will write for food

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.


Mon 21

Retrospective #2: Mary-Kate, Ashley, and a rabid reader

Max We return now to some stories we were following earlier. Again. Yes, see, from time to time I go back and write little follow-ups. It gives a sense of continuity and closure. It does too.

My web traffic soared on the back of my review of a Mary-Kate and Ashley novel, partly because quite a few people liked it but mostly because there are an awful lot of internet searches for “mary-kate and ashley”. In fact, that phrase quickly became the #3 search people used to get to my site, coming right after “jennifer government” and “max barry”. (Alas, “max berry” is #6.) For a few days Google actually listed my site in its first page of results for “mary-kate and ashley”, which, if I have this right, makes me one of the world’s foremost Mary-Kate and Ashley experts. This is awesome. Now if this novel-writing thing doesn’t work out, I have something to fall back on.

In response to my Everybody just left the room post, I received an emphatic e-mail from a guy named Jason:

just fuck off with your boring egotistical ramblings… if you cant reply to your email you can go fuck your self.. silly marketing c—t pretending to care…

fucking stick to the marketing, you do it better than writing books

you have the time to write bullshit about 9/11 but not answer your emails… wat the fuk?

There was more, but it became repetitive. I was surprised; I hadn’t realized that visiting my web site was compulsory. Also, while I am a long way behind on my e-mail, so is the Pope and people don’t write him hate mail. Or at least not just about that. And I was a little confused about the references to marketing. I do what marketing better than writing books? Was he talking about how I promote my novels, like on this web site? If so, wouldn’t it be self-defeating to stop writing in order to concentrate on promoting my writing?

I searched through my In Box in case there was a previous message from Jason and found two. One was from a week ago, in response to my True Love & Drool post (I’m better now, thanks), and it said:

i know your a good writer and all, i did read your book.. but having a pissy throat infection is not a good enough reason to not reply to my email. Maybe your too important and your time is too valuable to deal with “readers”… i maybe a low life, uneducated skum bag.. but at least im more enlightened and “educated” than the people who have marketing degree’s and PHD’s and all this truly meaningless “education”…

I was beginning to sense a theme. I opened up Jason’s original e-mail and was surprised to see it was a mere 4 weeks old. For most people, sure, that’s a long time to reply to an e-mail. But for me, that would be lightning-fast. That’s why the page with my e-mail address lets people know I’m running several months behind.

In light of that, I felt Jason was being a touch unreasonable. But I also felt guilty about my pile of unanswered e-mail, so I decided to reply to his original question. Here it is:

hey Max

Iv just started reading ur book, its great so far! Im just interested in what made you see the light? ie. realise that marketing is fundamentally evil… and turn towards a more satisfying and creative career?

thanks, Jason..

Well, Jason, there were a few reasons. But partly it was so I could reach out and touch people like you.


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