How To Play Fantasy Football, Only With Authors

Greg Zimmerman

Staff Writer

Greg Zimmerman blogs about contemporary literary fiction at The New Dork Review of Books and holds down a full-time gig as a trade magazine editor. Follow him on Twitter: @NewDorkReview.

Very soon, all over the country, in suites at the Bellagio, party rooms at Hooter’s, and your mom’s basement, groups of nerds will gather for a sacred annual autumn ritual: the fantasy football draft.

But what if you could play fantasy “sports” with something less concussion-causing? Like, for instance, books!? Gather your friends, because now you you can! What follows is an outline for a fantasy authors game that promises to be both fun and infuriating — just like real fantasy football (oxymoron alert!). Of course, you can tweak this general outline however you want. Let’s get to it!

Drafting: Your league should consist of you and your seven other biggest book dorkiest friends. (So that’s 8, right? Right.) To begin, draw straws, role dice, compare your moms’ ages, or employ some other system for determining draft order. Then, take turns picking authors in that order from each of the eight groups below. Your team must have one author from each group (similar to fantasy football where you can only start one QB, two RBs, etc.) Keep in mind, you don’t have draft in the same sequence as the categories. For instance, the player with the first pick is well within his/her rights to select David Mitchell from Group C (or Stephenie Meyer from Group H, or whatever hell s/he wants to do), but s/he cannot select any other authors from Group C for the rest of the draft. Continue taking turns drafting until all authors have been selected. There are 64 authors listed, and so if you play with eight teams, that’ll mean each team consists of eight authors — again, one from each group. (We may be bookish folk here at the Riot, but if pressed, we can hold our own in the maths.)

Group A — The Rookies: 2014 Debuts
Group B — The Wizened Veterans
Edan Lepucki John Irving
Stephan Eirik Clark Philip Roth
Andy Weir Toni Morrison
Roxane Gay Cormac McCarthy
Mira Jacob Alice Munro
Alena Graedon James Salter
Tiphanie Yanique Joyce Carol Oates
Anthony Breznican Alice Walker


Group C — Future Hall of Famers Group D — Hipster Delights (“Cool” before they were cool) Group E — Foreign Fantastics (writers in translation)
Jhumpa Lahiri Dave Eggers Haruki Murakami
Jonathan Franzen Zadie Smith Amy Yamada
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Emily Gould Paulo Coelho
David Mitchell Lydia Netzer Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Donna Tartt Joshua Ferris Kyung-sook Shin
Marilynne Robinson Teju Cole Herta Müller
Richard Russo Cheryl Strayed Orhan Pamuk
Neil Gaiman Jonathan Safran Foer Amos Oz


Group F — Young Adult Adults Group G — Genre Gigantics Group H — Series Heavyweights
Rainbow Rowell Stephen King George R.R. Martin
John Green James Patterson J.K. Rowling (Robert Galbraith)
Sarah Dessen Janet Evanovich Diana Gabaldon
Marcus Zusak Catherine Coulter Daniel Silva
Gayle Forman Danielle Steele Stephenie Meyer
Veronica Roth Nora Roberts Nelson DeMille
Stephen Chbosky Dan Brown Meg Cabot
Rick Riordan Brad Thor W.E.B. Griffin

Rules for Scoring: Agree on a firm start and stop time for the game — may we suggest, totally arbitrarily, August 1st through May 31st, 2015. Scoring is based on the system below — when an author on your team fits one of the descriptions, you get the designated number of points. As in real fantasy football, draft players whose situations fit best with the scoring system. Do research. Some of these events/things we know will happen. Most we don’t. Some are longshots (more points awarded for these), some may happen weekly. So draft wisely. (Also, add your own ways to score points. These are merely suggestions.)

All judgment calls (i.e., the exact definition of “major”, is this really a feud?, etc.) are left to the discretion of the league commissioner. (You designated a league commissioner, didn’t you?) So, without further adieu, here’s how to score:


  1. Publishes a novel — 10 points
  2. Blurbs another author’s novel — 2 points
  3. Publishes/produces other major work (non-fiction, screenplay, poetry, etc.) — 5 points
  4. Appears in another author’s book trailer — 3 points
  5. Novel adapted to movie — 8 points
    1. 10 bonus points if author cameos in movie based on his/her own novel
    2. 10 bonus points if movie wins Academy Award (any)
  6. Novel adapted to small screen — miniseries or made-for-TV movie — 5 points
  7. Publishes book review in major online or print periodical — 5 points
  8. Publishes essay, article, or other journalism in major online or print periodical — 3 points
    1. 5 bonus points if article complains about a mainstream technology like ebooks or Twitter
    2. 5 bonus points if article is about the death of the novel/reading
  9. Performs commencement speech at university graduation —10 points
  10. Announces retirement from writing — 10 points
  11. Announces unretirement from writing — 15 points


Media, Awards, and Appearances

  1. Appears on Talk/Comedy/Variety Show (eg, The View, Colbert, etc.) — 15 points
  2. Appears in interview or as subject of short expository piece on news/morning show (eg. Today, CNN, etc.) — 10 points
  3. Appears as subject in profile piece in major online or print periodical — 10 points
  4. Appears in interview on major radio show or podcast (eg. NPR Books, etc.) — 5 points
  5. Appears in a photo with you from reading or other event, like BEA — 15 points
  6. Wins major literary award — National Book Award, Pulitzer, NBCC, or Booker — 15 points
  7. Wins Nobel Prize for Literature — 25 points
  8. Appears on year-end NY Times 100 Notable Books list — 5 points
    1. 5 points bonus if it’s in the “10 best” list
  9. Photographed in celeb rag like US Weekly or People — 10 points
  10. Author donates large amount of money to charity — 5 points
    1. 5 bonus points if that charity supports literacy
  11. Throws out first pitch, does honorary coin flip (etc.) to start a sporting event — 15 points
  12. Author’s novel selected for Oprah’s Book Club — 10 points
  13. Author opens bookstore — 20 points


Feuds, Disruptions, and Ruckuses

  1. Purposefully begins a verifiable feud with another writer, via social media, the press, or other means — 15 points.
  2. Arrested for any reason — 20 points.
  3. Develops publicly acknowledged alcohol/drug addiction — 15 points
  4. Enters treatment – 5 points
  5. Author’s novel is ridiculously banned from a school for ridiculous reasons — 15 points
  6. Becomes embroiled in a plagiarism lawsuit for someone allegedly stealing his/her own material — 20 points
  7. Becomes embroiled in a plagiarism lawsuit for allegedly stealing someone else’s material — 10 points
  8. Becomes embroiled in a memoir scandal in which facts purported to be real life are shown to be inventions – 10 points.
  9. Publicly decries (in any form) Amazon — 5 points
  10. Dates a movie star or other celebrity — 10 points
  11. Fatwa issued against author — 30 points



  1. Dies — 25 points

Winning: Very simple: The team with the most points at the end of the season wins! Enjoy!