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Blog Archive February 2007

Gambling on Magic: Taking an online flutter

Since the first novel was published, we can be certain there have been many incidents where a character or a story has changed the life of a reader or two. Fiction is a window on other worlds as well. My German translator (and friend) Peter Friedrich, has written to me: “Gambling on Magic inspired me to try online gambling (no games of pure chance, of course). And meanwhile I'm winning about 300 EUR per month by playing just for fun. Thank you!”

At this rate Peter may leave translation work and devote himself to full time gambling. I hope not. He’s one of translators working in Germany.

Take a card? Or hold?

These are two of the most important questions in writing a novel and in placing a bet. In reality there has never been much difference between writing fiction and games of chance. It comes down to probability theory. At least with cards, if you have the technique and patience, you can count the cards and increase your chances of winning. So far there is no equivalent of card counting to increase an author’s chances of publishing success.

Before Peter increases his bets, it would be wise to read Temple University math genius J.A. Paulos on Winning at Losing Games.

Posted: 2/27/2007 9:58:58 PM 

 

Rare Books and the Hedge Fund Business

Ever so often I come across a price for my books that make me wonder if my publisher would be better off doing a print run of 500 and not send them to the bookstores. In fact, he should prohibit bookstore distribution of any book I write.

What gives? Why would any author want their publisher to horde books? Keep them in a secret stash and just put a couple of feelers out that something really valuable can be had for a mere eight hundred quid.

The laws of economics apply to books like they apply to most other things for which there are sellers and buyers. It seems that the more scarce a book is the higher the price it commands.

Take Spirit House the first Vincent Calvino novel, was published in 1992. You can now find reprints (not first editions mine you as those are kept in secure safety deposit boxes in the Jersey Islands) for sale on amazon.co.uk

Let’s ignore those cheap copies for £70.32 and go straight to the high end copies for real investors that with a price tag of £746.95 and £837.75.

Okay, let’s do the math. 500 x £837.75 = £418,875 so my royalty would come to £41,887.50.Where’s my cheque? Hmmm. Seems the publisher has a different accounting system. No surprise there.

I am waiting for a private equity fund or hedge fund to come around an offer for the books I’ve got on my shelf. Obviously there is a collectors market for books. Maybe collectors read books or maybe they should buy them hoping there is an upside so they can resell at a fat profit. But this indeed a strange, Alice and Wonderland World where second hand copies of my books are more expensive than a return London/Bangkok/London economic air ticket.

So next time you are thinking about picking up one my books, remember this is more than just a reading decision you are making. When you look at the front cover, remember this book could become part of your pension fund. Don’t buy one; buy half a dozen and lay them down like wine.

In fact, at this rate, I may not give the next novel to my publisher. I’ll have 50 copies printed, kick back, and way for the £41,887.50 to roll in.

On the other hand, you would think some publisher with green eye shades and a freshly minted MBA hanging on the wall of her office, would want to publish the books in the UK or England. On the other hand, that’s obviously a mug’s game. Just get into the market early, buy in a 100 copies, and flip them down the road for a handsome product. No need to get the hands dirty with contracts, advances, catalogue copy, author tours, marketing and promotion. Get straight down to the bit of large money coming in with no effort or work.

Price Condition Seller Information Ready to buy?
£70.32
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Used - Very Good
Seller:  anybook-uk
Rating:91% positive over the past 12 months (12069 ratings.) 14306 lifetime ratings.
Delivery: In stock. Dispatched from FL, United States International delivery available. See delivery rates.
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£70.33
Used - Very Good
Seller:  adciezl
Rating:87% positive over the past 12 months (120 ratings.) 120 lifetime ratings.
Delivery: In stock. Dispatched from WI, United States See delivery rates.
Comments:   1-3 weeks for the delivery from USA. Money Back Guarantee.

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£794.37
Used - Good
Seller:  hippo_orders
Rating:84% positive over the past 12 months (7629 ratings.) 8759 lifetime ratings.
Delivery: In stock. Dispatched from GA, United States International delivery available. See delivery rates.
Comments:   SHIPS FROM THE UNITED STATES VIA AIR MAIL. SHOULD ARRIVE WITHIN 21 BUSINESS DAYS. Hundreds of thousands of items in stock. Come to HippoBooks for all your media needs! ( « less )

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£837.75
Used - Good
Rating:91% positive over the past 12 months (1072 ratings.) 1075 lifetime ratings.
Delivery: In stock. Dispatched from CA, United States Expedited delivery available. International delivery available. See delivery rates.
Comments:   1992 Paperback. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed! Good to Very Good condition. Good, tight readable copy with typical reading wear. No dust jacket.Ships from USA. 1992 Paperback. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed! Good to Very Good condition. Good, tight readable copy with typical reading wear. No dust jacket. ( « less )

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Posted: 2/26/2007 9:31:23 PM 

 

Brief Guide to Publishing

You’ve written a book and you want to know how to get a publisher. I receive weekly requests about information about how to get published. Everyone who writes book had the same problem. No one was born with a publishing contract in clutched in their fist.

First, you must be realistic about the obstacles and competition. There are 10 times more people writing books today from 20 years ago when I was first published in New York. And the number of publishers had shrunk to the point where it has collapsed into a black hole with 7 leading publishers. The number of people buying fiction is no greater (if not less readers) than before. Blame the Internet. Blame Reality TV. Blame Video games. The attention devoted to book reading diminishes every year. Understand what you are up against.

Second, you won’t find much opportunity for publishing English language fiction in Asia. Asia is a region; it is not one, unified book market. What sells like hotcakes in Singapore won’t necessary work in Thailand. There are few publishers in Thailand who will look at an unsolicited manuscript. One is Bangkok Books You would have to email them about submission policy.

Third, if you want a publisher who pays an advance against royalties to read and consider your manuscript, you will need a literary agent. The days are long gone when legitimate publishers considered unsolicited manuscripts. They were swamped then, but they would be under water. Also they are afraid of getting sued. There are good agent, average agents and crooked agents. A good site to find out the crooks in this business is Preditors and Editors:

Fourth, you need a manuscript in near perfect condition before an agent will be interested. The agent won’t edit your book. An editor probably won’t do much editing either. They want a book that is ready to be published. They won’t hold your hand. Whatever you read about the old days when editors in green eye shades labored over manuscripts to nurture the creativity talent of an author are from a prior age. That age is long over. You need to find an editor who can go through and find all of the mistakes and typos that you no longer see because you wrote the book. Again the website at Preditors and Editors is a good place to start.

Fifth, you’ve managed to do the impossible: you have a publisher who has sent you a contract. You’re not a copyright lawyer; you’re not an insider in the industry so don’t know what much of the language means or whether the contract is fair. As to what it means, your agent is there for that. If you don’t have an agent, hire a lawyer. Or if that is out of the question (lawyers charge for time in a way that a novelist could only envy), the check out an industry standard contract written to ensure that the author gets a fair shake. The Mystery Writers contract is a good place to start.

Posted: 2/22/2007 5:39:05 AM 

 

Pattaya Talk

I am back in Pattaya to give a talk before members of The Pattaya City Expats Club on Sunday 25th February 2007. The talk is held at 'HENRY J. BEANS' Restaurant & Grill, at the AMARI ORCHID RESORT, at the north end of Beach Road. A Buffet is available from 9:30 AM. The Meeting starts at 10:30 AM, and they try to finish by 12:00 noon. There is ample parking - the entrance to the parking area and to Henry J. Beans is on the left side just after the turn on Beach Rd., across from the beach.

I will be talking about The Risk of Infidelity Index and how I came to develop the character of Vincent Calvino.

If you are in Pattaya, please stop in and say hello.

Posted: 2/21/2007 4:04:10 AM 

 

Bangkok, Tuesday

Finding a Publisher or an Agent: learn the probability of success by watching baby turtles.

Discovery Channel had a program about evolution. Featured in the high drama stakes of survival were baby turtles, freshly hatched, and making the run over open beach to the sea. On the charge to the sea, turtles were gorged on by birds. Others met their fate by being devoured by crabs. The crab grabbed hold and pulled a baby turtle, tiny legs flapping, down a hole in the sand. Those turtles fortunate enough to make it to the sea found little safety. Only a few out of the hundreds and hundreds that started the race survived.

When surfing the blogs and websites of authors, it is difficult not to feel publishing is not unlike the world of the baby turtles. You can sense the level of anxiety, anger and frustration. Knowing one’s their probable fate, doesn’t stop one from trying. Some turtles, after all, do make it, right?

The publishing equivalent of being eaten is being rejected. Failure to get published is the equivalent of being stopped before the water’s edge; the beach is littered with the remains of dead manuscripts. Most of those few authors who are given the chance to swim later disappear without a trace. It is difficult to believe the forces of evolutionary nature act in such a brutal, ruthless, and final fashion. But what is true for the baby turtle is true for the fate of most writers.

My favorite baby turtle was the one who turned away from the race to the sea and headed to the jungle. He was alone. If he was going to survive, he would have to adapt to a new environment. Otherwise, he, too, would disappear without a trace.

Posted: 2/19/2007 10:50:36 PM 

 

Material Witness - diary of a crime fiction addict

Over at Ben Hunt’s crime fiction website: Material Witness is a review of The Risk of Infidelity Index.

“Christopher G. Moore's fine novel, The Risk of Infidelity Index, the ninth in the Vincent Calvino series set in Bangkok, does not concern itself with September's bloodless coup, but it does conjure a dark and vivid picture of a society in which power resides with money and where that money can buy the status quo it needs to continue making money.”

Posted: 2/13/2007 5:01:43 AM 

 

The Risk of Infidelity Index: The reviews

One of the risk of writing are reviews. After you finish the long process of writing, rewriting and editing your novel, it goes out to others who judge whether you’ve been wasting your time. When reviewers judge a book a success, it all seems worth the effort. When readers judge a book worth opening their wallet, then a writer feels it is worth keeping a series like the Calvino series alive.

On 9th February 2007, two reviews of Risk are in the local newspapers.

Legendary book reviewer and Night Owl reviewed Risk in the Bangkok Post, saying, “…this book shows that Chris Moore is at the top of his form.” You can’t ask for a better final judgment than that.

And over at the Pattaya Mail, Lang Reid, who has been penning book reviews for years, he says about Risk, “exciting, enthralling and entertaining writing.”

Interestingly Lang Reid commented on the short period between the happening of the coup and the publication of The Risk of Infidelity Index. He wondered if I had taken a speedwriting course.

Most of the story had taken place during the time of the demonstrations and protest. At that time no one could predict where those demonstrations would lead. When the coup did happen, it presented an excellent chance to allow scores to be settled in a way that would seem inevitable.

The original ending lacked the coup element. If the coup hadn’t happened, the ending would lacked the emotion kick, the dramatic resolution of overthrow of what was divisive, hated government. As tanks rolled onto the streets of Bangkok, I suddenly had the chance to bring that political event as a natural outcome of the story. Good crime fiction novel should be able to create a seamless series of events. When reality served up a coup I saw the chance to pay off the chain of events that started on page 1 with an event that few novelist have a chance to weave into a book.

Posted: 2/8/2007 11:58:41 PM 

 

The Departed

The city woke up to find the Chief of Police had been transferred to an inactive position. This is the Police Chief for the entire country. For those living in the West that translates as a “soft” firing. Think of someone being shot out of the cannon but instead of smashing against a wall, he lands against a large foam mat where he stays until reaching 60 years old and then slides down with pension in hand into total oblivion.

Apparently Police Chief Kowit learned he was “out” of the job from the press. That is one way to deliver a pink slip in Thailand; it avoids the confrontation that Thais hate. Who wanted to be the guy who walks into the Chief’s office and says, “Hey you, clean out your desk. You’re outta here in five minutes.”

Apparently there was no volunteer.

Police Chief Kowit was quoted in The Nation, “We cannot choose the way we were born. I’d like to tell policemen to be patient in performing their duties.” And then he finished by sayings, policing was “a cursed profession.”

On the subject of the departed police chief, there is a movie I’d give five stars.

Last night I saw the film The Departed . Also about policing. Directed by Martin Scorsee (who if he doesn’t get an Oscar the Members of the Academy ought to be put in a velvet bag and sandal wood paddles used to dispatch them.). Martin Scorsese Set in Boston, the police are after a local gangster (Jack Nicholson) and there is a mole in the department feeding Mr. Big with every move the cops are making in advance. Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio square off as two cops looking to take down the mob. Who’s dropping the dime? Betrayal and murder have never been so graphically wedded in the dance Matt and Leonardo do in this film. If you want to look at conflict, police culture, and great dialogue, this movie is for you.

After the movie ends, you come back to what Police Chief Kowit said on his exit: policing is a cursed profession. That could become a bumper sticker in a lot of countries.

Posted: 2/5/2007 11:33:10 PM 

 

News on Foreign Rights deals

The Calvino novels will be translated into three new languages in 2007. The Vincent Calvino private eye series has been sold for Spanish translation rights. The publisher, Ediciones Paidos Iberica S.A., will translate Zero Hour in Phnom Penh into Spanish and release it in a hardback edition for 2007. The deal is for Spain and Latin America.

Other Calvino novels are scheduled for translation this year.

Mondadori, Italy’s leading publishing house, will release the Italian edition of Pattaya 24/7 in March, 2007. And Ketter Publishing House will release the Hebrew edition of Spirit House in 2007. Siam Inter Multimedia Public Co., Ltd. will publish Thai editions of Pattaya 24/7 and A Killing Smile in 2007.

Along with sales in Spain, Israel and Italy, rights to Moore’s novels have been sold for foreign translation in China, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Turkey and Thailand.

Posted: 2/4/2007 11:29:46 PM 

 

Signed Editions of The Risk of Infidelity Index

The owner of the Texas Lonestar bar in Washington Square is 84-year-old George Pipas. The Risk of Infidelity Index is co-dedicated to George who has lived in Bangkok for many decades. He’s something of a legend in this part of the world. There is also a character in Risk based on George.

George will sign 20 copies of Risk and I will also sign the 20 copies.

It is first come first serve. The first 20 readers that order Risk and anyone other book from https://order.kagi.com/cgi-bin/r1.cgi?4D9 will get one of the signed copies.

With the second hand price of some of my books selling on the Internet for over a $100.00 that isn’t a bad investment. For the price of my second hand books check out this site.

Posted: 2/4/2007 11:25:17 PM 

 

 

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