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Anonymous Comments From the Last Post

I leave comments open on this blog for the hate, really. A lot of people don't dig that kind of poster, and I imagine I got my threshold for it--which is not an invitation--but there's something invigorating about the world's cocks.

Here are two anonymous comments from the last post:


167 copies. You're clearly in decline. Perhaps Alisa could give it a rave review and boost the sales? Really what did you expect? Was that really the novel that was going to set the world on fire. Man, you are truly up yourself if you did. Grow up.


Funny thing is, if you hadn't posted that, we wouldn't have known and neither would editors, publishers, and others who have an affect on your career. So the more you post shit like this, and the more you make it sound like you're not doing well...the less you will do well. Congrats!

The first is from anonymous poster, and the second, Balls of steel, I tell you.

In case more people are thinking I'm letting some big secret out by the number of copies Black Sheep has sold, I'm going to disappoint, and say I suspect the book is doing exactly what a whole lot of 'industry' people knew it would after last year's mess of publication. The only way that's going to change now is through me, and through the people who dig the book, who dig what I do, and who read this blog here, and who talk about the book to people. Word of mouth is it. And if I'm sitting round in some imaginary ivory tower telling myself everything is going well, then writing about how well it is doing, the book dies a little quicker.

But hey, you know, everyone has that illusion, right?

Look, there are days when the situation is a shit one and I feel it. When you see a post like the last one, that's me just working through it, cause I know that improving that number is up to me, and I got all the experience of someone whose new to this. Besides, if I post the good shit, why not the bad? It's a bit like reviews: I post the good ones, I post the bad ones. So I post the good news, I post the bad. It's all part of the life I'm living and the blog is about that. I figure people will find that interesting, but maybe it just helps the people who dislike me sleep a little better at night.

In the end, it comes down to this: the book is only going to do better if I get my hands dirty, which is what I spend my time doing. Chances are you can't find it in bookstores (I don't think it's in any in Australia, but I could be wrong--I know P went to buy it out of Galaxy and was told that they couldn't get it in, for reasons I have forgotten now), so I'm operating out of the net, and out of all the interviews, reviews, and whatever else I can organise. Way I hear it, if you can sell a thousand copies of a book in POD, you're cool, so I'm only eight hundred and twenty odd from that--and even yet, those numbers are tiny, that scale of it so small and nothing in the grand scheme of things that the cynic would have a right to ask why you'd even bother? Well, it's my book, and if I don't try and do what I can with what I got, then when it is dead and buried, the blame is mine and not Circumstance's.

Fortunately, there are people who're supportive of what I'm trying to do here, too, so don't think it's all cocks and cunts.


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Feb. 3rd, 2008 11:02 pm (UTC)
No, they don't have balls of steel. Anonymous posters have no balls at all.
Feb. 3rd, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC)
i'm guessing the sarcasim in balls of steel didn't come across?
(no subject) - catsparx - Feb. 3rd, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 3rd, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 3rd, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
Ah Ben, you're such a whiner.

Go get a real job.

yours sincerely

Robin Pen

Shit, that was supposed to be anonymous. Shit. SHIT!
Feb. 3rd, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC)
cunt :P

Edited at 2008-02-03 11:17 pm (UTC)
Feb. 3rd, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
"Really what did you expect? Was that really the novel that was going to set the world on fire. Man, you are truly up yourself if you did. Grow up."

You can tell by his accent that he hails from the drunk, bitter and incoherent part of the internet. I mean, the 210.x.x.x postcode is fucking slumland.

Feb. 3rd, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC)
either that or he's a bitter prime author whose book sold less.
(no subject) - paulhaines - Feb. 4th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 4th, 2008 01:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 3rd, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
Oh wow - I didn't realise I got a swipe too. Excellent.
Feb. 3rd, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC)
yeah, narrows the field down a bit, don't it?
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Feb. 4th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)
i didn't choose POD. i had no choice but to go to the indie presses for the book, and prime had done some good things with bishop's book and vandermeer's CITY OF SAINTS AND MADMEN. so i made a publisher choice, really.

originally, when prime took the book, it was for POD. however, during the time it was waiting to be published, it was shifted up to a print run, but due to delays and all that, it got shifted back to POD. since i got a contract there's not much i can do about it.

that said, POD does have its advantages. it allows more risks, for starts--26lies was POD and a total risk, and wouldn't have gotten published otherwise.
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Feb. 4th, 2008 01:31 am (UTC)
It's all cumulative, man. Another book, whatever the sales to date, is part of the process. Doing more work, that's part of the process. And ignoring cowards who post anonymously - that's part of it, too.

For what it's worth, the post above is a solid piece of writing. And more honest and perceptive than opinions I've seen from writers who sell better than you.

Better than you - for now. You'll get there, man. I have no doubt.
Feb. 4th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
thanks, man. i appreciate it.

i've had things go badly before. it's just part of the deal--push thru the bad stuff, get the good stuff, and remember it when the bad times come back again.
Feb. 4th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
You may have to buy a bunch of copies from Prime and try to flog them at conventions. I know this goes against everything you believe (ie you'd have to go to a con!) but it's about the only way to sell them here in Oz whe there's no distribution.

Prime did me no favours. You did get some reviews, so that is a good thing.

I moved about 75 copies locally (gave away maybe 15 of those for review, got maybe 5 reviews) but the cost of shipping is a cunt from the States so quite prohibitive on profit. But it ain't about the cash - it's about getting the book in someone's face. No specialist shops could stock mine(they couldn't get them, same reasons you have), but if *you* get them in, maybe they could stock them.

Having said all that, I only sold it at my unofficial launch at Continuum and only on the back of c0ck being launched being by Sparks, Macrae and Stevenson, so they pretty much did it for me.

And then things fell off the wagon after that. And about a year later I fell off the wagon.

How'd you know 167 copies? You got a good relationship with your publisher? Hell! You might see a royalty!

Anyways, part of the problem is a small press independant publisher. Book shops don't want to know. People only buy what they see. (Mostly -- they also buy what they're told but they need to see it over and over again before they realise that's god's simple truth).

Chin up, fulla, could be worse! You could be in my position ;-)

These are just steps forward for when you do get the breakthrough novel breaking through. You're not 40. Why worry?

Hey, and maybe Sean will be kind and forgot to charge shipping... he is a busy man after all!
Feb. 4th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC)
unfortunately, money wise, i can't really do the buying the book thing. right now i'm making enough cash to pay rent and get food, but it kind of ends there (and the payments for things just come in i'm settling down for the wayside till tutoring picks up back to normal--likely in a month).

i get along alright with sean. the situation could be better, but he was apologetic about it, and nothing will change, y'know? but he's supportive in that he sends out review copies, and free copies to people who do stuff on blogs, so it's not all so bad there. so i'm doing a bit better than you on that, sad to say.

anyhow, like i said, man, mostly i'm not bitching, i'm just working thru the business shit aloud and in public, cause i think it'll have some interest.

or some shit like that :)
Feb. 4th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
I think your detractors secretly love you - they give you so much of their energy!

Oh, and btw, I like that you discuss the trials and tribulations of being a writer: it's informative and shows a rare glimpse to the process. Keep it up.
Feb. 4th, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
yeah, i that's why i do it.

truely, i'm the best thing to happen to aus spec fic ;)
Feb. 4th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)
Count me in on one whose appreciative of the unvarnished version of life. I read so many writers' blogs in which all I find is excitement and good news and joy that I think I really ought to just eat a bullet. Stuff like this keeps it all in perspective, and reminds me that most people are just sweeping their anxieties under the carpet. Keep it up, Ben.
Feb. 4th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
thanks, man. i appreciate it.
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Feb. 4th, 2008 06:19 am (UTC)
Those anonymouses sure sound like the same person! Whoever it is, it seems they're commenting from work AND from home! How flattering that they should use up all their time rousing on you!
Feb. 4th, 2008 11:57 am (UTC)
Only if work and home means switching from Oputsnet in Australia to Comcast in the states! *g* (the joys of tracert... wait, is Comcast in the US or Australia?)
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Feb. 4th, 2008 06:45 am (UTC)
kinda late to the party, but yes. cunts. but not all cunts.
Feb. 4th, 2008 09:30 am (UTC)
Feb. 4th, 2008 09:02 am (UTC)
Hey man, I think your fantastic. Not that you needed my post to boost your ego, but fuck your posts make this whole LJ experience worth it. You keep people on their feet. I like that.

I own your books though... I haven't actually read them. But I will, promise.
Feb. 4th, 2008 09:31 am (UTC)
thanks, man. it's appreciated.
Feb. 4th, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC)
I like that you gave the exact number - 167.

I actually think that's pretty good given the limited number of resources and distribution.

A passerby.
Feb. 4th, 2008 01:18 pm (UTC)
thanks, p.
(no subject) - brendanconnell.wordpress.com - Feb. 4th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 4th, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC)
Standard for Prime pod, yes. (Though, not for nationally-distributed releases). Print-on-demand primarily sells courtesy of trade venue reviews, not anything to do with price point, and if you don't get a starred review somewhere, then all you will ever move is a few hundred copies, if that. Those projects, mind you, tend to be relatively noncommercial, so it depends on your expectations. It has to be the right kind of author and right kind of project. There's been pod editions that have sold thousands of units, for me, and some that have sold a hundred, but most pod projects tend to be those that wouldn't sell to a larger publisher by dint of its commercial aspects. If it does better than that, it's a very nice surprise, but no one should count on it.
Feb. 4th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
I actually do have balls of steel, Ben. I think that's been proven again and again over the years, for better and for worse.

I'm all for an unvarnished view of the writing life, but too often what you do comes across as whining. I went anonymous because you and I have talked about this kind of thing before and I stupidly thought perhaps if it seemed to come from another source, you'd think about the comment differently. I'm also sick of helping someone who seems hell-bent on acting like an amateur career-wise. That this book sold only 167 copies is at least as much your fault as the publisher's, in my opinion, having seen the whole thing play out from the inside out.

Also, personally, I don't need to know, as a reader of your blog, that the book only sold 167 copies or whatever. I already know as a small press book that it probably didn't sell 10,000 copies, ya know? The average small press book is going to sell between 100 and 1,500 copies. I say again that mentioning specific numbers just makes it less likely people will pick up the book. This isn't a diary, ya know. It's read by tons of people.

Here is a question--why do you allow the anonymous option if you're not going to honor it?

And I like your writing a lot. But if you're going to dish it, you've got to be able to take it and not act like a spoiled baby. Waaa. Writing life so hard. Waaa. Only sold 167 copies. Waaa. Fuck you for being a pretentious ass while the rest of us are out here working our butts off in a field the scale of which is getting smaller by the year.



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Ben Peek

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