Sunday, July 8, 2007

I Want A Book Deal

All right, team. We need to put our collective heads together.

I've been spending more and more time lately doing it "library-style" at the local Borders. Although the air-conditioning is a plus, it has somewhat dawned on me that the types of books I read while at Borders are... shall we say... less than literary.

For example: when I'm at home, I'm reading through the collection of Narayan that S. left me. But when I go to Borders, I read Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck.

It's not my fault; they always seem to put the crappiest books nearest the door, and I have a habit long since childhood of reading everything I see, and I see the pop-lit first.

But lately I've found myself leaving the store with a feeling similar to that of eating a Steak-n-Shake platter: to wit, that was a nice rush, but... ouch, my intestines.

(I feel bad about my intestines.)

Anyway. After spending a few weeks doing this I have come to the realization that there are people out there getting book deals for doing just about anything. Cameron Stratcher got a book deal because he decided he was going to have dinner with his kids. A. J. Jacobs got a book deal because he decided he wanted to read the Encyclopedia Britannica cover-to-cover. Tim Ferriss got a book deal because he knew that getting a book deal would generate passive income. Then he spent a week web-testing titles to see which one would induce the most people to buy copies.

(Sidebar/Holy Shit Alert: A. J. Jacobs was the original inspiration for Ferriss' "outsource my life to India" idea. See the essay here. No wonder the guy had time to read the encyclopedia.)

So I want a book deal too.

There seem to be a few ways of going about it:

1. Deciding to do something crazy/impossible/enviable and then writing about it. Coincidentally, the book deal itself will also help the thing get done. We all knew the One Red Paperclip guy was going to get a house, right from the beginning. There was no way he wouldn't.

Thus I should get a book deal for something titled "Bollywood Henna Mango Dance: How A Small Midwestern Girl Learned to Dance Alongside Bollywood's Hottest Superstars." Not only would I get the book advance, but I would also (by virtue of writing the book alone) get to dance alongside Bollywood's hottest superstars. Random House would work out the details.

2. Deciding to overhaul your life and then telling other people how to do the same. Thus we get things like Better Off (the book I read today), a story of a couple who move to Amish country and live for a year without technology. Or we get Ferriss' book.

There's a subgenre here, somewhat along the lines of "everything is better if you move to a magical foreign country." I was talking to S. about this last night, and he suggested this particular genre may have started with the bestselling Under the Tuscan Sun, which implied that Italian villas were there for the taking.

S. noted that the majority of these books (and their accompanying films) are set in nostalgia-inducing Old Europe, and that the market hadn't yet shifted over to freaky-sexy India. Although the new sensation Eat Pray Love might help push the trend (summary: white woman goes to ashram, finds self).

We discussed for a moment whether or not I should try to make a book of my Hyderabad experience ("Alice in Hyderabad: One Woman's Journey Into Directing Theatre, Loving India, And Finding Her Soul"). Unfortunately, it's probably ridiculously marketable (if only I had the right connections... hmmm....).

Then, however, we decided it would be equally worthwhile (and equally likely to bestsell) if I parodied/subverted the genre, writing a story not about a woman finding herself in a foreign land, but the reality of the smallness and simplicity of my trip (not to mention the heat and gastroenteritis).

S. suggested we call the book "Creative Bullshit in India."

It would probably sell. Books with an obscenity in their title tend to sell.

(Perhaps we could put a mango on the cover and have a worm crawling out.)

But seriously. How can I jump on the book-deal bandwagon while there's still time? And what should I write about? ^_^

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You, my dear, are probably the only person I know who should actually have a book deal... The Alice in Hyberdad idea is good as-is, but with some creative license (ie, fabrication) and BANG, it's super marketable! I mean, ya throw in a sub-plot about finding hotsexy love (perhaps with dacing Bollywood star) in addition to finding your soul and whatnot... Instant pop-lit, with a little chick-lit flavor!(And from you, it would be very well written pop-lit, so I would read it without scorn (Seriously, have you read "A Great and Terribe Beauty"? Pick that one up on your next binge. I I kept thinking of you while I was reading it, for weird reasons.)...)
Ye gods, I'm writing my thought tangents now. Anyways.
Miss you!
~M

Anonymous said...

Blue, my Dear Blue...the Bullshit in Hyd one PLEASE!!!

I LOVE the cover idea and the whole book idea itself - can I pre-book copies??

Bitterlemons

Ennis said...

There are plenty of good books at Borders; I like it better than B&N because the selection is superior, especially on the high end.

That said, you might want to take a look at a book like "Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure" if you want to see a fairly recent book in the genre you're talking about.

Blue said...

Ms. M -- haven't read Great and Terrible Beauty, though I must admit the half-dressed redhead on the cover is attractive. The plot reminds me of your novel, though. ^__^ I will peek into it the next time I am at Borders.

Bitterlemons -- if I can, trust me, I will. ^__^

Ennis -- the point isn't whether or not Borders has better books than B&N, it's that I always end up grabbing the stupidest self-help book, the one located closest to the door on the "50% off" table, and reading THAT instead.

Will also check out Holy Cow. ^__^
(Brief Amazon "search inside" reveals... two pages in, the author has already used the Alice metaphor. Well, fark.)

Ennis said...

You could do this too, but it's been done and you have some of that already:

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/america/2007/07/an_american_girls_dating_succe.html#more

Blue said...

Yeah, I saw that.

And I'm much prettier than she is.

I would very willingly sell myself to the Indian TV ad companies if they wanted me.

I'd also love to be featured in a sitcom.

As for the rest... eew.