Advice from the Masters: Mickey Spillane

Mar 4, 2015 | Writing A Book

Mickey Spillane sold a bundle of books. A lot of his fiction was about tough guys, but Spillane was very different from his image. He was a friendly soul who could easily befriend a little boy who rode by on his bike. He didn’t smoke or drink and spent a lot of time doing missionary work for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

He always had colorful things to say, though. At one point (around 1980) he was at a party when “a New York literary type” said that it was disgraceful that seven of the ten best selling books of all time were by Spillane. He countered with “I guess you’re lucky that I’ve only written seven books.”

One of his most famous quotes about what sells books was: “The first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book.” His books might not have passed muster with literary critics, but the rest of us loved to read them, because they were colorful and kept moving from beginning to end. Here’s a bit of Mickey Spillane wisdom you can use no matter what you write.

“Nobody reads a book to get to the middle.”

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