MaxBarry.com
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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

Thu 03
May
2007

Life As You Know It

Max I turned on my computer to be greeted with this email:

Are you available for a phone call?
Best,
Claire

Claire is the assistant to my agent, Luke, so I email back in the affirmative. I wonder what’s up: phone calls out of the blue are usually good news, like maybe something exciting happening with a film.

Claire replies:

I have some good news and some bad news… I’ll call you in a min.
-CD

Now, let me skip ahead and tell you that the bad news isn’t anything serious: they just have to subtract some money from my royalty check to pay US withholding tax. But in the five minutes before I find that out, I am convinced that either:

  1. Doubleday has decided to drop me as an author; or:
  2. Company has sold much more poorly than anyone let on and Doubleday has decided to drop me as an author.

This completely out-of-the-blue, oh-by-the-way-everybody-hates-you-and-your-career-is-over thing happened to me once before, in 2002, and suddenly I’m back there, staring into the abyss. The “good news” will turn out to be: “And that means we can start looking for an even better publisher!” Everyone will try to be positive but the inescapable truth will be: I’m history. I know this for a fact.

I love being able to write for my job. I love it. But boy, I could do without the occasional heart-stopping moments where I see my entire professional world fall apart. I really could.

P.S. Oh, and later I emailed Claire to ask what the good news was again. She probably did mention it in the phone call, but I didn’t notice because I was too busy planning my new career as an ice-cream salesman. She said it was that I had some royalties.

Comments

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Dead (#724)

Location: Ipswich, Australia
Quote: "5'4" and bulletproof."
Posted: 4549 days ago

Unrelated: Did you know that Trademark Disolution Act that stopped novels with company references was passed?

Machine Man subscriber Danni (#357)

Location: England
Quote: "Eagerly awaiting the European Tour."
Posted: 4549 days ago

Royalties! Yayness! That is always a good thing.

Jeffrey (#2286)

Location: Right here
Quote: "Mathematics is a powerful language. Just look at how mathematicians destroyed the housing market."
Posted: 4549 days ago

lol ice cram salesman. I wonder if you could do that door to door.

Machine Man subscriber Marleen (#2741)

Location: Berlin, Germany
Quote: "I want more expensive shoes in one place than I've ever seen in my whole life."
Posted: 4549 days ago

To my door, please.

Machine Man subscriber Lowly Worm (#3028)

Location: Loves Park, IL
Quote: "Insert witty quote here."
Posted: 4549 days ago

Phew!! So it's not just me.

Any time I get a call from my boss saying "Can you come into my office?" I immediately think, for no good reason, "Oh Dear Lord! What did I do? I can't loose my job! How will I buy Max's new book?" (Okay, maybe that last part was a stretch but it's still sort of true.)

I'm so glad all is well. Royalties are good. Very very good.

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 4549 days ago

back up the brinks truck
though i dunno if BRINKS operates in Australia...so whatever, back up the kangaroo with the money pouches/bags...
CHiNG CHiNG!
-shab00ty

Jen Smith (#2659)

Location: Madison, Wis., USA
Posted: 4549 days ago

Ah, Max, did you not just soak up the adulation of your U.S. readers on your book tour? You know we're going to read your next book. But I suppose if it came with a pint of coffee ice cream it would be even better.

jessica (#3063)

Location: austin, tx
Quote: "You can't start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart."
Posted: 4549 days ago

i'm sure if you became an ice-cream salesman, you would soon find inspiration for your next novel: "The Scoop: The Underbelly of the Ice Cream World." publishers would be begging you back!!!
no worries, MB. you're adored by your readers and your next book will be en fuego.

austin (#2462)

Location: rhode island
Quote: "hmmm...bleh..."
Posted: 4549 days ago

I began to sing that Van Halen song "Ice Cream Man" or whatever it's called. Weird picturing Max in that situation.

Yubi Shines (#1664)

Location: Canada
Quote: "HOPE RIDES ALONE!"
Posted: 4548 days ago

Me, I think Claire is secretly giggling that she can make you squirm to this extent. Dance, minion, dance!

Justin (#2009)

Location: Halfmoon, NY
Quote: "Max(x) is awesome!"
Posted: 4548 days ago

I'm sure the "occasional heart-stopping moments where I see my entire professional world fall apart" will become less and less as the royalty checks pour in, after the movies get made, etc.

Also, if it's any consolation, I'd buy ice cream from you.

Jamie (#111)

Location: Auckland
Quote: "Anyone still spelling "internet" with a capital "I" is probably struggling with the complexities of their new-fangled electric typewriter."
Posted: 4547 days ago

I've sold icecream, it's not the worst job in the world.
On the first day, they said 'try as much icecream as you like' - the policy was that we'd get sick of it and stop eating free icecream for lunch and dinner soon enough.
I worked there for a year, and never got sick of icecream. :) Drat, why did I leave my dream job????

James pell (#3115)

Posted: 4536 days ago

Yeah i had that happen to me befor with my job on the good and bad stuff that sucks

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