Things have not been going so great for me in the realm of long-form speculative blogging, which is what I like to call fiction writing, since I graduated from an MFA program in 2019. I spend most of my days writing about a British grandmother’s strained relationship with a baby, and I am on the seventh draft of a manuscript I’ve been working on for five years. But luckily, as the lit world rejects me, my friends inside the TV will always embrace me. And that’s why I’m applying right now to be a villain contestant on a new reality show called America’s Next Great Author, hosted by writer Kwame Alexander.
The show, whose pilot is set to film in September, will have contestants pitching their book ideas to a “panel of renowned judges, a roaring bookish audience, and rolling cameras.” Here’s how it works:
First, nationwide tryouts in iconic American cities show off amateur writers as they get one minute to pitch their book ideas to a panel of publishing experts. Six charismatic finalists from vastly different places and backgrounds enter the Writer’s Retreat together for a month of live-wire challenges and spectacular storytelling. These talented amateurs have to start their books from scratch on day one of the Retreat and finish by the end of the thirty days. The climactic finale will reveal who made it to the finish line to become AMERICA’S NEXT GREAT AUTHOR.
Join us in San Francisco as we film the pilot episode. Pitch your book to our panel of judges and you could win $2,500! The judges critique everything from idea to style to potential in the literary marketplace and everyone comes away with concrete advice from publishing industry professionals.
I have already signed up for casting call alerts. I suggest that you, dear reader (Oh, how very Jane Eyre!), do not follow my lead, as I don’t welcome friendly competition.
I have no idea how this idea could possibly make good television, but Mr. Alexander, I promise I won’t let you down. I’ve read a lot of novels– even most of Middlemarch! – and I even worked for a spell as a bookseller, during which time I once sold $200 worth of books about spirituality to a vacationing Willow Smith. At a different time, I sold a copy of Where the Crawdads Sing to Toby from The Office and his wife.
More important than the bookiness of it all, I know how reality show dynamics work. I will work tirelessly as a ghost producer to manufacture drama amid a group of quiet introverts who would otherwise be eating Saltines over their MacBooks. I have a chameleon soul: I am willing to be a Vicki Gunvalson type (widely hated, Christian) or a Meghan King Edmonds (widely hated, sort of smart). My book is about a shipwreck in 1914 and a lighthouse in 1972, but it’s funny. Still, I’m willing to adapt it for the show mentors Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry’s tastes. I’ll do whatever, I just want to be famous enough to do a Grub Street Diet.
What really matters for America’s Next Great Author is that I watch a lot of television. Also, I don’t know if this helps, but I am willing to show my boobs and butt on air, as long as they’re fuzzed out appropriately. If that’s a deal breaker I don’t mind going whole hog, I guess. I just love literature so much.