On discovering whether one is worth knowing

It’s all about contacts, you know. There’s no point in sitting at home, gazing out of the window and sucking your pen, expecting your career as an author to look after itself. You have to be out there in the real world – or, at least in the book world.

Test the variety and worth of your personal literary network in this exclusive Endpaper survey. You gain a point if you know someone who:

  1. Has reviewed their own book under a pseudonym.
  2. Can get you a mention in a novel by Bret Easton Ellis.
  3. Has had a book ghosted without reading a word of it.
  4. Can quote an entire sentence from Finnegan’s Wake.
  5. Has met Thomas Pynchon.
  6. Has been on an author tour of China.
  7. Has had an entire wall papered with genuine rejection slips.
  8. Has written something that has caused someone to be physically sick.
  9. Earns a 17½% royalty rate on home sales.
  10. Has slept with both Kingsley and Martin Amis.
  11. Has been imprisoned for something they have written.
  12. Resigned in a huff from the jury of the Booker or Whitbread Prize.
  13. Has sacked more three or more agents.
  14. Last published a book in 1967 or before and still puts ‘Author’ on their passport.
  15. Has been the basis of a fictional lover in a memoir by John Bayley.
  16. Has turned down an honour for services to literature.
  17. Has destroyed a complete manuscript.
  18. Has stolen material from their own children’s diaries.
  19. Was once punched by Normal Mailer, Gore Vidal or Betty Friedan.
  20. Wrote a novel before the age of ten.
  21. Calls Sir Vidia Naipaul ‘Viddy’.
  22. Has thrown wine over their editor.
  23. Has burst into tears during a press interview.
  24. Posed nude for their author photograph.
  25. Left a publisher after a disagreement over punctuation.
  26. Once worked with Stanley Kubrick – without boasting about it in print after his death.
  27. Has sent a dog turd on any other unsavoury item to a critic on receiving an unfavourable review.
  28. Has made a joke about Lord Bragg’s hairstyle to his face.
  29. Has sold their own book, without the help of an agent, for £100,000 or more.
  30. Has converted to Catholicism in order to advance their literary career.
  31. Has written a poem on the naked skin of lover.
  32. Refuses to do the washing-up because it is inappropriate work for a writer.
  33. Has coined a phrase that appears in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary.
  34. Has written something in return for sex.
  35. Sued another author for defamation or libel in a work of fiction.
  36. Has written a travel piece about a place they never visited.
  37. Let Salman Rushdie hide in their house when he was on the run.
  38. Left a spouse in order to be a better writer.
  39. Has sat at their desk for six months or more without writing a word.
  40. Held a reading to which not a single person came.
  41. Has taken drugs with Will Self.
  42. Turned down an invitation to the British Book World reception at Buckingham Palace on the grounds of their strong republican beliefs.
  43. Has slept with the buyer of a leading book chain in order to get better ratings.
  44. Mortgaged their house in order to complete a book.
  45. Has published the same book twice by changing its title and the name of its principal characters.
  46. Has taken a contract out on another writer.
  47. Has dressed up in a historical costume while writing in order to get into character.
  48. Gave up writing because they fell in love.
  49. Gave up being in love because it affected their writing.
  50. Visited a brothel, took crack or got involved in a football riot for reasons of research.
  51. Can explain why Fowler’s fused participle is grammatically incorrect.
  52. Has written more than three full-length novels in 12 months.
  53. Refused to attend the birth of his child because he was in the middle of a difficult scene.
  54. Can tell you who said ‘An author with a grievance is of all God’s creatures the most tedious.’
  55. Lied about their family background for promotional purposes.
  56. Allowed their book to be sold in a fake auction.
  57. Has had an affair with three or more members of the Society of Authors Management Committee.
  58. Took up writing and became a published author after the age of 70.
  59. Has never written a book which has earnt back its advance.
  60. Has leaked scurrilous stories about another author to Private Eye.
  61. Has invited Hello! Magazine into their lovely home.
  62. Has played in a musical group consisting entirely of writers.
  63. Has written an entire novel under the influence of Prozac and/or Benzedrine.
  64. Has first-class travel written into their contract.
  65. Has sold film rights to Steven Spielberg.
  66. Has insisted that a publicist, with whom he was currently having an affair, sends flowers to his wife every day while he is on an author tour.
  67. Has enjoyed carnal relations with another author in the London Library.
  68. Has been working on the same book for over a quarter of a century.
  69. Has faked a suicide bid in order to get a book accepted by a publisher.
  70. Died while at work at heir desk.

How did you do? If you scored 30 points or more, your career is in good shape. Fewer than 10 points suggests that you are almost in the category described in point 54. The quote came from Max Beerbohm, of course.

Summer 2001