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The Journal of Literary Satire | Hastily Written & Slopilly Edited
Monday, February 5, 2007

Some Editorial Changes

by Robert Isenberg

Dear Writers,

As you already know, we at OmniHouse Publishing are always eager to see new manuscripts, from both established authors and aspiring novelists who are telemarketing for UNICEF to help “make ends meet.” We know that you’ve worked hard on your manuscripts—whether it shows or not—and we encourage you to keep writing, keep submitting, and keep holding back the deluge of self-loathing when you get our “little envelope” in the mail—the one you stamped and addressed yourself.

OmniHouse is making some changes, however, as we continue our losing battle against the more immediate joys of iPods and PlayStation 3 shooter-games. The book business isn’t easy, and as many of our authors have told their freshmen students, sometimes you have to kill your darlings. In this case, we’ve decided to accept only queries and manuscripts that fall into the following categories:

  1. Novels about orphaned boys who discover magic or mystical beings—particularly magic wands, benevolent giants, witches, elves, or tollbooths.
  2. Novels about plucky young girls befriending horses, to the consternation of a gruff uncle or grandfather.
  3. Memoirs about one’s “crazy” family, “distant” father, “bipolar” mother, or “suicidal” sibling. We especially encourage long, stultifying passages of innocuous observations, like the scent of an aunt’s oaken hope chest or the exact number of tears shed while changing a niece’s diaper.
  4. Historical fiction about a famous Civil War general and his misunderstood genius.
  5. Mystery novels starring adorable middle-aged women.
  6. Any self-help book that references angels in the title.
  7. Conspiracy novels about how the Catholic church is actually run by cartoonishly evil bishops or genius mathematicians and symbolists.
  8. Anything that has to do with socially clairvoyant teenage boys living in conservative small towns, or quiet young women discovering themselves through classical literature.
  9. Humor books, written by snarky grammarians, about the wackiness of the English language.
  10. Fantasy novels that strike any resemblance to The Lord of the Rings—including stories about young heroes, dwarves, trolls, magical swords, magical rings, warlocks, dragons, gregarious tavern-keepers, and pairs of cute idiots, who are written in only for comic effect. We are drawn to phrases like “darkness is falling over the land” and “only one can save them.” Welsh-sounding names are highly recommended.
  11. Bitchy political books, especially with titles that pun on other bitchy political books.
  12. Novels “inspired by” a major motion picture.
  13. Autobiographies “by” famous sports players that are written “with” somebody else, who has a smaller byline on the front flap but who clearly actually wrote the book.
  14. Novelty books about the secret personalities of cats.
  15. Cumbersome photography books of Ireland, Provence, or covered bridges—especially books too large to fit on a bookshelf and too boring to keep in the den.
  16. Edgy biographies about famous writers probably being bisexual.
  17. Cookbooks written by celebrity nutritionists who, in reality, are not very famous at all.
  18. Any book that sounds optimistic about life after 50.
  19. Any book whose title has the word “American” followed by another word. American Boyhood, American Guitar, American Zipzapzipadeedoo.
  20. Any novel about how hard it is to be a writer, preferably featuring failed relationships, anecdotes about writers’ retreats, and minute-by-minute accounts of long nights at the bar. We’re especially fond of main characters modeled almost exactly after the author. If accepted, feel free to commit suicide for posthumous attention. Leave an address for your second, less exceptional work of fiction.
  21. Books of comical lists.

Robert Isenberg is a freelance writer and actor. He has contributed to McSweeney's and heads a column for Pittsburgh Magazine. His sixth play will receive production this August.