Baboon Fart Story: Now Available Here For Your, Erm, Pleasure?

Baboon Fart Story is now available, for free.

Though, I’d like to ask that if you do want to grab this to please take a moment first and deposit a few chits and ducats — even just a dollar! — to one of the following charities:

The African Wildlife Foundation: Donate here.

The Colon Cancer Alliance: Donate here.

StoryCorps: Donate here.

Donate for the baboons. Or the colons. Or the preservation of story.

(All three charities rated three or four stars by Charity Navigator.)

To download Baboon Fart Story:

ePub | Mobi

The Story, So Far

If you missed the, ahem, thrilling narrative

The other day I said a thing about how technically, yeah, self-publishing has no gatekeepers, meaning: you could upload a book containing only 100,000 instances of the word “fart” — just slap a baboon urinating into his own mouth onto the cover and voila, upload that mad bastard right to Amazon. (That post: “Self-Publishing Truism Bingo.”)

Then, a lovely gentleman with whom I was previously unacquainted — “Phronk,” AKA Mike, a dude who has a PhD in Psychology — decided to do exactly that. (I was unaware of this, nor was I consulted. I did not compose the arrangement. Most I did was signal boost.)

And so, Baboon Fart Story reached Amazon.

It lived there for about 12 hours.

It attracted over 30 reviews, some from notable authors (Daniel Abraham, Tiffany Reisz).

It landed about 21 sales, give or take some from foreign Amazon installations.

It ended up at an Amazon ranking of #14,246.

And at #9 in: Books > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Books & Reading > General.

Then, earlier today, it got pulled from Amazon by Amazon.

The reason given to Phronk was:

“We’re writing to let you know that readers have reported a poor customer experience when reading the following book: Baboon Fart Story.”

He asked them to reconsider, and they told him, in short: “No.”

And that was that, though it gained some traction across social media (Facebook, blogs, Twitter). Some folks found it hilarious. Some found it just plain stupid. Others found it mean-spirited or damaging to self-publishing efforts. A sampling:

@ChuckWendig wait. If BABOON FART STORY becomes a best-seller does that prove or disprove your theory? I’m so confused.
2/17/14, 10:29 PM
BABOON FART STORY, a metacritique of self-publishing that is “fart” 100K times, has 18 reviews on Amazon. Well, there goes my soul.
2/17/14, 11:49 PM
Somebody takes @ChuckWendig at his word. And the word is ‘fart’ written out 100,000 times. And its selling on Amazod.
2/18/14, 9:27 AM
The word ‘fart’ 100K times with a baboon pissing in its own mouth on the cover is now outselling my novel on Kindle.
2/18/14, 9:29 AM
Arguably the highest achievment of humanity — or baboon.
2/18/14, 9:32 AM
I bought a Kindle copy of the Baboon Fart Story before Amazon took it down. THE BIDDING STARTS AT $5,000. Ultra-rare! CENSORED BY AMAZON!
2/18/14, 9:45 AM
I suppose this’ll become a new freedom of speech issue. No, I don’t think it’s fucking funny at all. I’m not 12.
2/18/14, 9:53 AM
Congrats on throwing DIY back into the dark ages.
2/18/14, 9:53 AM
Dear traditional writers: if Baboon Fart Story proves anything at all, it’s that self-published books can’t get away with crap.
2/18/14, 2:12 PM
Heard Apatow was in a heated bidding war for BABOON FART STORY. Maybe that’s why Amazon pulled it down?
2/18/14, 12:47 PM
The whole baboon fart story debacle is making me howl with laughter. The reviews were even more hilarious. Pity someone spoiled the fun.
2/18/14, 10:21 AM

Etc. etc.

Charlie Stross had some things to say about it (“Baboon Fart Odyssey“).

The Daily Dot ran a story.

So did Metro NY.

It now has a Goodreads page.

It’s all a delightful bit of silliness that proves very little but, it seems, has invited some conversation just the same. On the one hand, it would seem to satirically criticize the unmanned gates of self-publishing, but on the other hand could not exist without the unmanned gates of self-publishing. The more interesting focus is maybe on what it says about Amazon — there, a rather epic bastion of self-published works, reportedly itself an unkept gate except, as of late, they’ve been kicking various authors and stories out of Eden (monster porn, certain varieties of erotica, STORIES ABOUT BABOON FLATULENCE). And this one seems to have been pulled because people complained — folks that I think (having followed a few Twitter conversations) might’ve been some indie-pub authors who were a bit bristly over the whole affair. Which then makes me wonder if you can get any book pulled if enough people complain. Curious.

And that is that. I admit now that I wish it had remained, if only to become a receptacle for what were truly some of the funniest reviews I’ve read on Amazon in a long time.

You can find an archive of some of those reviews at Kay Camden’s website.

Thanks, Phronk, Kay, and everyone else for making this, you know… really, really weird.

High-fives and baboon farts all around.

44 responses to “Baboon Fart Story: Now Available Here For Your, Erm, Pleasure?”

  1. Yes! My review was captured and it still shows on my reviewer profile. Baboon Farts Story on Amazon was one of the best evenings I’ve had in a while. Which gives a general indication of how much life has sucked lately. What cracks me up is that my profile got to “keep” the up-votes on the review. This was an incredible virtual flashmob and I *wave* to my fellow mobbers.

  2. It seems a good support in free market theory.

    Enter stage right, “Crappy (albeit experimentally interesting) Book”.

    Fringe Theater Goers, take a deeper look. Even shelling out a shekel for the playbill.

    General Audience (Market) Doesn’t Bite …

    “Crappy (albeit experimentally interesting) Book” waved off by theater owner and Exits Stage Left.

    Moral: Create a truly remarkable product if you want to sustain demand.

    • Except that’s not the narrative – the book was pulled by Amazon in less than 24 hours. There are a lot of KDP books that would love to have Phronk’s opening day sales. This wasn’t the market at work. It was an anonymous cry for Amazon to be a gatekeeper, and Amazon obliged.

  3. As a(n amused) late-comer to the party I find myself wondering, did Phronk really give us 100k farts, or did he sneak a fnord or two in there? If I read this in its entirety will I sink into madness while uncovering the mysteries if self-pub-hotep?

  4. Oh god no don’t link to me again… what have I done… my poor website. LOL

    (Phronk sent me more reviews he captured before it got pulled. I just updated the post with more screen captures. Enjoy.)

  5. “Amazod” is now forever how I will refer to Amazon.

    Author-Publishing a book that Traditional Publishers think is too risky? “KNEEL BEFORE AMAZOD!”

  6. As you speak, so shall it be done.

    Seriously, this made me laugh. I definitely need some humor after all the less funny stuff that’s been going down in the interwebs this week. Thanks to you and Phronk.

  7. Read your blog post since this all began. I applaud Phronk for his bravado. I downloaded just for fun. Man, there is a lot of intense action! I usually tell my kids, when being as “long winded” as that, it sounds like the poop train might be coming down the tunnel. And though the cover didn’t come with the ebook, it is nice to see the even in the wilderness, animals have their own drinking fountains.

    Rock on, Mr. Wendig.

    Oh, and your KICK ASS WRITER book is, yes, kick ass and inspiring.

  8. I love how people complained about being ‘disappointed’. The blurb specifically tells them that the book is just the word ‘fart’ written 100,000 times. What exactly were they expecting? :\

  9. Y’know, I wonder how many of the indie-pub authors who complained about ‘Baboon Fart Story’ were the same indie-pub authors who got on your case a week or so ago Chuck, saying more or less “don’t tell ME what I should and shouldn’t self-publish, I’ll self-publish what I damn well like, you’re not my momma…” etc. etc. ?

    As Rebecca says, potential readers were fairly warned what the book was and what it contained. If you’re the kind of person who buys a book without even finding out what it’s about first… well, your book-reading endeavours are just destined to crush your hopes and dreams, aren’t they?

    Chuck, Phronk and Kay Camden, I salute you. 🙂

  10. Amazod…I’m crying…I can’t see…I’m off to read the additional reader comments and give my diaphragm its daily workout. Well played, Chuck and Dr. Phronk. Well played indeed.

  11. I had the best laugh I’d had in weeks yesterday, reading the reviews. Many thanks to Phronk and everyone who left a comment for adding some bonus hilarity to life.

    It seems somewhat ironic that the complainants who had the book pulled, demanding Amazon play gatekeeper, are probably the same folk who got their knickers twisted by Chuck’s gentle suggestion that authors could do a better job of being their own gatekeepers.

    Have these guys even heard of a sense of humor? Makes me worry what their books are like…

  12. I….can’t figure out how that threw DIY back to the Dark Ages. Does Hugh Howey have to give all his money back now or something?

    *opens current manuscript*

    *finds novella made entirely of the word FART*


  13. Excuse me if this is a little rambling. I’m one of the people who didn’t think it was funny. I saw it on Amazon and it clearly described that it was the word Fart throughout. I didn’t buy or complain. If people bought it after reading the description and then got pissed off, tough shit for them since it was clearly spelled out what they were going to get and they could Look Inside to see the sample for further clarity.

    It did bug me that it made it through to publication because it proved that anything can get published. Phronk gets kudos for proper formatting btw. But seriously, it made it through. Ok. Fine. Then Chuck – pardon me for talking about you as if you’re not here – boosts the signal. His…uh…followers start with the lunatic reviews. That’s what made the book jump in numbers so fast and please correct me if I’m wrong about that. I’m all ears.

    It’s not a fair experiment BECAUSE Chuck boosted the signal. People…especially those of the writerly kind…listen to Chuck. We know he’s nuts and love him for that. One of my favorite things about him is he always gives both sides of whatever coin he’s presenting. But in this case he had announced in an ealier post that he wouldn’t review self pub material because it sucks. It sucks because some writers don’t edit, proof, or take all the other steps that an author-publisher (coined by chuck, I believe?) should from a professional standpoint and, instead, just hit publish on Amazon or wherever and consider themselves to be published authors. So while tooting the author-publisher horn and also being self pubbed himself (right?) he tossed all author-publishers out of a chance to get the same signal boost he gives traditionally published authors. A boost that has really helped those authors because people listen to Chuck.

    Next we move to the Baboon Fart Story. Cool experiment. But would it have jumped in numbers if Chuck hadn’t hopped on board and boosted the signal even if it was a joke? Or if those in on the joke hadn’t given it raving reviews…which were total BS people, come on. Where were the negative reviews? The honest ones, where some mook bought the stupid book after failing to read the description and then had the nerve to be surprised by what he’d purchased? I’ve never looked through reviews on Amazon and not found at least one negative review.

    Add to that the self-pubbers who were insulted by the entire thing because Chuck already kind of called them losers by refusing to review them since so much self-pub work is crap…like the Fart Story is crap…but he boosted THIS jackass of an ebook. Naw, I can’t imagine why some author-publishers were ticked off.

    Would the Baboon Fart Story have jumped in numbers without Chuck’s name being attached to it? I don’t think so. And that’s why I didn’t think it was funny, or fair.

    I agree there’s a lot of shitty ebooks out there. Hell, even Chuck’s have errors. Even traditionally published ones do – ever read Llewellyn books? Holy fuck, they need an editor. And yes, a lot of author-publishers hit publish too soon. I saw one yesterday that had an error in the goddamned title for god’s sake. So yeah, art harder mother fuckers. But don’t lump all author-publishers together as automatically bad…or make them look like baboons, please and thank you.

    Now, how about we come up with creative ways to help self-pubbers get out from under the bus that just landed on them and increase the signal on Arting Harder and farting less?

    • Josette, the ranking Baboon Fart Story achieved is definitely proof of the marketing value of influential word of mouth, and please God we’re lucky enough to get such powerful word of mouth support when we self-publish! (Sorry if I missed that you have already got books out, I didn’t see any releases mentioned on your blog.)

      But isn’t saying “it’s not fair” because Chuck wouldn’t review our self-pubbed books a bit like saying Chuck shouldn’t promote his own self-published books on his own blog? He didn’t set out to review a book, he shared a joke, that not everyone found funny.

      Love your reminder to Art Harder. That’s a great motto for all of us.

      As for what we can do to get out from under the bus, there’s some good relevant correlations suggesting what helps in this survey of self-published writers’ earnings-

      Keep writing, produce quality work, write series, and keep putting our words out there. Sounds a lot like arting harder.

        • Timing, dude. And you must know a lot of people read and listen to you. Why I’ve heard you’re practically a god in the word slinging world. It’s probably just the beard.

      • Autumn, I have no books out because…ahem…they’re not up to snuff yet, making it obvious that I’m not whining because I want Chuck, or anyone else, to review anything of mine. My being nobody in the publishing realm might be why I’m the only one shooting off my mouth here too. Chuck Fear! lol

        I’m not saying it’s unfair that Chuck won’t review self-pub work. I’m saying it’s unfair that he said that and THEN promoted this joke just after announcing that. The timing of the joke made it seem like he was showing us a primary…haha…example of why self pub work sucks. Clearer?

        Art Harder is Chuck’s. He’s got some great ones.

        Thanks for the link.

  14. There is much more to mine in the Baboon Fart Universe:

    Baboon Fart V: The Thai Food Strikes Back
    Baboon Fart VI: Return of the Flu Bug

    Baboon Fart I: The Fiber-Load Menace
    Baboon Fart II: Attack of the Strip-Mall Sushi
    Baboon Fart III: Revenge of the Food-Truck Burrito

    Not-so-inner 12 year old satisfied, I’ll go back to work now.

  15. I just uploaded a saucy parody entitled “SEX.” It contains the word “SEX” 100,000 times. Let’s see if it makes it past the Amazon gatekeepers, now that they’re watching for us barbarians…

  16. It was actually an interesting reading experience! To be honest, I skimmed over a lot of it – okay, most of it…but there are some really interesting sections in there!

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