If you want to write a big, fat, best-seller, take the following between the thumb and index finger of your left hand:
- The book must be set in the very recent past.
- It must deal with an event in which as many people as possible, your customers, took part. A World War is very desirable, minor Freikorps campaigns are also very nice.
- The book must be like the American war films: like this and like that. Don’t take a fixed position, but express it forcibly.3a. It’s OK to be patriotic.
- The book must contain some stark scenes. Vulgar words are in every boudoir these days. Be a man! If not up front, then round the back.
- The book must contain some love scenes: don’t neglect the romantic dimension. Love, in this case, is not love as intended by the divine Storm or Gottfried Keller, it is to be understood as the miniature illustration of general uplifting events. Every reader is a bit of a voyeur; give him something to see. And tell it like it is, your book must be able to be read one-handed.
- Write the book in a fortnight, but spend two months making up its title.
- Your characterization should be black and white, just like the typeface. Show those who do not share your opinion as villains, cowards, and corrupt rascals. There musn’t be a decent man among them, just like in real life.
- Your friends, on the other hand, are not just noble, gifted, sensitive, courageous, passionate and cultivated, they are also intelligent, for the very reason that they share your opinion. That flatters the reader, and shifts, at a conservative estimate, another twenty thousand copies.
- Always stand up for good, truth and beauty in your book, and wave a banner aloft which obliges no one to live in the slightest differently from the way they are used to. Be a severe prophet of your people, but a convenient one. Prescribe a diet, but without getting in the way of business. If the muse kisses you, the nation will look up to you. You will carry the heavy moral responsibility of improving a country which used to lead the world. Bang the drum.
10. And don’t forget, demand 15% from your publisher.