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Sort 341
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by Dear Jon
June 17, 2008

Dear Jon,

In some of your articles since your return, in Sort 322 I think it was, you said something about a book coming out.

So, where is it? Where do I find it?

Your Biggest Fan

Dear Biggest,

You are only my biggest fan if you weigh more than 240 pounds.

The book is currently waiting on a cover design. It has been a long time coming, and the reason is that Dear Jon is finnicky. I firmly believe that you can judge a book by its cover, so I want this book's cover to conjure a certain image of what I am about and what readers can expect. It turns out, though, that since Dear Jon is a complex persona of contradiction and nuance, just what that "certain" image is has the designer flummoxed.

One idea was to picture Dear Jon as a product of his family and cultural heritage, so I posed for several hours in a kilt with cowboy boots. It turned out, however, that this presented an image that Dear Jon did not want to conjure--especially when the artist wanted me to pose topless on the bear rug in front of the fire place. That was just not...I don't know.... comfortably ME.

So the cowboy-kilt idea is scrapped. We're trying to do something on the theme of cupids and shot-guns, but we're not sure if Dear Jon IS Cupid with a shot-gun or if he is LIKE Cupid except that he is holding a shot-gun or if he is a duck-hunter accidentally blowing Cupid out of the sky. Any one of those conjures different aspects of the themes of the book which is coming out, titled Dear Jon Letters Volume I: Tips on Dating and Mating.

Future book covers might feature Dear Jon with beer, however, at no time will Dear Jon endorse a book cover which includes both beer and guns at the same time. Nasty combination that. Everett Wilson wrote about that in his novel which is available for purchase right now on this website, and which has an awesome cover.

The book is going to be available, alongside Everett Wilson's and Greg Asimakoupoulos's, right here on the Partial Observer. Just follow the hotlink to order. I expect my book to come out with enormous fan-fare.

Despite all of my complex contradictions, at bottom I want to sell a lot of books. Not just a few books. I mean, I want to sell a LOT of books. Enough books that agents will come looking for ME. So if getting the cover right is going to sell more books, I'm okay with waiting for a few more days.

On the other hand, it is awesome that I could have the input on cover design that I have had so far. Usually, once the manuscript is out of the author's hands, the author becomes chopped liver.

Dear Jon,

Are your readers aware that the above was not an actual letter, and neither is this one?

Actual Letter Police

Dear Police,

The heading "Actual Letter" did not appear on top. That's clear. However, you readers are going to get a scoop. Since Sort 322, a lot of my "Actual Letters" have only been "Actual Letters" because I have sent them to myself through the website.

I know. You are thinking this is like a big lip-synch scandal. So you  need to know first of all that this never happened in the first 321 sorts. Second, I am now inviting you to enter a contest. Who among you can guess which of Sorts 324 through 340 were actual letters? Correct answers will be submitted to a random drawing for a free, autographed copy of my book.

Here are two hints: Sort 324, Humorist Absence Deficit syndrome, was an Actual Letter, reconstructed as I described. Sort 326, Super Advice for Super Dads, came from me.

I am calling this the Dear Jon Guess the Rest Contest. You have 15 sorts to sort out.

But Dear Jon, does this make your cheating okay?

Well, in a Bill Clinton technical kind of sense, I did not cheat. An actual letter is one that passes through the website. The banner appears automatically.

But Dear Jon that is so LAME! EVEN THOUGH THE WEBSITE DOESN'T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE, YOU DO!  You are absolutely right. Luckily I don't have an attorney's license to lose.

O relax! I'm just taking a swipe at a former president.

So the answer that you are looking for is that I did not cheat, I employed a marketing gimmick. Two good results happened. First, Dear Jon has kept current with near weekly exposure on the Partial Observer in anticipation of the book. Second, there is now an opportunity for a give-away.  You can test your wits against Dear Jon. How good an actor/author is Dear Jon? Do I make a convincing female, or were those actually written by females? Can you analyze my prose and detect stylistic give-aways in these 15 letters themselves?

For those of you who might be hung up on thinking that somehow I have cheated, here are some thoughts:

  1. The book doesn't cover anything after Sort 321, so nobody will have purchased anything sold to them under false pretenses about "Actual Letters."
  2. Nobody has purchased anything anyway, because the book hasn't become available.
  3. Nobody caught me "cheating." Nothing has been "exposed." I'm announcing this to the world so the contest can begin! Do you and your friends want to try for a free book or not?
This marketing ploy  is now ended. I will never again head as an "Actual Letter" something that I sent to myself. That means that YOU have a responsibility. If YOU want to see Dear Jon answer reader mail, YOU need to PRODUCE it! That is the third result of this effort. YOU can't take for granted that Dear Jon columns will just appear.

That means writing me. It means telling friends about me. It means telling friends to submit guesses to the Dear Jon Guess the Rest Contest. Please submit your guesses as a letter to Dear Jon, which is a hotlink for you at the bottom of this page.

The answers will appear on Tuesday, July 1, 2008. If I have any columns for you before then, that is UP TO YOU.

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