Help Me Build a FAQ

I’m thinking of putting together an FAQ for me and for this site, because I find I’m answering a lot of the same questions over and over and I’d like to have one central document to point people to.

Wanna help me out? Here are the questions I know I’m going to have so far (I’m not going to write the answers yet). If there are other questions you think I should have on the FAQ, let me know.

Note: For this, real and useful questions, please. We can put together a FASQ (“frequently asked silly questions”) document some other time. But I’d like the FAQ to actually be helpful. It doesn’t even have to be a question you think is frequently asked, just one that would be good to have in a document like this.

Here are the questions I’ve got, in no particular order:

1. Who is John Scalzi?
2. What books have you written?
3. What else do you write?
4. Will you read my manuscript/unpublished story?
5. Can I link to your site/an entry?
6. Will you introduce me to your agent?
7. Can I send a book for you to sign?
8. How did you get published?
9. Will you link to my site?
10. If I tell you my story idea, will you write it and we can both get credit?

Any more questions which you think I should be answering in a John Scalzi/ FAQ?

42 Comments on “Help Me Build a FAQ”

  1. LOL to 4 and 10.

    Are you looking for questions about you in general, or only questions about you as a writer?

    Other things that come to my mind: Why military SF? Why hommage to Heinlein? Where do you get your ideas? Where am I likely to find you in public appearance? Since you won’t do it, where do I go if I want my story critiqued? What advantages are there to a writer having a blog? What are your guidlines for being interviewed by a reviewer or student?

    FYI, it was supremely difficult not to be silly.

  2. How did you get your incredible good looks?
    Can you teach me to be funny?
    Is it really true about you and the hermaphrodite frog?

  3. 1) Who’s your publisher?
    2) Can you recommend a good editor/publisher/agent?
    3) I’m just starting out as a writer. Any advice?
    4) Where can I find a list of your public appearances?
    5) I’m a member of the press. (How) can I contact you for an interview?
    6) Do you have “rules of the road” for posting commments on your site?

  4. Gaaaaah! Didn’t I say no silly questions?!??!?! I’m gonna have to beat people!

  5. Those were serious questions… Silly is down the hall.

    OK, OK…

    Are there archives available for your wit and wisdom?

    What is your political designation?

    Will you ghostwrite my steamy autobiography?

  6. I actually don’t have a question to add but I do really want to know the answer to #7. So I can’t wait for the FAQ page.

  7. As far as #10, that is the second time in two days I have seen that exact question. Dean Koontz sends out a newsletter and in this month’s he details some very amusing moments where he’s had to answer that one. Apparently it’s common but I cannot imagine what could possibly drive someone to ask it.

  8. For your FAQ only:
    1. How many hours a day do you spend writing?
    2. What do you suggest for writer’s block?
    3. Do I really have to bother about spelling and grammar? I hear they have proofreaders for that.
    4. Why is your blog called Whatever?
    5. Which writers/authors (living or dead) do you admire?
    6. Do you teach workshops on writing?
    7. How many drafts of your novel do you typically write before it’s finally published?
    8. Do you use some kind of special software for writing & formatting your novel?
    9. Do you plan to write a movie script someday?
    Hope you find one or two useful.

  9. Re: #10. I think it was Isacc Asimov who noted that there are not many people who want to be writers, but there are a great number who want to ‘have written’ a novel. #10 sounds like a cheap shortcut.

    Here is my writerly question that may not be appropriate for a FAQ. If you discuss this in the upcoming “You’re Not Fooling Anyone…” I guess I will wait for the book.

    #17 In writing genre fiction (Science-Fiction in particular), how do you avoid cross-contamination with other author’s ideas and concepts?

  10. Your political leanings seem to get misconstrued an awful lot. (Stupid lack of brainless party alignment!) Might be worth an entry.

    One we get a lot over here is “How do I get your job?” Perhaps you could tell people how you got started doing your thang.

    Oh, I’ve also noticed the money question comes up a lot around here — so maybe: I want to be an author; how much can I expect to make?

  11. I’ve always wanted to know how you pronounce Scalzi. Does the first syllible vowel rhyme with scald, scale, or um, gal?

    You know, in case I ever meet you in person and have to introduce you to someone.

  12. #) Who’s the little girl you’re traumatizing in all those pictures? Doesn’t she have a mother?

    (Flippantly worded, but knowing who Kristy and Athena are could be helpful for a new reader.)

  13. A FAQ consists of Frequently Asked Questions and their answers. One posts a FAQ because some questions get asked often, and it becomes tedious to answer them again and again and again. The one person who knows which questions are asked often is the one who wants to rid himself of the tedium.

    So why are you asking us what your FAQs are?

  14. I think #10 sounds like either a great money making idea for an entrepreneuring writer or the plot for a best seller (or possibly both, if you are open to such an idea)…

  15. I second “Where do you get your ideas?”

    (Yes, it’s a silly question. But it’s also a frequently asked one, and goes nicely with #10.)

  16. #11.) Would you sign my (fill in the blank)?

    #12.) Do you have any recently deceased loved ones who are cremated and in need of a hand-made canopic jar?

    #13.) What is that weird thing with the claws and bulging eyes
    on the side-bar of your blog?

  17. Branko Collin:

    “So why are you asking us what your FAQs are?”

    Because I feel like it, that’s why.

  18. “Is it true that you got a book published by posting it on your blog?”

    Assuming you’re still getting mileage out of that circumstance, that is.

  19. How much wood would a woodchu… What? This isn’t the FASQ?…. Oh – well, nevermind then…

  20. i realized today, after reading the blog for four years, that the tagline is “Taunting the Tauntable”, not “Tuanting the Turn-table”. Sigh.

  21. Who is the cute kid/woman?
    Who is the cat/dog?
    Do you write more than just Science Fiction?
    Are you the same guy who does the AOL Journals?
    How can I become a writer? (this where you link to your blog entries)

  22. i realized today, after reading the blog for four years, that the tagline is “Taunting the Tauntable”, not “Tuanting the Turn-table”. Sigh.

  23. I hope the answer to the first question (who is John Scalzi) will include a brief history with the college and movie reviewing stuff.

  24. What is your favorite book? Film? Marsupial?

    What do you write ‘Whatever’ for?

    Why is a platypus?

  25. I second the “how do you pronounce Scalzi.” My friends ask each other for book/author recs, and I’ve been pronuncing your name like this: “John Es-see-ay-el-zed-eye.” You could also put up “How much did it cost you to get published?” if you want an excuse to link to Writer Beware and piss off Barbara Bauer :).

  26. > 10. If I tell you my story idea, will you write it and we can both get credit?

    A: How about I tell you *my* story idea, and *you* write it, and we can both get credit.

    (Paraphrased from some science fiction writer.)

    Stephen King did an essay about FAQs: He said one of the most frequent questions he’s asked is, “How’s the writing going?” and he responds, “I’m taking a break.” He has found that is the answer that most satisfied the person asking.

  27. 11. Why is there a giant lobster on your blog? Why don’t you have a squid?

    12. What is it with you and zombies? Do you have issues with the un-dead or something?

  28. Ditto on all the “who are these people in the pictures” questions. Also, I thought your answer to “Don’t you worry about setting your daughter up to be stalked by putting her picture on the web?” was really good and could go in a FAQ just to make people think.

    Also, I don’t know if you want to maintain this on your FAQ page, but your site could generally use a “where can I see you next?” space a la Where’s Neil?.

    Do you get asked much what kind of camera you have, or how you do those fancy photo effects? Something about what camera and software you use might head off some of those types of questions. I might include a link to the How to make your friends look like Zombies directions…
    (and maybe links to your articles that have various explanations/examples).

  29. 1. “Can I send items/services to you and ask for a review?”
    2. “Why haven’t you migrated your blog to the WordPress system yet? Everyone’s on the bandwagon already, aren’t they?”
    3. “What is the difference between Whatever and your AOL blog?”

  30. I remember answers to most of these scattered throughout Whatever but I suspect you’ll get asked them over and over anyway…

    Old Man’s War, Ghost Brigade, The Last Colony – are these a series? What order do I need to read them in for them to make sense?

    Hardbacks? Those are expensive! Why can’t I get it in paperback? What’s with the trades?

    I like your fiction and the blog but I don’t give a damn about writing. Will I still find “You’re not fooling anyone…” interesting? Besides, if it’s stuff that appeared here, why would I want to buy the book?

  31. I think some of you missed the point here.
    What John is asking for is what would you ask John? This way he can compile a FAQ.
    Who are the people and animals in the photos?
    Do you write in private behind a closed door?
    Where do you like to spend vacation time?
    Do you know there is an error in the html code on this page?

  32. 1) Not that it probably wasn’t warranted, but what did I say that was worse than “Have you stopped sodomizing your cat?” to get myself booted out of this thread? You can hint around it if it was bad-bad.

  33. When I sell Hollywood the rights to my blockbuster novel (still in the conceptual stage), should I ask for a flat fee or gross points?

  34. Just read Old Man’s War in 3 days flat, while ostensibly I was working… rushed out and spent 25 bucks on a hardcover (you should feel honored if I may be so bold)… Anyway, on to the point:

    Why did you choose such an odd picture to place in TGB? Is it because you’re a Generation X’er?

  35. This thread inspired me to post my own faq on my own blog:

    1. Do these pants make me look fat?

    2. Is New Orleans the state capital of Louisiana?

    3. Why is the button you click to shut down your computer labelled “Start”?

    4. If God is benevolent, why does He permit evil in the world?

    5. Who the hell watches all that shit on TV anyway?

    6. Would you like to come back to my place for a nightcap?

    7. If I moved out of my house on July 10, but was not divorced at the end of the year, can I file as head of household and take the earned income credit if I have a minor child? Can I also claim child care expenses?

    8. Abe Vigoda: Alive or dead?

    9. Was that you or the dog?

  36. What chinese animal are you astrologically?

    If you could change something, what would it be?
    Beer or Liquor?

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