Hi cenobyte,

How have you been? I understand you only wanted to communicate to your previous consultant but I am emailing you now check on the update for your book. We are celebrating our 17th anniversary this month and we’re giving out almost more than 50% discount. I am not sure if you are particular in saving during the publication of your book but I only wanted to inform you this as your publishing consultant. I hope you will not get angry with me. I am just doing my duty as your consultant.

Sincerely, Jan

How-to-Format-a-Book-Manuscript Dear Jan,

It’s a fine thing for you to just go around calling Nathan my “previous consultant”. You probably have him hog-tied under your desk and you’re feeding him cheerios one at a time and water from a hamster bottle. That’s no way for a man to live, Jan. I’m not sure it’s even legal. Maybe in Indiana. Either way, it appears you are utterly without remorse for what you’ve done to that poor man, and recalcitrant to boot (I really like the word ‘recalcitrant’, by the way. It doesn’t mean “someone who adds calcium to something more than once”, like you might think it means, though. It means something like a leopard doesn’t change its spots.) And that describes you perfectly.

Since our last discussion, I’ve *moved on*, Jan. I’ve been talking to Cherie [REDACTED] a Publishing Consultant with [REDACTED], which is a very long name, and I honestly don’t know what her parents were thinking when they named her that; it must take up an awful lot of space on her driver’s permit. Anyway Cherie and I have a relationship now, since you man-napped my beautiful Nathan and did horrible things to him in a pit full of cockroaches or whatever.

Cherie and I have been talking about my new book. I had to give up on my manifesto because when you man-napped Nathan, nobody ended up getting back to me about my advance, and so I couldn’t finish writing it. Well, I suppose I could have but since I didn’t get that cheque, I had to go back to work and because I had given them two weeks’ notice, they took me out of the filing office and put me back on the front lines, which isn’t bad if you don’t mind rats and raw sewage. Which, like all writers, I’m pretty used to.

I’m a little confused about your email. I mean, not only because you have the cojones to write to me after everything that happened between us – you, Nathan, and me – but I’m a little confused as to what kind of operation your publishing company is, anyway. At first, when I started talking to Nathan, I thought you were a respectable publishing house, but now, after the man-napping and three separate “consultants” offering to publish my book, I’m thinking maybe I was mistaken there.

What I’m saying is that I think I’ve underestimated not only the size of your operation but my success as a writer. Three acquisitions editors are asking for my manuscript (I’ve taken to calling it a manuscript, which, if you left your cubicle long enough to find Cherie and ask her about it, I’m sure she’d be able to explain why)! I bet Stephen King never had THREE ACQUISITIONS EDITORS asking for HIS stuff. Maybe two.

This makes me think that I’m probably asking too little for my advance. Nathan and I had initially talked about $300,000, but now that I’m in such high demand, I think I’m going to have to insist on the $500,000. And I’m not even going to pretend it’s all for Uncle Dan anymore. He can hire a grad student to grab things for him when his last three fingers fall off; since everyone seems to want to publish my books, I’m just going to take that $500,000 and buy one of those portable classrooms to write in so that I don’t have to share the kitchen table with Grandfather and Ms. Bloom’s preschool bible class. It’s a big table and all, but the truth is, what with Grandfather’s shingles and little Ricky Anderson who always (and I mean ALWAYS) has his finger up his nose, it’s tough to get a lot done.

So once you send me my advance, we can talk more about my book. To be honest, I’m not 100% sold on the idea of the book about what it’s like to be a gay man. It’s compelling stuff, and I think it’s a great idea, but I haven’t heard back from Cherie yet so I’m thinking maybe Ms. Bloom was right when she said that nobody wants to read about the gay agenda. She said it like that, too. She leaned way forward and said the gay agenda with her eyes wide open and she only really half-said it, like she was just mouthing the words but I’m notoriously terrible for lip-reading, so it’s like she knew she’d have to say SOME of it so she just kind of half-said it. Later she said it was for the benefit of the children, but honestly, those kids are more interested in what Ricky Anderson pulls out of his nose than what goes on between a couple of people in love so I don’t know what she was worried about.

Anyway, Ms. Bloom knows her books – she has, like, fifty books on her shelf and only half of them are the bible, so I might take her advice. But I was thinking that maybe the book I’m going to write should be something more *accessible*. That’s a word that means “something everyone can read”, but in this case I really just mean “people who don’t come from around here”, because if I were going to write THAT book, it’d have to be an audiobook and I’d have to get some dude with no teeth to narrate it. Not that I’m ashamed of where I’m from, Jan. I love these people. They’re just not sophisticated, you know? Unless you count shucking corn as some kind of sophistication, which I guess it is when you think about it, because there’s actually a real skill involved in getting all those hairs off without winding them around your fingers. Which is actually what happened to Uncle Danny’s left pinky. He got some corn silk wrapped around it and he didn’t notice for, like, two weeks, and by that time the damned thing just fell off so what can you do?

Speaking of audiobooks, Nathan and I talked about having Patrick Warburton do the narration for my manifesto, but now that I’m doing a different book – I’m thinking of one of those…what do you call them…coming of age stories about a girl who lives in the city and eats some bad meat. I mean *really* bad meat. Like, radioactive meat. And then instead of going through puberty normally – I mean, instead of growing armpit and crotch hair and whatever – she grows vegetables all over her body. And she’s, like ostracized or whatever because she always smells like onions because that’s the most prevalent vegetable growing on her body. I’ll do a tie-in with bullying of course, and maybe you can include a study guide for schools. You guys sell all your books into all the schools in North America, right? So this should be easy.

In fact, I was thinking if you just get the book adopted to all the core curriculae for, like, all the elementary schools on the continent, you might even be able to up that advance to, say, $550,000. That would really help with typewriter ribbons. I don’t know if you know this, but typewriter ribbons are super expensive. I think they get ink directly from deep-sea squid.

Thanks for getting in touch with me. Let me know about that advance and do be nice to Nathan. He’s a peach.




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2 responses to “Competition?”

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Avatar

    Love it when you get to the ‘meat’ of your new story.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      Dirty, dirty meat.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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