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The Man Who Thought He Was King

Yesterday night over 1,350 people visited a thread on Fantasy-Faction by a self-published author named M. R. Mathias. I hate to further bring attention to what has since been called: “Mathias’s Meltdown”, but I think his aggressive advertising tactics and willingness to bring negative attention to himself warrant discussion.

I was first brought to attention of the thread when Anne Lyle tweeted:

Oh dear. Self-pub author throws tantrum on @FantasyFaction.

For those who missed it:

Forum Thread: http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/advertising-your-novels/mods-please-read-this-post!/

Twitter: http://storify.com/FantasyFaction/epic-unpublished-i-mean-hugely-successful-author-f/

Basically, M. R. Mathia, a self-published author from America, took great offence when we moved a forum thread of his, that was advertising his own book, from the main book discussion forum into the Self Published & Small Press section of the forums. Now, this is something we do regularly. Fantasy-Faction welcomes ALL small press and self-published authors to come and tell us/our readers about their books, but we have a special place to do it. The reason for this is that our site is a place to discuss fantasy novels, primarily those in the mainstream, and we leave it up to our members to choose which books they would like to discuss.

Once we moved his thread, we got this response:

I am not a small press. I am an author with 18 titles for sale. That is more titles that some big publishing houses. I have advertising currently running in Locus, Publishers Weekly, Fantasy and Sci Fi, and Revolver magazines. I have blog advertising across the entire blog-o-sphere. 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.

Now, in my mind, whether you set up a company to publish your own books or you set yourself up as a sole trader to publish you own books, you are self-publishing. A number of our members replied to M. R. Mathias (maybe a mistake) and he responded aggressively.

Jared Shurin of Pornokitsch, one of the UK’s most respected Fantasy bloggers, told Mathias that:

Speaking as a mod and a small press publisher, I’m doubly offended by the tone of this post.

Mathias quickly replied:

The only ill tone you find in my original post stems from your jelousy. I did not swear, threaten, or even do anything other than state facts. So why is my post offensive? I was even polite. Please tell us why this bothers you. Is it because I have sales? Reviews? Followers? Success? My 92k twitter follwers want to know.

Just unbelievable. I’m so used to speaking with humble and respectful writers that support one another that this just blew me away. How a man can be so rude and full of himself is beyond me.

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.

Anyway, these kind of questions meant that M. R. Mathias’s outburst brought interest from authors (traditionally published and self-published) and the fantasy community. People were shocked that a self-published author would react so aggressively to being labeled as a self-published author. But, it was the increasing aggression and disturbing level of egotism that really got people interested in the storm that was occurring on our forums and over Twitter. A few examples:

If Stephen King suddenly started King Publishing would he be a self publisher? I think not. A pen name is a brand, and mine is selling books at a level above a ton of big publisher’s imprints.

If you dont read my books that is your loss. Really it is your loss. I have a 4.5 star rating after 90 reviews at B&N.

Appearantly someone likes them, if you chose not to read one of the best fantasy trils ever written then by all means take a pass.

As Jennie Ivins pointed out:

Small Press is defined by Wikipedia (related to US publishers) as a publishing house that makes under $50 million dollars a year and publishes fewer than 10 titles a year. Unless you are making and publishing more than that, in the US, you are considered a Small Press publisher. There is nothing wrong with being a small press publisher. If you look purely at the numbers a company could make $40 million dollars a year and publish 9 books a year and still be considered small press. That does not make them less successful or the work they publish less important. But it still means they are small press.

That is our policy and should have been the end of it. However, I’ve never met an author in my entire life who has openly said: “My books are some of the best fantasy ever written.” To dismiss works or to put yourself on a level alongside authors such as Sanderson, Hobb, Goodkind, Tolkien, etc is not only not something you, yourself, do not have the right to do – but it is damned right offensive. Honestly, how can any artist judge their own work in an open forum? The majority of authors I know greatly under-estimate their work, but it seems M. R. Mathias is more than happy over-stating his own achievements.

Some of the most disturbing tweets and claims I have come across over the past 24 hours from M.R. Mathias:

@FantasyFaction FACT – My post will have three times the number of hits as you have followers. I broke NO rules! #NAZI #Censorship #InEffect

(I have 8050 followers – this post attracted 1300. So his mathematics are off.)

@FantasyFaction @BenGalley @LorGraham until I get an apology 143k twitteres are gonna know you are a #NAZI FOR DAYS and DAYS and DAYS. #RT

(What a lovely man.)

If you would read The Sword and the Dragon you’d be on my side. lmao

(I mean…really? How much of an ego can one guy have!?)

I want to know how I am a small press, if I am outselling Robin Hobb and Terry Goodkind and Tolkien? lmao

(At very best he is a “Smaller publishing house that releases books often intended for specialized audiences.” Therefore a small press. His sales figure declarations are frankly ridiculous.)

As a publisher with a nice advertising budget earned from my book’s profit. I am a publisher AND an author.

(No. He is a self-published author. Close though!)

Fantasy Faction is mostly self pubbed authors who read. You have bashed your own following all night. They follow me now.

(What? Judging by Twitter our members spent the night in shock. Wondering how on Earth a guy could possibly be so rude and so full of himself. Any of us following him are doing so to see what ridiculous claim he makes next.)

- – -

Now, I want to avoid too much discussion in regards to the book’s quality. However, I did decide to read the first chapter after Mathias told me that his book was selling better than Hobb’s and Tolkien’s and I found myself feeling sick that this guy could be placing himself above these wonderful artists. Hobb has perhaps the most beautiful prose and fleshed-out characters that I have ever come across. Tolkien has those wonderful plots and vivid settings that will ensure that in hundreds of years, people will still be speaking his name.

So, rather than tell you my thoughts (because I don’t want to directly give negative comments about a book I haven’t finished) I will relay to you a couple of reviews:

“I wish I could get a refund for this one. I purchased this novel based on the reviews posted…..I will be more careful in the future. This author should not even be mentioned in the same sentence as Jordan, Hobbs and the other fantastic writers. I honestly tried to give the book a fair shot, but I could not get past the juvenile writing style and errors. There was no gripping story line to draw you in, and the characters were downright flat and uninteresting. I wish I could give this one a 0 star rating. Don’t waste your money!” – Amazon Review

“I must be missing something. I’ve read a lot of fantasy and science fiction books, and based on the reviews I thought this would be a winner. I was wrong. The phraseology in the book seemed amateurish and the characters seemed two-dimensional. I just couldn’t get immersed into it. I finally gave up and came back to re-read what people had said about it. If I didn’t know better, I’d say I’d read a totally different book than most everyone else. I couldn’t see myself comparing this author’s style to any author I’ve read.” – Amazon Review

It throws up an interesting debate in regards to how a self-published author attracts an audience. Typically, self-published authors send out copies of their books and interact with the community in the hope that, after a few people have read their book, word of mouth will spread and they’ll gain a readership. However, as with other media – you have those rock stars and models who get famous because of their self-destructive nature or their willingness to make outrageous statements. Can this work in book publishing?

I reflected upon that this morning, because by picking up his book to see what I thought – I fell for this guy’s ploy. M. R. Mathias happily told me earlier: “I sold 400 books last night and gave away 325 I must be doing something right.” And yes, he probably is. “Any publicity is good publicity” and “Controversy creates cash” as they say. Certainly, he has an interesting and successful way of marketing himself and getting himself noticed. But personally, if I ever publish a book, I’d like people to buy it because they’ve heard good things about it or like the premise, not because they want to know the answer to the question on everyone’s mind last night: “Can this egotistical dick really write?”

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137 Comments

  1. Louise says:

    I saw this discussion last night and the aftermath this morning. I don’t really know what else to add other than a quote that can summarize this entire thing beautifully:

    “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are so confident while the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell:

    Amen.

    • Richard Lyle says:

      That Bertrand Russell summation of human nature has been proven by scientists using science.

      • Matt Lashley says:

        Dunning-Kruger effect:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

        However, fortune favors the bold.

        Could I release a novel with a mistake like “night” for “knight”? (He was a dark and stormy night.”) No. And I don’t have 92k Twitter followers either.

        Of course, I can probably rent them from Fiverr for a while.

        Like it or lump it, M. R. Mathias. generated buzz through loudly squeaking.

        Many of his reviews are positive. Seems he has talent. It will be interesting to find out if this recent barrage of sales will help him when the reviews roll in.

  2. Phil Norris says:

    Wow, that’s all I can say, Wow! Not seen an author so spectacularly loose it since LB Taylor went nova on her Amazon comments page. Think this should be added to an “What authors shouldn’t do” bible.

  3. Anne Lyle says:

    Thanks for the great summing-up, Marc. Little did I know, when I tweeted last night, that I was stirring up a $#!^-storm of epic proportions! I saw the original post here and was concerned that none of the moderators were around on what was otherwise a quiet Sunday evening, and Twitter has a habit of eating DMs so I thought a public tweet the quickest way to alert you.

    I missed the final meltdown, having gone to bed, though.

    “Fantasy Faction is mostly self pubbed authors who read. You have bashed your own following all night. They follow me now.”

    Seriously? Clearly he’s unaware of the significant number of commercially published authors who regularly contribute here, or your own links with the publishing world that he desperately wants to belong to. As to the possibility that a forum full of readers is the perfect place to promote your work, as well as the worst to bad-mouth other writers… I have no more words.

    • Overlord says:

      Anne, it means so much to read that – thank you :)

    • sabolich says:

      Oh, my, Anne, you nailed it, as usual. Hermione’s assessment of Harry taking off on a broom he doesn’t know how to fly springs instantly to mind: What. An. Idiot.

    • sabolich says:

      Well, the good news for me in this affair is that I found Fantasy Faction. Good forum. The bad news is how this person gives small presses and self-pubbed authors a bad name. The saddest thing though, is if he really does have 92,000 people following him who don’t know the difference between good writing and bad and seem determined to defend their ignorance to the death. I suppose we must coin a new term for these folk, if someone hasn’t already: illiterati.

  4. Overlord says:

    Sorry for all the spelling errors the first time I posted this – I put it together on my Blackberry on the way to work this morning ;-)

  5. RSAshark says:

    Guy looks like a giant Deuchebag. It’s sad that someone so insane posts on the forum. Just avoid and ignore the idiot.

  6. Sarah Pinborough says:

    I particularly loved his tweet to me saying being able to construct a sentence didn’t matter…

    • Anne Lyle says:

      Is there anyone in the UK SFF community he _didn’t_ insult last night?

      • Hank the Tank says:

        He’s made the rounds at other forums and was dismissed (i.e. banned) quickly when the attitude he exhibited here came into full view after being present for a short amount of time.

        The man does not present himself well in public and if anything, exhibits many of the negative traits associated with self published authors who feel the Large presses are out to get them and are unable to actually write well enough to be traditionally published.

        Shame because I feel the balance is shifting and there are quality self-published authors doing good things. However, when such an attitude is what people (or in another way, potential readers AKA CUSTOMERS) see first, those potential customers will likely move onto a less caustic author.

        • Nanowrimo Anon says:

          He made a round to the Nanowrimo board, I think, before this, and tried to make a similar stint (I saw it) by posting his book in the Fantasy forum. He balked again when his post was moved, but everyone ignored him because it’s the off season. He didn’t get traction. (You can google his name+Nanowrimo.) and since he does Nanowrimo… and doesn’t care about sentences… well… (Not saying Nanowrimo participants don’t in large care–they do and a lot, but some people, in general with egos umm.. don’t do the four letter e word)

          I think it’s safe to say at this point he’s kinda banned himself from everywhere.

      • Stefan says:

        I don’t think he’s discovered Civilian Reader, yet, so yay! ;)

    • Overlord says:

      Similar one he sent M.D. Lachlan earlier:
      @mdlachlan @FantasyFaction Only industry people CARE about commas. Everyone else is enjoying the story. You could learn a lot from me.

      Note: M.D. Lachlan is a very successful author, published by Orion Books and regularly holds Creative Writing Workshops.

      • Bryan says:

        I… what? “Only industry people care about commas”? Is… is this…

        I choose to believe I am involved in a prank of some kind. This cannot be real.

    • Overlord says:

      And other classic:
      @DahgMahn: Drafts do not make an author. There thousands of perfectly edited books that suck ass.
      @mdlachlan Do you mean ‘there are’?

  7. Hannah says:

    You know what? Once I read the forum posts and this post.. it made me swear off giving this guy any kind of publicity or money. I did have his book on my wishlist for a few months and I considered buying it but it’s swiftly being taken off. I don’t care if a certain author isn’t particularly nice but to actively be such a nasty piece of work to his potential fanbase..? No thanks. Think I’ll pass.

    Love that quote, Louise. Too true. :)

  8. Glyn Morgan says:

    Reminds me of something I came accross in my research: I was looking into the different translations of Mein Kampf into English and found this one version published by Michael Ford (2009) which claims to be ‘the most accurate translation ever produced’. It also received praise from the book “Mein Kampf: The Translation Controversy” which reports it as being ‘the most accurate and easiest to understand version of Mein Kampf ever made… that is why everyone should read it. It will change how you view the world.’

    Unfortunately, “The Translation Controversy” is a book which is ALSO written by Michael Ford!

    It just shows how these people manipulate people into buying their product and then use those sales to further manipulate others (note M.R. Mathias’s repeated reference to his own sales, twitter followers etc…)

  9. Jo Hall says:

    This really needs to be in a “How not to behave towards your peer group on the internet” guide. What a stupid and / or deluded man…

    • Fellshot says:

      Somewhere there is a “good manners guide” and the first rule is to not be a pompous jerk full of the rage of a thousand hamsters.

  10. Kodermike says:

    Well, Marc asked for more forum readers on twitter the other day. First you want more forum visitors, then you gripe when they’re stark raving mad. Really, we need to find the happy median here. :)

  11. Fordy says:

    It appears he wrote his first book from a Texas prison cell. You just couldn’t make this stuff up.

    • Bryan says:

      Oh my… I remember this guy! He used to post in the Kindle Boards…

      He was pretty crazy back then, too. Good to know nothing has changed.

  12. He has 17,477 followers, not 143,000 followers, in case you were worried about the number of people who were going to know you were NAZI. Still an impressive number, of course, but on the other hand, he is following 18,292 people, so I think I have an idea how that might have happened.

  13. Jared says:

    “one of the UK’s most respected Fantasy bloggers”

    Damn straight.

    You know, the irony is, I don’t think any of the mods actually *care* about the small press / big press classification – which is there on the forums to help out the smaller publishers anyway (at least, that’s how I’ve always taken it). A polite email saying, “hey, I’d like to play in the other thread” may very well have worked, as opposed to spamming the forums then yelling at the mods.

    Go figure.

    • Autumn2May says:

      Agreed! We even moved the Small Press section closer to the top of the page when we did the forum re-org last year.

  14. Pat Bowne says:

    Rather off-topic, but …I was interested to see that you have a forum for self-published authors to discuss their books. Is there anything similar for authors who are published by actual presses? I am probably not the only author out there whose publisher does not do a lot of promotion.

    • Anne Lyle says:

      For my own part, I find that simply joining in the normal threads and sharing my experience is as good a method of self-promotion as any – my book details and link are right there in my sig after every post in case anyone’s interested in finding out more. I also used the “Links, Competitions and Stuff” section to mention book giveaways.

      As a result of my activity here, my debut novel was chosen for this month’s Book Club read – that’s a bunch of guaranteed sales straight off the bat :)

      • Libertine says:

        To put in my tuppence worth, your method works Anne, when I attended your reading at FCon last year I knew exactly who you were and what your work was about! And it was a great reading too, leading to a purchase from me :)

      • Pat Bowne says:

        Thanks for the advice! I’ll check out the boards.

  15. Overlord says:

    A new best quote EVER by M.R. Mathias:
    @mdlachlan Ah you have publishers? 5th draft? You must suck as a writer. My #bestseller was wriiten with a pen in a prison cell. Two drafts.

    (Again, M.D. Lachlan is a very successful author and is published by the UK’s biggest genre publisher: Gollancz)

    • Ryk E. Spoor says:

      Heh. HE must suck. My (real publisher) published books were written from the comfort of my own home, in one draft. And I’ve never been in prison!

    • Woelf says:

      I must really suck then because it takes me many drafts and even then I’m not happy.

      I knew they allowed short pencils, but didn’t know they allowed pens in prison because it’s a potential weapon.

  16. Dahnya Och says:

    They do say… “There is no such thing as bad advertising.” One-thousand-three-hundred people checked out the post yesterday, and because of the Tweets this morning (like the one that led me here) more people will see it. Statistically, at least a handful of those people will want to check out one of his books for themselves, even if just so they could bash him.

    It really stinks though; I’ve been thinking about self-publishing my fantasy debut later this year… and now I’m second guessing myself. If this is how self-published authors are being portrayed, I really don’t want to shoot my career in the foot. I had only heard wonderful things about self-published/small-press authors lately… until this.

    • BenGalley says:

      I rest my case :(

      • Mark Robson says:

        Having successfully self published four titles in the UK (about 60 000 sold to date), I’m a bit of a strange fish when it comes to the subject. My subsequent titles have all been published by Simon & Schusters, so I am sitting on both sides of the fence.

        If I had not self-published, I would never have been noticed. However, I now cringe reading those self-published titles and hate to think of more discerning readers picking them up! I can only be thankful that my target audience was pre-teens and teens, who are generally a forgiving bunch.

        To self publish or not? It’s a tough one. I guess it depends very much on what you hope to achieve from it and how much work you are willing to do to sell your titles. One thing you have to possess is self-belief if you are going to sell a lot (something of which the person who is the subject of this thread has perhaps just a little too much) but this must also be balanced by common sense and humility (something of which he clearly has very little).

  17. BenGalley says:

    I’m just still personally shocked, as we all are, over this guy’s sheer ego. It verges on deluded, and therefore it raises the faint hint of pity from me.

    As an Indie author myself, I just wince at what some of the guests to FF last night might have thought based on this one bad, and thoroughly mental, egg. That was why I personally got involved in the argument. On second thoughts, I think Marc was right, that Mathias was trying to create controversy. Personally though, I didn’t want to stand by and watch him give us self-publishers, indies, small presses, mods, and avid readers a bad name.

    Alas!

    • Autumn2May says:

      Yeah, that was one of the reasons I left such I long post when the thread closed. I didn’t want people to think we didn’t want Small Press/Self-Pubs on the site. I also felt bad for all the other authors that had posted in that section of forums, as they got inadvertently dragged into this mess. But this morning I noticed that a lot of the other threads in the Small Press/Self-Pub section are getting hits too! So maybe this will help some people out in the long run. :)

      • BenGalley says:

        We can only hope! I’m trusting that a community as wise and as friendly as this will just see that this one author doesn’t represent the rest of us.

        Every cloud eh? ;)

  18. cairi says:

    Good gracious. I saw a bit of this on twitter yesterday and wondered what had happened. As an American who greatly enjoys this site, I’m really embarrassed by this fellow’s behavior. I suppose if nothing else, I can take away from this how *not* to behave online should I ever join the ranks of published authors (as if I ever had a thought to behave that way!!).

    One of the things I greatly enjoy about this site is how polite, friendly and inclusive everyone is, from authors to readers. I’m still very new here and only just tiptoeing around, but that there hasn’t been anyone like this Mathias character flinging his ego and his hubris around has helped me feel comfortable even though I’ve only made, um, maybe two comments on the forums. I’m very grateful that he’s been swiftly and summarily dealt with. Thank you, Marc, for your good leadership here.

  19. Kayla says:

    Of course, what you should have done is grabbed the sample from Amazon for Kindle – so you can check the writing out before forking out hard-earned cash – I do that for any author where I’ve not read them before. Amazon “Reccommends for you” keeps throwing this Mathias person’s books into the list for me and I keep ticking “not interested” after having read a sample of one a while ago. It was, as you say, juvenile and flat… and, I have to say, dire.

  20. OMG Have we found Samantha Brick’s dream date? I was always taught that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, that people respond positivly to people who are pleasant and polite. It is something that I have always tried to bear in mind, particularly when trying to promote my short story blog and other writing. It’s great that he has confidence in his abilities I guess, but arrogance is a total turn off, and comparing yourself to the greats is just asking for trouble if you ask me. I tend to let my work speak for itself. I my not have thousands of views on my blog, or hundreds (okay tens) of subscribers on the kindle version, but those that have discovered my writing and have enjoyed it spread the word for me, and any praise on reveiws or comments come from readers who have genuinely enjoyed my work. I realise that stirring up a storm may have got him a view extra readers (if only to see if he lives up to his own publicity), but personally, I would rather be read by people who live my work, not people who think I am a douche. As an aside, i once wrote to one of my fave authors, who sent back a very rude reply I have read nothing by him since, everytime I pick up one of his books, just think of the rude note he sent me, I can’t concentrate on the story.
    I would also like to add that I often rewrite up to 10 times before I am happy enough with the story for it to be published. Does making my writing the very best it can be imply a lack of talet? Because I think that it shows my readers deserve the very best standard of writing I can produce, after all they have given up their precious time/ hard eraned money to read me. As if i am going to pay for something an author scrawled down and couldn’t even be bothered to properly edit!
    Oh, and to be calling people Nazis because they called ou what you are (an indie author…why is that an isult?) is down right out of order. I hadn’t heard of this writer before, but am noting his name down to ensure I never accidentally line his pockets!
    (rant over. I think)

  21. Liz Williams says:

    Oh dear. Well, it’s a classic of its kind, though not in a good way, and I suppose we can all learn from a text book case of the seriously deluded. However, the good thing for me in all of this is that this kerfuffle has alerted me to the existence of fantasy faction, and I shall certainly be checking you out in the future!

  22. I really think “with a pen in a prison cell” needs to be immortalised somehow. Icons, badges, commemorative plaques.

    And I may have been wrong about his follower numbers. Between his 87 different accounts, who knows?

    Also, ALL e-book readers follow him, apparently. He told me so.

  23. Ian Whates says:

    Hmm… “A Pen in a Prison Cell”… Sounds like a title for a new anthology to me, Sophia. Are you up for submitting?

    Incredible, this whole thing. On a positive note, it’s brought these forums to the attention of a lot of people.

  24. wolfking says:

    Wow. Couldn’t sell the honest way I guess…

  25. JasonWilson says:

    Five of his books have Amazon reviews from “Squirl” praising them (the only five reviews Squirl has left, and all within the past week), and Squirl has also responded to a negative review with “If you didnt like it, then you clearly didnt read it. Are you an author too? Any books under your name? Jelous people are LAME-O”.

    The style, attitude, and spelling/punctuation are eerily familiar, aren’t they?

    • He actually admitted to making up at least one review, and I’m not sure he wasn’t implying he’d done a lot more than that: https://twitter.com/#!/DahgMahn/status/204552744047083521

    • Zoe G. says:

      The reviews for his books on B & N are quite entertaining as well. In addition to the reviewers who only review his books, there are numerous “anonymous” reviewers that are, of course, overwhelmingly positive. What’s really bugging me are the complete nonsensical reviews which makes it look like someone’s been using Fiverr to buy reviews.

  26. Jennifer Gracen says:

    While I hate that this douchebag got any attention at all, I am sitting here smirking. I had it out with him in another forum last year, an online writing group where the members, mostly self-pubbed/indie writers, truly supported one another. He came out with his obnoxious assault almost immediately, insulted my friends, and we tried to tell him that berating, belittling, and attacking people wasn’t the way to build an online following, much less make friends in the community. He became even more belligerent. I took him on, he & I went a few rounds… and I quickly realized I was dealing with a genuinely insane, possibly deranged egomaniac with no clue about social ettiquette or even basic social skills. I blocked him from every feed I have, and he is the only person I’ve ever done that with. He made the same ridiculous claims/verbal assaults on our group’s feed that he did above, with his tens of thousands of followers and masterful prose, LOL. What a jackass. I’m not surprised that he finally took his insanity to such a public level. I don’t feel sorry for him, because he refuses to listen to anyone and just keeps barreling through, thinking he’ll make his points by insulting others. He’s an insult to every writer individually, and the writing community at large. Let him hang himself with his own rope. He’s toxic. And just a plain idiot, when all is said and done.I hope his online followers and spectacular books keep him warm at night, because I can’t imagine anyone in his real life being able to stand him.

  27. Rod Glenn says:

    What a c0ck.

    I’ve been published with several different publishing houses in the past and then a few years ago I helped set up a small independent press, which has published over 40 titles since then, including a couple of mine. I’m proud to be part of a small press. M. R. Mathias is giving small presses and self publishing a bad name. Someone lock him back up and ban him from using anything more than crayons for life.

  28. This is my first visit to this forum – saw tweets about the bruhaha. I’m really impressed by how the community handled this. I’m a new fantasy writer (first fantasy book out in July from Carina Press) and I think I’ll stick around for a bit, if you all will have me!

  29. Aw, c’mon, admit it, Marc–you were in on this with Mathias all along. It was just an elaborate publicity stunt to get readers for his work and members on the site.

    KIDDING!

    First, I’m happy to see that some of my initial impressions of Mr. Mathias have been confirmed–mostly by Mr. Mathias himself. While I’ve never tangled with him myself, I did have some contact with him via Twitter and Facebook back when I went indie in late 2010. So, thanks for that, Mr. Mathias. I now know that my instincts were dead on.

    Second, I want to say that the mods handled this whole thing very well, and I am once again hugely impressed with Fantasy Faction. I feel really lucky to be part of this team, even if my part is relatively small in the overall scheme of things. :)

    Third, may I please ask readers not to take Mr. Mathias’ attitude as representative of indie authors in general? Most of the indies I’ve had contact with are friendly, humble people who just want to get their work out there and maybe make a living at writing–admirable goals shared by many writers in all publication realms. As an independent author myself, I can promise you that I question my skills and talent on a daily basis. When I receive constructive criticism, I usually take it, integrate it into my work, and try to improve myself. From what I’ve seen of other indies (and most writers in general), this is the prevailing attitude–not the attitude Mr. Mathias displayed.

    Please don’t write off all indies and their work as drek because of one bad apple. There are certainly many recorded cases of traditionally published authors behaving badly, too. I’m not asking any of you to read my work, although if you want to, that would be lovely. I’m just asking readers to please keep in mind that Mr. Mathias does not represent attitude of the majority of indie authors. Please consider giving other indies the same chance you would a new traditionally published author.

    And with that, I’m off to wrestle with my current WIP and hope that I can turn it into something that won’t sully my name on the Interwebz for all eternity…

    Amy

  30. Sean says:

    Mathias’s vitriol has spread. Wow… he tried this at Kindleboards.com, and many authors downed this clown. He can’t write his way out of a wet paper bag.

  31. [...] of small presses and self-published authors: this is the perfect example of how a writer should not go about publicising their own books: I hate to further bring attention [...]

  32. Adam T. Parkinson says:

    I have no doubt that the “Man Who Thought He Was King” has lost many potential readers, myself included, for posting this rude and laughable complaint.

  33. Wow, I missed the whole shebang last night. I’d just call him sad, if it weren’t that he seems to be conning a lot of people into buying his books (based on the reviews quoted). I’m published by a small press, and (while I’d obviously love to get into one of the big boys) I don’t see anything wrong with that. Similarly, I’ve no disrespect for anyone who self-publishes, as long as they do it properly, but most of them I’ve come across call it what it is. I’d call this guy a mega-jerk, but that’s giving him too much credit. He’s just a common-or-garden jerk.

  34. missoularedhead says:

    I blocked him on twitter a very long time ago, as he was insanely rude to me on more than one occasion. I wonder if perhaps he’s not quite all there?

  35. Fellshot says:

    Speaking as a reader rather familiar with author meltdowns, I’m very happy that the mods brought down the Mallet of Loving Correction on that creature sooner rather than later. I’d use some creative invertebrate to describe him better, but why insult nematode worms?

    • Autumn2May says:

      Thanks! :) Always be polite even to impolite people. Video games taught me that! :D

      Plus the following was my philosophy the entire time I worked retail in my younger days:

      A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. – Herm Albright

  36. nobodyfamous says:

    just stumble across this and was curious so I checked it out on barnes and noble. Anybody else notice that the most helpful favorable review was posted by username M_R_M? Seems pretty suspect.

  37. nobodyfamous says:

    argh, no edit function *stumbled

  38. blodeuedd says:

    Outselling Tolkien, now isn’t that swell.

    And maybe I should start a publishing house too ;) I am evil and like a good meltdown

  39. Simple Question says:

    Does the Fantasy Faction forum have a ban function? Generally speaking, this is how those who post without regard for posting guidelines and rail against moderator actions are handled elsewhere. If he wants to feel persecuted, I’d think you could do better than moving a thread to the appropriate area of the forum. : )

    • Autumn2May says:

      Oh, he was banned. :) First he was muted for a week for the three reasons listed at the bottom of the original thread. He was then banned shortly afterwards for attacking people on Twitter over the muting and the moving of the thread.

      The thread will stay up though. We don’t take down threads (or posts) unless the person is using hateful slurs or the like. If you mess up on our site, the record stays. We are all adults here and we should all know better than throwing a temper tantrum in a public place.

      • Anne Lyle says:

        Don’t forget that he also PM’d non-moderator members to berate them for having the temerity to post on his ‘MODS PLEASE READ THIS’ thread…

  40. Libertine says:

    I caught up with this late last night. I have to say, kudos to you guys for handling it so professionally. And what a fab title for this article!!

    I love the way the whole community has rallied and responded to this, Fantasy Faction has only gained further respect for allowing sufficient comment and banning him at just the right moment. Everyone has the right to say their piece but when they cross the line and make it personal enough is enough.

    I’ve been very lucky to meet some amazing self publishers and small press people in recent years, some of whom have become great friends. Whilst this has drawn attention, it has generated healthy discussion and I think that readers are learning all the time that it’s not reviews on bookseller websites that tell you a book’s worth, it’s word of mouth from trusted peers. Which is just what we all get from Fantasy Faction.

    I’m so proud to be a part of it and I think that those who read and don’t post, through to regular contributors all feel the same, it’s a trusted resource, a place to call home and a lens through which we can see the true colours of those who pass through.

  41. KJ says:

    92,000 followers? So? Anyone can gin up a few thousand followers with throwaway email accounts and other malfeasance, and once you pass a certain threshold, the auto-follow bots will glom all over you. If you’re dedicated and narcissistic enough, it’s inevitable that you’ll accrue as many followers as your ego needs.

  42. So Matthias called you a Nazi because you were policing your own website, which you created, developed, and paid for and he didn’t? Huh. I always thought Nazism was the complete opposite of that, but I could be mistaken.

    As for his works, I’ll get to them after I read the half-man Robert Stanek’s books… which will be never.

    • Freedom of speech is the freedom to create your own website and say what you like, not to freedom to come onto someone else’s website and break all the rules.

      • Exactly. It’s amazing how some people believe that they can demand your podium and your microphone just so they can disrespect you, as if denying them the use of your property is a violation of their rights. Mathias can say whatever he wants (and, of course, reap the consequences) by his own means. Freedom of speech does not guarantee one a forum or an audience. Those must be earned, just like everything else, and that is something Mathias refuses to recognize.

  43. Elfy says:

    I think the vast majority of self pubbed authors are talented people who strongly believe in the quality of their product, unfortunately as with many other areas, it’s the bad ones who give the good ones a bad name, which is clearly what happened. I read the original thread yesterday, but declined to comment, because I didn’t want to give the fire any more fuel. Shame that this had to happen on what is one of the best sites for SFF related discussion I’ve ever come across. Unfortunately I think the originator of this article and kerfuffle pales into insignficance when compared to Gloria Tesch, the young author of the Maradonia Saga. Poorly written and aggressively promoted does not even begin to describe it.

  44. Paul Wiseall says:

    Am I the only one who thinks we might be being a little unfair here?
    The guy might have had a really bad day. I mean, for all we know someone might have stolen his crayons, or popped his blow up doll, or turned off the flashing light that brought out all the sparkle in the shiny, shiny tin foil that lines his bedroom. Poor, misunderstood troll…

    Ah who am I kidding? Whatta goose.

  45. Dave Weaver says:

    Dorothy, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man crept into the massive Library of Fantasy Publishing. The frightening voice was even louder in here, echoing around row upon row of bookshelves stacked right up to the ceiling. Every book was by someone very famous, literary giants they’d all heard off.
    “What’s he saying, the words so are distorted I can’t make them out?” Tin Man asked Dorothy.
    She tried to listen to their meaning above the din. “I think he’s saying he’s not self-published, he’s just published by himself. Maybe it’s a riddle?”
    Cowardly Lion, who never had any confidence in his own stories, tried to back away but Dorothy touched his paw. “We must be brave, we’ve come all this way to see the one who calls himself the Great King of Fantasy, we can’t back out now.”
    “But he has so many followers,” Scarecrow (who was so scared of his own beautiful stories being rejected that he never showed them to a publisher) reminded them all, “and there’s only four of us !”
    “Courage everyone!” Dorothy told them. “It’s time we made up our own mind.”
    “The shouting seems to be coming from over there behind that curtain.” Tin Man (who always thought his own stories weren’t strong enough even for e-publishing) pointed to a corner of the vast hall.
    They walked over to the curtain. Dorothy took a deep breath and pulled it aside. There was a little man standing there shouting into a large microphone that made his voice boom out. “Who are you?” He boomed out, then put the microphone down. “I mean, who are you?”
    “We’re all fantasy authors, like you.” Dorothy told him.
    “Not like me, I think. I have a vast publishing Empire behind me. Everyone can hear my stories all over the Kingdom.”
    “They can hear a big noise, but they can’t hear the words.” Dorothy replied. “Perhaps if you stopped shouting and spoke a little quieter they might.”
    “Yes,” added Lion, “Don’t be afraid to be a little smaller, like the rest of us.”
    “Who says I’m small?” The little man retorted angrily. “I’m huge!” He picked up the microphone again “I’M HUGE…!”
    “Come on, let’s leave him to it.” Tin Man told the others. “I feel a story coming on.”
    “Would that be a fantasy about a little man who had to make himself seem very big just to get noticed?” Dorothy asked him. Tin Man nodded shyly. “Have you got a title for it yet?”
    “Hmmm…” Tin Man replied. “I’m thinking of calling it ‘The Wizard of ID”

    • Fellshot says:

      I believe that this post is made of win. :D

    • Libertine says:

      Ah Mr Weaver! Welcome!

      What Dave hasn’t said is that he is actually self published (Flowerchain Stories and Loners both available on Amazon – he didn’t say it but I will, hope you don’t mind :) ) As this post suggests he is incredibly talented with a razor sharp wit. For those put off by the unworthy behaviour of Mr Mathias, please bear in mind that for each writer of such disrespectful roots, there are dozens of very worthy writers, producing astounding work and behaving incredibly professionally.

      • K J Bennett says:

        Great post from Dave Weaver. He’s the type of self-published author who should be – and is – quietly comfortable with his lot. He’s also a bit good!
        Certain others could learn from his professionalism.

  46. Astonishing hubris! I am both a mainstream published author and a self-published one, since I’ve brought out some of my out-of-print children’s titles as e-books. I’d be honoured to be in the small press thread!

    What this situation (beautifully handled, by the way) really demonstrates is the need for sites such as this, which give readers and writers a chance to discuss, unpick and recommend. It’s only through informed discussion that people like this Mathias can be unmasked.

    So keep up the good work!

  47. MattJoeTom says:

    From the sentence I’ll post below I can tell he is an awful writer. How does someone like this become successful?
    “The jewel you see glowing in the ring in my authors photo isn’t really a jewel at all. It is the crystallized tear of a real dragon. In my novel “The Royal Dragoneers” you might find the moment where this wonderfully magical tear drop fell from a green dragons eye and hardened on its way down to land in a mess of troll corpses that the dragon was laying on.” -M. R. Mathias

    This shows how pompous he is:
    “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 out the free sample of one of my novels. I hope you enjoy the journey. It will be spectacular. Thanks M.R. Mathias”

    Just the way he words it makes me…grrrr

    • J.M. Martin says:

      “Now treat yourself to something fantastic…I hope you enjoy the journey. It will be spectacular.”

      That’s what I tell the ladies. ;-)

  48. MattJoeTom says:

    Also, I posted a link to this article on Goodreads! Way to go FF! I urge everyone else to do the same!!

  49. “However, I’ve never met an author in my entire life who has openly said: “My books are some of the best fantasy ever written.” To dismiss works or to put yourself on a level alongside authors such as Sanderson, Hobb, Goodkind, Tolkien, etc is not only not something you, yourself, do not have the right to do – but it is damned right offensive.”

    Interesting choice to include Goodkind on that list. Goodkind actually IS one of the authors who has touted himself as being uniquely magnificent.

  50. “It also brings up something that really worries me about self-publishing. How do you know you’re not being conned?”

    This, BTW, makes self-publishing… completely identical to Big 6 publishing.

    • Overlord says:

      Not exactly, they have certain rules they must adhere to and because they have so many authors they work for – they think of the bigger picture. I.e. If we say this guy is amazing and he is not, then we risk this other guy who really is amazing not being taken seriously when we say he is.

      Because Self Publishers publish only themselves, they have the ability to think very short term. If they say ‘I am amazing!’ and someone buys the book off that – that’s it for them, they don’t have to worry about affecting anyone else.

      Not that many self publishers do this or think like this at all. I’m just saying, there is a VERY small minority who will.

  51. Longshot says:

    Wow! The best marketing he could do would be to take down the free sample chapter he has linked to his posts.

  52. birchbark says:

    Thanks to Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature (and the Surprise Me! button) I did some random sampling of this guy’s works, and yikes, are they consistently awful – Eye of Argon material, except not as interesting. It does make me wonder how many of his twitter followers are in it for the amusement value.

  53. Zevon Price says:

    Well first of all, he’s wrong on all counts. I have waaaaaaaay many more twitter followers than he. So many, in fact, that a number hasn’t even been invented yet. My prose makes tulips weep tears of pure awesomeness that cause baby sprites to spontaneously combust into showers of rainbows. I’m the greatest author of all because potato springboard buzzsaw.

    Its amazing how people can delude themselves, isn’t it?

    Seriously, though. I can’t imagine having the gall to say something like that to another person, let alone my peers. As a hopefully soon to be published author, it would be one of my greatest honors to be a part of any publishing endeavor, indie, self-pub, or major house. Authors of every stripe tend to be the best people in the world, second only to our readers, and seeing one douche canoe behave like this is just one too many.

    I found this site through the kerfluffle with the knucklehead, but I have nothing but contempt for him, but all the respect in the world for this place. You guys handled the situation with elegance and class, which could have turned into a ‘you suck no you suck more!’ kind of dead end fight. I’m definitely going to hang out here, if you’ll have me. :)

  54. Michaela says:

    Wow…this guy’s moxie is just amazing. It is really frustrating to see loud-mouthed muppets like this giving indie authors a bad name, when we already have so many prejudices to overcome.

    I enjoyed the way the moderators handled it and found the entire exchange quite enlightening. I am now encouraged to stick around and get to know y’all. Hope you don’t mind if I pull up a chair. :D

  55. If you’re going to publish your own books (something becoming more and more mainstream, thankfully), then be proud of the SELF-made success that you created. Don’t play ridiculous games with labels and try to turn yourself into a victim.

    I have one self-published book. While I’m still querying for an agent and trying to sell other books, I am a “self-published author,” and MIGHT manage to sell a couple of books a month. Whether someone wants to play cute games and say “Oh no, I’m an INDIE author” (to avoid the self-published stigma), or try to pretend to be one of the big boys (as Mr. Mathias apparently is attempting — and failing — to do), all it does is make you look like a tool.

    Don’t be a tool, people. Please?

  56. Tim says:

    Jesus, for a second there I thought he was hacked, since he was replying to himself:S

    I’m kind of still in a little bit of shock, sure I only read the thread a minute or two ago. But…Wowza…

    The pity is that the thread will make some people think that all small publishers are like that.

  57. Not-So-Bloody-Nine says:

    Wow.

    Forum posts by Brandon Sanderson and Mr. Delusion goes off?

    Busy times for Fantasy-Faction…

  58. [...] You can read the whole thing from Fantasy Faction’s perspective here: “The Man Who Thought He Was King.” [...]

  59. My favorite thing about this guy is that he used the word “suddenly.”

  60. Belle Morgan says:

    It is very obvious that a highly insecure man feels hurt and is lashing out to make himself feel better. I expect he is now very pleased with himself and ready to go and write some more fabulous prose. Aww – Bless!

  61. [...] if I am outselling Robin Hobb and Terry Goodkind and Tolkien?” Fantasy author M.R. Mathias has a disagreement with [...]

  62. [...] The Man Who Thought He Was King  An article posted by a moderator of the Fantasy Faction site. [...]

  63. Nathan Tweed says:

    I love how you’ve got two recent articles regarding self-published and small press authors:
    Sanderson – Friendly, humble, witty and approachable.
    Mathias – Egotistic, deluded, offensive and … obsessed with Twitter numbers?

    Mathias complains on Twitter about being blocked from commenting, censorship, Nazism, and so on. Mathias should get a blog and put his response there, instead of shouting 140 characters into the wind. Then we’d all have a good read/laugh/frown. If you’re reading Mr Mathias, you can sign up for a free blog account at the world’s largest free blogging platform – WordPress.com

  64. [...] whole latest-writer-wearing-an-asshat-having-a-mental-breakdown-on-the-internet has been covered ad nauseum by better [...]

  65. [...] I post about what’s going on in my corner of the writing world because sometimes not everything ends up on twitter. (Except, of course, things like this.) [...]

  66. Robyn Hines says:

    Wow, just wow. I’m working on a few different projects which I hope to publish upon completion, and I sincerely hope I never stoop to this level. Self-promotion to sell a book is one thing; self-aggrandizement and burning any and all bridges is another.

  67. I have been following Mathias on Twitter for a while and one of the things I have always noticed is him always up selling his books. Which is fine, but this type of self-hype is ridiculous. While I have quite a few of his books, I now am not sure I want to read them. I had won them from him in a contest, but now, I almost feel like I want to send them back.

    This man’s ego is just too rich for me.

    BTW, Fantasy Faction, can SOMEONE please email me :( I have tried and tried, but cannot seem to get anyone to respond to me.

    • Autumn2May says:

      Really? That’s odd. I’ll see if your email got caught in the spam folder. Sorry about that. :)

  68. [...] press section where it belongs under their rules (for the curious you can read a good summary here: The Man Who Thought He Was King). I’ve [REDACTED] the author and their press as I don’t want to focus on just one [...]

  69. sqt says:

    These types of meltdowns are precisely why I don’t accept self-published work. It’s just not worth the hassle. I got an email from Mathias a week or two ago looking to advertise on the blog but I declined. Seems I made the right choice.

  70. [...] There is quite a lot been said on this issue already, and I won’t be able to say much more, so I’ll just direct you here: http://fantasy-faction.com/2012/the-man-who-thought-he-was-king [...]

  71. [...] a week goes by without news about a scandal involving the behaviour of a self-publishing author. You’ve read these posts, and they all unfold in a similar [...]

  72. ChrisMB87 says:

    It’s sad to see this sort of thing happen here on this site, but I guess that this is what happens when egos get inflated. I sincerely hope I never have this sort of breakdown when I get published.

  73. [...] at Fantasy Faction there has been a little.. well.. self-publishing related drama. The Man Who Thought He Was King. I would like to add that this is such a rare and shocking representation of self-published and [...]

  74. Authors are just people. And people can be kinda crazy. Just sayin’…

  75. Kristin says:

    I think I had to block this guy on twitter. He kept using my twitter for his spammy tweets

  76. Eighty Six says:

    I do love it when a fool acts like a fool so you don’t really need to point out that he’s a fool. My first experience with MRR was when I got a Twitter account around the same time I finished my first book. I started following him and immediately learned the obnoxiousness of an auto-tweeter. Constant blah-blah about his sales and how his first book was written in a Texas prison. I mentioned once that I wish I was unemployed and incarcerated because I’d have more time to write.

    I read some samples of his work to find out what all the fuss was about. It reminded me of the sort of stuff an elementary school kid would write about his D&D character. (In no way knocking D&D of course.) Not a creative word. Definitely thrown together. I stopped feeling insecure about my sales and promptly stopped following him. Not sure how to play the game so you get good reviews and big sales with 3rd grade writing, but I’ll continue to be proud of everything I publish and know I’m appreciated by all my readers.

  77. When I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment. There has to be a means you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks!

  78. [...] And speaking of damage, here is an example of using social media to ruin your writing career. [...]

  79. It’s so sad that someone would respond like that. I honestly don’t see anything wrong with being labeled a small press. I just recently opened a small press after years of preparation, and I’m proud of the fact. I don’t expect to sell as much as the big houses, and I don’t aspire too, but there’s nothing to be ashamed of — being small. Nothing to be ashamed of at all. In fact, small presses often have a lot more freedom — both creatively and financially — than the big houses do.

    As for being self published, what’s wrong with saying so? Quite honestly there are a lot of big authors out there who are self published and shouting it to the world. Joe Konrath comes to mind. Now, admittedly, Konrath has made it known that he now stands (more or less) against the traditional rout to publication, but that’s not the point. The point is that being self published shouldn’t be anything to be ashamed of — at least, it shouldn’t be if you work hard and are proud of the work you do.

    And on the subject of rewriting and editing, I’m never quite satisfied with my own manuscript’s quality. I’m currently going through the 6th rewrite/editing stage. My hope is by the time I’m finished with this version of the book, I will be satisfied enough with it to take it into the publishing world, though whether by myself or through another small press is undecided. I did have some interest from a publisher when I queried my last draft, but he and I both agreed that the book still needed work. Besides, I don’t want to put out second rate writing… a true writer who is proud of their craft will keep working and improving until their work is the absolute best it can be.

    Sounds to me that this guy totally needs an ego check. In fact, I would give him a cyber slap if I was capable. He needs to be brought into perspective, and it’s refreshing to see how this forum and mods responded to his outrageous claims.

    As for Fantasy Faction, well I was just browsing google and came across this post. Now I know about the forums and I’ve registered. From the responses I’ve seen here, and this blog post in and of itself, I think it was inevitable that I would want to join. :D So if there’s one good thing that comes out of all of this, it’s that people are seeing this douch bag for what he is, and FF is getting lots of attention. lol!

  80. This whole self-publishing fad being promoted by Amazon is a scam. And it gives us the kind of utter twit like Herr Mathias. I’m hoping it all implodes as quickly as possible. I’m sick of seeing these horrible folk considering themselves writers because they are now “published”. Right.