago #9
Probably, Ken, he was buried next to a tree.
11 months ago #8
Your dentist ancestry, @Robert Cormack , invites a new slant to Scottish ‘roots’. 🛠
11 months ago #7
I'm sure it reflects my Scottish roots, Ken. We were in Edinburgh for centuries. My great, great grandfather was a dental surgeon (would love to see the tools he used on Scottish teeth; probably in some museum somewhere under the title “Cart repair tools.”
1 year ago #6
I salute you, Rob, for your canny attitude to spending and accordingly declare you to be an honorary Scotsman. BTW my wife’s been calling me cheap for years … but I’m not buying it. 😂🤣😂
1 year ago #5
I'm still reading Vonnegut years later. Some stuff I'm only beginning to get. I'll look up this Pollini guy.
1 year ago #4
If you have illustrations then the following applies. Penny ((buck) plain. Tuppence, two pennies (bucks) coloured.
1 year ago #3
I loved Kurt Vonnegut, was also a bit Richard Brautigan fan (Trout Fishing In America). I also used to read a guy named Francis Pollini. He wrote a book called Glover, about a US marine with a 10 inch schlong. It was mostly dialogue, short and staccato.
1 year ago #2
Well, I'll start with a buck, John (probably worth what a penny was then). I'm not greedy.
1 year ago #1
Sounds as if you want to resurrect the old Penny Dreadfuls genre. They may have originally been cheap, but now they are selling on etsy et al at considerably more then a penny.