The e-mail looked like everyday spam at first glance. Maybe that’s why it annoyed me.
“We are pleased to announce that based on a thorough review of your previous academic and professional records; the Board at Global Journal Consultants (GJC) has directly approved you as a ‘Published Author,’” the e-mail said.
A few things in that paragraph fascinated me. First, it’s not up to a group to declare who’s a published author; the actual act of publishing does that. Secondly, why was “Published Author” in quotation marks? It’s like having Donald Trump declare something about you with tiny air quotes. And does a group have the authority to award writing titles when it doesn’t know how to properly use a semicolon?
The e-mail continued: “For a limited time period ending October 31st 2016; GJC has allocated 10 Exclusive Published Author Spots for the top 3% exceptional individuals who will be allowed to bypass the ‘Interview Requirement’ and directly qualify as a published author.”
Well, there’s that semicolon problem again as well as the Trumpian air quotes. At least they’re consistent with their mistakes. They’re also consistent with spending the rest of the e-mail trying to persuade me that I’d benefit by attending their seminar. My favorite benefit was that GJC’s endorsement allowed me to “use your published author title of ‘Sir’ on your CV or otherwise.”
Yep. Sir. Forget all that business about doing something heroic and the queen tapping your shoulders with a sword; it turns out that GJC hands out the title without all the fuss.
Then the e-mail got to the call to action: “Since you have officially been conferred the ‘Published Author’ status, you are required to reply back to this e-mail with the following: Full Name, Cell Number with the best time to contact you, and updated CV or resume.” If not, my spot in the seminar would go to someone else. (Well, shucks.)
I know that attention increases behavior, so I normally ignore these e-mails. But this one was different; it annoyed me more than most because of its blatant attempt to prey on aspiring writers’ dreams and desperation. (For anyone from GJC that might read this blog post, that’s how you use a semicolon.) So I responded with an e-mail that honored the dignity of their generous offer.
“Thanks for declaring that I’m a published author. I was worried that writing for Sports Illustrated, Boys Life, and Sport Magazine as well as writing 12 published children’s books didn’t quite qualify me for the title. That’s a load of worry that I no longer need to carry.
“Sir Carl Grody.”
Now that I think about it, though, maybe I didn’t do enough to show my gratitude. A tangible gift was necessary, perhaps? I’m considering a copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk & White (with the page regarding semicolons highlighted.)
(C.W. Grody has sold hundreds of articles to national publications. He’s sold 12 nonfiction books for children, and he’s also published a humorous book about his childhood, Since Before You Were Born, which you can find here: https://www.amazon.com/Since-Before-You-Were-Born-ebook/dp/B00EHT3B5G.)