Tired? Poor? Starting to wonder if you'll be a creative underclassman forever? Sick of feeling like the answer to the question "What do you?" is "Self-loathingly ask 'What do you do' at increasingly low-budget social events I used to think were the 'fun' part of doing this job?" Break the cycle! India, law school, teaching yoga… don't think it couldn't happen to you!
In this inaugural installment of "How To Sell Out," we learn a lesson in highbrow high finance from unsuccessful American Apparel shoplifter and weird novelist Tao Lin, who just successfully took a page from the financial engineering books of his favorite clothing store and launched an initial public offering for shares in a book he hasn't written. A lesson in the lifestyle of the poor but microfamous after the jump!TAO LIN, 25 Who he is: I'm not really sure, because he lies about a lot of things, but I know he wrote a book that Emily really hated (but Miranda July liked) and that he once commented on Keith Gessen's blog that he identified with the Jeff Daniels character in The Squid And The Whale. Also, last summer I read a story in a "literary deathmatch" with Tao Lin during which he read this poem for the allotted eight minutes. Do not click on that last thing if you are easily annoyed. What he did: He posted a blog entry offering 10% shares in a hypothetical "linear" novel "about a relationship" he has not yet written for $2,000 apiece, promising prospective investors "more meaning in life" if they bought shares and boasting his track record of trustworthiness as established by the 100% feedback rating he had earned selling 31 items in the past 12 months on eBay. He also stated a desire to eat healthier foods so as to avoid "feeling like I have eating problems" which may lead him to hang out beside toilets. Did it work? Yes! Within a matter of days Tao Lin was sold out of shares in his would-be enterprise. A nineteen-year-old intern and neurotic blogger named Soffi bought ponied up two grand, as did a popular University of Houston philosophy professor Tao did not even know. His parents also purchased a share. And Matt Schwartz, the writer of that Times Magazine piece on internet trolls also bought 10%, although Matt is my ex-boyfriend so he may have done that to personally antagonize me. (Kidding XO!) What can we learn from this? A controlling stake in a hypothetical major work by a minor possessor of literary microfame is worth $12,000. That might not sound like much, but it's $12,000 more than it was two weeks ago! And I am pretty sure no one is going to be paying taxes on any of it.