Someone wants to write my autobiography

Well cut off my legs and call me “Shorty”! I got the email below from a company asking to write my autobiography. It’s a money-making operation, of course, employing a ghost writer who will make my wonderful and interesting life, and my science, accessible to the public:

Dear Dr. Jerry A Coyne,

I am Luis, Editorial assistant from Oasis Publishing Group Ltd. contacting you with the reference from our editorial department. Basing on your outstanding contribution to the scientific community, we would like to write your autobiography.

Researchers like you are adding so much value to the scientific community, yet you are not getting enough exposure. No matter how many papers you publish in famous journals, you will be still unknown to common people. To solve this problem, we came up with this unique solution.

With our autobiography service, we will write your autobiography along with your research contributions in common man’s language. We will also include all your published papers into this book in a way that a common man can understand it. And then, we will publish your book with our publishing group. Before, publication, we will send the draft to you for scientific accuracy, once you approve our draft, we then proceed for publication. You will get all the rights of your book, and all the sales generated from your book, will be credited to you.

Your autobiography will be listed on famous websites like Amazon, ebay, Goodreads and many other popular book websites. As a result, you will get good credibility and people will recognize your hard work and your scientific contributions.

Last but not least, after the publication of your book, it will be published in Google News, Yahoo and other major news channels. What more can you ask for?

All we need is your book writing contract, and you will get all the rights for your book.

Will be waiting to hear from you.

Best Rega

The firm is Oasis Publishing, and I’m not the only one who’s had this offer. See the article below in PLOS ONE (click on screenshot):

William Sullivan is the Showalter Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Sullivan toyed with the publishers, as a good gadfly would, and found out that they charge $1895 for a ten-chapter “autobiography” that would summarize Sullivan’s scientific work in “common man’s language.”

After some inquiries, Sullivan then wrote them back a hilarious letter:

That reminds me of the letters of Father Guido Sarducci. There’s more in the article, so go have a look.

Well, nobody with two neurons to rub together would be taken in by this company, but I have always had two titles for my autobiography, which is as far as that project will ever get:

1.)  Triumph of the Ill

2.)  I, Yam: My Life as a Sweet Potato

68 Comments

  1. BobTerrace
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    “I hope it is pardonable that I pray upon your time…”

    Hilarious!

  2. GBJames
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Brilliant response by William Sullivan!

    Maybe these guys could write an autobiography for that Nigerian prince friend of mine!

  3. steve oberski
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Taking the “auto” out of “autobiography”.

    • Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      “Life is a movie, write your own story.” Kermit the Frog.

      Hold out for that movie deal.

    • Posted May 23, 2019 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Or “automating the ‘auto’”?

      🐜

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 23, 2019 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Haha I said the same.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 23, 2019 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      To be fair, many famous people have had their ‘autobiographies’ either ghost-written or have collaborated with the writer. I think this is fair enough; someone who has an outstandingly interesting career (maybe they’ve sailed single-handed around the world, or test-flown supersonic jets, or something) may have no gift at all for writing in an interesting fashion. It would be sad, and a loss for the reading public as well, if their self-told story was rendered unreadably dull.

      However, in this specific instance, if I wanted my fascinating life story to be couched in the compulsive page-turning style it undoubtedly merits, I don’t think I’d look to Oasis Publishing to undertake it.

      cr

  4. Mark Jones
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Maybe you’re being too dismissive; as their web site says “Let’s Writing!” and “Reading is the best for get idea”. It’s this sort of iconoclastic attitude to grammar that will get your autobiography noticed.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Can you please give the link? I looked for one and didn’t come up with anything like that, though I found a squirrely publisher in Clovis, CA., I saw no “Let’s Writing,” etc.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        Click HERE
        You’ll find those two phrases in the banner
        The banner has three ‘screens’ moved horizontally by clicking the LR arrows at the RL edges of the banner.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:19 am | Permalink

          Thank you! Insofar as I can explore the site, which has several recursive internal links (not sure what they’re called), it’s hilarious and I want to save the link.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:21 am | Permalink

            It’s badly designed for sure & I find the fonts annoying too

            • Posted May 23, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

              I like the typeface, but some of the fonts are too small and the grey colour too pale for easy legibility.

              🐜

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 23, 2019 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

                Typeface. You and your typeface. 😝

  5. rickflick
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Sullivan’s letter has me in stitches. Literally!

  6. Charles Sawicki
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I’m sure that your scientific accomplishments would be described accurately! Just imagining the qualified individuals they get to write these is entertaining.

    • rickflick
      Posted May 23, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      …and then Dr. Coyne urged Eddy and Clara, his favorite fruit flies, to start making little baby fruit flies in the Erlenmeyer flask. And, boy, did they go to town!…”
      .
      .
      .
      Dear Thomas,
      Your first draft is really not bad, but to make it more entertaining could you add a little more sex. And, by the way, leave out that boring section on the genetics. People don’t really…

  7. Michael McCants
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    The contact form gives a latitude and longitude for an office building in downtown Bandung, Indonesia.

  8. Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    You should totally write a memoir though. It’d be fun! Or a personal chronicle of your life fighting creationists, scientism critics, religious apologists, the woke left, and suchlike. Ooh, an essay collection would be pretty cool too. Some stuff from the website, updated and revised, plus new stuff. I’d buy it! (But I won’t ghostwrite it, nor can I offer any advice on making it accessible to the ‘common man’).

    • Dominic
      Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      OK let’s have some possible titles…

      How about “Notes from Coyne’s Life”

      • Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        Jerry’s Jamboree of Essays and Reflections by JAC Coyne

        • Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:31 am | Permalink

          I still like “Triumph of the Ill” a la Leni Riefenstahl.

          • Posted May 23, 2019 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

            The Walls Are F—ing Brown!

            🐜

          • Draken
            Posted May 23, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

            How about My Comb?

          • Steve Pollard
            Posted May 23, 2019 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

            Oh dear Jerry, I am confused.

            Is that:

            a. Triumph of the ill
            b. Triumph of the three
            c. Triumph of the one-hundred-and-eleven?

            Maybe you could consider WEIT Man’s Burden?

      • BobTerrace
        Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        “The flip side of Coyne”?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        Duck Tales, Squirrel’s Nuts & The Cat’s Pyjamas: The Life & Times of Jerry Coyne – Frequent Flyer Emeritus.

        • rickflick
          Posted May 23, 2019 at 11:27 am | Permalink

          Cover design and illustrations by, of course, Kelly Houle.

        • Posted May 23, 2019 at 11:29 am | Permalink

          You lucky duck, you!

        • Posted May 23, 2019 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          Great Comment x 10^6.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted May 28, 2019 at 6:46 am | Permalink

            Thank you Kevinsky

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 23, 2019 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

          I like it. I also like “The underside. Why Diana MacPherson was tight about TP”. Sure it would be about Jerry but the title sells it.

          • merilee
            Posted May 23, 2019 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            Tight? Diana, were you drunk🤓

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 23, 2019 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

              No just on an iPhone. I like tight though.

        • Posted May 25, 2019 at 3:42 am | Permalink

          Congrats!

          -Ryan

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted May 28, 2019 at 6:45 am | Permalink

            Ta!

  9. BJ
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Sullivan did a great job, but he made one mistake: he should have offered them nudes.

    I, Yam: My Life as a Sweet Potato sounds like a tumblr blog written by a potato-kin. Nah, the title is too clever.

  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Find out if they can go straight to the movie. I was thinking of a title for my own – Over the Cliff by Ilean Dover.

    • Bric
      Posted May 23, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      I’ve been trying to get Ben Dover to do mine, but he says he’s not up to it

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted May 23, 2019 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Ah, that would be Ilean’s husband. Another book of note is – Fifty Yards to the Outhouse by Willy Makeit, illustrated by Betty Won’t.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Don’t wanna ghost your autobiography, but, as I’ve mentioned before, I wouldn’t mind tagging along on your travels to play Boswell to your Dr. Johnson. 🙂

    Lemme know when we leave for the Hebrides.

  12. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Will they also take a selfie of you for the dust jacket?

  13. Dominic
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I suppose no one told them one writes ones own autobiography? Otherwise it is a biography, ghosted or not.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Grey area there.

      If it’s entirely ‘as told to’ the writer by the subject, and all the writer has done is put it into readable English, I think ‘autobiography’ is a fair description. It’s X’s story as seen from X’s point of view.

      If the writer has done his own research (and in some cases may never have spoken to the subject), then it’s obviously ‘biography’.

      … and of course there’s a huge shades of grey in between.

      cr

      • Posted May 25, 2019 at 5:23 am | Permalink

        50?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 25, 2019 at 7:22 am | Permalink

          That was an autobiography? Wow…

          (Turns back to reading Naked Came The Stranger…)

          cr

  14. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I’ve been wondering about the phrase PCC(E) uses, “Well cut off my legs and call me shorty,” and phrases similarly constructed.

    I Found this delightful song by Louis Armstrong, which bears that title and contains more like phrases, such as”Well, shave off my head and call me baldy,” and “Well cut off my arms and call me Venus”

    Unfortunately no video from a live performance.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Well glaze my nipples and call me Rita!
      [Black Adder or Blackadder whichever is right]

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        That reminds me, it’s time for me to revisit Blackadder or Black Adder.

        I found this post from a wordpress blog that goes into detail about the origin of such phrases https://stronglang.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/call-me/.

        To mix metaphors,”Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit” takes the cake.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 25, 2019 at 7:37 am | Permalink

          Heh. That link led me to another page on the same site which had a link to, so help me, justtheswearing.com, which hosts videos such as ‘Every swear word in South Park’ or ‘Every F*&k from every Tarantino film’. (There are 1370 of them and every single one is compiled in a 26-minute Youtube clip. All 1370. I am impressed).

          cr

          • merilee
            Posted May 25, 2019 at 9:18 am | Permalink

            You’ve made my (rainy) day. Hilarious! Started with Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. Some are not available in Canada😿

  15. Neil Wolfe
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Looking forward to reading “The Other Side of the Coyne”

    • rickflick
      Posted May 23, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Perfect.

  16. merilee
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  17. grasshopper
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I think it appropriate to celebrate the book release with music by an orchestra of massed Tubers.

  18. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 23, 2019 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Took the “auto” right out of autobiography.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 23, 2019 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      I think you were plagiarising Steve Oberski at #3 there. 🙂

      Great minds think alike. When they’re not brooding over TPO.

      cr

  19. Posted May 24, 2019 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    You would think that anybody offering to write your autobiography would have done the research into you that would reveal that you are quite an accomplished writer of non fiction and could probably do your own if you wanted one (call it an auto-autobiography?).

  20. Gayle Ferguson
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    Interesting to note that the Golden Shears sheep shearing competition in Masterton is in Masterton, NEW ZEALAND – the sheep shearing capital of the world!

  21. Posted May 24, 2019 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I know there are ghost-written and team-written nominal autobiographies, but to brazenly offer an “autobiography service” seems … sketchy, to put it mildly.

    Of course, these predatory publishers have no shame, clues, or honour, so …

  22. Posted May 25, 2019 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    “Prey upon your time!”

  23. Kahlil Jabroni
    Posted May 29, 2019 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    I believe it was Charles Barkley, the former ’round mound of rebound’, who complained that he had been misquoted in his autobiography.

  24. Posted June 20, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Ha ha, I just got the same email, word for word. Except it was sent by “Chloe”.

    The big difference is that my contribution to the scientific community is not “outstanding”. I have no paper as first author, though I’m a co-author in about 40 papers in the medical imaging field.

    I get emails to ask me to publish in some obscure journal at least twice a day. I report them to our institute’s spam filter, and that helps a bit, but they keep coming…


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