Sydney-based cricket writer Kersi Meher-Homji provides a blueprint
Former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist's autobiography True Colours created quite a stir last month.
WRITING a bestseller is a piece of Christmas cake if you are a well-known cricketer and have a good ghost writer. And more the controversies, better the sales.
I suspect that these days many controversies in cricket are deliberately set up. They could be stage-managed as in freestyle wrestling in the 1950s.
After a tour of bitterness and rancor, the player heavily involved in the hullabaloo hires an experienced ghost writer and instructs him to be as ruthless as possible.
"Find me a good quote which will make the front page of leading dailies in Australia and around the cricketing world," he instructs his ghost.
"But I gave you a nice one for your Diary last year," suggests the ghost. "Do as you are told," the star hits back. "Do you know how many writers would kill to be my ghost? Just go ahead and send the draft of Chapter 1 to my manager next week. And put more venom. More the vitriol, the longer the queues when I sign my own hand-written book."
"But how do you want to start your 'hand-written' book?" "Don't they teach you anything at School of Writing? Rule number one for any cricket bestseller today is: start with the monkey."
"But three books by cricketing legends have already focused on monkeys this summer," the ghost says.
"Monkey sells, even more than sex", the star is adamant. "Do you want your ten per cent cut or I'll hire another ghost with intelligence?"
"OK, I'll start with the monkey and how it affected your social, romantic, personal and sporting life. Shall I add that you cried on the field?"
"How can a book be a bestseller without tears? And make sure that my book runs to 300 pages and comes out soon?"
"300 pages in a month? That's impossible."
"Use your imagination. Use plenty of photographs. Just copy from my last year's autobiography. Start with Chapter 21, spice it with racism, then go to Chapter 17 and end the book with my last book's Introduction. You know no one reads books these days. They buy ones written by star sportsmen just to get their copies autographed and give as presents to dads, uncles or nieces at Christmas."
"But what about the players you say unkind things about? Won't they sue you?"
"You are so naÃ¯ve. If they do I'll say I was misquoted or quoted out of context. Also it will give an opportunity to the person I have maligned to engage a ghost - I'll recommend you -and write a book against me and sell thousands of copies. I'll pretend to be devastated and write another bestseller in vengeance for the 2010 Christmas."
"You think of everything."
"That's why I am a star and you, who do the hard work, are only a ghost."
"But won't I get a byline like 'written with'?" "You're pushing it. You'll get your ten per cent so get cracking."
Meher-Homji, an Indian who has been living in Sydney for more than four decades, has authored several books on cricket