The Aaron Goldfarb Blog

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Drunk Drinking

Social media.

Where new brides annoy us with countless wedding photos.

New mommies annoy us with innumerable baby pics (Hudson’s first poopy!).

And newly published authors annoy the shit out of you with pleas to buy their new book.

Not this time.

This is the one and only time I’m going to tell you about Drunk Drinking, just released on Amazon.  It’s my collection of writings--mostly new, some old (but improved!)--all about that one subject we truly care about most.  There are stories and essays about the drunkest par 3 public golf course in America, about the nerdiness of rare beer release “parties,” how one drinks alone in a packed bar on a Friday night, what a liquor cabinet should look like depending on your age, and one about a guy simply known as “the anti-game, self-inflicted cockblocking tourist.”

Twenty-two pieces in all, with one special bonus essay.  Over 35,000 words you probably haven’t read before.

If you liked How to Fail:  The Self-Hurt Guide or The Cheat Sheet, you’ll like Drunk Drinking.  Guaranteed.  If you hated those, why are you reading my blog, weirdo?

Even better...want a free copy of Drunk Drinking?

For the rest of the week, just write an Amazon review of either How to Fail here or The Cheat Sheet here, email me a link to that review (, and I’ll send you a Kindle, epub, or PDF file of Drunk Drinking.

Even better than that, for the one Amazon review that makes me laugh hardest, I’ll send you a “The Works” goodie bag full of autographed books and Goldfarb schwag.

Or you can just pick up Drunk Drinking for about the cost of sending five Third World children to college.


Even if you don’t buy, please share this on Twitter or Facebook.  The more you share it now--this second!--the less likely am I to renege on my promise to never annoy you with the hawking of this book ever again.  Or to start posting tons of baby pics on Facebook.


The Speech That Was Never Spoken


Last week I was invited to speak about using social media to promote your creative business.

Actually...I wasn't.

I just thought I was.  (I was actually invited to be one of five members of a panel discussion at Brooklyn Winery during which I drank too much and acted contrarian too often).  Thus, I prepared a speech I never gave.  I hate to waste "content," so here it is:

Any one who tells you they have the secret to helping you gain social media followers is a snake oil salesman.

You want to know the one BIG secret:  be famous.

It doesn’t matter how shitty of Tweeter you are...if you’re famous, you’ll have followers.  Think of the most famous person you can that doesn’t have a Twitter account.  If they signed up tomorrow morning, they’d have several hundred thousand followers by the end of the day.  Even if all their posts were about what hair products they’re currently using.

Lady Gaga can post about her lunch and Beiber can post about a shit he just took and they keep gaining followers.  No one cares about their content.  Even the famous people that are supposedly “quality” Tweeters--Ashton for instance--write absolute garbage (AUTHOR'S NOTE:  I composed this piece before Ashton's major Twitter gaffe).  My least interesting friends are far more interesting.

The only celebrities worth following are very good comedians and very uneducated professional athletes.  Sometimes I think some of the athletes I follow are speaking another language.  If this talk had slides, right now a slide would pop up that showed a Tweet from Antonio Cromartie.

For the rest of us, from the conditionally famous on down, we have to provide brief content that is interesting.  There’s nothing more frivolous and unstable than social media followers.  They are so fickle.

For instance, you all might be bored by me, or disgusted by me, or repulsed by me.  But you paid $5 and you’re several subway stops from home and there’s free wine (AUTHOR'S NOTE:  There actually wasn't.  Not even for the "talent") so I’d really have to be boring or disgusting or repulsive to get you to stand up and leave.  Not true on social media.

Write a boring or disgusting or repulsive thing on Twitter and there’s a certain kind of social media follower (a high percentage actually) that almost takes pride in UNFOLLOWING.

“I CANNOT believe he wrote two mildly unfunny Tweets in a row.  Not only am I unfollowing--but I am going to @ him and tell him that I am unfollowing him.”

People on social media are fucking nuts.  They demand a bizarre level of excellence for something that is FREE and easily ignorable.

But if that’s what they want, then that’s what you have to give them.  I have lots of interests and I used to Tweet about lots of things.  I’m a craft beer fan, I used to have a craft beer blog, so I used to occasionally Tweet about fancy beers I was drinking.  And a small percentage of my followers loved to hear about that.  But the VAST majority didn’t care.  They knew me, and followed me, because I’m “Aaron Goldfarb,” the comedic and satirical novelist.  So one Tweet about beer, or Syracuse basketball, and they held their mouse above the unfollow button.  Two or three Tweets about that subject and “Unfollow.”

The same goes for self-promotion.  One or two Tweets per week about what you’re doing, where you’re speaking, what Tumblrs read by only five people have an upcoming interview with you, and your followers can deal with it.  Any more, and they will unfollow you with no prejudice.

So I actually like to think of the Twitter arena as the stage, just like I mentioned before.  I sit here and I try to be interesting and informative and funny.  I’m not sitting here spending the majority of the time talking about an article I was quoted in, or another interview I gave, or a book I have coming out next year.  I’m not talking about a good beer I had yesterday or my thoughts on Syracuse basketball for the upcoming season (promising).  If that was my brand, maybe--but for better or worse it’s not.  Mine is to be funny and entertaining and when I am--and not TOO profane--I gain followers, I gain RTs, and I gain conversations and sharing.  When I’m not, it’s at best a wall of silence, at worst followers start dumping me like a bad habit.

And that’s one final thing I’d advise--don’t pay attention to any of this.  Sitting here, I can see who is listening to me.  I can see who is laughing and who is twiddling their thumbs and what attractive women are beguiled.  I can see if any one stands and walks out on this.  And that would fuck me up if that happened.  They might have gotten an emergency phone call, or drank too much free wine (AUTHOR'S NOTE:  Impossible), I don’t know--but if they walk out on me, my head would be fucked with.  And it’s easy for the same thing to happen on social media.

It’s easy to notice, “Holy shit, I lost 20 followers today!” and start wondering why and analyzing what you Tweeted and then trying to Tweet things more in line with what you think doesn’t lose followers.  But don’t do that.  Don’t pay attention to your number.  Who cares why you lose fans?  Just trust me that you will eventually, and at worst slowly but surely, gain fans if you just follow your focus--whether that’s being entertaining or being interesting or being perceptive or being news-breaking.  Whatever your reason for being on Twitter and creating content is, be the best you can be at that, and don’t self-promote too much, and don’t talk about what you’re drinking too much, and for God’s sake don’t fucking Retweet Andy Borowitz too much--and you’ll do all right.

But what do I know? I barely have 2000 followers.


“How to Fail” Turns One: 101 Things I’ve Learned About Books in the Past Year

Portrait of the Artist One Year Ago

Exactly 366 days ago, I was just another schlub.  The next day my first novel "How to Fail:  The Self-Hurt Guide" was released and my life completely changed.  I've learned so much these past 365 days, like:

1.  It's always better to tell people you're an "author" as opposed to a "writer."  Everyone is a "writer" in this day and age, but few people are "authors."

2.  The book industry is fucked.

3.  It's still much better than the film industry though.

4.  And, most of the people I've met in the book industry are really awesome.

5.  I've made many friends in the industry this year, notably guys like Alex Miles Younger, Phil Simon, James Altucher, and so many others.

6.  No one reads books any more.

7.  And for the few people that do read them, it's like pulling teeth trying to talk them into leaving an Amazon review for your book.

8.  By my math, and who knows if I'm right, 20% of book purchasers actually read the book, and less than 1% of that leave a review on Amazon.

9.  Not to mention, Amazon makes it a real pain in the ass for people to post reviews.

10.  Amazon also really fucking hates curse words, unless they're in the title of a bestseller.

11.  Never go to a book festival in Collingswood, New Jersey, even if they make a massive sign with your handsome mug on it.

12.  Don't wear a hooded sweatshirt to an author event either--you'll look like a real asshole.  Or Mark Zuckerberg.  Or both I guess.

13.  Publishers say really stupid things.

14.  Ebooks should be extraordinarily cheap, in the $4.99 to $2.99 when new, even less when "old."

15.  There's no shame in selling your ebook for a mere $.99 even.

16.  Shame is having a book no one wants to read, even if it was free.

17.  Formatting your book for Kindle and epub is a piece of cake, even if you aren't a computer whiz.  And what an incredibly powerful skill for a writer to have.  If you're an author and you're not learning how to get your books online, you're making a critical mistake.  (I taught myself using Joshua Tallent's great book.)

18.  It's actually really easy to get a pretty good ranking on Amazon.  At least for awhile.

19.  Especially within genre top 100 lists.

20.  Especially if the genre is really niche, like "women's lit" which is where Canadian Amazon files "How to Fail" for some reason.
20B.  Who knew there was a Canadian Amazon?!  (Whatever the case, my women's lit book is sold out there.)

21.  It's almost shameful how few books you actually have to sell to get a good Amazon ranking--but, authors, don't let the public know this on the day you sell a mere 50 total copies and crack the overall top 1000.

22.  Nevertheless, you'll be obsessed with your ranking, checking Amazon and refreshing innumerable times per day, living and dying with every ranking movement.

23.  Having a tour at bars instead of bookstores was genius.

24.  Bookstores are dead.  Bars will never be.

25.  There is no glamour in being on a book tour.  It's a lot of constant travel, lugging heavy shit, being shit on by strangers, staying in roach motels, and eating at Waffle Houses and reststop Roy Rogers at 4 in the morning.

26.  You gotta make people want to "fuck the book."

27.  Being in love while on the road and away from my girlfriend for 30 days was like the toughest thing in the world.

28.  Especially when I was spending most nights sleeping in cramped h/motel beds with my manager (below).

29.  But it also kept me focused.

30.  Having a speciality cocktail named after your book is as cool as it gets.

31.  Dover, Delaware is like the worst place on earth.

32.  But Newark, Delaware is shockingly nice.

33.  Authors get tons of free shit.

34.  It's fun watching a book cover design come together.

35.  Your dedication page is a great way to truly touch people in your life with just a few keystrokes of thought and effort.  (But NEVER tell your dedicatees that.)

36.  I wrote the world's first "Fuck You" page and it really resonated with people.

37.  No one quite knows the legalities of including famous quotes from famous people in a book.

38.  The best self-promotion is producing good content.

39.  But never be afraid to tell people what you want them to do, buy, retweet, and attend.

40.  Just don't do it too much or people will quit listening.

41.  There's no better calling card than a book.

42.  A book also becomes your resume, and perhaps you should bring it to job interviews.

43.  You better look more handsome than you've ever looked before for your official author's photo because you're gonna have to stare at that stupid thing for a long, long time.

44.  It took about 500 photographs snapped of me before I felt "more handsome than I've ever looked before."

45.  Yet, twice in the past week, random people have told me I look like Dexter in my author's photo.

46.  Uh...thanks.

47.  Thinking of things to write in people's books is tough, especially when drunk.

48.  It's weird having people ask for your autograph.  Though fun to sign your name like you actually are someone important.

49.  You aren't though.  Or, actually, you are, you're just no more important than you were before you'd had your book published and were a "nobody."

50.  You're still a nobody to the world at large. 99.9% of authors are.

51.  And if you sell just 1000 copies of your book, your book has sold better than 99% of books ever released.

52.  That fact is sad, but you'll still tout that percentile in interviews.

53.  It's much easier to get important people to take your call, answer your email, and meet with you when you have a book.

54.  You now have the same profession as Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Jonathan Franzen. How cool is that?!

55.  You absolutely have to become a renaissance man, or an "author-preneur."  You must be a designer, a marketer, a publicist, a "personality," a speaker, a salesman, and about a zillion other professions that have nothing to do with writing.

56.  Don't be too excited by the good reviews, nor too upset by the bad reviews.

57.  Those average reviews will leave you wondering though. Average reviews will make you feel like you didn't push the envelope enough.

58.  Bar managers/owners are some of the nicest, smartest, savviest, hardest-working people you will ever meet in ANY industry.

59.  There will always be shittier books than yours that sell much better.

60.  Sales have nothing to do with the quality of your writing.

61.  They most significantly have to do with a mix of marketing, luck, spending money, and paid placement.  (Although there's really no silver bullet.)

62.  Publishers pay lots of money for "placement" at the front of bookstores and in airports, it has nothing to do with quality.

63.  And we wonder why the NYT Bestseller list is littered with such shit.

64.  There's less difference between published and self-published than you think.

65.  The only people who care who published your book are New York snobs--no one else in the world does.

66.  People from your hometown you deserted long ago will now think you a celebrity, and treat you accordingly on your rare prodigal son returns.

67.  Friends will assume you're now much richer than you truly are.

68.  Your parents will finally be proud of you.

The author's mother, improving his placement at BN

69.  Women will want to sleep with you, even if they haven't read your book.

70.  Even if they've never heard of it.  Or you.

71.  Kissinger was right--being a "published author" is a great aphrodisiac.

72.  It's better to be an "F" student than a "C" student.

73.  Blurbs are probably worthless.  Though I'm still proud I got one from The Philadelphia Lawyer (which actually did help me sell at least ONE book.)

74.  Being mentioned on Olivia Munn's Wikipedia page has led to nothing.

75.  I'm sure Olivia Munn would say the same thing about being mentioned on mine.

76.  Having a Wikipedia page impresses people--even though any one can have one.

77.  You can't use your Wikipedia page (mobile) as a "form of picture ID" to get into a bar.

78.  Once you're a published author, talking someone into interviewing you is very easy.

79.  Finding new and interesting answers to the same-old, same-old interview questions is very hard.

80.  Having a lawyer on retainer is so much more expensive than you'd ever imagine.

81.  There's no excuse for how slow the publishing industry is with everything.

82.  Getting a book into the marketplace is much cheaper than you'd expect.

83.  Drinking every night is now considered part of my job.  Or, at least my quasi-celebrity lifestyle.

84.  Goddamn, I'm a good drinker.

85.  Most people that buy your book won't read it.

86.  That includes your friends.

87.  You'll be shocked to learn that even after a year of release, some of your best friends haven't even read your book.  Better not to ask so as to not embarrass yourself.

88.  I really like public speaking now.  Especially if I'm speaking about myself.

89.  "The Art of Fielding" is the best novel I've read in the last year, maybe even several years.

90.  Seth Godin is usually right.  Especially about the publishing industry.

91.  There are few more important friends in life than your drinking buddies.

92.  You think no one reads books?!  Well NO ONE reads short stories.

93.  Seeing your words spoken by actors is very cool.

94.  Teaching at your alma mater is an amazing feeling.  And makes you feel old.

95.  Even though they're adults, technically, once you're the teacher, they're just college "kids."

96.  Quit worrying about optimizing your online presence and just fucking create your art.  "Ship" as Seth Godin says.

97.  Scientologists actually helped me sell "How to Fail" in a way.  Assuming they never sue me.

98.  No Shabels.  Not a one.

99.  For better or for worse, "How to Fail" will be a part of me for the rest of my life.  I think.

100.  Writing the second novel creates a whole new set of fears.

101.  I think it's about time for me to come out with my second novel.  Look for it in 2012.

BUY "HOW TO FAIL:  THE SELF-HURT GUIDE" -- currently 16 copies left in this printing

Filed under: "How to Fail" 8 Comments

“The Boyfriend Trials” Adapted

FINALLY available online, here is the short film adaptation of "The Boyfriend Trials" from last year's "The Cheat Sheet" Film Festival.


It seems the older I get, the pickier I get about my boyfriends.

Back when I was seventeen, I'd date a guy if he simply had a car to drive me around in. It didn't even matter if he was a pothead burnout with no greater ambition than getting to see Phish perform at Bonnaroo.

When I was twenty-one, I'd date a guy if he could simply make me laugh til I nearly peed my pants. It didn't even matter if he had dropped out of college to pursue a career in burrito construction.

When I was twenty-five, I'd date a guy if he simply had the ability to make me have an orgasm so powerful I nearly passed out. It didn't even matter if he was currently getting his law degree after having already gotten his MBA after having already gone to med school, now entering his second decade of perpetual higher education.

But now I'm thirty...

If you want to read some more of "The Boyfriend Trials," click here

Or, buy the entire collection on Amazon or Kindle (only 99 cents!).


"Cool & Relaxed" -- the WINNING film from Festival

The Cheat Sheet in the Classroom

The High Concept of The Cheat Sheet


Why Does No One Buy Short Stories? The Paradox

Lately, when writing friends speak to me for the first time in a while, they ask how my short story collection "The Cheat Sheet" is selling.

"Honestly...not great," I tell them.

"Oh, I'm sorry," they say, in the hushed tone usually reserved for news of a death in the family.

It's no big deal I tell them. I didn't expect it to sell well. I assumed it wouldn't sell well. Short story collections never sell well. People just aren't interested in them.

And there lies the paradox.

In a world where people seemingly crave shorter and shorter content, where attention spans for art and entertainment continue to diminish, where long novels and epic movies and four hour baseball games are being all but marginalized, if not avoided, for pithy Tweets and YouTube videos and Tumblr posts, where you are even getting sick of how long this sentence has been going on for...

You would think that the short story would conquer.

But, for some reason, it doesn't.

It's now been ten months since the release of "How to Fail," yet last month alone it still sold 3 times better than the brand-new release of "The Cheat Sheet" in paperback and nearly 50 TIMES better on Kindle where both are priced exactly the same (a mere 99 cents).

"How to Fail" gets generally great reviews so you'd think most people that read and enjoyed it would then pick up the, again, 99 CENT Kindle copy of "The Cheat Sheet," but the numbers simply don't bare that out.

Fine, I'm just one man, just one writer. Maybe "The Cheat Sheet" simply has content that doesn't interest people (are you scared of sex?), even "How to Fail" fans. So let's look at some other authors.

Turn to the "best sellers" in short story collections on Amazon and you're smacked in the face instantly with these depressing facts:

*The current #1 and #3 best-selling short story collection is "A Visit From the Goon Squad," an admittedly great book deserving of best-selling status, but very much not a short story collection (though it is short story collection-ish in it's unique style).
*#2 is the two-decades old classic "The Things They Carried" which, again, just like "Goon Squad" isn't exactly a short story collection.
*Soon we actually start getting to legitimate short story collections, but a lot of it is stuff you've never heard of, if not schlock you're not so sure you ever want to hear about again (see: "Hot and Steamy: Sizzling Sex Stories--OK, I guess some purchasers aren't scared of sex!).  And all of it could hardly be called "best-selling," even in a world where no one reads books any more.
*The rest of the current top 100 best-selling short story collections is predominantly stuffed with old, surely public domain works from long-dead authors like Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, and Jack London.  Not exactly the kind of trendy, state-of-the-art, modern works you find dominating the top 100 lists in other niches.

What gives?

Does the collecting of many short stories into a larger volume negate the brevity that people crave?

Do people perhaps not crave paying for short content?

Perhaps it isn't that no one reads short story collections.

Perhaps it's that no one pays for short story collections.

People will read a story here or there, usually in a magazine, or free off the web, but few people seem to want to commit to an entire collection of stories, with rare exception (Tucker Max, David Sedaris, Sloane Crosley, Chelsea Handler...then again, notice those are all stories based on real-life).

Of course, there's the new "Kindle Singles" section where you can simply buy a single story for a buck or two, but even those don't seem to be selling all that great.

So what is it?

What do you think? Do you buy or read short story collections? Have you bought any Kindle singles?  Why or why not?


Buy HOW TO FAIL:  THE SELF-HURT GUIDE for Kindle (only 99 cents!)
Buy THE CHEAT SHEET in paperback
Buy THE CHEAT SHEET for Kindle (only 99 cents!)

Free content for websites with Article Writing Services.



I'm biased, of course, but I seriously think "The Cheat Sheet" is one of the best designed short story collections I've ever seen.  I gave my designer Nicole Pagliaro carte blanche and she chose a different design for each of the eleven stories, something I'd never heard being done before.  I wanted to know her thinking behind the design, so I shot her a quick email and here's what she replied:

After I read The Cheat Sheet, I was pretty surprised by the storytelling of romance in New York.  It's personal, it's eclectic, it's far from perfect, but it's all pretty dark.

So what did I get from my experience? Some semi-dark storytelling of a bunch of different definitions of romance.

In my brain this translated to a dark cover and eclectic use of type treatment. Made sense to me at least.

I was really inspired by Michael Beirut's 79 Short Essays on Design, as he designed his book this way.  I thought this way of "telling a story by telling stories" seemed pretty appropriate.

Hah, it's way too hard for me to bullshit this any more:  there's no real reason each font was chosen for each story specifically (definitely not any interesting reasons) but more for the aesthetic distinction between them as they flow in the book is what determined which font would be used for each story.

And here are the fonts I picked for each story:




I used "Archer Light" in the title header of The Boyfriend Trials.  How fucking girly does that header feel?  It's so full of sugar it makes me want to throw up.














Thanks, Nicole!

I certainly want you to check out the book because of my writing, but you'll also get the great gift of Nicole's great design along with it!

What are some of your other favorite book designs?



Genesis of HOW TO FAIL's Cover Design



“The Cheat Sheet” NOW in Paperback!

I never thought The Cheat Sheet would be anything more than an ebook, yet people kept asking for a "real" book and now here it is.  The Cheat Sheet in paperback!

Beautifully designed by Nicole Pagliaro, each of the eleven stories has a unique design to best accentuate the story.  As far as I know, there's never been a story collection designed in such a way (though please correct me in the comments if I've overlooked something).

I hope you'll grab a copy and PLEASE spread the word via email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or whatever media you still think is cool.

~ Aaron



Culturally Popular – To be a popular artist do you have to think popular culture is actually good?

I watched "The Hangover." I fucking hated it.  This is a movie 50 million people loved?!

I've tried to watch "Criminal Minds" and "Bones" and "NCIS" and "Big Bang Theory."  I detest them.  These are shows that get 10 million viewers per episode and dot the Neilsen ratings weekly top ten?!

I started "The Da Vinci Code."  Quit after page 50.  This is a book that has been read by zillions of people in 40 different languages?!  I didn't even know there were 40 different languages.

I'm not a culture snob.  I read, watch, and listen to everything.  True, I pursue the best of the best, but I also read, watch, and listen to the most popular of the popular.  Just to see "what it's all about."  Just to try to understand the zeitgeist.

When it comes to books, I not so humbly think that my book "How to Fail" is vastly superior to most.

Based on sales alone, it is most certainly not.

And that's my point exactly.

Does the fact that I hate most all best-sellers yet think my book is better, doom me straight from the get go?

Does one have to generally like the most popular of popular culture to then produce his own super popular culture?

Did Spielberg have to like the American Hollywood hits of the 50s and 60s (as opposed to the more artsy European stuff) in order to become the definitive hit-maker of his era?

Did J.J. Abrams have to worship blockbuster artists like Speilberg--because we know he did--to become the most famous pop producer of his era?

Did J.K. Rowlings have to be inspired by the most famous piece of pop culture ever in order to create the most read book series ever?

(Maybe I should start going the initials route--A.M. Goldfarb.  Yeah, that's the ticket.)

Would I write the kind of works that were not just liked, but were gulped up by the idiot masses if I was also a massive idiot that loved all the popular shit?


Or, maybe I just need a movie released to 3000 screens, a TV show aired on CBS, a book given front table placement at the airport newstand.  Maybe I need to curse less.

Whatever the case, I'm about to start reading "The Hunger Games" to see what that shit's all about and why it sells like fucking crazy.

Then, I'll keep writing what I like to write.



Popular culture* of recent times I actually liked:

Every Pixar film
"Avatar" (seriously)
"The Dark Knight" & "Inception"
"The Blind Side"
The Millenium Trilogy
"Room" by Emma Donahue
NBC Thursday night comedies
"How I Met Your Mother"
"Modern Family"
Lady Gaga

*I defined this as blockbuster movies, highly-watched network TV shows, and best-selling books before any one argues.


The Six Stupidest Things My Publishers Have Ever Said

I would never make a blanket statement that all publishers are idiots.  They aren't.  But a lot of the publishers I've worked with clearly are.  With that, the six stupidest things these publishers have ever said.

(Names anonymous and quotes sometimes paraphrased)

1.  "Call Google and tell them to remove that!"

My publisher noticed a blogger had offered a scorchingly harsh review of one of his many terrible titles.  A review that was now appearing as the #1 returned search item when you Googled that very book's title.  He told the office technological guru--really just the one fat, bearded nerd in the office--to do the above quote.

2.  "Ask them why they aren't buying!"

Any time I returned from a book event--this publisher never attended--and I'd proudly tell him how many books were sold, he wouldn't pat me on the back and say, "Good job."  He'd instead wonder why the book hadn't sold to other people.  If 200 people were at the signing and 199 bought, he didn't care about those 199, he only cared about the one.  And, what was I to do for that one non-customer?  Why "Ask them why they aren't buying!"  How he wanted me to do this I am not sure.  I imagined jumping up from the table where dozens of people were waiting for my autograph and chasing down a guy I saw casually scoff and then exit.  "Excuse me, sir, excuse me, sir.  Can I ask you a question:  why didn't you buy my book?"

3.  "E-mail everyone and tell them to cancel their Amazon orders!"

This sounds too crazy to be true, but the first day my book went for pre-order sales on Amazon it immediately jumped from unranked to inside the Amazon top 5000.  Not too shabby, I thought.  Far too shabby, my publisher thought, apparently not pleased with Amazon getting 55% of his cut.  So, he told me to e-mail any one that had already bought via Amazon--how would I possibly know such a thing?!--and get them to cancel their orders and instead buy my book from his terribly-designed, user-unfriendly company website where he would get 100% of the cut.


Later, that same day, the aforementioned "office technological guru," e-mailed me (in ALL CAPS, natch), to further get me to try and push all future sales to the terribly-designed, user-unfriendly publishing company website by both denigrating the world's largest online retailer and bashing the very economic system that would hopefully make our book a bestseller.

5.  "Blurbs sell books."

I'd always hated blurbs and thought they were a waste of time to acquire and, more importantly, didn't aid in the selling of books.  My publisher disagreed and refused to go to press until I had some blurbs.  "Blurbs sell books!" he constantly shouted.  There's certainly some debate on the matter (which I discuss in video form here).  Long story short:  I was forced into getting blurbs.  And, actually, my blurbs did help me sell some books, my publisher might have been right with this stupid statement.

6.  "This 'Jersey Shore' show seems to be popular.  How can we get you on the show to promote your book?"

This statement occurred after my publisher accidentally got sucked into a "Jersey Shore" marathon one weekend while his grandchildren were visiting.  Considering Snooki and Sitch sold the fuck out of their books (sarcasm), maybe I should have stumbled over to Seaside Heights for a surprise walk-on.

I wish the above things had never been said to me, but they unfortunately were.  Hopefully, with my next book, and next publisher, I will be the only one saying stupid things.

Authors--if you have the balls to reveal them in the comments (feel free to be anonymous):

What is the stupidest thing your publishers have ever said?


*Who Cares Who Published It?
*Self(ish) Publishing
*The Vanity of Not Self-Publishing
*The Five Things "Go the Fuck to Sleep" Can Teach Us About the Future of Books

Buy "HOW TO FAIL:  THE SELF-HURT GUIDE" (only 99 cents on Kindle!)



Making the Accidental Incidental – Todd Henry’s “The Accidental Creative”

"Anyone can improve his ability to generate good ideas consistently, if willing to be a little more purposeful in how to approach the creative process."

More and more jobs nowadays call for the use of serious brain power and creativity.  Even, the seemingly non-creative fields.  Yet, so few workers seem to have "time" for just sitting down and having a good think.  Todd Henry, author of "The Accidental Creative:  How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice," thinks this needs to change.

He tells the story of giving a talk at a conference and asking:

"How many of you would say that great ideas are critical to the future of your career or business."

Most hands go up.  But when Todd asks how many people devote time in their day to idea generation, almost no hands remain.

"What am I supposed to do?!  Just sit in my office thinking?!" are the typical complaints.

And, the answer is:


In Todd's mind, it's all about eliminating fake work from your life--mindless monitoring of e-mail for example--and doing real work.  The truly tough work.  The thinking work.  As a creative worker, you're paid for the value you create, not how much time you spend on something, yet so many of us still insist on believing in the old 1950s model that working long hours equals doing good work.  We're not factory workers, we're thinkers!  All that matters is the work that has been created!  Not how long it took.

"Because we tend to gravitate toward possibilities, many creative people wrestle with focus."

Todd is a firm believer in a strict scheduling of creativitiy.  It seems silly at first, if not impossible, but I must admit by following his ways he's helped me become more creative in a short amount of time.

I've quickly begun utilizing Todd's "Big Three" to great effect.  This calls for having a list of the three biggest "open loops" in your life which you are forced to stare at throughout the day.  I've taken to writing out my Big Three (usually a new book I'm working on, a screenplay idea, maybe a freelance piece) at the start of the week and then carrying it around in my pocket at all times.  And, you wouldn't believe how much this has helped my process.  Now, almost through osmosis, I'm thinking about these creative problems even when I'm not thinking about them--walking the street, riding the subway, while working out, etc--and getting so much more thoughtful work accomplished.  I come back from the gym or get off the subway and immediately sprint to my computer to write down everything I've thought of while "not working."

The Big Three technique sounds simple, and it is, but it's amazingly helpful at keeping your creative priorities always on your mind.  I advise you do likewise.

Many artist types, especially us writers, seems to believe that we can't influence our own creativity, that it just arrives with the muse (or a few glasses of Scotch) and then the magic happens.  Todd says not so and shows you why so in "The Accidental Creative."

In this way, Todd's book is similar to Steven Pressfield's great "The War of Art" and "Do the Work." If you dug those two books, you'll love this one.  But, while Steven's books are more pithy and inspirational, "The Accidental Creative" is a straight-up guide book for making you productively and efficiently creative.

For making you able to "create on demand."

It doesn't seem possible, but Todd shows it is.

Highly recommended.

BUY "The Accidental Creative"

(Oh, yeah, I get free shit.)


Mutual Admiration Society -- Todd interviews me