I recently ran across an article that made me wonder if writers, and people who want to be writers, are, like, stoopid.
Fact: 70% of American adults haven’t been in a bookstore in five years. Wow. So all those people are going to Barnes and Noble for the Starbucks and muffins. That’s a surprise.
Fact: 57% of new books are never read to completion. I’m pretty sure that a substantial portion of the 43 percent of books that are read to completion are read in the bathroom. I think I can be pretty confident, too, in asserting that some of the 43 percent that are read to completion are being read in New York City, because the Manhattan Institute for Policy research reports that 43 percent of NYC high school students actually graduate from high school. Reading whole book = high school diploma. Keep reading, kids.
Fact: Donuts cause reading. We should thank Krispy Kreme for the work they do for the literacy movement. They had a 43 percent jump in profits during the last quarter of 2003, which was the same year during which John Grisham had two best sellers on the New York Times bestseller list. And, even though he’s dead, John Steinbeck’s East of Eden was the #3 best seller in trade paperbacks that year, really connecting the dots between high school students, donuts, and reading, and proving beyond doubt that donut-eating high school students being forced to read Steinbeck were also reading Grisham novels on the side (and also indicating that have the first name “John” is an indicator of literary success). In fact, high school students ended up pretty much supporting the entire publishing industry all by themselves that year. I think we need to spearhead a Take a High School Student Out for a Donut Day movement. Really.Note: Dear Heart, please remember that I’m an expert with statistics and you’re not; you’ll only hurt yourself if you try this type of statistical aerobics at home.
Nonfiction Out-sells Fiction. Heck, yeah. Why escape into a novel when you can watch Big Brother? On top of this, the New York Times Book Review prefers nonfiction to fiction, which makes fiction writing even dumber if you’re not writing mysteries or romance novels. Y’all fiction writers need to get your heads out of your yahoos and get with the mysteries and romances.
Fact: One-fifth of the bestselling hardcover nonfiction books were diet books. This is the stuff of mystery and horror novels: ObesityinAmerica.org says that the obesity epidemic is rising like a Krispy Kreme donut! Maybe Michael Crichton could write a book about the epidemic. It could start innocuously enough in a Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme, or maybe a KFC restaurant. It would start out with some teenage employee forgetting to wash his hands:
In a Mississippi suburb, where 23.05% of people are overweight, section 2-301.12 of the 1999 Food Code has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of obesity particles–micro fatty acids and microscopic donuts and chocolate cake–have entered the work place on the unwashed hands of 17-year-old Norman Robbins. The cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing, especially in women over 40. It is intelligent and learns from experience that everything tastes better with butter or ranch-style dressing. For all practical purposes, it is alive.
It has been programmed as a predator. Soon, you will not be able to see your knees or feet. It is evolving swiftly, requiring more spandex to contain it with each passing hour.
Every attempt to destroy it has failed.
And we are the prey.
I’m not a fiction writer, so some of you artsy types are going to have to spruce this up for me a bit. But I really think that HarperCollins may be interested in my idea. I’m willing to be co-author if any of you fiction writers want to take off with my idea; I only ask that I get to pick my own jacket photo. Maybe something where I’m looking off into the distance, with a writerly look on my face. Or I could be holding a dog, and have a pen behind my ear or something cool like that.
Fact: Most of the bestselling fiction books were mysteries and romance novels. Obviously, the Harry Potter series was some kind of a weird fluke, and J. K. Rowling could have made some real money if she would only have stuck to something safe, like mysteries or romance novels. She should have made Harry about 30 to begin with, and written up some steamy scenes between Harry and Hermione, with maybe a little love triangle involving Ron in there somewhere. Then, maybe one of them stumbles across a dead body in the. . . conservatory. . . with Professor Plum. And a lead pipe.
Epilogue. Publishers, you can contact me here. I think a 14% royalty is fair, so don’t email me if you’re not ready to get down to business.