“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”

— Steven Wright

So you want to write a book. You have this great idea, and you’ve been reading on Facebook about my book (“Will Write For Food,” North Country Press, $16.95, now at bookstores and luncheonettes everywhere.) You figure if somebody as dumb as I am can write a book, you can.

You’re right.

OK, this is how it works: First you write the book. You don’t have a book yet? Oh! You say you have an idea. Sorry, publishers aren’t in the idea business; you have to have a completed manuscript.

So stop whatever you’re doing. Hire someone to cut your lawn, chop your wood, clean your house and walk your dogs, because you’re not going to have time to do any of that anymore.

That done, you have to find someone to publish it. Don’t go out of town with it. Scribner’s, HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are the big ones, and they won’t want you, unless you can come with a really terrific “57th Shade of Gray” or you’re running for president.

Everyone running for president this year has a book on the store shelves: Hillary, Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Mike Huckabee has the best title: “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.” Try to come up with something nifty like that.

Your best bet is to write about something you love, something Maine-ish like “Bear Baiting for Dummies” or “Wood Carving Celebrity Faces.”

Hopefully, when you least expect it, a publisher will call.

It doesn’t matter which one. New England is full of smart, tiny and successful publishers. Everybody in New England is a writer because there’s nothing else to do here in the winter, and each is in need of a publisher.

These small publishers are good and honest, but they know they won’t get rich, so they do other things on the side: grow natural food, paint houses, run laundromats or veggie stands. Mine is a tax accountant — that’s why I picked her. You can’t go wrong with someone smart enough to figure out America’s tax structure.

OK, let’s say a publisher takes you on. You submit the manuscript, and then suddenly there it is on your front doorstep in several large boxes. Well, almost suddenly.

Now you’re on your way. All you have to do is sit back and wait for the money to roll in.

Not so fast. Now comes the hard part.

If you’re John Grisham, Harlan Coban or James Patterson, everything is done for you. Their publishers will give you a personal assistant to follow you around the country on your book tour. Once you hit the stores, you’ll be on all the talk shows: the Fox network if you’re Republican, and Rachel Maddow if you’re a Democrat.

Friends and family will be thrilled to see you on the cover of Time and People magazine, maybe even Arthritis Today, if they’re in the doctor’s office.

Kim Kardashian will want your email address, Jimmy Fallon will want to twit you — or is it Twitter you or tweet you? I forget. At least you will soon be a very hot twit.

Then the movies will want your book. A clutch of independent studios will vie to buy the film rights, and Matt Damon or George Clooney, Brad Pitt or, if you’re my age, Bill Murray, will play you. A tip: if your hero is a Maine game warden, have your agent try to get Liam Neeson or Clint Eastwood, if he’s not in a nursing home yet. If the author is the wood craftsman or has made a billion dollars selling lobster keychains on the Portland waterfront, go for Steve Carell. He’s hot now and just the right type.

OK, settle down, sport. I’ve been getting you all excited. In reality, it’s going to go like this: A nice Maine publisher, feeling sorry for your ineptness, takes you on and publishes you.

Then, I’m sorry to say, you’re pretty much on your own. Don’t argue with them; take their deal. You buy six boxes of books from them and put them in the trunk of your car. Now you’re a first-timer and small-business person like me, or my newspaper colleague, editor Maureen Milliken, who got her first mystery novel, “Cold Hard News,” published by S&H publishers; or mystery writer Earl Smith (“The Dam Committee,” North Country Press.)

We have big car trunks.

Now it gets exciting. It’s the middle of December or January. You’re standing next to your open car trunk on a snowy street corner, waving a copy of your book like a newsboy, hawking your book like a 1900 fruit peddler or rag merchant. You’ve already sold one to every member of your family and have been ostracized by those friends you betrayed by stealing their ideas about wood carving tricks.

Here comes someone pulling out of the gas station where you’ve been standing. You pound on her car window. She pulls away, leaving you smelling of gas and covered with snow.

Don’t gripe to me. You’re the one who wanted to be a writer.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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