10 Halloween Season Publishing Nightmares


My top 10 Halloween Season Publishing Nightmares:

Simon and Schuster calls. They’re terribly sorry, but they thought this whole time that Amy Poehler wrote SMALL ADMISSIONS. They appreciate my understanding for the mistake and would ask me to please return the advance at my earliest convenience.

I am reading in front of a big crowd at a book store and suddenly have a hot flash, flop-sweat debacle to the degree of Albert Brooks in Broadcast News.


I discover that I’ve earned a spot on the worst-book list and the worst-dressed list in the same issue of the same magazine.

During a reading, I lean casually against a bookshelf. It falls over, and I die. I’ve spoiled the mood; no one buys a book.

Simon and Schuster calls: They’re terribly sorry, but they printed the book inside out. They appreciate my understanding and assure me that the cover looks great on pages 175-176. Fortunately, they’d already decided — based on pre-sales — to print only 13 copies.

Donald Trump becomes president, and my book is banned nation-wide due to the smart, employed, “nasty,” Wellesley College-educated female characters.

Hillary Clinton becomes president and invites me to the White House because she likes my smart, employed, “nasty,” Wellesley College-educated female characters. That one’s not a nightmare.

I give a reading and, unlike for Matthew Norman, not even @fattymagoo shows up: What To Do When No One Shows Up To Your Reading (on Lit Hub).

There’s a record-breaking blizzard on the day of my book launch party, and the roads are impassable. I take the subway to the reading, and we stop between stations. I’m surrounded by a large group of rowdy, drunk clowns in full make-up and costumes, complete with red noses and rainbow wigs. The drunkest of the clowns throws up on my new Louboutin pumps and Wolford stockings I bought just for the occasion. His friend apologizes and offers me his big yellow clown shoes, which I wear to the party.


My son and a clown, riding the subway

And finally, Simon and Schuster calls: This entire publishing thing was a delusion. They’re sure I’m a perfectly fine writer but would respectfully ask that I see a psychiatrist and cease and desist from telling people that I’m one of their authors. There’s no book. There’s no deal. Seriously, so stop.



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Amy Poeppel grew up in Dallas, Texas and left the south to attend Wellesley College. Since then, she has worked as an actor, a high school English teacher, and most recently as the Assistant Director of Admissions at a school in New York City. Her three fabulous boys are all off in Boston attending school, and she and her husband now split their time between New York and Frankfurt, Germany. A theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS was workshopped at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into her first novel.

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This article has 7 Comments

  1. Deep breaths…you’ll be okay.
    I have a funny-now-but-not-so-much-at-the-time publishing nightmare. While I was on book tour, I received a case of FIFTEEN MINUTES OF SHAME from my publisher (Plume/Penguin) — the printed book was half mine, half Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB.
    I kid you not. My publisher SWORE that I was the only one who’d received the misprinted books. I still have a few, they make excellent Christmas gifts. I should probably send one to Amy Tan — I’m sure she’d be surprised to learn we’d written a book together.

    1. Thanks for reading, Kaela! Apparently @fattymagoo got hundreds of new Twitter followers after that LitHub article came out. Writers everywhere were expressing their gratitude to her!

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