Last week it emerged that Crystal, the second novel by Katie Price, otherwise known as the glamour model Jordan, had outsold the entire Booker Literary Prize shortlist combined. So, what, exactly, is it that the Booker writers - Ian McEwan, Lloyd Jones, Mohsin Hamid, Anne Enright, Nicola Barker and Indra Sinha - are doing so wrong?
1) Don't read books. It's a waste of time. Katie Price admits that she doesn't bother with fiction. Or non-fiction, for that matter. Although occasionally, she might dip into a bit of "true crime."
2) Employ a ghostwriter. Only losers write their own books. But make sure that you don't give them any credit or mention their name. A former journalist called Rebecca Farnworth is Katie Price's in this case and has, so far, written two autobiographies and two novels, with another autobiography and two further novels on the way.
3) Broaden your vocabulary. Note the precise usage and context of "minging" in the following quote: "As they strolled down Old Compton Street two people sneaked pictures of them with their camera phones. 'That's fucking annoying!' Jake exclaimed. Crystal shrugged. 'It goes with the territory, I guess. At least I'm not looking minging.'"
4) Create more believable characters. Angel Summer, from the first Katie Price novel, Angel, who makes a cameo in Crystal talks about her plans for "a total fairy-tale wedding, in a castle, and I'm going to arrive in a carriage pulled by six white horses." This has verisimilitude. A schoolmaster obsessed with Dickens who lives on an island in the South Pacific, on the other hand, from the current Booker favorite, Mister Pip, by Lloyd Jones, surely has much less.
5) Know your Gucci from your Prada. Maggie Hanbury, Jordan's literary agent, says that Jordan collaborates with Rebecca Farnworth, particularly over the matter of brand names. "She's very up on those and always makes sure that Rebecca gets it right." Brand names are a key aspect of characterization. Max, the baddie, for example, wears Hugo Boss underwear, whereas Jake, the hero, wears Calvin Klein.
6) Cocks should be always be "rock hard." This, possibly, is where Ian McEwan falls down with his tale of marital night nerves on Chesil Beach. As Crystal advises: "No one wants a party sausage inside them."
7) Think in color. Consider having pink, purple and silver effects on your cover and naming your characters so they'll create a decorative theme for your launch party. Katie Price was going to call her leading lady Frankie but changed her mind so that she could have crystal accessories at her signings.
8) Look out "down there." Keep up with contemporary synonyms for female genitalia. Kimmi, a singing rival, wears "skintight silver trousers which gave her a shocking camel toe," Crystal is said to have a "love-heart tattoo on her la-la" whereas her manager, Sadie, refers to it as her "CU Next Tuesday."
9) Have more plot. Crystal is a nobody who becomes a somebody on an X Factor-style reality show. She has an affair with Max, the boyfriend of a fellow band member. They break up, whereupon he rapes and impregnates her. She's dropped from the band and loses all her money. Luckily, she becomes a star again, meets Jake, a hunky photographer, splits up with him but only after discovering she's pregnant. It's all hopeless until, as luck would have it, he reappears in the maternity ward on the second-to-last page: "Crystal whispered, 'Please don't leave me.' Jake shook his head, and said, seriously, 'I'm yours, Crystal, you have me for keeps.'" With endings like these, who needs prizes?
Text and sales compared
by Katie Price
Total sales: 144,489
"I like your tunic, is it from Primark?" "No," Belle hissed back. "It's Gucci. Where's your dress from? Whores-R- Us?" Suddenly Crystal, Tahlia and Belle found themselves surrounded by the girl's band members, who looked equally slutty and hard-faced. "Nobody disses us like that," one of them said.
On Chesil Beach
by Ian McEwan
Total sales: 113,606
Sample sentence: "She took his earlobe between forefinger and thumb."
Source: The Guardian
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