Leave it to John Coutinho.
To remind you, John (JC) illustrated my book, Unruly Mix: Tales of Music, Artists, Misfits, Posers, last year. He’s a lifelong friend and a great artist, particularly with caricatures and illustrations. He is functionally insane. Whatever you consider an odd sense of humor, multiply it by ten, then have a conversation with him.
JC now has a series of “low-content” books on Amazon. As stated, they don’t have much content other than titles and headings of chapters. He has 189 of them available. They include titles such as Stop Smoking Planner, I Pooped (Bathroom Guestbook), and Ride Share Driver Logbook.
He isn’t into writing but makes up for it with art and controlled dementia. The fun part about these low-content books is that you can supply your content or leave it to your friends to do it. The titles are diverse, and oddly enough, I think some would work well as lesson planners for instructors.
How to Be Less of a Jerk works on many levels. It doesn’t tell a story but inspires you to write your own. Are you going to do that? No. But I am.
“What made me a jerk today?” is one of two questions he poses on every other page. “What could I have done differently?” is the other. The straightforward self-questioning is out-front honest and compelling. “What made me a jerk today” implies that you were a jerk and that it affected a situation.
I asked him how he developed the idea for the “Jerk” book.
"I had the drawing first and wondered, 'what the hell do I do with this?'
So the next thing I did was make it into a book cover."
That makes sense. If only to JC. I think he’s gotten the book bug since he did the interior illustrations for mine. He was easy to work with and very fast. Seeing his interpretations of my stories in one drawing with barely any instruction was fascinating.
He has met a lot of jerks in his life and plans to meet more. He has yet to begin marketing his books, but he’s made a few sales. I’ve even discussed adding some content to one of his books.
JC has also been known to throw down a mean impression or two. No one does Edward G. Robinson or Curley from the Three Stooges better. He also has one of the all-time loudest hand claps, which he used as a child to forewarn his entrances from a quarter-mile away.
He has made his living in graphic arts for the past few decades but keeps his drawing skills honed for special occasions. With the low-content books, he now has another outlet.
Amazon defines low-content books as “any books that have repetitive pages, with little to no words.” Scrolling through, you see lots of notebooks, planners, and sketchbooks.
The following are the best-selling low-content categories:
Kids Activity Books
Adult Coloring Books
Low-content books were once seen as a quick money maker by the sheer volume of books uploaded to Amazon, but there is a lot of competition these days. It will be JC’s artistic talent that separates him from the rest.
I asked him if he’s had many sales.
"Actually, only a few. The most sales I have are twelve for one book. What I found odd was getting sales in other countries like Japan and England."
What have you been working on lately?
"Most recently, I created two monthly planners for 2023. Now and then, I create songs using GarageBand, but most are either silly or just dumpster material."