Dear Mr. Trump,
After reading your letter to the New York Times regarding Gail Collins's article about you, I had to clarify one thing: you are not a good writer. Calling other writers talentless does not make you a good writer. Slagging other peoples' book sales does not make you a good writer. And here's a surprise: selling a lot of books does not make you a good writer.
In your twenty plus years of "writing" (I put that word in quotations because every one of your books has been co- or ghostwritten, and it remains to be known how much of the actual "writing" came from your own pen or keyboard), you have written numerous bestsellers. Sold millions of copies. As a publishing professional, I commend you for that. Selling books is not an easy feat, and many writers who have more talent in their pinky than you do in your entire body have not sold a fraction of what you have. So be happy with that. The irony of your words to Gail Collins -- "I have great respect for Ms. Collins in that she has survived so long with so little talent." -- could be reversed quite easily.
You see, Mr. Trump, you sell books for the same reason Snooki sells books, or Kim Kardashian sells books, or that underwear model who wrote a book about sleeping with JFK Jr.'s wife sold books, or the fact that Tori Spelling is a #1 New York Times bestselling author. It has nothing to do with writing talent, or your ability to turn a clever phrase. It has nothing to do with your storytelling ability, characterization, or vocabulary. You sell books because you are loud. Bombastic. On television more than Regis Philbin or the ShamWow guy. Impervious to embarrassment. Issuing ad hominem attacks against your detractors while lauding anyone who pays you the slightest compliment -- even backhanded ones.
Case in point: your praise of Joe Queenan in this letter to the New York Times, completely oblivious to the fact that Queenan was, in fact, mocking you. Had you known Queenan was mocking you, no doubt you would have lumped him in with Mark Singer and Jeff MacGregor, who you described as talentless. That must have been an embarrassing moment, realizing that you couldn't take back your praise for Queenan -- which clearly was earned not through his talent, but through his supposed sycophancy -- without admitting you'd been fooled. And your statement in that NYT letter ("I've read John Updike, I've read Orhan Pamuk, I've read Philip Roth.") sounds conspicuously like Ron Burgundy declaring, "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany."
You sell books because you practice the business/political version of fist-pumping, exposing yourself and getting into drunken bar fights. It is not the quality or substance of your message, it is how loud it is delivered. Because you know, perhaps better than anyone, that controversy creates cash, and boredom equals death in any entertainment or media medium, including books. But do not fool yourself into thinking that success or money equals talent. Yes, to attain success in any field does take a level of skill and business acumen, which you certainly have.
Your books have sold well. But my B.S. meter went off when, during a recent video blog, you referred to your first book. The Art of the Deal, as, "As I understand it, the biggest selling business book of all time." Now, that book might have been a huge success, selling a million copies in hardcover, but I can name three off the top of my head that have sold more. Jim Collins's From Good to Great. Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Richard N. Bolles's What Color is Your Parachute? Again, that's off the top of my head. Not to mention how presidential it is, when asked 'what is a great book to read?', to recommend one of your own. Stay classy. And since you like to call your detractors talentless losers, I'd like you to know that, at the age of 31, I have about 1.5 million books in print, while you didn't even publish your first until the age of 41. As you like to say, facts are facts.
To be clear, I am not an ideologue, and I have no personal animus towards the Donald. However, hypocrisy, hubris and blowhard-ism are three of my major pressure points, and so I use books as a prism through which to view you. Writing, like running the country, in my opinion, needs a modicum of humility and (more than a modicum) of honesty. In the end, Mr. Trump, you have had tremendous success in the publishing field, selling millions of copies. But the simple fact is if your name was Donald Smith, and you weren't born on third base bragging that you hit a triple, you'd be blogging and lamenting the evil publishing industry that won't publish your masterpiece. So join the Snookster, the Kardashians, Tori Spelling and that underwear guy in toasting to your literary success. You've all earned it.
Jason Pinter is the bestselling author of five thriller novels (the most recent of which are The Fury and The Darkness), as well as the ebook exclusive thriller FAKING LIFE, which have nearly 1.5 million copies in print in over a dozen languages. His first novel for young readers, Zeke Bartholomew: Superspy!, will be released in November 2011. Visit him at www.jasonpinter.com or follow him on Twitter.
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