Saturday, April 16, 2011

E.J. Copperman: Who was that masked man?

E.J. Copperman. International writer of mystery. The enigmatic Copperman took the crime fiction writing world by storm (or at least, by scattered showers and gusting winds) with the publication of the first Haunted Guesthouse mystery, Night of the Living Deed. Who was this gifted (and hysterically funny) writer? Some have suggested Copperman is the nom de plume for Nobel-prize-winner J.M. Coetzee, although the Haunted Guesthouse series contains a familiarity with home repair in New Jersey that would seem unlikely coming an academic who has lived his entire life in South Africa and Australia. Others have suggested Copperman is living off the grid in the wilds of Mexico, writing witty and romantic ghost stories to support her son while awaiting the inevitable Skynet-led machine revolution. Could Copperman’s frequent appearances on Facebook and Twitter be coded messages to rise up and resist?
Only two things can be known for sure: An Uninvited Ghost is available for sale, and E.J. Copperman, whoever he or she may be, is a very funny, um, person. Here Copperman joins us to give a useful lesson in that all-important front-of-the-book matter, the acknowledgements.

How To Write Acknowledgements For Your Book

  1. Pretend you’re accepting an Oscar for your book.
  2. Make sure you mention your agent, your editor, the publicist at your publisher, and your spouse (not in that order).
  3. Be humble—make believe you didn’t write this book all by yourself.
  4. Thank other authors for their support. This has the added benefit of attracting the eye of those authors’ fans. Keep in mind that acknowledgments are at the front of the book, and might be seen by casual shoppers in bookstores.
  5. Mention your children—it doesn’t cost anything, and they have their names in a book!
  6. Acknowledge the help of those who actually helped you, like the person who suggested that exotic poison you hadn’t ever heard of before, and the person you despised so much you couldn’t wait to kill them off in print.
  7. Mention someone who doesn’t know you—one of their friends will tell them, and you’ll get a new reader. Besides, it’s fun to confuse people.
  8. Thank anyone who judges for an award you really want to win. Lefty voters, this one’s for you!
  9. Describe the writing of your novel in the most grandiloquent terms. This helps mystify the process, and reinforces the myth that only certain gifted individuals can write.
  10. Never mention the night you were up until three in the morning trying to figure out how in hell that guy could have been the murderer when he was clearly in Venezuela at the time of the killing.
  11. Read your book before you write the acknowledgments. You might have forgotten something.
  12. Mention your spouse again. It’s been ten tips since I said that, and they get cranky.
  13. Thank a really famous author. People will then think you know that author, and have more respect for you. The cease and desist letter you get from the author’s attorney can then be sold on e-bay.
  14. Thank Oprah. What the hell. Her cease and desist letter will probably bring enough for you to retire.
  15. In a list of people you’re thanking, throw in a completely fictitious name. See if anybody notices.
  16. Do not thank arms dealers (for—wink, wink—advice on weapons). The FBI is everywhere. Shh! Act casual.
  17. Don’t mention every teacher you had since kindergarten. You can pick out one if it’s really important to you, but face it: Nobody cares.
  18. Note to self-publishers: Don’t thank yourself. It’s redundant.
  19. Thank Julia Spencer-Fleming. She probably helped you.
  20. I just helped you write your acknowledgements—you should thank me!

E.J. Copperman is the author of AN UNINVITED GHOST, the latest in the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series, which began with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED. E.J. lives in New Jersey. Don’t ask which exit. They’re called “interchanges” now.


  1. E.J. is not only funnier than me, her beard is darker.

  2. Jersey Jack: Hey, I resemble that remark!

  3. You left out thanking your dog and/or cat to show people you love animals. If you don't have a cat, invent one. This is especially important if you write traditional mysteries since cozy readers love their cats and will like you better (and buy more of your books, which is more important) if they think you let a cat run your life.

  4. Thanks for a bright spot in a gloomy gray Illinois morning...rain rain rain.
    I may just have to keep this posted to my corkboard to remind me to keep my acknowledgements short and not too flowery, even when I thank the drag queens who helped me keep things real :o)

  5. Great list! But you forget one: thank your spouse.

  6. Great Saturday morning chuckle. I'll print out your list to take with me next time I'm up for an award!!

  7. Thank E. J. Copperman for making you laugh so hard that you spilled coffee all over your manuscript.

    And don't forget to thank Stephen King. I hear his name sells books.

  8. I did Hallie one better. Thank you, E.J., for making me snort tea out my nose.

    Will post Ack. list prominently.

    Will read books asap.


  9. Thanks, Alan! I would have been in major trouble if I'd left THAT one out! I'd better go back and edit!

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  11. Seriously? Okay, you don't do seriously...but seriously? This is hilarious. And on the money. (SO right about Julia S-F.)

    (And no one told me, back in the day, about the proper order of listing people. Very important.)

    But I do remember, when I fiished PRIME TIME, I was so excited to get write the acknowledgments. It made me feel like a real writer.

    And I ALWAYS read them.

    Congratulations on your wild success...xoxoxo

  12. E.J.,You left out on thing.

    ...and do it all in 300 words.


  13. Well darn, it's too late for my very first book, but I will be sure and use this list if I ever get another one published.

    Just for practice, thank you E.J.

  14. I've done it all wrong...where were you when I needed you EJ??

  15. I'm never quite sure when my comment is going to appear as Rosemary's or as Jungle Red's...just another thing I don't know...aaaahhhh NOW it says JR

  16. Hi E.J. Now that I stopped snorting my tea, I can say, I just got your book in the mail on Friday. Can't wait to start it to see how the shore house is going.

  17. Beth: Nobody ever told me about the 300-word thing. Either I'm more terse than I thought I was, or they've been editing my acknowledgements so well I never noticed.

    Thanks to everybody who commented. You're all getting an acknowledgement in my next book! (Not really, although I might use Hank for my "famous author" slot.)