We continue with our popular-ish ‘5 Simple Steps’ – a pragmatic, no nonsense, step-by-step guide to writing and marketing great fiction. The system designed specifically for aspiring authors by someone who is pretending to be an author.
Step 2: Selling an Idea (that you Just Made up 15 minutes before the Big Pitch Meeting)
There’s an old saying in showbiz, “you’re a failure and you’ll never amount to anything.” My father recited this nugget everyday, and, if the DNA tests go awry, I’ll pass it on to my child. It’s poignant advice that floats around my subconscious daily and keeps me grounded.
It was an especially helpful fixation after my 51st rejection letter on the manuscript containing my heart and soul.
After years of sacrifice, missing episode after episode of the walking dead and selling my grandmother’s heart medication – it’s what she would have wanted – and after a relentless schedule of editing, re-editing and typing until my fingertips became calloused and arthritic, I printed my magnum opus, attached the stamps to the big manilla envelope and shipped it off to its new home. Patiently, I waited, every day growing more anxious.
Then it came. The notice from the fifty first publisher. I ripped into it – half agony, half hope. But I quickly realized it was just another form letter. Another run-of-the-mill, scathing, disheartening form letter from some latte-sipping, Virginia Wolfe-fetishizing bigwig at a literary agency, asking me to compromise my artistic integrity by “toning down the glorification of animal mutilation” in my children’s book.
What followed was a blur of stress eating and ‘furniture deconstruction’ – this thing where I ram the coffee table into the television set. A quick visit from the police and a seventy-two-hour hold later, I understood what my father was trying to teach me: you can’t take failure to heart… and the world is conspiring against you.
Now, you will be able to profit from my moment of state-mandated contemplation.
Stupid ideas with no intrinsic or artistic value sell everyday – make one of those.
NASCAR rakes in billions showing the same cars driving in circles for hours for an audience that lives primarily in cars, providing little more than background noise for pig castration and cousin-fucking.
Doctors make millions, yet offer nothing to our society.
And even more bewildering – the most successful thing created in the last century was a cartoon about a shirtless mouse demoted from captain to cook while employed on a steamboat. Frankly, I’ve never seen a mouse steer a boat, and I’ve certainly never seen one shirtless. What is the purpose of art if not to exactly represent how things are and nothing more?
We all know the classic American success story: some guy invents a new gadget like “The Floppy Mop,” someone yells about it on TV, and everyone gets rich. We all know about the idiot who spends thousands of dollars hoarding the hot new Christmas toy and flips them to desperate parents, forcing them to pay a premium for their laziness and their kids’ bad taste. And we all know the young person of color, who was born and raised in West Philadelphia, got in one little fight and moved in with his auntie and uncle in a town called Bel-Air. We miss you Mr. President.
We are inundated with get-rich-quick messages non-stop in America. And one thing we know about commercial messages repeated constantly by big businesses – they must be true.
So now that we know it’s completely and utterly true, how do you tap into that revenue stream? How do you sate the unending hunger that all American’s feel, the urge to fill the dark, black void in their life. And how do you capitalize on it without putting forth any effort or having marketable skills?
It all comes down to the pitch. A pitch is comprised of one part luck, one part good idea and two parts having the right personality disorder.
So stay tuned for the next post where I will be discussing the intricacies of a developing a pitch in “Step 2 (part B): The Intricacies of Developing a Pitch”