How To Sell A Book To My Dad
A publishers guide to the history man in your life
I first wrote this back in 2015, but I think it would benefit from a re-airing. Enjoy.
Name it after a year or a place, preferably combining the two. BERLIN 1945 is a good start. DUBLIN 1916 is not a bad shout either. You will probably not mimic the success of STALINGRAD but there is no shame in trying.
If you somehow cannot name it after a place, a year, or a combination of the two, title it using the last name of a white guy. NIXON is fine but KENNEDY is much better.
Make it roughly the size, shape and weight of a standard-issue breeze block. Anything smaller is inconsequential. Anything paperback is Marxist trash.
Acceptable dust jacket covers: slate grey, dark green, maroon, ink blue and darkest black. If you must use other colours, choose your subject carefully. A picture of a burning shipwreck is good, but a picture of a sparked cannon is much better.
Acquire one very specific and one incredibly vague pull quote. Good combinations:
“A definitive work that deftly surmises a nation’s turmoil while examining it under a modern light.” Wolf Blitzer
“Brilliant.” The Telegraph
“A first-rate blend of high scholarship and great narrative pace. A monument to Napoleon’s achievements and the act of biography itself.” Christiane Amanpour
“A triumph”. The Sunday Times
Make creative use of diagrams, maps and appendixes. If your book is set in the 20th century, it behooves you to include one or all of the following: a detailed blueprint of the Watergate building, a birds-eye view of the grassy knoll and the astrological rising signs of every US president.
Maybe a diagram of a ship.
The actual book book should not start until two-thirds of the way through the book. Do this by including an introduction, a preface, a couple more ship diagrams and a note to the reader. This way, my Dad can look like he has read half the book by skipping all the preliminary garbage and starting where it actually starts. This way, when he is on holidays he can make friends with other dads while on the sun loungers. “I see you’re on Custer,” they will say, edging their towel ever-closer to his, Lyndon B Johnson biography flapping in their laps. “Mmh,” he will murmur learnedly while farting hostility in their direction. “It’s a bit light for me.”