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Please do not panic. I am here now. I will tell you how to make that money of which you have dreamt so long. By writing, of course!

But wait, you cry! Who is Peadar Ó Guilín to tell you how to write best-sellers and the like? He is totally without mega-millions of his own. His name has not appeared in the New York Times -- unless you're counting the personal's page -- and it is the bank, and not he, who own that leaky roof above his head.

Yes. I will admit to my own lack of success, but you see, dear readers, while I have yet to climb to the top of the ladder, at least I am on the ladder. I am high enough now that I can see the bottoms of giants and I dwell in the odours that waft thereof.

In short, I am the guy who can tell what the giants are having for dinner.

So, you might ask, what is that recipe that smells so sweet? How might I surpass Croesus and Dan Brown? And can you please, please drop that mocking tone and be at least a little serious?

Consider it done, my tiny friend. Here then, is what you need to be a best-seller:

First, I will dispense with the obvious. Hard Work is a necessary ingredient of a multi-million seller. Yes, even those who made their names from starring in porn videos that "accidentally" leaked onto youtube, will require plenty of sweat and gritted teeth from their grateful ghost-writers. And luck too will play its part, if only because it makes such an excellent excuse for those of us still cleaning toilets by day. And talent, whatever that is, always helps.

But more important than any of these, is an ability to avoid the catch-22 of love.

Avoid what? What are you talking about?

Allow me to explain...

Everybody scorns some fiction sub-genre or other. When we SF nerds are in a bookshop, we enjoy throwing a good sneer in the direction of the heaving shelves of Romance novels. And as for the darlings of Serious Literature, why, they save their derision for the likes of us!

People should feel free to despise whatever they want, but what I find strange is how often they seem to think that the thing they ridicule is "easy". They sometimes boast how they could write a romance novel under an assumed name and make enough of a fortune from it to subsidise something deeper.

Of course, that never works. It can't work. You dislike Romance/Fantasy/Horror precisely because you are blind to what makes other people love it . Thus, you will never be able to give the fans what they want. To be a real success, you must adore what you write, and what you write must have the potential to be adored by millions.

The last point is important. If kettles are your thing, you will never make money writing about them. I know you're talented. I know you're lucky. I know you write every second of the day and that you hone and hone your craft until a reader can hear the tea-time whistle and feel the condensation practically pouring off the page. It doesn't matter. Too few will care.

You can't write a Romance because you don't like Romance. You can't write about kettles because the world doesn't care about kettles. And this, my friend, is the catch-22 of love.

And no, I don't know how you're going to get out of this without a total personality transplant. I lied when I said I could make you millions.


The lovely folks at PodCastle are to make an audio version of yet another one of my stories. More on that closer to the actual release date, but needless to say, I'm delighted. I love them.


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 17th, 2014 07:23 pm (UTC)
By now, my reluctance to be contradictory is as legendary as my tendancy to be contradictory,
so you're surely expecting me to leave something at the corner of wit and wisdom,
and here it is: you're not entirely correct about the horns of the dilemma.
Some people do succeed at writing what they hate,
and despise themselves all the way to the bank.
Others coincidentally succeed by writing about what they love.

So all things considered, it's best to love what you write,
and work your way forward from there.

Yes, at this point of your career, you're only hobnobbing with the flatulence of giants,
but this is considerably better than that stage of your career at which you clung to their toe-jam.

Edited at 2014-02-17 07:23 pm (UTC)
Feb. 17th, 2014 08:09 pm (UTC)
Ah, but the toe jam is more active, and a grade or three above being caught in the nose hairs, which can at times be both slimy and sticky.
Feb. 17th, 2014 08:11 pm (UTC)
Slimey and sticky?!?!?
Feb. 17th, 2014 09:09 pm (UTC)
Feb. 18th, 2014 10:15 am (UTC)
The toe jam of giants is certainly more nutritious than that of ordinary mortals...
Feb. 18th, 2014 11:49 am (UTC)
Feb. 17th, 2014 07:32 pm (UTC)
I'm not a writer, don't want to be a writer and never will be a writer, but the best of luck to you in your writing. Go n-éirí led' chuid iarrachtaí.
Feb. 18th, 2014 10:17 am (UTC)
Go raibh maith agat! Diaidh ar ndiaidh, ag drapadh...
Feb. 17th, 2014 08:07 pm (UTC)
Ann McCaffrey seemed to do rather a good job with her romance novel.
Feb. 18th, 2014 10:17 am (UTC)
I didn't know she had written one... Were there dragons in it?
Feb. 18th, 2014 11:57 am (UTC)
No dragons. I checked er W8kipedia page, and she apparently wrote more than one book in the genre, so who knows?
Feb. 18th, 2014 11:58 am (UTC)
Ah, interesting!
Feb. 17th, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
And this was how the exciting new genre, Kettle Romance, was invented.
Feb. 18th, 2014 10:18 am (UTC)
Ah, yes, hot and steamy... Their eyes met across a cup of tea...
Feb. 18th, 2014 06:19 am (UTC)
Congratulations on the new pod.
And shame about the kettle. I would have loved some kettle romance. It would have been steamy and kept me warm at night. Can there be at least tea?
Feb. 18th, 2014 10:18 am (UTC)
It might have worked in the past, but modern kettles are all automatic turn-offs...
Feb. 18th, 2014 12:00 pm (UTC)
That depends on the kettle, doesn't it?
Feb. 18th, 2014 12:02 pm (UTC)
You see? That comment right there is why you'll never sell a million ;)
Feb. 18th, 2014 12:08 pm (UTC)
Maybe two million. Culttatus, you know. Also, great dragon fodder'
Feb. 18th, 2014 02:01 pm (UTC)
Congrats on the PodCastle sale. You do, however, realize that you have thrown down the gauntlet? I will have to write a piece on kettles so good that there is no choice BUT to love it.
Feb. 18th, 2014 02:15 pm (UTC)
I look forward to writing a very damning review!
Feb. 25th, 2014 09:19 pm (UTC)
Yay, new story! :-D

Feb. 25th, 2014 10:39 pm (UTC)
Why, I have a lot of new stories out at the moment ;)
Mar. 11th, 2014 05:54 am (UTC)
Yay, new stories! :-D
Mar. 11th, 2014 09:26 am (UTC)
Yes! I'm referring to this:


But you've probably seen that already!
Mar. 11th, 2014 03:13 pm (UTC)
Aye... I just need more hours for reading... :-/
Mar. 11th, 2014 03:14 pm (UTC)
Tell me about it! There are about 10 books I really, really want to read right now, but I'm too slow!
Mar. 12th, 2014 08:00 pm (UTC)
Just 10?

I'm currently reading a book I'd probably not completed, hadn't it been for the Norwegian Book Blog Prize. I need to know what to vote for.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )