The Five Stages Of Grief Following The Publication Of One's First Book


• “Sorry, Mom, I can’t talk long. Terry Gross is likely to call at any time and I imagine will want instructions on how to pronounce my name.”

• “Everyone knows that Amazon rankings are a total joke. I mean, I could give a shit. But you and everyone else in our extended family did buy seven copies each at 5:22 a.m. EST just like I told you, right?”

• “And those Nielsen BookScan sales numbers are clearly off by one decimal place. Maybe two.”


• “I need to be at Barnes and Noble right when it opens. What? No reason.”

• “Book reviews, on the other hand… EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.”

• “No, I’m still weighing ‘The Daily Show’ versus ‘Colbert.’ Say hi to Dad.”

• “If they want to low-ball me on the film rights, that’s fine, but in that case I will need a piece of the back end and final say on casting. I feel strongly that in the interests of verisimilitude, I should be played by a hairy Jew from Pittsburgh. But of course he will have to be filmed in a way that makes him look a foot shorter.”


• “There are four people at my signing, Mr. Cantankerous Independent Bookseller, counting you and my wife and the barista/palm reader. You can’t even be bothered to show me how to work the microphone that I don’t need?

• “You know I spent most of my advance at your store, right?”

• “Blog blag blargh. @Twit tweet twat.”


• “This fetid gasbag of a person you invited on the same radio show to antagonize me? It is totally working.”

• “What the hell does it look like, Holmes? I am BUILDING MY BRAND.”

• “It’s spelled A-N-G-R-I-S-T. That’s like ‘angriest’ without the ‘e.'”


• “I would be happy to speak at your conference if you will buy twenty-five copies of my book.”

• “Okay, fifteen.”

• “God? Yes I know it’s been a while… We’ll catch up in detail on Yom Kippur (wait—I missed it? Are You sure?), I swear, but as You know I’ve been busy ascending the ladder to stardom by appearing on a series of podcasts. So, apologies in advance for being so crass, but here’s my proposal: If You let me earn out my advance and sell the foreign rights for like, I dunno, thirty pieces of silver, then I promise never to doubt Your miracle chops ever again and to resume worshiping you in that desperate Old Testament way You like so much.”

• “Hi. I’ve been thinking about what you said and, of course, you’re the publisher, you understand these things, and you’re absolutely right: a story about genetics is fine but we do indeed need a better hook for the paperback. And I think I’ve got one! What this book needs is—wait for it—More Vagina! Attached please find a draft of a new chapter with the working title of ‘DNA And Your Vajayjay.'”

• “Fine. I will send you twenty copies. But for realz, now, that’s it. I’m serious! And I’m totally shipping them Media Mail.”

• “Hi, God? I can’t think of anything more humiliating than getting sued for libel by someone no one’s ever heard of over a book no one actually bought, let alone read. Can You? Wait… don’t answer that.”

• “Yes, okay, sure: And buttons. And bookmarks. But that’s IT.”


• “I had a dream that I was walking through the rainforest and millions of trees were genuflecting away from me, despite there being no wind to speak of. They didn’t say anything but… they didn’t have to: it was obvious to both of us that they were laying down their lives so that people like me could indulge in a few moments of NPR/Twitter fame and some tax-deductible travel to Asheville, North Carolina. In a voice that sounded eerily like my mother’s they said, ‘Please. Don’t mind us.'”

• “Am I still in denial? Come on. That’s Crazy Talk.”

• “Hi Doc. I’m looking for an SSRI that specifically inhibits neurotransmitter uptake in response to repeated rejection by Science Friday. So: a) Do you have that one and b) is it on the Medicare Part D list?”

• “I received two tentative offers to write regular columns for webzines. For free, sure, but still: a job is a job! So why do I still feel so down.”

• “It’s spelled A-N-G-R-I-S-T. That’s like ‘angst’ with a ‘r’ and an ‘i.'”

• “Ha ha ha!”


• “Remaindered? You mean I can buy my own hardbacks for a buck twenty a piece? Oh. Hell. Yes.”

• “The pleasure was mine—thanks for inviting me to your small, struggling store. And thanks for all the swag: the keychain rocks and this here is some kind of awesome tote bag. It’s only fair that I leave you a few of my own excess buttons, bookmarks and bumper stickers. Seriously, take ’em.”

• “Another dream: I Skyped my publisher looking for my royalty statement but when they picked up to start the conversation there were no faces on my screen. All I could see were bodies from the neck down, each one in an identical Pelham-blue polyester V-neck sweater. When they talked their Adam’s apples would vibrate or their bosoms would heave but I couldn’t understand what they were saying—I had no facial cues and it sounded like they were speaking Esperanto filtered through Darth Vader’s mask. Finally the screen unfroze and a balding man with thick eyebrows appeared, smiling. I began to stammer out an apology but he waved his hand dismissively. ‘For better or for worse,’ he said, ‘our company is a reflection of my thinking, my characters, my values.’ I woke with a start, sorry that I never had the chance to thank him.”

• “Listen kid, we’ll always have that transcendent and magical night at Borders, won’t we?”

In the unlikely event you’ve not figured it out already, Misha Angrist is the author of Here is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics. Presciently, many years ago he wrote a song called “Denial” that actually name-checks Elisabeth Kübler-Ross—he is sure you’ll want to buy that, too. Photo by