Today we're going to talk about how you can turn your book into a best seller.
Oh, I can hear you out there already, whining: "But Dave! I haven't even written a book yet!" To which I must reply, meaning no disrespect: "Ha ha, you have no more media sophistication than a lung fluke." Because in today's literary environment, writing the book is pretty much the optional part of the best-seller equation. What is important is promoting the book, on your various talk shows.
Times have changed since the days when Herman Melville wrote his famous brilliant masterpiece that nobody ever gets to the end of without amphetamines, "Moby Dick." Back then, authors spent most of their time actually writing, because there were very few outlets for promoting. There was no television or radio, so all the talk shows were transmitted by telegraph, which made for a very limited format:
HOST: PLEASE WELCOME VERY FINE YOUNG WRITER HERMAN MELVILLE STOP
STUDIO AUDIENCE: CLAP CLAP STOP
MELVILLE: NICE TO BE HERE STOP
HOST: HERMAN WE RUNNING OUT OF TIME STOP WHAT IS BOOK ABOUT STOP
MELVILLE: IT ABOUT BIG WHALE STOP
HOST: THAT FASCINATING STOP
HOST'S GENIAL SIDEKICK: (NODS) STOP
HOST: AFRAID THAT ALL TIME WE HAVE STOPQJ HERMAN YOU A GREAT GUEST COME BACK SOON STOP
STUDIO BAND: DA DUM DA DA DUM STOP
Because this format was so limited, readers in those days often had to read books by hand to find out whether they were any good. Today, however, the reading public's impression of a book is based on how well the author does on talk shows, so your wise modern author concentrates more on this aspect of literature and less on the writing part. In fact your top authors -- your Lee Iacoccas, your Mickey Mantles -- don't even do the writing part. They get some dweeb English major to do it, and then they learn which side of the book is the front so they can hold it correctly for the camera, and they hit the promotional trail. This is how you should do it, too.
Now at this point, you probably have a couple of questions. "Dave," you are wondering, "what exactly do you mean by the term 'lung fluke'?" Basically, we are talking about a flattish, worm-style parasite that gets into your lungs and latches on by means of suckers. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, most flukes are "hermaphroditic," which means they have both male and female sexual organs in the same little fluke body. This is a darned fortunate thing for them because, as many of you know, it can be very difficult to find a date in a lung.
Another question I often hear is, "Dave, do you have any special advice regarding how to promote a book on a talk show?" Yes, I do. I have done several "book tours," which is when a publisher sends an author out on a journey so grueling that he attempts to kill himself by deliberately eating airline snack substances, and I have learned that the most important talk-show rule is: Know Your Host. Basically, there are two kinds of hosts:
1. The Host Who Has not Read Your Book. Generally this host will say, eight seconds before the camera goes on, "So I'll just ask you some general questions about endangered moths, okay?" And then you can either point out that he must be thinking of another author, because your book has nothing to do with endangered moths, or, if you're sick unto death of talking about whatever your book is about, you can just go with the flow.
2. The Host Who Has Never Read Any Book, or, for That Matter, Anything Longer Than the Little Sign on the Electric Hand-Dryer in the Men's Room That Says It Has Been Installed to Protect Him From Diseases Transmitted by Paper-Towel Litter. This host depends on cue cards to tell him exactly what questions to ask. No matter what you say, he will follow his cards, so you should not attempt to change the course of the interview, or you will run into problems:
HOST: So, you have written a fascinating book here, about endangered moths!
YOU: Actually, my book is about the International Monetary Fund.
HOST (leaning forward with expression of intense interest): But why, really, should we, as a nation, be concerned about moths?
So the bottom line is, whatever kind of host you wind up with, you should let him barge ahead with his concept of the interview, on the theory that even though you wind up promoting somebody else's book, the odds are that at that very moment, some other author, in some other studio, is being forced to promote yours. My only other advice is, make sure your fish and crab dishes are cooked thoroughly, because that's where you pick up your fluke larvae.