So very many Internet hits go on to become New York Times bestsellers these days that there must be a formula for it, right? Actually, there are several, reports Emily Witt in the New York Observer. Usually, the process starts with a literary agent stumbling upon some obscure Twitter account like Shit My Dad Says, with a mere 500,000 followers, and deciding it needs to become a book (a "memeoir," Witt calls it). But sometimes agents actually conceive of a book concept and then turn to the internet to fulfill it. It's like the Monkees of book publishing. Take Ugly Christmas Sweater Party:
Laurie Abkemeier, a literary agent with DeFiore and Company, decided a couple years ago that the world needed a book about ugly Christmas sweaters. She went onto the Internet until she found Brian Miller, Adam Paulson and (the appropriately named) Kevin Wool, three guys in Indiana who sold ugly Christmas sweaters from their website, www.UglyChristmasSweaterParty.com.
“I literally looked at every site related to ugly Christmas sweaters to see who would have the biggest platform for this book,” she remembered in a phone interview. “When I reached out to them, they were totally game for it.”
She proposed they write a book about how to throw an ugly Christmas sweater party, released last month as the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book from Abrams. It has 152 pages of sweaters and party tips, including how to judge a contest.
And there you go. So if you want a big fat advance and a bestseller, Witt has a simple plan for you: "Start a Tumblr or Twitter feed with some combination of puppies, fear of protracted adolescence, horrific Americana, text messages from your friends or photos of your parents; add a dose of nostalgia, regret or chagrin, promote it all over the Internet and wait for the literary agents to find you."
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This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.