50 Ways You’ll Publish Your First Book

1. You’ll be read stories by your mother at bed time about dragons and witches and warlocks and the power of the Devil, and your father will supply you with a variety of weapons to murder “Commies, Japs, Queers, and other vicious animals,” forcing your imagination skills to flower before anything else really, especially anything on your body, like your penis.

2. You’ll let your imagination flutter freely, however creepy that makes you.

3. You’ll make sure to go to the beach alone, or roam the woods, and talk to yourself in that language you invented with the extra sounds of “buh” and “doo” added onto words, for reasons you’ll never be able to recall.

4. You’ll run naked with your mom’s bra on while carrying your dad’s bow and arrow to kill squirrels and put them in your bra so your boobies grow because you always feel a bit like a mix between Dolly Parton and Davy Crockett.

5. You’ll make forts out of mud and unicorn blood and barbed wire and brownies.

6. You’ll always wear your blue velvet cape that has the power to form worlds and connect worlds and blow up worlds and make peanut butter and diamond-jelly sandwiches on command.

7. You’ll need to make sure to experiment socially and sexually at school, just as much as you do philosophically and intellectually.

8. You’ll get your asshole eaten by men, and,

9. You’ll eat the vaginaholes of women too.

10. You’ll explore the world for years by choosing passport stamps and books over babies and dentistry careers. You won’t have a consistent resume, but at least they’ll be summers with people like Wayne, the pant-less ax-wielder in Alaska; his best friend is a goat named Amanda. He gets a little weird with her sometimes though, basically tongue-ing her in front of you, but it kinda turns you on, especially when they talk about the stars together and when they fight bears together, while tongue-ing.

11. You’ll travel to every state, and especially the National Parks because skyscrapers are great, but mountains are better and anyone who says otherwise probably needs to go hiking more.

12. You’ll adventure to the Wild Wild East too. And somewhere in between throwing up at the Taj Mahal and feeling guilty at Hiroshima,

13. You’ll finally realize that everybody really does poop, and it’s poop, as well as a number of other things I guess, that really unites us. You won’t be afraid to write about anything, and anybody who says otherwise probably needs to go fuck themselves with a spoon dipped in peanut butter and diamonds.

14. You’ll Merlot-ly determine to form your ramblings into something much longer than all your previous ramblings, with chapters and sass and something like honesty and hundreds of pages that some of your friends tell you repeatedly needs to be read by others and everyone else tells you doesn’t make any goddamn sense.

15. You’ll buy books that you can’t afford about the process of publishing and do everything they tell you to do for almost two years.

16. You’ll go through thousands of revisions to your “query letter” you send to this agent and that agent and

17. You’ll tweet at them and try to be witty but mostly fail and they won’t play with you except for the nice ones, and it totally has nothing to do with you repeatedly getting kicked-out of their office buildings after you try to sneak in multiple times.

18. You’ll edit your manuscript for thousands of days, as well as cover your apartment walls with colorful Post-Its and scribbles representing characters, themes, and plot lines, so you can see it all as one – with even more Post-Its than the moldy pepperonis and bottles of lube covering your floor. It will actually look like a sweaty boisterous Italian rainbow has thrown up in your room.

19. You’ll write to literary agents and publishers over and over again, and get rejected thousands of times.

20. You’ll make sure to keep writing, while you’re being rejected 99.99999% of the time, because most likely what you’re trying to share with the world this first time won’t be as interesting as what you’re writing down during the process of trying to share what you’re trying to share.

21. You’ll come up with an entirely new manuscript.

22. You’ll give that first one a break, even though it feels like you just gave yourself an abortion with a bottle of Mrs. Dash and a box of toothpicks.

23. You’ll edit this new manuscript thousands more days and cover your apartment walls with even more colorful Post-Its representing characters, themes, and plot lines – with even more Post-Its than the noodles, and tobacco pipe residue, and Adderall crumbs, and stray cats you thought were rotisserie chickens and mutilated pillows you thought were lovers covering your floor. It will actually look like a giggling rainbow with cartoon-machine-gun-arms and a toaster for head has murdered an entire civilization called the United States of things-you-stole-from-Goodwill, and

24. You’ll kinda like it, and that will scare you, but

25. You’ll keep going.

26. You’ll have to choose whether or not you want to do what everyone else has done, or forge your own path, as both are admirable in their own way, and this will happen somewhere and some time between the blue velvet cape of your imagination and the red pen of all your edits (that you fill back up with an ink mixture of your own sweat and shit and blood).

27. You’ll repeatedly feel like some kind of nutty professor, alone in your room, attempting to build a human child out of melted plastic bottles and that 3D printer you bought with money received after showing your sweaty nut sac to art students.

28. You’ll try and try again, experimenting with your thoughts and coffee-shop scribbles and nibbles, but time after time all that comes out of the printer is a blob of blue-black blubber, with broken and flapping pigeon wings, and Johnny 5 conveyor-belt tank-feet zipping and sliding all over your room – oh and somehow the creature has a human head, but with the face of a sloth, wearing an unbent baseball cap with the stickers still on it, and it’s moaning at you, “Daaaaaaaaa-deeeeee WHYYYYYYYYY? Why Daaaaaaddy!” – right before your child explodes all over the room, in a mushroom cloud of Tootsie Rolls and ketchup, which you’ll eat ravenously, because

29. You’ll be dirt poor and hungry and really tired of midnight alley cat meat, right before all those cops shoot you (pretty much that final scene in American Werewolf in London).

30. You’ll come to the conclusion that everyone does poop, YES, oh yes they do, BUT not everyone takes risks with what they produce, which is what you decide to do instead of waiting around for what all the books tell you to do, waiting around for someone else’s past life to fit inside the toilet of yours right now.

31. You’ll choose new instead of old.

32. You’ll choose risky and sometimes hated and free instead of time-tested and respected and elite.

33. You’ll God Bless America With School Loans and Curse Everywhere else With Drones.

34. You’ll burn the query letters and submit your manuscript to Thought Catalog and they’ll actually respond – and what’s more – they’ll actually say that they like it instead of telling you to go kill yourself.

35. You’ll sign an “e-book” contract with them, and somewhere between the shit in your pants and the tears streaming down your face alone in that empty random church you ran into on Park Avenue after flapping your broken pigeon arms down the street and screaming, where you looked at the holy fluorescent ceiling lights above you before they fell on you, a sign, a baptism by Chinese glass, where you cried and said, “YAAAAAASSS dear Gawwwwwwwd YAAAAAASSS,”

36. You’ll then realize you’re still not fucking goddamn done yet.

37. You’ll be editing even more, and re-writing, and proofreading, and scanning, and reorganizing, and picking book covers, and fonts, and colors, and even more nuanced forms of rejection, until you realize that during all this you’ve developed a funny little relationship with someone, another live human being! – not a stray cat or a pepperoni or a Post It, but – your ever-so-kind book producer.

38. You’ll send countless emails back and forth, relieved that she’s not another cityslicker A-hole, but quite funny and spunky and very smart, kinda like a giggly organic kimchi-and-coffee-lovin’ Poptart that loves books, a Poptart with an actual human head and a brain (not a 3D printed sloth piñata robot).

39. You’ll realize that you were wrong yet again like you have been billions of times (like when you thought Bellagio in Italy was actually just another casino with fountains, but that spray homemade red wine all over your face, until you got there and it was actually an eerie painted heaven), when you thought editing couldn’t be fun, when you briefly thought a writing life had to be serious and stuffy, how you’d be a better writer if you wore your glasses instead of your contacts, or if you wrote in a journal made of beauty moles instead of taking notes in your iPhone, partly because dead writers, however wise, will sometimes seem so damn serious when you frantically write their quotes all over your walls in chalk. Or all over your face with your pen full of blood and poopsweat.

40. You’ll realize something else, somewhere between the chalk on the walls with words that glow at you dustily with “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club” or “Life is too important to be taken seriously” and perhaps the white electro-pages of whatever first, second, third draft, or electrocuted giraffe you think up next.

41. You’ll see that publishing your first book is ultimately like making your own moonshine.

42. You’ll spend a lot of time distilling in some kind of bathtub until your fingers shrivel up.

43. You might go blind too, but once you take that first sip of toxic completion,

44. You’ll know that nothing really matters because you feel like dancing naked around your neighbor’s fire pit of burning query letters.

45. You’ll see that words, although powerful, like the dead, are dead, no matter how long they’re remembered or how much or little that they’re bought or shared or sought or forbidden.

46. You’ll still be alive for a little bit longer most likely, unless you’re run over today by the M60 bus, or a lawnmower, or you accidentally set yourself on fire in your neighbor’s backyard. And during this time you can write. You can talk to people and be with them and love them and observe them and do your own thing even if it’s a goat. And whether you write one book, or thirty, whether you have an agent or you don’t, whether you’re in print or in digital or both, whether you get a half-star on Amazon or your e-book is made into a movie, whether you write every hour, every day, or once a month –

47. You’ll still be better off than every dead writer before you as they sleep in their jealousy of the living, and that, good sir, good madam, lost boys, and gone girls, makes you legit, too legit to quit, in fact – Haaaaaay haaaaaaaaaaaay.

48. You’ll write something like this immediately afterwards to shamelessly direct readers’ attention to your book.

49. You’ll find it HERE, because it just went on sale.

50. You’ll hope to murder your cottonpickin’ school loans, or even better, buy a ticket to Bora Bora and hide and kayak all day with all your peanut butter and diamond dreams – especially that first one you said out loud so long ago, next to the ocean and naked too, wearing your bloody bra filled with squirrels and the hurricane mist, intoxicated by something beginning and growing and it wasn’t just your dick, “Buh-One Buh-day-doo Buh-Doo-I’ll Buh-write Buh-book-doo…” when all that fish and wind and rain and sand hit your face afterwards and it felt like light bulbs breaking on your forehead, and how you knew, with the waters rising right then, YOU COULD SEE THE FUTURE, and it kinda looked like a really annoying You’ll-tide, but wonderfully gay. But kinda gross. And still kinda great. OH, no? Okay I don’t care bye. TC mark

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