MaxBarry.com
not just a pretty face

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Sat 08
Oct
2005

Now for an elephant stamp

Company (Wow, she’s an effective little time sucker. Sometime soon I am going to have to get my life back.)

First reviews! Two are in for Company ahead of the January ‘06 release, and they’re pretty great. Kirkus Reviews gives me a starred review, which means they think the novel is “of unusual merit,” which I’m assuming is a good thing. They didn’t star up Syrup or Jennifer Government, so this is my first one, and, clearly, a sign that certain dunderheads in the editorial department have been fired. Kirkus says:

A raucous black comedy… enters some sublimely Kafkaesque territory

while Publisher’s Weekly says:

As bitter as break-room coffee, the novel eviscerates modern management techniques

I always wanted to eviscerate something. But, perhaps oddly, even more important to me than these is an e-mail I got from a long-time reader who somehow managed to get his hands on an advanced copy. Jason says:

Just wanted to drop you a line and say that I just finished reading Company. I gotta say that at first, I was afraid you’d lost it. The spark that was there in Syrup and Jennifer Government wasn’t there for me, but then, out of nowhere, you did it again. I read the book over three days (only because I had to sleep at some point). You were right, the plot isn’t there from the beginning, and I think that’s what got me at the beginning. In the other two, there was a hook, in this one, if you wanted to know it you have to wait. Anyway, bravo. I loved it.

It means a lot to me that I delivered for this guy. Reviews are important, and will do a lot to determine what sort of career I have, but they’re written by people who read me as part of their job. The people I want to impress are the ones who found me on their own, and saw a connection. When someone thinks, “I liked his last book, I’ll hope this new one is good” and shells out their hard-earned, I fervently want that person to be thrilled.

Comments

This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

Tim Ashwood (#595)

Location: Sydney
Posted: 3310 days ago

ZZzzzzz...huh, wha? Who....Oh you're back. Sweet.

Ruth (#288)

Location: Bath, United Kingdom
Quote: "Only the insane have strength enough to prosper. Only those who prosper may truly judge what is sane."
Posted: 3310 days ago

Get your life back? Sooner or later in the next 30 or so years perhaps!

Sorry, that was a bit evil, especially as I'm speaking from the perspective of someone still leeching partially off her poor parents herself...anyways, I'm looking forward to Company even more now (huzzah, successful blog-type-advertising!)

I love how it seems Company is incredibly rewarding for the plotline coming in as it does whenever it does...great books often make their readers work for a reward!

thewylddream (#1191)

Location: Montana USA
Quote: ""Always forgive your enemies -- Nothing annoys them so much." ~Oscar Wilde~"
Posted: 3310 days ago

Well, not that I EVER listen to critics. Still, I can't wait to read it myself!

Machine Man subscriber Kramy (#818)

Quote: ""it's the way of the future""
Posted: 3310 days ago

I dislike how these so-called review experts can get their hands on advanced copies. Sure I understand it's to drumb up business/excitement for the book upon its release (generate increased sales) - but for fans who love your work and want to read it as soon as possible, it sucks that these reviewers get first read of it - 3 months or so first!

I say have a special edition released that people can pre-order from this website, have it signed by you! Sell it for $20 above the RRP. I know I would buy a copy, and I'm sure atleast 1/2 of the people that have signed up for your newsletter/blog update would more than likely shell out for signed/special edition, and the privledge of reading it before the masses.

Anyhoo, what do I know? I'm not the marketing genius :)

Zoomy (#1546)

Location: Outside Glasgow
Posted: 3310 days ago

At long last he has arisen!

Lord Max shall reclaim his throne in the halls of the greatest bloggers of all time!

Anyway, do you have any idea when the book will be released in the U.K?

Erin (#1481)

Location: Seattle
Quote: "Living is easy with eyes closed"
Posted: 3309 days ago

Welcome back! Of course we all want you blggoing as much as possibly, but I suppose there are certain matters that are more important, huh? Keep doing what you must.

I picked up Jennifer Government a while back, because I judged a book by it's cover. After reading it, I was hooked to your writing style, and I had to get more, so I went straight out and had my bookstore order Syrup. Just between you and I, I liked Syrup more, but that doesn't mean I didn't like Jenn. I can't wait to read Company. I've been looking forward to it for quite some time now. No matter what you do, I'm sure that I'll love it.

Hobbie (#1359)

Location: Cornwall, England
Quote: "There was a little man in his hair!"
Posted: 3309 days ago

Argh! Life! I think my brain is bleeding...

Wonder if I can get a job as a critic so I can read advance copies. Not much effort involved, just read a book and praise or blast it appropriately.

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: "www.MidwestRockLobster.blogspot.com"
Posted: 3309 days ago

The thing about advance copies, is it's a lot like a publisher's slushpile. A friend who works for a major daily paper sent me a huge box of books that were free for the taking in their break room (they review books, but get about 100 books over the transom for ever one that sees a review). Out of the crate, there was one book that I really liked, 'Damned If I Do,' a collection of shorts by Perceval Everett. Most of the rest were so bad I couldn't imagine them getting an agent, let alone a major publisher's interest.

That's why the reader Max is raving about is so important. I'm sure Max is familiar with the marketing term 'sneezer.' A sneezer is the guy who preaches the gospel of a product. He's not just satisfied, he's ecstatic, and he talks up the product, in this case a book. It cuts both ways, because that same word of mouth can be fatal if the guy can't shut up about how much he hated something.

In fact, given the degree to which word of mouth is THE determining factor in book sales, what does the publisher have to offer the novelist? The review in Kirkus is not going to happen for a self-published book, but as was pointed out above by Jaden, how many books does that move? I can't even remember the last time I looked at a copy of Kirkus. There's no such thing as bad publicity, but Max is smart not to put too much faith critical acclaim.

Jason Donnelly (#5)

Location: Camp Hill, PA
Quote: "Till this writing thing takes off, I'll be here..."
Posted: 3308 days ago

Just so you all know, I'm not a reviewer, I'm just some guy that likes Max's work. For a good amount of time now too, I'm the fifth member of the site. Anyone can get an Advanced Readers Copy, you just have to look around online. I found mine at ABE.COM, great book website.

Jason Donnelly

Greg Karber (#1568)

Location: gregkarber.com
Posted: 3307 days ago

Woo-hoo!! He's back!

Sophie (#891)

Location: Devon
Posted: 3307 days ago

Yay! I just copied Jason and bought a copy of Company from ABE and it said it should arrive in 5-8 days. On the downside, it cost me thirty dollars (14 of those were for shipping because I wanted it quickly and I live in the UK).
On the upside, that's only about 17 pounds and the book should arrive early next week. AWESOMENESS!
Also, it better be good, otherwise I'm going to come on here demanding my thirty dollars back. Actually, I wouldn't do that, but I may taunt you without mercy for being crap.
Alternatively, if its really good, I'll come and thank you for gracing me with your fantasticness.

PS. This is funny:
http://www.moviepunks.com/?id=190

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 3306 days ago

Thurs. 10/11/05

A NEW BLOG BY MAX. A NEW BLOG BY ADAM...HORRAY!

I liked all of Max Barry's books, but I'm not going to cheat myself and buy an advanced copy. Although the temptation is there, one of my friends reminded me of the last time I did something of that sort. It left me unfulfilled. I would recomend that everyone wait until COMPANY officially comes out. It's just a suggestion...

As far as Max Barry's work so far, I don't have a favorite. I really like the strange relationship between Scat and 6, and the way Jennifer Government switches through the characters in the plot. They are both probably in my top 5 favorite books of all time...not that I have read a ton due to the fact that I am only 17, but you know what I mean.

AND NOW MY PERSONAL LIFE(the inane babble that you keep reading for some strange reason)

Right now, I am supposed to be writing a three page paper over a reality T.V show that I came up with for Composition Class, but I am instead posting a comment on this board. I will eventually finish it...eventually.

So any way this girl that I like is named...nevermind. I'm not ready to tell. She is still dating Eric, but the relationships is quickly crumbling. My plans of breaking them up are working. I keep trying to set Eric up, and eventually it might work...eventually. Some day the girl of my dreams will be mine...bwahahahawhahahahahaha!!!

That was the most boring thing that I have ever written.
Maybe I should try a little harder. Maybe I'll through in some logic and philosophy. Make some sort of dark-comedic satire. That's what all the cool kids like reading about these days, the Chuck Palaniuk and such.

Neeways,
In case I don't see you, "Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and good night."

Adam

P.S. Check out the best band that ever existed...not really. myspace.com/circleofstudliness

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 3306 days ago

You know, now that I have read that comment again, it's not that boring except for the part that I talk about it being boring.

Adam

Justin Holt (#147)

Location: Rochester, NY
Quote: "www.justinholt.net"
Posted: 3304 days ago

Book reviews are just opinions. And though what Kirkus or the New York Times says about a certain book may or may not matter to some people, we all care enough about opinions to read blogs, tabloids, watch CNN, whatever the case may be. Advanced copies of books, in some ways, are like a band touring their new music before the cd actually comes out. Since it's a little hard to expose the written word like it is a song, word of mouth is extremely important, as Rod said, and advanced copies are the obvious/easiest way to go about it.

Also, like test screenings to a new movie, or pilot screenings for a new tv show, advanced copies of books are used to sort of gauge the audience reaction before hundreds, thousands, or millions of dollars are spent to promote it/let it be known to the world. If an advanced copy of a book tends to test badly, or some fatal but reoccuring flaw is revealed by these reviewer--who like it or not are going to represent the public, if for nothing other reason because they are the press--it's not too late to go in and change something before the official release if the publisher decides to do so. On a bunch of occasions I've seen books altered a great deal between the ARC and official release stages.

If everyone had the opportunity to buy an ARC that would circumvent the entire release/marketing process. Hell, it would pretty much reinvent it. The ARC would need an ARC to preceed that and the dollars would have to be reconfigurated to go here instead of there and blah, blah, blah. Just hang in there, or like someone suggested, find one on the Internet. They print enough of these things nowadays, they are easy enough to come by.


I can't wait for Company.

metalbiteme (#1495)

Location: WALES UK
Quote: "Welcome to nowhere fast. Nothing here ever lasts."
Posted: 3304 days ago

I don't think it's very good Sophie that you are telling Max and everyone else that you have bought an Advanced Reading copy of Company. They are not supposed to sell them and because you bought it none of the money goes to Max!

He won't be happy!

Haha

Sophie (#891)

Location: Devon
Posted: 3303 days ago

Hey ... sorry, I didn't know they weren't supposed to sell the book. I feel bad now! I assumed the money would go to Max, since he wrote the book and everything. I guess I'm pretty ignorant of the publishing process ;)

PS. Max ... If they aren't giving you any of the money they make from advanced sales, can you get in touch with them to ask them to stop selling them? Or would you rather there be advanced word of mouth? Anyway, sorry for my silliness...

metalbiteme (#1495)

Location: WALES UK
Quote: "Welcome to nowhere fast. Nothing here ever lasts."
Posted: 3303 days ago

Yea, the 'book reviewers/critics' get an A.R.C for free & read them to make a review on the book. But tons of these people have been selling them (on ebay etc...) People are like 'Wow, i don't have to wait till January for Company, i can get it now!' As i bet you were. All these people don't buy the book from Max. The money goes to the critics and they get them for free and get paid to read them!

I'm not like going 'you ripped off Max' typa thingy, sorry if i sounded mean. Fair enough you didn't realise.

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 3303 days ago

I told you that it would leave you unfulfilled...There is always something that you tend to overlook when getting what seems like a good deal. It happens to the best of us. I won't judge you.

Adam

Sophie (#891)

Location: Devon
Posted: 3301 days ago

Woa, that sucks that critics are selling on books they didn't even pay for in the first place. The website looks legitimate and you just assume the money from your order will be distributed in the normal way. Looking back on it, it seems kind of obvious now though ... I guess it was pretty naive of me.
But I have started reading the book, and I will say its awesome. I'd recommend that everyone buy a copy in January when it comes out and you can have the satisfaction of knowing the money from your order will actually go to the person who created it, and not some critic trying to make easy money off someone else's hard work - I wish I'd known that before I bought a copy.
Anyway, to summarise ... Company is fantastic and DEFINETLY worth the wait to know that your money is going to the right people.

John Lampard (#1652)

Location: USA
Posted: 3285 days ago

I enjoyed Company too, but not as much as Jennifer Government. I have an Advance Reading Copy to pass along (at no cost) to anyone in the US. If you live in the US, I will gladly mail it to the first person who is interested. Cheers!

John Lampard (#1652)

Location: USA
Posted: 3285 days ago

please e-mail your name and address to me at johnlampard@gmail.com

John Lampard (#1652)

Location: USA
Posted: 3284 days ago

i have already passed on my copy.

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