Phronk here. I’m the newest addition to Forest City Pulp’s roster.
I didn’t think I’d be publishing anything with FCP any time soon. But then I saw this post on Chuck Wendig’s blog, where addressing the truism that self-publishing is the only real choice, he wrote:
This is true-ish, in that I can literally write the word “fart” 100,000 times and slap a cover of baboon urinating into his own mouth, then upload that cool motherfucker right to Amazon. Nobody would stop me. Whereas, at the Kept Gates, a dozen editors and agents would slap my Baboon Fart Story to the ground like an errant badminton birdie.
I couldn’t resist. Someone had to shove Baboon Fart Story out of the squishy moistness of thought experiment into the unyielding harshness of reality. It would say so much about both sides of the debate between self publishing and traditional publishing. It would make me LOL at pee-pee and farts. Maybe a few people would even pay attention to it.
I wasn’t prepared for the response. It breezed through Kindle Direct Publishing’s publication process, then when Chuck Wendig himself tweeted the Amazon link, it spread like a monkey-borne virus. People wrote reviews funnier than the book itself. They shared it with all their followers. They even started to buy it.
That puffed it into the charts. In its category – Books > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Books & Reading > General – it went at least as high as #9.
That’s when people started to complain. Yes, there were people who, failing to read “this is literally the word ‘fart’ 100 000 times” in the description, were disappointed in their purchase. Either that, or they took it as a personal attack on self-published authors (which it was not) and abused Amazon’s system to report “a poor user experience while reading the book.” Those complaints buzzed through Amazon’s algorithms, and within about 12 hours of being published, it was taken down without notice.
I now have no way to access any of the Amazon metadata (e.g., the brilliant reviews), republish, or do anything to address the removal. Amazon support has stopped responding to my emails. Which is all fine for a joke book, and further adds to the discussion (and LOLs) it was meant to generate, but what if that was a book I put serious effort into? It can essentially be banned from the world’s largest bookstore just because a few people didn’t like it?
Luckily, the man who inspired it did like it. You can download Baboon Fart Story from Chuck Wendig’s site for an optional donation to help apes, butts, or stories.
I only made about 10 bucks off of the book, but the insane amount of attention it got during my 15 minutes of flatulent fame was as fun as a barrel of you-know-whats. It was bizarre to see some of my heroes, like John Scalzi and Charles Stross, write about it. Bestselling author Daniel Abraham called me “a master of modern Dadaism,” and may have been partially serious. The press even found the story interesting:
- The Daily Dot: What ‘Baboon Fart Story’ says about Amazon and ebook publishing (a lot, I guess)
- Metro New York: Author Phronk opens up on viral hit ‘Baboon Fart Story’ (featuring an interview with a very tired me)
- Linkiesta: La provocazione di Baboon Fart Story (that’s Italian)
I’ll write more on what Baboon Fart Story means for self publishing *, and what I learned by “writing” it, over on my personal blog sometime soon. I just thought I’d introduce myself to Forest City Pulp by blasting out its most successful e-book so far.
If you liked Baboon Fart Story, you might also like the ridiculousness of FCP’s first release, Sex Boat: An Erotic Novella About Sex on a Boat, by Leonard Delaney. It’s erotica written by a virgin. You’re welcome.
* In case it’s not obvious, I still consider this self publishing. For now, Forest City Pulp is just a bunch of writers cross-promoting each other’s stuff; not exactly a “press.” Yet.