Last summer, the legendary Booksmith in San Francisco made me my very own author “baseball card,” which was too cool, even though I look like a total cheese-dick in the publicity photo. The card said some nice things on the back regarding All About Lulu, and there was a blurb from one of my favorite writers, Tim Sandlin. But no stats!

Now, I grew up collecting baseball cards, and it was always, always, always about the stats, about tracking the player’s performance over the previous season, and more importantly, the player’s performance over his career. The stats don’t cover the intangibles, like heart, but they usually do tell the story of a career pretty well in terms of longevity, consistency, and arc, and moreover, stats never lie.

I’ve done a lot of interviews the past two years. I feel as though I’m starting to repeat myself—and I usually sound stupid the first time. So, I thought it would be a welcome diversion to use my TNB self-interview to record some stats, along with some careeer highlights, which will allow readers to track my career performance, and possibly tell them a little bit about me as an artist. These numbers are actually accurate, with exceptions noted.

Age:  41

Novels Completed: 8

Novels Aborted:  1

Novels Buried: 5*

Stories Written:  116

Stories Published:  12

Rejections:  537

Form Rejections:  509

Marriages:  2

AAI (Average Annual Income):  $16,489**

Dental Insurance:  0

Cavities:  12***

Equity:  0

Beers Consumed:  63,450****

Credit Card Debt Accrued:  $18,554

Credit Card Offers:  319

Books Published to Date:  1

Books Forthcoming:  2

Publicity Photos in which I Look Like a Cheese-Dick:  Too Many

Average SPR (Sweats-to-Pants-Ratio)*:  +4/3

Current SPR:  7/0

*     Includes one incident of incineration
**    Slight exaggeration
***    Conservative estimate
****    Really conservative estimate
*+    Sweats-to-Pants-Ratio denotes days spent in casual versus formal attire (formal being anything with pockets)



Career Highlights:

1979 – Published children’s story (“The King Without a Crown”) at the age of 8, thus beginning a 25 year publication drought.

1986 – Bummed a cigarette off of Larry McMurtry.

1989 – Dropped out of college.

2003 – Received coveted 500th rejection.

2004 – Published first story (“Accepting the Charges”) since “The King Without a Crown” in 1979.

2007 – Sold debut (ahem) novel, All About Lulu.

2008 – Received first one-word review of All About Lulu on social networking sight: “Dumb.”

2009 – Quit gardening job. Became father. Paid credit card debt.

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JONATHAN EVISON is the author of All About Lulu, which won the 2009 Washington State Book Award, and the bestselling West of Here (2011). In 2009, he received a fellowship from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. He is the executive editor of The Nervous Breakdown, and an advisory editor at Knock. He blogs at Three Guys, One Book. He especially likes rabbits and beer.

42 responses to “Jonathan Evison: The TNB 

  1. lance reynald says:

    my pajama pants have pockets. for what, I’m not certain… but, does that make them formal attire?

    and your AAI is ridiculously high there bub!

    best one word review ever! beats the hell out of my “trite”.

    • James D. Irwin says:

      my pajama pants have pockets.

      I don’t think I’ve ever put anything but my hands in them…

      I was born in 1989. I dropped out of college twenty years later.

      I enrolled at a new one a few months later, so now I’m floundering about in my semi-formal pajamas amassing close to $18,554 debt…

      I’ve read/seen quite a few of your interviews recently and you sound pretty far from stupid good sir!

      • jonathan evison says:

        aw well, shucks . . . cut those pockets off before they start encroaching on you leisure…

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I’ve actually left them at my parent’s house.

          Went back for Christmas and didn’t have the room in my bags— mostly because I decided to take back almost every book I own…

          it’s going to take more than pockets to encroach on my leisure though! although leisure lacks a certain pleasure when your legs are this cold!

  2. jonathan evison says:

    …technically, yes, i’m afraid so, lance…total leisure attire should have no utilitarian value whatsoever…before you know it, you’re collecting responsibilities in those pockets…

    • James D. Irwin says:

      the ultimate leisure attire would probably be some sort of giant body suit you get sewn into…

      • jonathan evison says:

        …i’ve got a customized snuggie– for real!

        • James D. Irwin says:

          the snuggie phenomenon doesn’t seem to exist in this country. I know what they are though, because I’m a wise and learned man of the world.

          They seem ridiculously comfortable.

          I’m probably better off without. I already spent my life in a state of lethargy half a notch above sleep walking…

    • lance reynald says:

      damn… that means I’ll have no choice but to abandon the bottlecaps I was hoping to use as currency.

      (and just for the record, that “trite” was attributed to my work… not your top notchery)

  3. Tony DuShane says:

    i love the stats. great self interview.

    i’m in the process of repeating myself….there’s only so many things to say about writing, the novel, etc.

    booksmith made you a baseball card? that rules.

    cannot wait to read ‘west of here’.

  4. Phat B says:

    I’ve been wearing nothing but Adidas tracksuits since the new year. Success is mine! My ultimate leisure wear is going to be one of the old school satin boxing robes with full hood, like Marvelous Marvin Haggler used to wear to the ring. That’s when I’ll know I’ve made it.

    • James D. Irwin says:

      between the ages of about 11-16 all I really wore were soccer shirts and tracksuits.

      Mostly Adidad tracksuits.

      Those guys know how to put a good tracksuit together.

  5. jonathan evison says:

    . . . if i wear my snuggie backwards and i drink enough, i’ll bet i could feel like marvin haggler . . .

  6. D.R. Haney says:

    Did you really keep a strict accounting of your rejection letters, or should that stat also include a ** or *** or, God forbid, ****?

    • how can we realy believe any stats ob baseball cards during the ‘steroid age’?

    • jonathan evison says:

      . . .oh that was easy . . .i kept them all in a box . . . i just had to count them before i burned them . . . to be fair, at least half of those rejections were probably a result of bad editorial profiling on my part . . . sending stories to feminist journals without knowing, sending humor pieces to sci-fic magazines . . .just unsuccessful carpet-bomb campaigns . . . the number i remember before burning the rejections was 465 . . . i didn’t keep any after that point, but i’d put the total at 40+ rejections after that point . . .

  7. Ben Loory says:

    what kind of cigarettes did mcmurtry smoke?

  8. jonathan evison says:

    . . . one would think marlboros, him being a cowboy, and all, but i can’t remember . . . i was a little nervous, trying to foist a short story on him which was earnest and horrible . . . he actually took the story! . . .in a strange twist of fat L-Mac is currently reading west of here, and i’m crossing my fingers!

  9. Greg Olear says:

    Well played, man.

    You forgot the “writers brought to TNB” stat, in which you might lead the league.

    Also: is it too much to ask for a scan of that bookball card? Or at least a description? We need to know why you look like a cheese-dick. Are you holding a quill like a bat? Are you sliding into a home plate with Lulu’s face on it? Do tell.

  10. jonathan evison says:

    . . . i’ll see if i can get my nephew to scan it . . . otherwise, just trust me, it’s cheese-dicky . . . i’m always thrilled when i happen upon a writer who is a good fit for TNB, and nothing pleases me more than to invite somebody aboard! . . .at least that stat makes me feel better about my editorial title around, here, because i don’t shoulder much of the workload . . . i guess that makes me sort of an acquisitions guy . . .

  11. Loved this! Every time I hear someone call me a debut novelist ( at 48, no less) I feel like they should be introducing some 25 year old wunderkind… I’m tired of talking about myself and seeing the pub photo as well… and I’m barely into this since the book has only been out two weeks…… yet I’m grateful, oh so grateful, for this tiny golden moment in the warmth of the publishing sun.

  12. jonathan evison says:

    . . . big congrats, robin, and good on you for the gratitude, it’s a lovely thing to know that people are finally reading your work . . . and keep the heat on the publicity stuff long after you’re sick of it, it’ll pay off — every cheese-dick photo and repeat answer may find you a new reader. . .chances are you were sick of rejection notices at some point, and you kept going, and here you are . . .

  13. Heh. Very nice, Jonathan. I fear now that, should I really want to become successful, I should plan for it now by buying some sweatpants. I don’t actually own any. I think I own a sweat shirt, though!

    And now I’m looking forward to two forthcoming books. Rad.

    I can’t wait to take cheese-dick photos, and by that I of course mean “more.”

  14. jonathan evison says:

    . . . no worries, the camera loves you . . .you’ve got that richard gere thing workin’ . . .

  15. jonathan evison says:

    that is young richard gere . . .

  16. This is way better than my self interview of crashing into a coffee truck while on a train. I used to love to collect baseball cards!

    Your stats rock. You are a freakin’ success!

    Most of us want to be you. Gardening dude and all.

  17. Victoria Patterson says:

    Gawd-damn, I related to your stats. There’s a hole in my tooth, but it doesn’t hurt, so I’m thinking I don’t need to spend $ on dentist…

  18. jonathan evison says:

    . . .i’ve got a doozy of a hole myself, right now . . . get a whole leg o’ lamb stuck in there! while things have certainly taken a big turn for the better, still no dental insurance, here . . . i’m thinking of looking into the author’s guild and see if they have anything to offer . . .

  19. TammyAllen says:

    Hi Jonathan. Nice stats. Can’t wait for the next book. XO


  20. You had me laughing at cheese-dick. Seriously, though, I love the honesty. Refreshing. And I read “All About Lulu” and someday hope to ask you a couple of questions about it (let me hasten to add that I really enjoyed it).

  21. jonathan evison says:

    . . . goodo, elizabeth, thanks! . . .and whenever you wanna’ ask me the questions, you can e-mail me:
    [email protected] . . .

  22. Reno J. Romero says:


    your self-effacing attitude is a keeper. good luck out there. keep writing, man.

  23. jonathan evison says:

    . . .thanks double-r . . . this writing business has a way of keeping us humble, eh?

  24. You bummed a smoke from McMurtry? Are you Batman??

  25. jonathan evison says:

    . . . no, but i met batman on halloween last year, and he was skinnier that i’d imagined . . .

  26. […] JONATHAN EVISON on Jonathan Evison […]

  27. […] He likes to talk.  That much we know.  He’s talked to Ron Currie, Jr.  He’s talked to Warren Etheredge.  He’s talked to publishers (who may or may not listen) and the other guys at 3G1B.  He’s even talked to himself. […]

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