Brian Brushwood and Justin Young, hosts of the NSFW podcast, have a $0.99 novel at #4 on the iTunes Top Paid Books chart, and they didn’t even have to write a single word of it. The secret to their publishing success is incredibly simple, and truly depressing.
It all began when Brushwood was pushing his book on magic tricks, Scam School Book 2: Fire. Young explains:
He found out as he was pushing that book that the top ten in iTunes was all erotic fiction. Even to the point where established authors, like Janet Evanovich, couldn’t break into the top five of the iBooks store—because of all the erotic fiction that was capitalizing on Shades of Grey. And he thought—we could do that!
And do that they did. They drew their inspiration from the 1969 novel Naked Came The Stranger, a hoax by 24 journalists who filled the novel with sex, awful writing, sex, meaningless dialogue, inconsistent plot, and sex. It was meant to be a commentary on how rubbish popular American literary culture has become, and it became a bestseller. Eh, this sounds familiar.
Brushwood and Young knew nothing about writing erotic novels, so they asked their listeners to send them chapters for the book. All it had to have was the main character, and lots of badly written sex scenes. Then they just put the book together, asked their listeners to buy it to push it higher up the charts, and waited for people to take notice.
And there you have it. Secret ingredients for an iTunes bestseller:
- A cover that looks like 50 Shades of Grey
- Lots and lots of sex (cue palm-punching)
- Characters with jobs that are extremely trendy (cupcake artist, vlogger, fixed gear bicyclist)
Be right back, writing a book about live-streaming sex with bike parts and frosting in a cupcake store (I apologize if this is not imaginative enough for you, but I don’t care because I don’t want to live in this world anymore).
To be fair, The Diamond Club did have help getting to the top, and once it was there, people just kept buying it because it was there. We have no way to discern between people who bought it for science, and people who bought it because they wanted something to read in the bath. Either way, the 1-star reviews seem to be coming from people who were genuinely disappointed at the “chapter after chapter of porn stories” and “rambling incoherent mess,” so there are definitely some poor readers out there who were trolled out of their minds, all that bathwater gone to waste.
Now can we please put decent books on the top of the charts? Enough of this drivel. Fan fiction is free, and some of it are actually better.
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