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Friday, June 12, 2009

How to Create a Best-Selling Summer Beach Read

‘Tis the season, right? In the winter, we’re all expected to be depressed under our wool sweaters snuggled up to fires and reading books of child slaughter games and morbid suicides. But once that sun comes out, bring out the suntan lotion and the rainbow covered paperbacks.



Even the New York Times has caught the buzz. They (shockingly) devoted an entire article not only to books written by women, but to books that could be classified as (dare I say it?) “chick lit.”

And in honor of the summer sun (which is probably shining somewhere, though it’s been raining like the end of days here in Philly), I’ve decided to take a deeper look at what publishers consider a vacation-appropriate read. This is a completely unscientific study based on my observations of books presented on the front tables of stores lately, and books that are blatantly being labeled as beach reads by major retailers (and by that, I mean Borders’ “If you want great beach reads” list).

So here it is, writers. Tips to creating the:

Next Great American Beach Read

1. Cover must be in pastel colors.
This is non-negotiable. Who wants to be the girl with a black-covered book on the beach? It’ll absorb all the sun rays.

2. Main character must be female. I can’t say this with absolutely certainty, but I’m pretty sure you can’t have a male protagonist in a beach read. It goes against the grain (of sand).

3. Keep your titles beachy simple. Don’t over think it. Go with “The Beach House,” or “The Beach Road,” or “Barefoot,” or “The Last Summer.” (All books currently on beach read lists.)

4. Try to get sand dunes or an Adirondack chair on your cover. Now is not the time to experiment with abstract corpses or machine gun graffiti art.

5. Hope you’re funny. The goal here is to make your beachy reader spit her waterice on the sand. So start studying the female comedy greats (or just watch a few episodes of My Life on the D-list, same difference).

6. Make your heroine self-conscious, awkward, and chubby while smart, witty, and clever all at the same time. While these books are read by women in bikinis, you don’t want your main character to look good in one.

7. Chose the heroine’s name carefully. Go with Cammie, Bridget, Lizzie, and avoid any urge to select Gertrude or Blanch.

8. A female friendship must be central. Preferably the novel should feature a friend the heroine has known since grade school, and the friend must be prettier than the heroine (goes back to the bad bikini bod rule of No.6).

9. Romance, romance, romance. It can be of any variety: vacationer-lifeguard, vacationer-bartender, vacationer-young male neighbor, vacationer-townie. The only exception to the “heroine must be on vacation rule” would be: heroine-high school sweetheart, heroine-college sweetheart, heroine-first relationship after college sweetheart.

10. Paperbacks fold better into beach bags. Not that women won’t read hardbacks on the beach, but why make it harder to tote? And see if your publisher will splurge extra for water proof pages or built-in bug repellent. Could be a big selling feature.

So everyone go out and buy some fun summer beach reads! I know I will—though I did recently buy a book about a fatal car crash, but whatever. I’m weird.


POP CULTURE RANT: Colbert Report

Did you know that Stephen Colbert is reporting from Baghdad, Iraq all week? He is! And to make him even cooler, he let one of the army guys shave his head live on stage on Monday in a moment of solidarity (there's even a cameo with Barack). Check him out—he’s no longer coiffed and sprayed. Though I hate to admit that the new buzzed do does bring attention to a less fortunate hairline I believe he was previously hiding under a lot of hair spray. But whatever, props to him for entertaining the troops!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen Gets His Hair Cut
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorStephen Colbert in Iraq

1 Comments:

Anonymous nisha said...

Haha, I love the beach read, thing!

And steven colbert is awesome. :-)

June 15, 2009 at 10:28 AM  

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