Monday, April 03, 2006

Maddox: a name to watch

I have received an email from Darryl Pierce, who is (presumably) the publicist for a guy called Maddox. Chances are, says Darryl, that you've never heard of Maddox. Well, that's true. Anyway, it seems that Maddox's hardback book The Alphabet of Manliness, which is not due to be published till 6 June, has just leapt to number one on the Amazon.com sales list. Well, actually, when I wrote this, it was number two. Here's what Darryl says:

With the release date three months away, and not a single review or synopsis published anywhere, the book went to #1 on Amazon on the strength of a short, simple email from Maddox to his many fans and friends. The cover photo wasn't even on the site until a few hours ago. It experienced a ridiculous 573200% increase in 24 hours. Look at that number again and realize it's not a typo. I'd also venture to say that at least 95% of the people who have preordered have little to no idea what the book is about, as Maddox has been very secretive about it. They just know it's by Maddox, and know it will be superb....

I fully expect his book to debut in the Top 5 of the NYTimes Best-seller list, if not at #1, which will be nothing short of astounding, as Maddox is as "outsider" as it gets. There have already been some grumblings in NYC publishing circles of "who the hell is this guy" and "where did he come from?" and "why didn't we sign him?" All too typical, of course.

Well, somebody seems to be ordering the damn thing. To try to figure out why, go to Maddox's web site. My own take is that it is robust humour from a man who knows how to handle html. How it will transfer to the book format remains to be seen. The publisher is Citadel.

Manliness, by the way, seems to be the buzzword de nos jours. See yesterday's Sunday Times on Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield, who is, it seems, in search of lost manliness.

21 comments:

Clive Keeble said...

There is always a great discrepancy between the Hot 100 titles on Amazon and the weekly Top 50 sales figures which are issued by Nielsen Bookscan : I have even made a few graphs for various weeks.

IMVHO any promotional sales data issued by Amazon is to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'd agree with that. All an Amazon ranking says is that all the hits were clustered together in time - which isn't surprising if it's the product of a promotional push, and that nothing much else was going on at that moment.

Lynne W. Scanlon said...

I recall being told that preordering a book doesn't mean you will actually be among the first to receive the book if you have placed your order too early. The order is automatically cancelled (by law) if the book is not ready to ship in 6 (?) weeks from receipt of order.

Also, Professor Harvey Mansfield's book, Manliness, while quite panned here in the US, has gotten a lot of publicity and (for what it is worth) 4 stars on Amazon. I heard him interviewed. He is quite a charming and funny fellow. Some of his statements about women ring true, even if he is a throwback to another era.

Anne Weale said...

I like the sound of Professor Mansfield.

Had a quick look at the Maddox site and was put off by the yellow writing on a black background and the 12-year-old unpleasant schoolboy vocabulary.

jamie ford said...

Too funny. I've loved the Maddox blog. I thought he retired or found gainful employment, since it's been fairly dormant the last year.

Now I know why.

I think he's hilarious. But I'm surprised how many people are willing to buy the book when they've been gettin' it for free all these years.

Andrew said...

Why would this be a "name to watch"? He says he's number 2 on Amazon and adds, "Don't let those bastards knock us down." What does that mean? One of his followers bleats, "Maddox is a god to me. I have ordered 10 copies of this book." What does THAT mean?

I do notice there is an increase in "unsold best sellers" going on, so I assume this is the latest scam--or maybe I've just missed it thus far. What it DOES tell me is that publishing is taking on a totally huckster atmosphere. I assume this is another self-published piece of garbage with some high-cost manipulation behind it. But I have now noticed even "legitimate" publishers playing this "best seller" game--and I'm not surprised that they've lowered themselves.

A name to watch? I won't take the time, thank you very much.

Sid Smith said...

Reading through the Maddox site I realise that a)I have lost my sense of humour, b) am a boring old fart and c) quite happy to be a and b if it means I don't have to read any more Maddox.

CA McGee said...

It experienced a ridiculous 573200% increase in 24 hours.

His publicist may be great at moving units, but he's terrible at math. An increase of that magnitude would mean that it went from one sale to 573,200 sales in 24 hours (or from two sales to over a million, etc.).

What he likely did was extrapolate the shift in Amazon ranking to a percentage, but since the ranking is not an absolute index of copies sold, a book's shift in rankings doesn't represent a definite corresponding percent increase in sales.

Say a book sells one copy on Tuesday and three copies on Wednesday. It's ranking may go from 500,000 to 350,000. That's a 200% increase in sales, not 150,000%.

Even if you're only speaking of the ranking itself, going from a ranking of 100,000 to 99,999 is not a 1% increase. The percentage is only statistically meaningful if 100% represents the total possible scale of rankings. If there are a million books on Amazon (and thus a million possible slots), then each progressive point in ranking would show a .000001% increase.

Peter L. Winkler said...

Citadel was a bottom of the barrel trade publisher who went bankrupt several years ago and whose assets and name were then acquired by a consortium that has put together a number of small publishing companies.

I suppose they are a legitimate trade publisher, but definitely small fry.

Sixshoota said...

In response to CA MCGee, I'll simply say this.I can assure you that I didn't use any "fuzzy math," because I didn't do any math at all. When his book hit #1 last week, it was listed also as #1 on their Movers & Shakers list.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/new-for-you/movers-and-shakers/-/books/ref=pd_mas_bh_1_h/102-0184695-9912922

As you'll note on that page, Amazon shows a book's percentage increase over a 24-hour timespan. So that 573,200% number I mentioned was pulled straight from their page. According to them and whatever math THEY use, Maddox's sales rank did increase 573,200%. Make of it what you will...

Spin it how you want, but Amazon's sales rankings are indeed an important indicator in a book's potential success, as it relates to in-store positioning of the book, which obviously directly relates to sales.

Sixshoota said...

Andrew, I'm not quite sure how you relate Maddox to whatever "scam" you are mentioning. As far as I'm concerned, Maddox is nothing more than a new writer who a lot of people find funny. What's the harm in that? There's a dearth of quality, smart humour writing out there these days, and Maddox fills some of that void.

Much of what Maddox has to say could be deemed offensive to many people. But that's fine. Those would be the people who don't read it. But that doesn't make it "garbage," now does it? Your reading list may contain things I find to be boring, uninteresting, or not funny. But does that make them garbage? I'd hope not. I can assure you there are MANY people who would love to have the audience Maddox does.

Maddox gets roughly 110,000-150,000 visitors per day, or about 4 million visitors per month. Of those, about 25% are "unique" visitors (first time to his site), so approximately 75% return for more. He currently has 56,000 unread emails in his inbox, and an additional 85,000 unread in archive dating back from 2002-2003. Based on the email he receives, about 40-45% of his fans are female, in spite of the occasionally misogynistic undertones in his writing. Maddox has fans from all walks of life, with a particularly strong following in the 16-25 year-old crowd.

He has a stronger web presence than some major media figures, including popular US Conservative Commentator Bill O'Reilly, even though O’Reilly updates his site regularly and plugs it to 6-10 million viewers every week, and “The Best Page in the Universe” is updated only sporadically.

People who hate Maddox:
-Vegetarians
-Environmentalists
-Feminists
-Hippies
-New Agers

In addition to the above, Maddox gets equal hate from both Democrats and Republicans who accuse him of courting the other side, so he’s probably doing something right.

His mailing list currently has about 128,000 people on it, and roughly 90-95% of the mail he receives is fan mail.

The large following that Maddox commands has led to some major Internet backlashes. In March 2005, Maddox slammed Orbitz.com for "selling me an impossible itinerary," causing rifts in the online travel booking industry. The article and backlash against Orbitz prompted many online travel corporations to offer solutions and customer service lines to rectify mistakes in itineraries.

Don't hate the player. Hate the game.

Sixshoota said...

Last thing...Back to CA and his mathematical analysis...Only other thing I'll say is that from me checking out the Movers & Shakers list regularly, the #1 book on the Movers & Shakers list usually has experienced, according to Amazon's posted numbers, somewhere between a 3000-6,000% jump, with occasional spikes as high as 50,000, though the latter doesn't seem to be the norm.

So for comparison's sake, Maddox's 500,000%-plus jump is well out of the ordinary for them. And most NYC publishing industry people skeptically told me last week "we'll see how this holds up" or "this is probably a short-lived thing." Well, For the last 7 days, Maddox has been #1 4 days, and hasn't dropped below #2. Those are numbers that major publishers and authors dream about at night.

I can't wait to hear the uproar and haters when Maddox debuts at #1 on the NY Times list in June.

Clive Keeble said...

sixshoota wrote
>Spin it how you want, but Amazon's sales rankings are indeed an important indicator in a book's potential success, as it relates to in-store positioning of the book, which obviously directly relates to sales.<

I am not quite sure which terrestial shop would decide to give extra prominence to a book merely because it had a high pre-launch Amazon sales ranking. Offer $50k to a corporate and they might just let you have a rear table, even though it was a dreck title, but then I am a total cynic.

If Maddox debuts at Numero Uno in the NY Times June listings, then it will be time to down a double whiskey and take a long walk.

Get real please "sixshoota", you can spin a good yarn but you will never have a future in the mainstream terrestial booktrade with Maddox because at such time as you are endangering their sales the 600lb gorillas from the publishing world will knock you senseless in round one.

Peter L. Winkler said...

"He currently has 56,000 unread emails in his inbox"

Oh, really. Who counted them?

This is a ludicrous claim, because, no matter who you had your email account with, that number of messages would exceed your account's capacity long before it got to the number of emails you claim Maddox has left unopened.

Sixshoota said...

Clive, your thinking on my future success with Maddox is based in an old-school mindset of the publishing world. Granted, it is shared by probably 99% of the people in any way affiliated with with the publishing industry. But that doesn't make it right, nor wise.

For your information, though I am Maddox's pr guy, I am not a book publicist nor a player in the book world in any way shape or form. Feel free to call me naive if you want, but I know better. Conventional publishing wisdom would then mean that I will have little success with Maddox and his book. But this is a new era.

Maddox's book will be my second book I've ever done PR for, and it will be my second book to hit the NY Times Bestseller list in 6 months. The first was by someone who I heard all the same claims of "You'll never make it in this industry" with: Tucker Max. You may be wholly unfamiliar with Tucker as well, as mainstream media chose to ignore him for many reasons, one of which was because he was not being pushed by the tired old publishing pr machine.

And guess what Tucker Max's debut book, "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell," did? It went as high as #26 on the NYTimes Bestseller List, based solely on his internet site and word-of-mouth pr. His web site is www.tuckermax.com, and by all accounts he is much more offensive than Maddox. But guess what, a lot of people find his writing to be smart, funny, and completely original, which is more than can be said by much of what comes out in the book world these days.

I assure you Maddox will debut in the Top 5 of the NYT List. This is all but a foregone conclusion. Me, Tucker Max, Maddox, their editor, and others we have in the pipeline: We do NOT care what corporate types think of our material. They all passed on us and essentially said "Fuck off." These are the same people who regularly offer gaudy six-figure book advances to writers who go on to achieve 1/20th the sales Tucker did, and Maddox will.

You prefer Maker's Mark or Jack Daniel's?

We are circumventing the traditional publishing process and doing things on our own terms. We have been successful with it, and will continue to do so.

jamie ford said...

"Flame on."

Bill Peschel said...

Maddox, like Tucker Max, is what "lad lit" is really about. No holds barred, balls to the wall writing that reminds me of the old National Lampoon days, where you can be offended and laughing your ass off at the same time.

I'm amazed at the site figures, however, but that's because I'm naturally suspicious of any figures being thrown around nowadays. Just like I don't trust the NYTimes list, because they don't base theirs on actual sales (that "weighing" they use to keep some authors off the list, like they did with JK Rowling).

I'll be watching the USAToday list when Maddox's book comes out. Then we'll see who's right.

Anastasia said...

I think Amazon can reach a bigger audience than a few catalogues, sales reps in stores.

I've visited Maddox's site numerous times in the last two years but I didn't stop to think that he'd pen a book and I'm glad he did.

The US needs to step out of the politicial correctness its sleeping in.

Anastasia said...

by the way:

In regard to the comment above mine, about site stats, Maddox has had his site running for a while, and has a wide audience.

I was referred to it by a relative's 15 year old son in early 2005. It's not a site for academic 'think tanks'

Penus said...

In response to Peter L Winkler's comment:
"This is a ludicrous claim, because, no matter who you had your email account with, [56,000] messages would exceed your account's capacity long before it got to the number of emails you claim Maddox has left unopened."

I predominantly use Yahoo's free email. I currently have nearly 14000 emails saved in a folder, mostly junk mail. I have only filled up about 11% of my mailbox (The idea was that I thought that the capacity was unnecessary and that no one would need that much). I should be able to fit in over 126,000 emails. My point is that with any email service, especially one that is not free, you should be able to easily fit 56,000 emails, and there is no reason to believe that Maddox would lie.

zenofeller said...

oh the ignorance.

first off, let me point out to McGee that 573200% means going from 1 to 5732, not from 1 to 573200. that's why its a per cent you doofus. the rest of your post is the same raving lunacy one would reasonably expect from someone not only retarded enough to not grasp junior high math, but stupid enough to try and show it off to others. mark twain has a quote for you.

as for the rest of you people commenting here, the fact that you'd let that pass paints a pretty clear picture of whats inside your heads, not to mention idiotic discussions about the possibility of having x emails in one's account. you can run a mail server with a 5 terrabyte harddisk dedicated simply to storing your email, then join every spam email list there is and get, uh, 1 million mails a day ? and store it all for 50 years.

if this blog and the people on it are in any way representative of the industry, then here's the explanation why the industry finds itself today in the position of dreaming for a fraction of the video games market.

fucking idiots.