Signing Off

(SOME THINGS NOT TO SAY WHEN ASKING A WRITER TO AUTOGRAPH A BOOK)

 

      "I don't want to trouble you--just your name is great. Oh--in blood, if that's OK. And yours and mine mixed."

       "Could you sign this 'To Deborah, from Michael Chabon, on behalf of his good friend Jimmy Mathers, who as I understand it you've dumped for that idiot Norman, who thinks that Michael Chabon is a mediocre middleweight UFC fighter. He really does. Jimmy told me he actually heard you say that at the Dew Drop Inn last Saturday night.' --Michael Chabon. Oh, and date it, please, so that 'Last Saturday night' will make sense. Thanks."


     "I just loved your book. You are Kathryn Stockett, right?... Oh, sorry, Ms. Hocking. But could you sign it 'Kathryn Stockett' anyway? I'm betting it will be worth a fortune on e-bay."

     "Your book spoke to me in a way that nothing has spoken to me since I was an angsty teen, when I was assigned The Catcher in the Rye in school, and blew it off, and instead listened to radio-commercial jingles for a week. Man, those tunes changed me."

     "I really liked it, until the last fifty pages. Could you try a little rewrite in my copy when you go on your break?"

     "I normally find reading difficult, but your book was written at such a low grade level, it hardly felt like reading at all."

     "We're going to spread the word and let everyone know how much we loved your novel 'Born Elsewhere.' Even though the book has nothing to do with the President,  your name will be inseparable from the Birthers Book Club."

     "Decent book, but would've been much better with more emotions. Whoops, I misspoke: not emotions--emoticons."

     "It must feel great, to be a published author, even if you have to realize that you're making less of an impression on the national psyche than a contestant rejected from the first round of The Bachelorette."

     "What's your Twitter handle? And Facebook fan page? And email? And home address? And phone number? And social security number? And age at which you lost your virginity? And your feelings upon losing your virginity? And anything else you care to share about the experience of losing your virginity? I mean, what's it really like?"

     "Just draw me a funny picture, like a photorealistic depiction of the Sistine Chapel. Something wacky like that."

     "Where do you get your ideas from? They're pretty lame, to be honest, so I want to know to avoid that strategy."

     "How many books have you sold so far? Maybe you think that's just another way of asking how much money you make? OK--how much money do you make?'"

     "So brilliantly meta, the way you criticized American culture in your book and wrote an intentionally bad novel. Kudos, sir--kudos."

     "When does the video-game version come out?"

     "I have a great idea for a book. Want to write it for me on a shoestring advance--some free shoestrings, I mean--and if it sells, you'll get a ten percent cut? This is, by the way, pretty close to how regular publishing works."

 

Teddy Wayne is the author of Kapitoil.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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