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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

Tue 26
Jul
2005

Six months until Company

Company New Company coverThere’s a new Company cover! And it’s… remarkably similar to the old one. In fact, all Doubleday did is go down to the staff cafeteria, buy a donut, photograph it, and whack it on the cover in place of the stock photo. Unless you look closely, it’s the same cover. If you do look closely, you might notice that Doubleday’s donut is a little soggier, but that’s about it.

I am not quite clear on why changing one donut for another, near-identical donut, helps anybody, but apparently it’s something to do with image rights. Although that begs the question why in the first place… no, no, that way lies madness.

I also have an on-sale date, at least for the US and Canada: January 17, 2006! It’ll be a hardcover with a RRP of US$22.95, although I see Amazon.com will already let you pre-order for US$15.61. What nice people.

Sun 17
Jul
2005

Talk to me, baby

Writing My last blog gave some people the idea that my life is all L.A. movie premieres, shooting hoops with Adam Brody, and doing coke lines off Mary-Kate Olsen’s bare stomach, but sadly it’s not. From an author’s point of view, selling film rights tends to be like this:

Agent: We’ve got a great offer from Legendary Director X!
Author: Oh, cool!

One Week Later.
Agent: Yeah, that didn’t come off.
Author: Oh, damn.

One Week Later.
Agent: We’ve got a great offer from Excellent Production Company Y! Want to take it?
Author: Sure, okay!

Toni writes:

so did you sell all of the rights to Company over to Doubleday or do you get all of the rights? I’m curious about how this whole process works…..do you get a cut of the film profits?

While Nathan, more succinctly, says:

Paramount. Nice. You must be loaded now.

First I should point out that there is no Company movie deal yet; there’s just people talking. That may or may not lead to a deal, but even if it does, it’s unlikely I will be rolling around naked in hundred-dollar bills. Well, I might be, but there wouldn’t be that many of them. Movie rights deals are structured so that they have a front end and a back end. The front end is the money the film studio pays now, which buys them an exclusive period (usually a year or two) in which to develop the film. This is called an option, and the amount paid is relatively small. Exactly how relatively small depends on whether you are, say, Dan Brown, or, say, me.

The back end is the juicy part. This can include a percentage of profits, but mainly it’s just a great big wad of cash, about an order of magnitude larger than the front end, and payable when the film goes into production—that is, when the cameras start rolling. Many, many novels are optioned but never go into production, in which case the option lapses and the author is never paid the back end. (I haven’t seen one yet.) Some authors are more than happy with this, because they get to sell the film rights all over again. (Which has happened to me once.) But this is pretty anti-climactic. I want to snuggle into a soft red movie seat and chew popcorn while a story I once dreamed up is projected in 35mm. Then I’ll shoot some hoops with Adam Brody and go see Mary-Kate about that coke.

Tue 12
Jul
2005

It ain’t a book until it’s a movie

Company Yesterday I got a mention in Publishers Weekly, because of the possibility of a Company film deal. Here’s the snippet—although, because this is a trade mag, they give away far too much of the plot. So I’m blanking bits.

Satire may have a pretty dismal record at the box office, but at least one studio won’t be dissuaded. Paramount has made an offer for Company (Doubleday, Jan. 2006) the latest corporate satire from former ad man Max Barry (ne Maxx Barry). In the novel, a new employee at a faceless conglomerate can’t figure out what the company actually produces. Since he has very little to do all day, he makes it his mission to find out. He discovers that he and his co-workers are ___ ___ ____ in an __________ _____ run by _______ company ______ human behavior __ _ corporate environment—___ ______ ____ set in __ ______ park. Perhaps Paramount is mindful of another send-up of cubicle culture, 1999’s Office Space. That cult favorite by Beavis and Butt-head creator Mike Judge flopped in its initial theatrical release, but went on to become a huge earner in its DVD afterlife. It still ranks as one of Fox’s bestselling DVD titles of all time. Luke Janklow of Janklow & Nesbit and CAA’s Brian Siberell represent Barry.

Jason Anthony, Publishers Weekly, July 11, 2005

Mon 11
Jul
2005

And now a gratuitous plug

Max Now I don’t do this very often, do I? That should count for something. The thing is, the excellent Aussie comedian Wil Anderson is performing in New York (July 12 & 14) and Montreal (July 21-23, 25), and if at all possible you should go see him. Then you should hang around afterward and say, “Hey, Wil, I’m here because Max sent me, and boy am I glad he did,” because you will be.

Wil’s a big name in Australia. He’s also one of the people I trust with my early drafts, which is why you’ll see his name in the Jennifer Government acknowledgments. If you like my stuff, you’ll like Wil.

Wil’s tour dates: Here.

Thu 07
Jul
2005

London bombed; citizens mildly annoyed

Max There is something very special about the Brits. I’ve always admired them, even though I can’t understand their decision to live somewhere with such bad weather and warm beer. Today I’m reminded why. After watching pictures of this horrendous terrorist attack on TV, I jumped on the net to get in touch with English people I know. And as I heard back from them, I realized they seemed… a little miffed. Maybe peeved. But even that might be too strong.

To all Brits: I’m thinking of you guys today. My heart goes out to those personally affected. But it’s also filled with admiration for this incredible British spirit that even a bomb attack can’t dent.

Sun 03
Jul
2005

Baby, I love your name

Max Yes! It is only a month and a half until Baby Barry is due. Which means it’s really time for Jen and me to come up with a name.

You’d think this would be right up my alley—I mean, I name characters all the time. But is it really ethical to give a kid a name just because I find it amusing? This is the dilemma I face as I consider such favorites as “Binky,” “Fizz,” and “Alan.”

(Okay, that’s just a joke. The “Alan” doesn’t mean we’re having a boy. I need to be clear about this because we’re keeping the sex a secret, and we have a lot of relatives watching keenly for any slip-up. That would spoil the betting pool—which, incidentally, is currently running 2-to-1 in favor of a girl.)

I know some people say you should wait and see what they look like before naming them (“We were going to call him Sam, but when we saw him we just knew he was a Horatio!”), but I don’t know about this. I’ve seen pictures of newborns, and they all look like aliens. If I named our kid based on what he looked like after birth, I’d probably call him, “Krxz’ll Ak Ak Hrgggggg.”

My other problem is that “Barry” really sucks as a surname. I never realized this before; until now it’s been fine. But just try to put a first name in front of that thing! For boys, anything unusual sounds like we got the name backwards (my Dad went his whole life being called “Barry Hamilton”). Girl names sound ridiculous if they’re two syllables and end in an “ee” sound, and that’s practically all of them. Also, anything that starts with “B” is definitely out.

I tell you, “Barry” makes it tough. And the clock is ticking.

Incidentally, Jen has started referring to herself as “we.” As in, “We’re hungry,” or “We want to lie down now.” It’s little unsettling. She’s become a hive mind.

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