How To Write a Bestseller

So you've decided to write a book. Whether you have something important to say, or are just incredibly bored, writing a book is a great way to waste months or years of your life indoors. I envy you as you set out on what is sure to be an incredible, mostly stationary voyage.

The Basics

Let' start right from scratch. Webster' Dictionary defines a book as:

Book (v.)To record charges against (a person) on a police blotter, e.g. "Take him downtown and book him"

So there' that. In general, there are two types of books you can write: Fiction and Non-Fiction. I'll briefly cover the pros and cons of both.
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Fiction:Fiction is a Latin word meaning "stuff that never happened." Because you're writing about events that never occurred, you will be forced to make up everything yourself. This is very difficult to do. The pressures of creating their own universe has driven some writers to madness, as they find it difficult to distinguish between their characters and reality, much like an undercover officer who gets in too deep. If you're writing a story about undercover police work this danger is magnified tenfold.

Consequently, very little of today' top fiction is written by a single person. For example, Michael Crichton is actually a rotating group of six to seven writers, aided by a priest and a small robot. I'm going to assume that you're not a team of people aided by a priest and a small robot, so I don't recommend you write fiction.
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Non-Fiction:A Latin word meaning, literally, "Not stuff that never happened." Here the writer is freed from the tedious chore of creating characters and reasons to care about them, and can simply write down things that have already happened. This is very easy to do.

At first glance it would appear that the possibilities for writing non-fiction are endless, as there is a limitless expanse of human experience and history to write about. This is true only in the strictest technical sense; in practice, the only non-fiction books that are published anymore are criticisms of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
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The Da Vinci Code and Dan Brown (right)

The Actual Writing Bit.

For the front cover, you'll need to come up with an eye catching title. By now, most of the obvious pun-based names have been taken. For example The Truth behind The Da Vinci Code and Da Vinci Code Decoded are already spoken for. You're going to need something that quickly shows readers two things: That you're talking about another, more successful book, and that you have strong opinions about this other book. Something like:

  • The Da Vinci Code? More like The Da Vinci Crap!

  • The Da Vinci Code was Fiction, Morons

  • Dan Brown: Lying Asshat Mega-Writer

  • Da Vinci Codebreaker: A Journey on the Seas of History in a Boat Made Out of Slanderous Lies About Dan Brown

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Once the title' out of the way, the part between the title and the back cover (the actual book) should pretty much take care of itself. That' the beauty of non-fiction. Make heavy use of "quotations." Reprint entire chapters of The Da Vinci Code to better illustrate whatever point you're trying to make.To fill up even more space, use a really big font for chapter headings, or better yet, just use a large font throughout the book.Make sure to do some independent research of your own. Wikipedia has a great section on Leonardo Da Vinci already typed up in proper paragraphs that you should be able to cut and paste pretty much as is. Also, recall that Dan Brown based the ideas for his book off another book. Mention this repeatedly throughout your book. (Maybe even look up the name of that other book!) Draw lots of attention to the irony inherent in your book criticizing a book which is basically a reprint of a third book. Kids today call this
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meta-irony, and will eat that shit up.

After that, the back cover should be pretty much the same as the front cover, except you won't need to write a new title for it. Reprint another couple paragraphs from The Da Vinci Code to fill up some space. Again, use a large font.


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Q: Should I feel guilty for trying to capitalize on another person's success?

A: Yes, but not much. Piggybacking on the accomplishments and reputation of someone more skilled and admirable than you is a long and proud American tradition. Look at Harry Truman, or Ben Affleck. Also, I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that one of the Olsen twins is completely useless. I can't remember which one. Mary-Kate maybe.

Q: I've finished my book, how do I get it published?

A: Most major publishing firms have a bin out front of their offices for accepting manuscripts critiquing The Da Vinci Code. Just dump it in there and wait for your check. Don't forget to write your name down clearly!

Chris Bucholz is a regular contributor to CRACKED. Robotman!, his blog, updates regularly.
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