Fake AP Stylebook
November 07, 2010
In October 2009, a friend and I were talking in Gmail Chat about the Associated Press Stylebook’s Twitter feed. I was a copy editor at the time and he used to be a journalism student, so it had some relevance to us as word nerds. He said something like “Gee, I can’t tell if I’m glad or sad this isn’t a fake account,” fake jokey accounts being something of a specialty for us. (At the time I was running @zombiehorde and @thisreallyhurts).
This seemed as good an idea for a joke as any, so the two of us created the joke account and some friends joined in the fun.
One day later, the account had 10,000 followers.
Five days later, the account crossed 30,000 followers, officially surpassing the real AP Stylebook Twitter feed.
Now, the account is heading north of 160,000 followers, and is now considered one of the established “Twitter success stories,” alongside accounts like “Shit My Dad Says,” which has been turned into a sitcom starring William Shatner.
The phenomenon was noticed, and we were contacted by several agents and publishers looking to capitalize. We picked an agent, put the book proposal up for bidding, and found our publisher. The book is slated for an April 2011 release.
I oversee the daily operation of the Twitter feed, which is essentially joke writing, wrangling and editing and making sure the feed updates at least a couple times every week day. We do original jokes and also answer questions, which has been a big part of building our fan base.
I’ve noticed that Fake AP Stylebook has entered the journalist’s lexicon as a shorthand for absurdity, much like The Onion. “In what sounds like an entry in Fake AP Stylebook…” is becoming a common refrain in the journalism trade.
Some places we have been written up or mentioned, in no particular order:
Editor & Publisher
New York Times Media Beat
New York Magazine
NPR’s “A Way With Words”
The Chicago Tribune
The Dallas Observer
We were also invited to copy-edit an entire issue of Boston’s Weekly Dig, where we left red-pen markings, notations and tips all over that publication’s pages.
Hilariously, the real AP Stylebook has only acknowledged our existence (indirectly) once.