GMU English Major’s Tumblr “Shit First Drafts” Wins a Sweet Book Deal

English major Paul Laudiero

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While other English majors might be wondering about life after college, soon-to-be GMU graduate Paul Laudiero, 22, has a book deal under his belt and big dreams.

In February, Laudiero had an idea for a blog: “Shit Rough Drafts,” which fictionally re-creates literary icons’ first attempts at classics.

“I write every day for a couple hours. Something every writer should learn early, unless they’re delusional, is your writing is shit. It’s shit for at least 10 years,” Laudiero said, “I started thinking about [F. Scott Fitzgerald’s] The Great Gatsby,’ which was being promoted–the movie—everywhere. I was thinking [Fitzgerald] must have had a lot of shit drafts, like ‘The Good Gatsby,’ ‘The Alright Gatsby,’”

Laudiero posted his Gatsby goof as his first “Shit Rough Drafts” Tumblr entry and, “It took off,” he said. “That’s the thing about Tumblr. If you have a lot of funny material it will be seen.”

In February, Laudiero condensed 10 years of “shit writing” into a month.

“The Huffington Post did an article on [my] Tumblr a week after I started it,” Laudiero said. Two weeks after that, through a friend of a friend, Laudiero had a book agent, then he won The Great Tumblr Book Search contest, a collaboration between Chronicle Books and Tumblr for which Laudiero received a $200 prize in free Chronicle Books. The contest received 175 book pitches. Laudiero took the money, but gave Chronicle Books his agent’s name. The result: Laudiero landed his first book deal.

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