Join 3,524 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Man Who Thought He Was King
May 21, 2012 2:00 PM   Subscribe

"I want to know how I am a small press, if I am outselling Robin Hobb and Terry Goodkind and Tolkien?" Fantasy author M.R. Mathias has a disagreement with Fantasy-Faction.com.
posted by Avenger50 (68 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
The amusing bit is that he isn't outselling the authors he names. Not even remotely. (The big names generally see sales volume spike when a new book comes out; when that happens, they'll be shifting hundreds to thousands of copies per hour, while Mathias, going by their amazon sales rank, is midlist by Kindle store standards ... even at a $2.99 price point.)

Still, it's amusing (if a little cringe-worthy) to watch someone self-destruct so messily in public.
posted by cstross at 2:05 PM on May 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


143k twitteres are gonna know you are a #NAZI FOR DAYS and DAYS and DAYS.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:06 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dummy is dumb. Meh.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:08 PM on May 21, 2012


Incidentally, be careful with the link to his web site — he's clearly an afficionado of the 1998 Geocities school of web design. (I think my eyeballs have stopped bleeding now, but it's hard to be sure ...)
posted by cstross at 2:08 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe they can divide authors based on some other criteria; say, the quality of their websites or the tastefulness of their cover art.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:08 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jesus H. Christ on a popscicle stick...
The jewel you see glowing in the ring in my authors photo isn't really a jewel at all. It is the crystallized tear from a real dragon. In my novel "The Royal Dragoneers" you might find the moment where this wonderfully magical teardrop fell from a green dragons eye. It hardened on its way down to land in a mess of troll corpses that the dragon was laying on. My grandfather died before I was born, but the ring was given to me by my mother, after my grandmother recently died. My grandfather apparently won the ring in a poker game near the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma sometime in the early 1900's. It has been a boon, the magic of the teardrop, for it brought you here to me didn't it? Now treat yourself to something fantastic and try the free sample of one of my novels. I hope you enjoy the journey. It will be spectacular....
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:14 PM on May 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


That's the kind of message you want to be embarrassed about after you've sent it in private, to post it where everyone can see it and laugh at it is really quite spectacular.
posted by Artw at 2:14 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I am not a small press or even self published. M. R. Mathias' books are PUBLISHED by Michael Robb Mathias Jr."

The root of his argument seems perfectly cromulent.
posted by anti social order at 2:17 PM on May 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


Written in a Texas prison cell by M. R. Mathias.

DUDE IS A MODERN-DAY ALEKSANDR SOLZHENITSYN. TIME TO ADD HIM TO THE TOP OF THIS LIST.
posted by nushustu at 2:17 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


He can't even spell some of his *tweets* right, I dread to see the actual books.
posted by mrbill at 2:17 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


The jewel you see glowing in the ring in my authors photo isn't really a jewel at all. It is the crystallized tear from a real dragon. In my novel "The Royal Dragoneers" you might find the moment where this wonderfully magical teardrop fell from a green dragons eye. It hardened on its way down to land in a mess of troll corpses that the dragon was laying on. My grandfather died before I was born, but the ring was given to me by my mother, after my grandmother recently died. My grandfather apparently won the ring in a poker game near the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma sometime in the early 1900's. It has been a boon, the magic of the teardrop, for it brought you here to me didn't it? Now treat yourself to something fantastic and try the free sample of one of my novels. I hope you enjoy the journey. It will be spectacular....
But tell us, pray, how did the dragontear come to reside in a ring? Who hath made such a bauble, and from what elf or sprite or pixie did your grand-mother acquire it?
posted by nushustu at 2:19 PM on May 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


Pretty sure the absolute worst thing you can do as an author is be indignant and accuse (or even obliquely imply) that someone is jealous of you.

For one brief, shining half hour last summer, I was the proud author of a book that sat on Amazon's fantasy list between a Charlaine Harris book and a George RR Martin book (and I was stupid enough not to take a screen capture of it before it tumbled off of said lofty #77 in Paid Fantasy on Amazon spot). Yet somehow I would feel a bit disingenuous in claiming to have ever out-sold George RR Martin...

...and even if I had, blabbing about it wouldn't make me any less of a douche.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:19 PM on May 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


...and, further, the Internet would still fail to convey the self-deprecating tone of sarcasm I heard in my head while writing that comment, thereby making me a douche regardless. :)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:22 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure the absolute worst thing you can do as an author is be indignant and accuse (or even obliquely imply) that someone is jealous of you.

Actually I'm pretty sure the worst thing you can do is have a region on your fantasy map named "THE GIANT MOUNTAINS"
posted by theodolite at 2:23 PM on May 21, 2012 [20 favorites]


I found this comment in the blog post kind of weird - Small Press is defined by Wikipedia [as]... . I found the wikipedia article and it doesn't have a citation for this definition. I feel like I'm seeing more and more of this on wikipedia and it bothers me. (Yes, I added a citation needed tag).
posted by jacalata at 2:28 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey man. You don't understand. Those mountains are seriously fuckin' HUGE, man. Like, Giants are like, "Fuck me, dude. Those are some mountains. I don't think we can climb that shit."
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:28 PM on May 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


I am not a small press or even self published. M. R. Mathias’ books are PUBLISHED by Michael Robb Mathias Jr. and should be treated no differently that any big named publishers title. WHY? Because I do my job as a publisher too. Please quit sending my posts into the self published/small press thread. My titles are neither. I have 92k twitter followers @DahgMahn and 10 titles in their genre bestselling list. There is nothing self pubbed, or small, about books written by M. R. Mathias.
Thank you,
M.R.Mathias’ publisher, Michael Robb Mathias Jr.


First person, third person.... Crazy person.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:29 PM on May 21, 2012 [17 favorites]


Wonderfully magical!
posted by Wataki at 2:32 PM on May 21, 2012


Actually I'm pretty sure the worst thing you can do is have a region on your fantasy map named "THE GIANT MOUNTAINS"

The name sounds better in its original Hobbitauri.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:33 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Uuuuuugly.
posted by batmonkey at 2:34 PM on May 21, 2012


That guy comes across as a nutter jerk but it's not too hard to see why he might perceive being ghetto-ized.
It also brings up something that really worries me about self-publishing. How do you know you’re not being conned? Because it is so easy to advertise (as M. R. Mathias points out) and get your books online, anyone can get their book seen by book buyers. Ten years ago, only the elite among writers got into bookshops. Waterstones or Boarders wouldn’t put rubbish on their shelves. Self-publishing means that not only can anyone put anything up online, but it also means that they can tell you whatever they like about it: “It’s the best thing since sliced bread!” could be shoved on the cover by the author themselves and reviews can be doctored or paid for.
That comes ABOVE the "a small press prints <x a year" definition, which would have been a lot more cut-and-dried and free of this "well you might be crap" aside. Complete with a claim that Boarders (sic) would never shelve crappy stuff, to which I respond "hahahhaahah."
posted by phearlez at 2:37 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your all alot of Nazis who are going to loose this argument!
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:53 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well there's crappy stuff and there's crappy stuff - I've enjoyed a fair number of self published works but it would be remiss of anyone defining the term not to point out that it's 90% unintelligible ramblings of the insane - it's not like plucking a book off a shelf in a bookstore where you can expect some baseline level of compitense.
posted by Artw at 2:55 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which is one of the great values of the traditional publishing system. They weed out the nutjobs so you don't have to.*

*except orson scott card
posted by Justinian at 2:59 PM on May 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


I believe this could be described as a case study of the Dunning-Kreuger Effect. The self-published author believes he is great and that everyone should see it as self-evident but greatly misjudges the reality because he is too, um, delusional or stupid to understand that his writing and his actual place in society/life is, well, not all that great. Thus, he fights really really really hard to make it otherwise, showing his ass to the world, and, well, much to the chagrin of everyone involved and viewing the spectacle, the train wreck is just that, a train wreck, with nothing but carnage and human waste abound.

Fascinating if it weren't so sad.
posted by daq at 3:00 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't believe I just misspelled competence. Good job I didn't publish that.
posted by Artw at 3:01 PM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have to admit, total breakdowns like this are definitely classed under guilty pleasures for me. I know I shouldn't stop and stare and make fun of and judge, but hot-diggity to I ever want to. I mean read his twitter feed. The questions write themselves!

Can anyone ever take himself so seriously as he takes himself?

Who are these 90k followers?

How many are bots?

etc.
posted by Carillon at 3:01 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who are these 90k followers?

People who follow Newt Gingrich on Twitter. The weirdest thing is that he then ups the amount to 143K (unless I'm misunderstanding that).
posted by drezdn at 3:08 PM on May 21, 2012


I never know whether to roll my eyes or feel pity at people who say "SEE! I have lots of FOLLOWERS. On the TWITTER! I'm IMPORTANT!". I mean, they either know how the system works and cultivate the bots into following them knowing it impresses the ignorant, or they don't and they think those bots represent a real, give-a-fuck human being instead of a spam engine.

Pretty sure this guy is the latter. He's a dick, either way.
posted by kjs3 at 3:09 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting, according to the amazon page selling Kings, Queens, Heroes, & Fools he was in prison in Texas.
posted by Carillon at 3:11 PM on May 21, 2012


I must have missed the memo that said "number of Twitter followers" was a new ranking method for social importance or relevance in any field.
posted by mrbill at 3:11 PM on May 21, 2012


Which is one of the great values of the traditional publishing system. They weed out the nutjobs so you don't have to.*

*except orson scott card


Orson Scott Card's literary career:

Orson Scott Card writes a bunch of books, THEN A MIRACLE OCCURS, and Orson Scott Card writes the first three volumes of the Prentice Alvin series, THEN SOMETHING REALLY BAD HAPPENS, and Orson Scott Card writes a bunch more books.
posted by jamjam at 3:19 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of a recent encounter at a UK convention. I was browsing the small-press comics tables when a chap fixed me with an earnest gaze, attempted to make hollowly cheery conversation for three sentences, and then launched into an ardent pitch for his book, whose title he mentioned as often as possible in true sales-pitch mode.

I asked if I could look in one of his sample copies. I opened it to a random page and saw the sentence "Just finding a few of her hairs caught in his razor made him feel closer to her than ever."

I didn't buy the book.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:21 PM on May 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


He'll be telling us his fucking Klout score next.
posted by Artw at 3:21 PM on May 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Pallas Athena - quite right. You want to buy FutureQuake instead. FutureQuake - shocking tales of the future... TODAY!
posted by Artw at 3:23 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I really the other volumes of the Alvin Maker series, too.

It's a great series as a whole - and no matter what the author has said since, the works themselves depict tolerance and understanding of others as one of the most important values, so I continue to like them and try to forget what Card says elsewhere.
posted by jb at 3:24 PM on May 21, 2012


sorry -- that's "I really like the rest of the Alvin Maker series, too"
posted by jb at 3:26 PM on May 21, 2012


I have blog advertising across the entire blog-o-sphere.

Irrespective of the other issues arising from this story, I think 'blog-o-sphere' is an excellent use of hyphens. Blogosphere feels mid-2000s in character, whereas blog-o-sphere evokes the white heat of technology: geodesic domes, Moon missions, electric tin openers and space hoppers. All of which are about as useful as the average blog.

I applaud the author for this, if nothing else.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 3:42 PM on May 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hey, I've actually received rambling letters from self-pubbed authors like this as a reviewer. One was all about how the number of people conversing on him on facebook meant he's outsold most NY Times bestsellers.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:44 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting, according to the amazon page selling Kings, Queens, Heroes, & Fools he was in prison in Texas.

It was all just a big misunderstanding. The officer read some of his tweets and arrested him for public intoxication.

I think Mathias would benefit from working with an established press and a like-minded publisher. Someone like, say, Anthony Giangregorio of Undead Press. They were made for each other.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:47 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is nothing self pubbed, or small, about books written by M. R. Mathias.
Thank you,
M.R.Mathias’ publisher, Michael Robb Mathias Jr.
I am reminded of a voice mail that Rickey Henderson allegedly left for the general manager of the Padres, while a free agent looking for a contract during the offseason:

"This is Rickey, calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball."
posted by Flunkie at 3:53 PM on May 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


There is nothing self pubbed, or small, about books written by M. R. Mathias.
Thank you,
M.R.Mathias’ publisher, Michael Robb Mathias Jr.


Reminded me of the last bit of this video with Craig T Nelson. Bzzt!!! Disconnect. Bzzt.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 4:14 PM on May 21, 2012


I am reminded of a voice mail that Rickey Henderson allegedly left for the general manager of the Padres, while a free agent looking for a contract during the offseason...

I'll just leave this here for you (David Cross on Rickey Henderson)
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:30 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


He may not be a small publisher, but he's definitely a small person.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:30 PM on May 21, 2012


My, what a blustery person.

I remember the old days, when nearly everyone who self-published (or vanity-pressed) was this particular species of narcissist. Self-pub poetry was a special treasure, never to be forgotten. The democratization of self-publication and the instant feedback relationship between it and the consumer market has changed the fundamental nature of self-pub. It's good to know that the tradition lives on, that despite the fact that self-pub has caught up with Sturgeon's law so that it's dropped from 99 to 90% crap, the most entertainingly crappy crap - and the charmingly robust egos of its creators - can still be found there.
posted by gingerest at 4:48 PM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


"This is Rickey, calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball."

Did he end up calling the Mariners? Because they did hire him.

One of his teammates on the Mariners for awhile was John Olerud, who wore a helmet at all times after it was discovered he had a brain aneurysm and determined that it was better to wear a protective helmet than operate at that time.

One day, Henderson said "hey, I used to play up in Toronto with a guy who wore a helmet like that."

Olerud replied: "that was me, Rickey."

The year Rickey played in Toronto, 1993, the Blue Jays won the World Series and Olerud
led the American League in batting average (.363), runs created (156), intentional walks (33), times on base (321), on-base percentage (.473), OPS (1.072), and doubles (54, also a career high), while posting career highs in home runs (24), RBI (107), runs (109), and hits (200). He flirted with a .400 batting average for much of the season, with his average staying higher than .400 as late as August 24.
posted by jamjam at 4:56 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Actually I'm pretty sure the worst thing you can do is have a region on your fantasy map named "THE GIANT MOUNTAINS"

Well, unless they're right next to "The Reasonably Good-Sized, But Still Not Too Terribly Large Foothills" of course.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 4:57 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm assuming that it's just SEO, but I like the way his Twitter bio says:
☥ Ɓestselling Єpic Ƒantasy ƛuthor, M.Ʀ.Mathias ☥Award Winning Horror ƛuthor, Michael Ʀobb Mathias & ☥ Master Ɯizard, @ƊahgMahn ☥
Because, once you filter out the ankhs, it does seem to suggest that he also won the M.R. Mathias award for horror writing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:23 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't believe no one has gone for:
I am a wizard and as you read this you will fall under my spell.
See I commanded you to smile and you did. Now read one of my free books and enjoy it.
yet.

I think this guy eats LSD for breakfast.
posted by corb at 5:35 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have long wished for a way to filter self-published books out of Amazon's Kindle store - not because I think they're all bad but because it's so exhausting to wade through pages of terrible grammar, misspelled titles, rogue apostrophes, books with titles of more than 12 words, and subtitles of "The Most Important Book of 2012" in order to find something I might actually want to read. Not to mention all the horribly miscategorised titles, like all the historical romances in the 'Nonfiction/History' category.
posted by andraste at 6:41 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now I'm really, really curious to know what he was supposedly in prison for. It could make a difference if he was in for murder and wrote this stuff in solitary and everyone twitter-friended him and wrote the five-star reviews because they were plain scared of him, or if he got stuck in the local jail for a few days because he brought a big box of badly-printed books into the local Books-A-Million and simply refused to leave.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:48 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently, his was in a Texas prison for minor drug possession, and was thrown into solitary for fighting.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:01 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


'his' = 'he'. Sorry.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:09 PM on May 21, 2012


I think Mathias is one of the most inspirational authors to ever have a thread on Metafilter. I mean, come on, look at all the spelling and grammar errors he has inspired here with his flawed prose.
posted by Ber at 7:13 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: I really the other volumes of the Alvin Maker series, too.
posted by pullayup at 8:28 PM on May 21, 2012


The Rickey/Olerud thing is apparently a fabrication.

Also, regarding David Cross on Rickey: Rickey doesn't say "Rickey Henderson". Rickey says "Rickey". That really killed the joke for me.
posted by Flunkie at 9:11 PM on May 21, 2012


I make no comment
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:33 PM on May 21, 2012


To be fair to Mr James, he's written several epic fantasy novels.
I could never do that, because I looked at my work and deemed it derivative and crap.

He's also written a novel with the title The Confliction.
I could never do that either.
posted by Mezentian at 12:15 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Waterstones or Boarders wouldn’t put rubbish on their shelves.

Evidence suggest otherwise, or I must've hallucinated those volumes of Jordan's memoirs.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:52 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Waterstones or Boarders wouldn’t put rubbish on their shelves.

If only Boarders had been saved by a merger, creating Waterboarders.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:16 AM on May 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Those aren't Jordan's memoirs ... unless the Wheel of Time has turned again and he is the reincarnated Chosen Beardy.

Now, if you will excuse me there are skirts to straighten and braids to tug.
posted by Mezentian at 4:55 AM on May 22, 2012


Jesus. He should be considered "small" from those hideous web sites and Facebook pages alone.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:53 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


and was thrown into solitary for fighting

Did he show one of his books to a fellow prisoner?
posted by robertc at 6:32 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


it's not like plucking a book off a shelf in a bookstore where you can expect some baseline level of compitense.

And not even then...my god, some of the crap that slipped through editors' hands in Twilight makes me wince to this day. Then again, Twilight, soooo...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:58 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


That typo is going to haunt me, isn't it?
posted by Artw at 7:27 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tolkien and Shakespeare both have no Twitter followers. Clearly they're not important.
posted by mangasm at 12:29 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Just finding a few of her hairs caught in his razor made him feel closer to her than ever."

I'm stealing that. Though I'm going for 'pubes' for that gritty, down to earth vibe.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:18 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


mangasm: "Tolkien and Shakespeare both have no Twitter followers. Clearly they're not important."

Sure he does!
posted by Chrysostom at 7:40 AM on June 1, 2012


« Older Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal published a comic ent...  |  The Sunlight Foundation, an or... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments