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Confessions Of A Tabloid Writer!: News I Wrote For The Tabloids! Paperback – July 25, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

Review

So there you are, standing in the checkout line reading those lurid headlines -- "Fax Lovers Commit Double Suicide," "Terrorists Invade Condom Factory," "Bank Robbers Have Sex During Holdup." Where do they get this stuff from, anyway? They get it from freelancers like Sam Post: schoolteacher, frustrated novelist, and man with a knack for writing absurdist news that's funnier than reality. In this hysterical collection of articles written for a major unnamed publication, Sam reveals how he secretly bought a tabloid, read it, and thought "I can do that!" A career was born. His breezy style and ability to riff off of life's daily absurdities gave him a steady writing gig with more exposure than many aspiring authors receive.

As print media declines, the best of these semi-serious papers has retreated to online publication, leaving the checkout lines completely saturated with celebrity alcoholism and unflattering pictures of stars in saggy bathing suits. Occasionally, they actual scoop the legitimate media, such as the recent case of John McCain's affair, but that just shows how flaccid the mainstream press has become. The tabloid world has changed, and not for the better. Mr. Post no longer has the joy of seeing his creations standing proudly next to Archie and Jughead Digest and Horoscopes for your Cat, but he's philosophical. While a Finnish couple may not have bowled for custody of a pet, and perhaps there never was a cat able to dial 911 in an emergency, Post's world can provide an alternate universe of excitement and mystery, and the confidence that no matter how badly we mess up, someone else has it worse. -- Ink 19, September, 2008

So there you are, standing in the checkout line reading those lurid headlines -- "Fax Lovers Commit Double Suicide," "Terrorists Invade Condom Factory," "Bank Robbers Have Sex During Holdup." Where do they get this stuff from, anyway? They get it from freelancers like Sam Post: schoolteacher, frustrated novelist, and man with a knack for writing absurdist news that's funnier than reality. In this hysterical collection of articles written for a major unnamed publication, Sam reveals how he secretly bought a tabloid, read it, and thought "I can do that!" A career was born. His breezy style and ability to riff off of life's daily absurdities gave him a steady writing gig with more exposure than many aspiring authors receive.

As print media declines, the best of these semi-serious papers has retreated to online publication, leaving the checkout lines completely saturated with celebrity alcoholism and unflattering pictures of stars in saggy bathing suits. Occasionally, they actual scoop the legitimate media, such as the recent case of John McCain's affair, but that just shows how flaccid the mainstream press has become. The tabloid world has changed, and not for the better. Mr. Post no longer has the joy of seeing his creations standing proudly next to Archie and Jughead Digest and Horoscopes for your Cat, but he's philosophical. While a Finnish couple may not have bowled for custody of a pet, and perhaps there never was a cat able to dial 911 in an emergency, Post's world can provide an alternate universe of excitement and mystery, and the confidence that no matter how badly we mess up, someone else has it worse. --Ink 19, September 2008

Review

Sam Post has described himself as the most rejected novelist in history.

A common refrain in the rejection letters he's received:

"This is implausible."

Post decided to take that criticism and work it to his advantage -- with a brief but lucrative career writing sensational stories for tabloids.

And now, years later, Post has compiled a collection of those stories in a book: "Confessions of a Tabloid Writer!"

Like anyone who was breathing in the 1970s and 1980s, Post had seen tabloids like "The Sun" and "The Weekly World News" and "The Enquirer." He'd always been too embarrassed to buy them, but one day -- after checking to make sure no one was around to see him -- he bought one and took it home.

As he read, he realized the stories could not be true.

They were, in fact, "implausible."

Hmmmm....

Before the day was over, Post had written one of his own. It was about a woman who got mad at her husband and served him up a dish of spaghetti -- made with meat from the man's beloved dog.

It wasn't hard, Post says. Newspaper writing came naturally to him. After all, his mother is the legendary Rose Post, recently retired after more than half a century as a newspaper reporter, one of the most celebrated in North Carolina history.

Unlike his mother's news stories, however, the dog meat spaghetti story was a complete fabrication.

He mailed it off to "The National Examiner."

Before long, he was on the phone with the editor, who asked him if the subjects of his story would mind it being published.

Since Post had made the story up -- and was convinced the editor knew this -- he simply said, "They're not going to come back and react to this.

"We had an understanding," Post said.

"OK, send more," the editor told him.

So in the late 1980s, Post started writing sensational stories regularly and would send off three at a time. Usually, one of the three would get published, he says.

For about a year, he was writing "pretty steadily" for "The Sun" and "The National Examiner." That was in the heyday of those tabloids, when you couldn't go to a supermarket or a convenience store without seeing their lurid headlines.

Post didn't use his own name when he wrote for the tabloids. He often wrote under the byline of Ted Corners, but stories also appeared under the names Dr. Bruno Gross and Manny Silver.

And what did his mother -- a real journalist -- think of Post's stories?

She was amused, Post says.

As far as whether readers believed the stories to be truth or fiction, he figures that some believed the stories while others enjoyed them while realizing they couldn't possibly be true.

Post was working at West Rowan Middle School at the time and occasionally worried what his employers might think of his tabloid writing if they found out.

A few of Post's friends and acquaintances knew what he was up to and would look for his stories.

"Paul Bernhardt always wanted to know when I had one in," Post says.

His friend Robert Jones asked Post if he'd write a story about his cat, Tofu.

Post was happy to comply.

The resulting story was "Cat Saves Owner's Life ... by Dialing 911!"

Post admits he "got a little bit of a charge" out of being in a supermarket and seeing one of his stories on a tabloid front page.

He always tried to stick to sex, food and money as subjects, he says.

"And sometimes aliens or Elvis," he adds.

He'd read somewhere that he couldn't go wrong with those topics.

His editor had told him that the typical tabloid reader believed Elvis was still alive.

He was also asked not to write anything negative about smoking. A lot of tabloid readers smoked, his editor said, and he didn't want to upset them.

Post was careful not to use the names of real people in his stories. He took pains to come up with bizarre names like Wallosa Crimtoni -- and often, the subjects of his stories were from eastern Europe.

One of his favorite stories was about a movement to clothe Michelangelo's statue of David.

He also liked "Strange Cult of Ex-Hippies Worships Deer." That one was inspired by a photo his mother gave him of deer statues in people's yards.

At least some readers took Post's fabricated stories seriously.

A radio talk show host from Detroit named Denny McClain called him to discuss a story he'd written about a set of twins who hired themselves out as hookers to ruin people's marriages.

McClain -- the Detroit Tiger pitcher famous for breaking Dizzy Dean's strikeout record -- wanted to meet the twins, who didn't exist, of course. After being told that he couldn't talk to the twins, McClain wanted to talk to Post, who declined the interview.

One story about a couple having to bowl one game to determine custody of their children was actually reported on ESPN, he says.

Post believes that he wrote close to 150 tabloid stories, about 50 of which were published.

His new book, "Confessions of a Tabloid Writer," which is self-published, includes stories that made it into the tabloids as well as stories that didn't.

Post says he started out making $125 a story, he says. That dropped to $100 and then later to $60 or $75, he says. He thinks the price kept dropping because he was writing so many stories, he says.

One has to wonder how Post came up with some of his stories, like "Hitler's Ghost Seen in Dirty Toilets" or "Busty Mom Trades Breasts with Flat-chested Daughter" or "Daughter Sues Mom for Making Her Eat Broccoli."

All good things must come to an end, and ultimately, the market dried up, Post said. The two tabloids he was writing for got new editors, who quit buying his work.

"I don't even know if I could write that stuff anymore," Post says. "It's like a different person wrote that."

These days, Post spends much of his time working on Coffee News, a popular restaurant publication that can be found in many local businesses. He also continues to write plays.

Sam Post has described himself as the most rejected novelist in history.

A common refrain in the rejection letters he's received:

"This is implausible."

Post decided to take that criticism and work it to his advantage -- with a brief but lucrative career writing sensational stories for tabloids.

And now, years later, Post has compiled a collection of those stories in a book: "Confessions of a Tabloid Writer!"

Like anyone who was breathing in the 1970s and 1980s, Post had seen tabloids like "The Sun" and "The Weekly World News" and "The Enquirer." He'd always been too embarrassed to buy them, but one day -- after checking to make sure no one was around to see him -- he bought one and took it home.

As he read, he realized the stories could not be true.

They were, in fact, "implausible."

Hmmmm....

Before the day was over, Post had written one of his own. It was about a woman who got mad at her husband and served him up a dish of spaghetti -- made with meat from the man's beloved dog.

It wasn't hard, Post says. Newspaper writing came naturally to him. After all, his mother is the legendary Rose Post, recently retired after more than half a century as a newspaper reporter, one of the most celebrated in North Carolina history.

Unlike his mother's news stories, however, the dog meat spaghetti story was a complete fabrication.

He mailed it off to "The National Examiner."

Before long, he was on the phone with the editor, who asked him if the subjects of his story would mind it being published.

Since Post had made the story up -- and was convinced the editor knew this -- he simply said, "They're not going to come back and react to this.

"We had an understanding," Post said.

"OK, send more," the editor told him.

So in the late 1980s, Post started writing sensational stories regularly and would send off three at a time. Usually, one of the three would get published, he says.

For about a year, he was writing "pretty steadily" for "The Sun" and "The National Examiner." That was in the heyday of those tabloids, when you couldn't go to a supermarket or a convenience store without seeing their lurid headlines.

Post didn't use his own name when he wrote for the tabloids. He often wrote under the byline of Ted Corners, but stories also appeared under the names Dr. Bruno Gross and Manny Silver.

And what did his mother -- a real journalist -- think of Post's stories?

She was amused, Post says.

As far as whether readers believed the stories to be truth or fiction, he figures that some believed the stories while others enjoyed them while realizing they couldn't possibly be true.

Post was working at West Rowan Middle School at the time and occasionally worried what his employers might think of his tabloid writing if they found out.

A few of Post's friends and acquaintances knew what he was up to and would look for his stories.

"Paul Bernhardt always wanted to know when I had one in," Post says.

His friend Robert Jones asked Post if he'd write a story about his cat, Tofu.

Post was happy to comply.

The resulting story was "Cat Saves Owner's Life ... by Dialing 911!"

Post admits he "got a little bit of a charge" out of being in a supermarket and seeing one of his stories on a tabloid front page.

He always tried to stick to sex, food and money as subjects, he says.

"And sometimes aliens or Elvis," he adds.

He'd read somewhere that he couldn't go wrong with those topics.

His editor had told him that the typical tabloid reader believed Elvis was still alive.

He was also asked not to write anything negative about smoking. A lot of tabloid readers smoked, his editor said, and he didn't want to upset them.

Post was careful not to use the names of real people in his stories. He took pains to come up with bizarre names like Wallosa Crimtoni -- and often, the subjects of his stories were from eastern Europe.

One of his favorite stories was about a movement to clothe Michelangelo's statue of David.

He also liked "Strange Cult of Ex-Hippies Worships Deer." That one was inspired by a photo his mother gave him of deer statues in people's yards.

At least some readers took Post's fabricated stories seriously.

A radio talk show host from Detroit named Denny McClain called him to discuss a story he'd written about a set of twins who hired themselves out as hookers to ruin people's marriages.

McClain -- the Detroit Tiger pitcher famous for breaking Dizzy Dean's strikeout record -- wanted to meet the twins, who didn't exist, of course. After being told that he couldn't talk to the twins, McClain wanted to talk to Post, who declined the interview.

One story about a couple having to bowl one game to determine custody of their children was actually reported on ESPN, he says.

Post believes that he wrote close to 150 tabloid stories, about 50 of which were published.

His new book, "Confessions of a Tabloid Writer," which is self-published, includes stories that made it into the tabloids as well as stories that didn't.

Post says he started out making $125 a story, he says. That dropped to $100 and then later to $60 or $75, he says. He thinks the price kept dropping because he was writing so many stories, he says.

One has to wonder how Post came up with some of his stories, like "Hitler's Ghost Seen in Dirty Toilets" or "Busty Mom Trades Breasts with Flat-chested Daughter" or "Daughter Sues Mom for Making Her Eat Broccoli."

All good things must come to an end, and ultimately, the market dried up, Post said. The two tabloids he was writing for got new editors, who quit buying his work.

"I don't even know if I could write that stuff anymore," Post says. "It's like a different person wrote that."

These days, Post spends much of his time working on Coffee News, a popular restaurant publication that can be found in many local businesses. He also continues to write plays.


More About the Author

Sam Post's plays have been published by Brooklyn Play Publishers, Palmetto Play Service, and The North Carolina Literary Review. He has twice received Regional Artist Grants from The North Carolina Arts Council - in 1996 for playwriting and in 2006 for filmmaking. He wrote and directed Coffee Therapy, an indie feature film based on his stage play. He lives in Salisbury, NC. Some of his plays, stories, novels, poems, and short films can be found on his blog at www.sampost.com.

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