We get all sorts of mail here – most of it pretty normal, but now and again, some real gems do show up. Here are the five weirdest pieces of mail I’ve had to open:
1. The Bribe: First impression of this book proposal package? Standard. One manuscript; check. One lengthy plea to “whom it may concern,” complete with sentiments of manic gratitude, earnestness, desperation; check. A self-addressed envelope with postage; check. And… seven $1 bills? I’m not above bribery, but I don’t come that cheap!
2. Sexy Time: I received a package I had sent out the week prior with a “return to sender” notice. I opened it, expecting to find the book I sent somewhere for review, and dozens of little pamphlets covered in brightly colored circles fell out. Upon closer inspection, those brightly colored circles turned out to be fluorescent condoms, and the pamphlets touted their different variations and benefits. Cheapskate switcheroo marketing! Well done, sir! Consider yourself blacklisted.
3. Sexy Time II: A lot of authors send author photos with their manuscript. Sometimes I think they’re capitalizing on their good looks, other times, well, it would have been better to retain an air of mystery. But one proposal from a business professional about communicating contained several photos in full color. However, all of the photos were of the author in a skimpy bikini doing Yoga in all sorts of odd poses that showed off her flexibility. I’m sure she was communicating something but wouldn’t want to guess what.
4.The Picture Book: When unsolicited manuscripts come in, I’ll often flip through them to see what kind of “fun” editorial is in for. On one that I was perusing, the pictures immediately arrested me. On about every other page this woman had illuminated her depressing life story with crudely drawn stick figures with captions like, “My classmates throwing rocks at me while I cry on the ground,” and “I get fired again,” and “Everyone hates me.” I wonder if there’s a new one taped to her fridge, “Berrett-Koehler rejects my book.”
5. c/o Berrett-Koehler: We do not give our author’s contact information out with good reason (see points 1-4)! In order to provide some sort of buffer from anyone who might have seen Misery one too many times, we offer ourselves as the contact people. I received a thick envelope from a prisoner on death row. He wanted one of our authors to come visit the prison and write a book about how he had committed the perfect crime. Somehow it had escaped his realization that a perfect crime would entail not being caught and on death row.
Post Office gods preserve me. Oh wait, I forgot, they’re bankrupt.