How to kill a book and how to promote one

“My enemy’s much-praised effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.”

Clive James, The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered

mock-serious man smoking pipe

Horace Tweed-Bottomley

Our resident expert, Horace Tweed-Bottomley, shares his tips for literary life.

“Human nature is perverse. Armed with that knowledge, here are my suggestions for making people want to read your book.”

  • Get it banned by censors.
  • Write something inflammatory that will inspire public book-burnings by religious groups.
  • Be involved in a scandal, preferably one of a sexual nature, and suggest that your book is peppered with revelations.
  • Be a celebrity (you don’t have to write the book, you just need to have your face on the cover).
  • Write a fraudulent misery memoir, get interviewed on TV, dab your eyes and talk about the “journey” you went on while writing the book. Have your confessional tome about your epiphany and remorse ready for the day you’re exposed.

“And here’s how to ensure your enemy’s book is left on shelves, unread and unloved”:

  1. Get it added to a high school or university syllabus. Kids across the nation will hate it on principle and crib from other sources rather than read it. If its mere inclusion on the prescribed reading list isn’t enough to kill it, the teachers’ essay and comprehension questions will.
  2. Call it ‘important’, ‘literary’, ‘challenging’ and ‘experimental’.
  3. Suggest that reading it might be ‘improving’ and good for people (like eating vegetables and giving up cigarettes).
  4. Compare it to the classics and suggest that it might become a modern one (see point 1).
  5. Get it short-listed for a prestigious literary award, preferably one presented by political leaders and judged by intellectuals.

© JD Ellevsen

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