It's the 2023 ToB presented by Field Notes!

Welcome to the 2023 Tournament of Books presented by Field Notes. And look, a brand new website! It’s time to Rooster!

Spoofs & Satire

A Message From the Executive Officer of Artistic License

When two literary giants fall in one week, would-be writers may be concerned that their own publishing fortunes may be in danger. Though they may have lots to hide, they’ll have little to fear with these ever-popular products and services at their disposal.

Hello out there to all our faithful customers. We’d noted an increase in visits to our website, and we’ve read all the nervous emails. Yes, the recent stories claiming as frauds two highly successful authors—the former homeless drug addict JT Leroy and the current Oprah-darling James Frey—are certainly disconcerting. However, we at ARTISTIC LICENSE believe these developments are anomalies, and our company continues our dedication to a full line of products and services for Author Enhancement, Author Sculpting, and Past Experience Reconstruction. If an alternate identity is the only way editors will give you the time of day in this very competitive publishing climate, rest assured that our always discreet and professional consultants remain on-call at our anonymous hotline to advise you on setting up off-shore accounts, designing your blog, and selecting absolutely iron-clad pseudonyms.

Let me now take this opportunity to point out some of the most popular kits and services in our ARTISTIC LICENSE product line.


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Available to all our premium members, this easily downloadable program is guaranteed to offer you the perfect name upon which literary fame is dependant. Simply enter the title of your fiction or nonfiction book and your desired gender, and Pseudonym Plus will do the rest. For advanced algorithm searches, an optional book description (25 words or less) will assure satisfaction for a perfect match in any genre. You, too, can type on your title page resonant monikers reeking of literary mystery, such as “Icko Hutson,” “Mickey Milanovich,” “P.L. Younglove,” “Sharda Ray,” or “Tamara Kiska.” Any name you choose will be cross-checked with those chosen by other customers, so as to prevent inadvertent embarrassment at any future literary cocktail party.


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Pretending to be a Glaswegian novelist raised on the moor, but you’ve barely left the confines of Kansas City? The CDs (and, thanks to deafening demand, cassette tapes as well) in our Foreign Accent Power series will give you a spine-tingling burr in less than a week. Need to sound like a Serbian thug turned nature poet, or a Brazilian stripper now writing a travel guide to the Yukon Territory? How about a Nigerian ex-politician writing a harrowing creative nonfiction account of redemption through internet donations? We’ll deliver an accent that’s more believable than the very best forged passport. Don’t forget to check out our new Drunken Poet CD (with accompanying video), which can perfect a slur and stumble for any teetotaler.


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Our acclaimed hair and facial enhancement kits never fail to satisfy. From the “Distinguished Elder Novelist’s Comb-Over” to the “Western Poet’s Handlebar Mustache,” Gettin’ Wiggy products will help you walk the walk from one literary conference to another, with no embarrassing slip ups. Too buff to be taken seriously? Our “Salman Rushdie Makeover” will give you the physical slump that ensures literary respect. And don’t overlook our “Scarface” line, which will prove to any New York editor interested in your memoir that the wild bar fight depicted on page 208 was, if anything, underwritten.


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Need a high school yearbook that provides evidence of your sterling career as an All-State fullback before drug addiction and a sex change set you on a track as a budding model and chanteuse, as recounted in your heart-warming roman à clef? Our Past Tense experts will fool any magazine or newspaper noseybody out to undermine your paperback sale auction. We excel in specially tailored local newspaper clippings, wedding announcements, even photos of you grinning with your Sherpa buddies on top of a mountain. Members of our staff are also available for rent as dysfunctional parents, a brutal ex-husband, or a former creative-writing teacher, whomever you need to enhance your fictional or nonfictional world for the media.


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With BlogIt! you can build the web personality today’s publishing world absolutely requires to fuel the sales of your novel. Juicy tales of your book-tour adventures, quotes from satisfied audience members, and even rave reviews from virtual literary mags are our specialty. Not enough comments responding to your daily entries? Our staff will tirelessly chat away, day and night, over every tidbit you post, to create the illusion of a following that would be the envy of any author.


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Is your tougher-than-nails prose at odds with your Ivy League MFA? Street Cred will appoint you with an entourage of bling-laden hangers-on, a dossier of mug shots (“Scary,” “Disoriented,” and “Couldn’t Give a Shit” expressions all available), pistols registered under your pseudonym, and washable tattoos for any and every body part. Our staff can also provide a former parole officer who will shudder at the very sound of your name. Our secure workout room will help you achieve the six-pack all cons need to survive in the “house.” For an extra fee, a Norman Mailer testimonial is available.


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We at ARTISTIC LICENSE pledge that, despite recent setbacks, we will continue our goal of providing budding authors with the back story and camera-friendly personal enhancements that will grab the attention of even the most jaded of New York literary agents and editors. Why settle for being seventh in line at the local coffee shop’s Wednesday night reading series when you could be a book club pick, stalked by Courtney Love and sharing hors-d’oeuvres with Sonny Mehta? Contact us today and in six months you, too, could be signing a contract with the kind of numbers normally reserved for advanced-placement math classes. And remember:

You Can Believe Us—Everyone Else Does.™

Yours truly,
Fyodor Fitzgerald Ginsberg
Head of Author Development

Philip Graham is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, his latest being The Moon, Come to Earth: Dispatches From Lisbon. He is a co-founder of the literary/arts journal Ninth Letter and currently serves as the nonfiction editor. He teaches creative writing at the University of Illinois and the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and he can also play every musical instrument in the world extremely well in his mind. His seres of short essays on the craft of writing can be read at More by Philip Graham