How to write a bestseller

How to write a bestseller

I saw this twenty-something youth in a coffee shop the other day. He was working frenetically at his laptop, referring to some books alongside. “What...

I saw this twenty-something youth in a coffee shop the other day. He was working frenetically at his laptop, referring to some books alongside. “What are you doing, if I may ask?” I queried, intrigued by the young man. “Writing a bestseller,” he said, all confidence, sipping on his latte.

Was it so easy to write a bestseller? “A bestseller? Like a book?”

“Yeah…yeah…bestseller...BS,” he nodded distractedly. “Millions of copies sold, royalties, movie deals, etc.”

I was very impressed. “What is your bestseller about?” I asked.

“Don’t know,” he said nonchalantly. “I am still doing my research. Once I figure out what makes millions of people queue up and buy the book I will write it. No point writing otherwise.”

“Wow!” I said. “How will you figure out what they want?”

“By doing some research man,” he said. “My research shows me that the book has to be really bad to be a bestseller.

I can easily write pathetic stuff. And if my writing is not bad enough I have a couple of friends who can help.”

I was not sure if I heard it right. “You mean you have to be really good right? You have to be an expert on the subject, master of the craft, a genius at storytelling! That’s the way to write a bestseller right?”

The youngster looked at me and shook his head. “Dude, that’s not the way to write bestsellers. Have you seen any recent bestsellers? Do they fit your description?”

I shook my head. “How, then?” I asked hesitantly.

“First, understand the underlying emotion that will strike a chord with the millions. A popular book must be so bad that it makes 90 per cent of the people feel good. That’s the formula.”

I was at the edge of the seat now.

“But will bad stuff sell?” I squeaked. “In that case, everyone would be successful wouldn’t they?”

“Oh, that! The real key is good marketing. The BS idea must go viral - or we have no story,” he said.

“Is it easy to make anything viral?” I asked. “Then everyone would do it right?”

“That’s why I am studying popular viral videos, finding keywords, etc. The next step is to make really lousy videos.

Stuff that makes people shake their heads in disgust and creates an urge to share with others. Once people share our stuff, we will be trending.”

“But why will anyone share bad stuff?” I asked flummoxed.

“Because people love sharing bad stuff! It shocks people to know we actually have the gall to promote such nonsense. This is what works these days. If you make good stuff you will end up in the 8 am slot on TV - which is as good as committing suicide.

But the successful ones are on prime time. Saw any sense ever on prime time? That’s where the money and fame is. Because it is really bad.”

“Wow,” I said. “Make bad stuff, go viral, and voila. I’d never have known.”

“Correction…not just bad stuff, you must make really bad stuff,” he said. “To create BS that lasts, you must hit a new low. Then pound the audience with social media marketing every hour with the planted news until people start believing that our book is indeed a bestseller. People will post comments, likes, shares in a daze because they believe they have already read the book thanks to our marketing blitz.”

“That seems like a lot of work even before the book is written,” I said.

“There is more. Celebrity endorsements, book tours, movie deals, plant controversies, etc. Need to tag our books to bestselling books…like my book is going to be tagged with some guy called Shakes...something.

In fact, my team told me that they can make it appear like this Shakes…guy is tagging himself on my book. Our team posts comments, reviews and fake recommendations, etc, to influence people. Many times we have to buy most of our own books to make the numbers. Like I said, it’s not easy to write good BS.”

“Looks like it will cost a lot of money to write a bestseller,” I said. “How will you raise the money?”

“By making a hit movie of course,” he said. “I got that worked out. If they believe we have a good BS, some fancy production house will pick it up. They smell good BS anywhere... I hope to get a decent advance for the film.”
“But with so much work,” I asked. “When will you write your book?”

“Actually, I don’t need to write it, do I?” he asked. “If I am getting money and fame, which is what I am writing for, I don’t need to write it anymore. The smart thing to do is to get my advance and announce my second bestseller.”

“Oh…and what is that about?” I asked foolishly.

“How to write a bestseller and make millions,” he said. “Now that will land me in the big league.”

I asked him for his autograph and took a selfie. He was destined for a bright future. He’d probably win some big award for the book he did not write!

By: Harimohan Paruvu

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