The Worst Possible Advice for Selling Your Manly Novel

November was NaNoWriMo–no, that’s not a scrapped Blackberry concept phone, but National Novel Writing Month. But did you know that December is NaHoStrugPubYoNoMo (National Hopelessly Struggling to Publish Your Novel Month)? It’s true, and over at Cracked I’ve charted the worst ways to achieve that end with an infographic that does not hold up to scrutiny at all. For God’s sake, I put Les Miserables at the tail end of “popularity,” [edit: No I didn’t! I told you that chart was confusing] so don’t listen to anything I say. That chart doesn’t even make sense to me, and I’m the one who composed it from the hours of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. for days on end.

Anyway, here’s the official list of men’s best-selling genres:

• War!

• Practical romance

• Action and/or adventure

• Breaking a horse’s spirit

• Revenge fantasy

• Motorcycle murder mysteries

• Erotic men’s rights activism

• War again, but this time overtly racist

• Tannery soap opera

• Explaining things to women

• Rifle user’s manual fan fiction

• Facial hair photo collections

• Dad loves you but can’t say it


APOCRYPHA — I had to kill quite a few darlings to trim this puppy into decent length.

  • If you can’t be a great bad writer, try being foreign. Readers love exotic authors who deliver deep spiritual insight about seizing every day while being a self-obsessed wimp. If you are neither of these things, don’t worry. Anyone can find success with my methods below.
  • Hell’s bells, couldn’t the man see that?! It made Randy/Chuck sick. Sick to his stomach. His stomach was sick with anger.
  • Upon infiltrating a computer lab for 15 minutes: Mack did a quick equipment check: binoculars, rations, 12 Claymore mines.
  • It seemed there were fewer and fewer places for guys like him in this world—old warhorses with no stable to go to, forever nuzzling sugar cubes and carrots out of the palms of a maiden called the American Dream. God, he wished he were a real horse. Life would be simpler then. He would whinny with joy, having lain down his soldier’s burden.
  • The guards didn’t even have time to scream, but their agonized wails afterward filled the chamber until Mack put them out of their misery by stomping on their necks. “This must be the place,” he quipped under his breath. His piercing blue eyes that it’s not gay to admit were piercing turned to the stout man next to him, who did not live under a cover identity as a famous writer that any publisher would be wise to snatch up.
  • The entire sample from Patch-22-Skidoo!:

“It’s positively no use,” A.C. said negatively. “Even if you may outrace Jerry Jetpack, how shalt you convince Mr. Hitler to call off this mad war?” “Oi, dinkum!” squeaked Ha’Penny. “These blokers is got us over a barrel, so they ‘as! I’d better gozzwhizzle me gears!” With that, the Yorkshire greasemonkey disappeared back under the electro-blimp’s hull, where she continued repairs. Nellie Mae thought about their predicament thoughtfully. Was it her womanly imagination, or did the handsome agent use Ha’Penny’s disappearance as opportunity to move his manly bulk closer to her womanly not-bulk? She was never sure of a man’s intentions until she danced with him… That was it! She could stop the Lightning Streikezeit and discern what he thought of her in one genius stroke! “There’s one way to save the president,” she stated finally and out loud. “Get all the swing kids to a Sadie Hawkins dance — maybe the biggest one ever! — right in the middle of Castle Nazistein!”

  • And this beast below from the final entry, which was the weakest link. I hate ending weak:

Had he failed? Could he be said to fail? Was failing a thing done by him? Yes. It was that simple. “I am leaving now, Donna,” Belial said into the loathsome buzz of a voicemail recipient, and hung up the phone, knowing that she hadn’t heard the ring through the Ambien haze—even as his father, dead now 22 years, was unable to hear him Donna. Divorce is painful for us all. We are the dead, thought Belial to himself, we are the dead and we do not know it. We leave voicemails for the living that they do not play, and we are the dead. His mother, after she, too, had passed on, had bequeathed him his grandfather’s sword—the last remembrance of his service in the Japanese Pacific forces. He picked it up now, thoughtfully. A knock on the door jamb roused him from his thoughts. There stood rubicund William Cody, chair of American literature studies. His typically unstaid nature was in overt contrast to Belial’s glum spirits, and usually won them over, but today was especially dusky on the brain. “I’m pulling up lines in ten minutes. Last chance to come with.” Belial confusedly furrowed his brow in perplexed befuddlement. “Isn’t it too cold to sail today?” Bill—for so William Cody was often called by his friends when they wanted to be informal with him—winked. “Not with the new device I just installed.” He paused, as if he were about to reveal a great secret that many men would kill for, and would change the world. “You…should see it, Belial. Come with me, sailing on a night-sail. There’s so much I want to show you.” This last was accented with great import but utter ambiguity, as if he could just as easily have been talking about a new piece of technology as the homosexual tryst that both men had felt the compelling urge to which to submit in their long friendship. The priestly man drummed his fingers. What to do?