Q&A with Ken Lowery of Fake AP Stylebook

Fake AP Stylebook, a parody of the AP Stylebook, is a hit on Twitter and has been written about in Wired and The New York Times. In this Q&A, conducted by e-mail, co-founder Ken Lowery talks about how Fake AP Stylebook got started, how it works and what’s ahead.

Q. What inspired you to start Fake AP Stylebook, and why did you choose Twitter as the place for it?

A. Just a joke, really. I’d shown my friend Mark Hale the real AP Stylebook feed, and he remarked that he wasn’t sure if he was sad or relieved it wasn’t a joke, and that was that. We’ve done this sort of thing before (with @zombiehorde, @forevercon, @thisreallyhurts and others) but none quite clicked like this one did.

As for why Twitter? It’s a good place to throw out quips and keep easy track of your followers and the general response. It’s a very low-effort messaging system, which likely helped FAPS spread like it did.

Q. Newspapers and magazines typically have stylebook committees to hash out style guidelines. How does that process work at Fake AP Stylebook?

A. There are only a few rules. 1) Nothing too political or nerdy. 2) Nothing overtly antagonistic; we’re not here to piss people off. And 3) Profanity is OK, but don’t go overboard.

Otherwise, we just try to stay absurd and light and funny, not unlike an especially fine-tuned episode of “30 Rock.The contributors have a Google Group set up, and we exchange submission ideas, share questions people ask us that we think have good potential and other general reactions. It’s a bit like a writer’s workshop, with me and Mark as the benevolent dictators.

Q. In the spirit of social media, do you accept submissions?

A. We don’t. Before, this was because there were already a lot of us and we trusted the “tone” that we’d created, but now it’s a legal issue. If we accept submissions and make money off this later, we open ourselves up to lawsuits, whether they be just or not. S.O.P. for most working writers.

Q. Have you had any response from the real AP Stylebook?

None, though in the past day or so I’ve noticed they’ve gotten a little livelier and a little more interactive. Good for them.

Q. What’s ahead for Fake AP Stylebook?

A. A book. We’ve got an agent and many interested publishers, so we’re neck-deep in that right now. We’ve got 19 (!) experienced writers and designers on staff, so generating material has not been a problem so far.

After this, maybe something else. We want to build up an umbrella brand for future publications, because who knows? These contributors are some of the funniest and most talented people I know. They’re not going to be satisfied with just one book.