How Not To Sell A Conservative Book: A Guide.
Inspired by all those exciting Right wing books coming out of the US you have written a brilliant book. You have found a big commercial publisher (this is a fantasy), the book is due out next week. Congratulations. Here are the golden rules for turning your dissident book into an unread remainder quicker than you can say “Melbourne University Press”.
Controversy sells books. Believe this and you are well on your way to the remainder bins. Affirmation sells books. People buy books they agree with, not ones they disagree with. When a Left wing book is controversial it means that all the usual suspects are telling their audience how good it is, and they affirmatively go out and buy copies. When a dissident book is controversial it means all the usual suspects tell their audience how bad it is, and they naturally do not buy.
Having your book banned by a library is good for publicity and sales. Only when this happens to a Left book do you hear cries of “censorship” and “freedom to read” which inspire people to trek into bookshops and buy. It doesn’t happen to us. My book on terra nullius (plus plagiarism, bad history, and aboriginal cannibalism) was, predictably, roughed up by academics from Adelaide University and the ANU. And you won’t find a copy in the libraries of Adelaide University or the ANU. Book banning is a Left thing.
Go on Q&A. Your publisher’s publicist has landed you a place on this ABC program. If you go on chances are that you will be so nervous that you may drivel a bit, which is unsightly, or be on your best behaviour and come off sounding like a Leftie, which is fatal. You will not have fooled the Left, who were never going to buy your book, but you have put off your Right wing viewers who were possible buyers. You have screwed up big time, and the publicist will assure you that you were terrific.
Get your book reviewed in the Fairfax book columns (wherever they are) or The Australian. Ha ha, sucker. Now you’re for it. The books editor will search among the Madame Tussaud remnants she customarily uses and reanimate one who had a torrid affair with the villain in your book the year before Whitlam was PM, and who will take great delight in sinking his/her teeth/tooth into your flesh. Write a letter of complaint? Don’t even think of it. Just remember that most people don’t read these pages, though The Australian’s readers may have a vague idea that the part where they hide the TV program is called the Review section.
Send a copy for review in The Australian [Left] Book Review. As above. After the kicking and while you are counting broken ribs ask yourself if you have ever actually met anyone who reads the Australian [Left] Book Review. If you do maybe you weren’t the best person to have attempted writing a thrilling, Australian, dissident masterpiece.
Trust your publisher. Could you really be this naïve? Because you got smiles from the publisher when you signed the contract doesn’t mean she likes you. Let’s be frank, you and your book are an embarrassment and from the breadth of that smile I’d suggest you check the fine print. Even if your book sold zillions she would still loathe you. Smiling is what she is paid to do, even to a vile subhuman Right wing author.
Trust your publisher’s publicist. Fatal. Your publicist is a nice person but your book is just another “product”, and you are just this week’s pain in the neck, i.e. author. Your publicist likes an easy life. That wonderful list of interviews she has fixed up for you are just the usual list of media contacts she uses. She is Left, they all are. She has no idea that a Right wing publicity program needs to be carefully planned. If you were really unlucky she may even have booked you in with radio announcer Jon Faine!
Get an endorsement from a well known Left cultural figure. Again this won’t fool the Left, and will drive away the Right. A newspaper called The Independent used Margaret Whitlam in its SBS television ads. It went broke. For a real disaster get Phillip Adams to hold up a copy of your book, and smile.
Sit at home and wait to be invited to Writers’ Week. You really do have a sense of humour – you’ll need it.