What Snooki Can Teach Us about Writing

(Before you throw your computer, read it.)

I am sure than many of you lit your manuscript on fire and threatened to give up writing after looking at the New York Times best seller list around March 2011. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and her book, A Shore Thing, made the number 24 spot on the New York Times best seller list.  Believe it or not she has another book out titled Gorilla Beach, which, despite the several one star reviews on Amazon, still sold around 9,000 copies in its first four weeks.

For the seasoned word-smith, many of us spend hours writing something that we hope would sell 9,000 copies in a month. If Snooki had half the writing ability of a real author, she might have sold more.

So how does a person will little to no literary skill become a bestselling author?

Let’s change gears for a moment and talk about a real book by a real author. Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain is an excellent and well-crafted piece of literary fiction. The unique story told from a dogs perspective, combined with a compelling plot and characters, will keep you up all night reading and make you eat it for breakfast the following morning. There are few writers out there that would argue against the fact that Stein has an understanding of the craft. Fittingly, his work also made the New York Times Best Seller list.

Now, let’s put A Shore thing next to The Art of Racing in the Rain and compare. One is obviously written by an award winning author, the other is not. Yet both made the list and thus are considered on the same playing field.

So why is this?

The answer is something that every writer needs in order to sell their work:

A mastery of the craft and a platform

In extreme cases, such as these, you can reach the best seller list with just one or the other.

Snooki lacks the craft of writing, but she makes up for it with her platform. At one point, The Jersey Shore had an average of 2.7 million people viewing each episode. There is not a soul in America that does not know who Snooki is. Therefore, she has a reach enough to sell enough copies to make it to the list and turn a reasonable profit.

Now let’s look at Garth Stein. There was a great deal of time, effort, editing, and reworking that book to near perfection. Chances are that the book was recommended to you by a friend. And what made them recommend it? Simply put: the writing is excellent. In this case, his ability to write was enough to spread by word of mouth alone and had people scrambling to buy his book. No platform needed.

So what does this mean for the budding author just starting out on their first book?

Obviously, you don’t have a platform as large as Snooki’s. Chances are your prose is not on the same level as Garth Stein. But what we can learn from them is that you need a balance of both in order to sell a few thousand copies to make it as a writer. Do not rely on just one or put more emphasis on one or the other.

So strive for excellence in your writing while building your audience to sell to. But if you think you can get punched out in a club and have 10,000 followers to sell to the next day, chances are it’s not going to work.


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Why do people like "Snooki" get to the top of the best seller list? The answer may surprise you

Sincerely and Respectfully,


Brian Michael Gilb - Chief Executive Officer

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