How to make sure your book sucks

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Photo: tOrange

You don’t need to do all of these things to make your nonfiction book suck, but the more you do, the worse it will be.

Never for a moment consider who the book is for. If anyone asks, just say “It’s perfect for everyone.”

Start writing without an idea. Keep every word of your musings and hope it hangs together somehow.

When you have what seems like an idea, tell no one. Don’t let anyone hear or challenge your idea or suggest how it may be problematic — or could be better.

Choose a title that is generic and hard to remember or share, like “Personalized omnichannel marketing strategy: A comprehensive intuitive metric-driven customer-experience approach”

Don’t do any research. Pay no attention to anyone else’s thinking. That’s the best way to avoid finding out if someone else has written the same thing. It also ensures any evidence that supports your idea is absent from your book, and it eliminates the need to fend off counterarguments.

Don’t interview anyone else. Write purely from your own experience. Whatever you’ve learned, observed, or speculated is clearly true.

Bury the main point deep in Chapter 6. Go on long digressions before you get there.

Try to avoid writing in linear threads that people can follow. Challenge the reader with logic that’s wandering and opaque.

Focus on argumentation in pure prose. Avoid practical advice, statistics, and quotes from other sources.

Above all, avoid stories. Eliminate people from your writing; if you must mention people, never tell stories that feature them. This isn’t a novel after all.

Write in five-minute segments stolen throughout random moments in your day. This is the best way to avoid flow and continuity in your writing.

Write while stoned, because that is when you will feel most brilliant.

Everything should be written in the passive voice, so it will be loved by academics.

In place of numbers, use words like “very,” “enormous,” “rarely,” and “most” — preferably multiple times in a sentence. And “deeply.” Use “deeply” a lot.

To sound as sophisticated as possible, use unfamiliar jargon words repeatedly. Be intertextual.

Write the longest possible sentences, with as many commas and dashes as you can fit into them — commas and dashes are your friends — your objective is to make sure that by the end of the sentence the reader cannot remember what came at the start of the sentence — and if you accomplish that, you know you are a sophisticated and really awesome writer.

Put things in the order in which you think of them. This is far easier than planning and organizing.

Make sure that the chapters are as repetitive and similar to each other as possible.

Word processors allow you to move text around. Don’t. Imagine that you’re writing with a typewriter with no backspace key, or a quill pen. Never delete things and never shift sentences or paragraphs — every word is precious.

The more authors, the better. Masochists prefer three or four. Make sure everyone reviews and comments on everyone else’s writing for combinatorial chaos. If this doesn’t appeal to you, just assume all the pieces will fit together and never edit anyone else’s material. And never, never plan your contributions together before writing them.

Don’t use an editor. All they do is tell you to change things.

Write as much of the manuscript as possible right at the deadline. Ensure there is no time to even read what you wrote, let alone change it.

Make any graphics in PowerPoint. Do them yourself. If the book is black and white, make the graphics in color. If the book has color, make the graphics black and white.

Design a cover yourself that is nothing but the text of your title in black text on a white background, preferably sans-serif. Comic sans is a nice touch.

Fight with your copy editor about Oxford commas and ignore their advice about repeated words, inconsistencies, run-on sentences, misspelled company names, and everything else. And never, never thank them — they’re just criticizing your work, therefore they are your enemy.

Use inconsistent styles and fonts throughout the text, so the production staff at the publisher has no clue about how to treat it in page layout.

Never footnote sources. It’s not plagiarism if you forgot where you read something that you included.

Never check facts. If you vaguely remember hearing it, it must be true.

When page layouts come back from the publisher, ignore them for weeks. Then obsess about the width of the margins and ignore all the places where headings appear at the bottom of one page and the text continues at the top of the next.

Change as much of the text as possible after the pages are laid out. Add a whole new chapter. Rearrange text. Reword sentences. It’s your last chance to edit.

During the seemingly endless period between the completion of the manuscript and publication, do nothing. Do not write about what you wrote. Do not tweet about what you wrote. Do not reach out to anyone who can promote it. Do not retain any publicity experts. Do not apply to speak about it at conferences. The book must burst unannounced on the unsuspecting public, to widespread acclaim.

Never, never, never write about how the book connects to topical events.

And once the book is published, you must do two things.

First, complain incessantly about how badly you were treated, how often people let you down, and how disappointing the whole publication process was.

And second, immediately start planning the sequel.

4 responses to “How to make sure your book sucks

  1. Great post. Much of it applies to online content as well.

    We’ve all seen this movie: “[I]gnore their advice. . . And never, never thank them — they’re just criticizing your work, therefore they are your enemy.”

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