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Sex, drugs and violence

We’ve just gone to reprint with three books:

Whispers and Moans: Interviews with the men and women of Hong Kong’s sex industry
King Hui: The Man Who Owned All the Opium in Hong Kong
Wing Chun Warrior: The True Tales of Kung Fu Master Duncan Leung, Bruce Lee’s Fighting Companion

It’s clear that people love to read about these things!

One of the best, but hardest, parts of publishing is writing the back-cover text for books. Apparently people will pick up a book if they like the front cover, and will then spend an average of 9 seconds reading the blurb on the back. In little more than 100 words you have to both summarize the entire story and convince people to buy it. We go through many drafts. Here’s an early blurb for a book we’re publishing early next year:

In 1995, Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find his fortune overseas. In Hong Kong, he went through a bizarre series of jobs while becoming increasingly addicted to crystal methamphetamine. Soon he began working for the 14K, Hong Kong’s largest crime family, as a doorman in one of their nightclubs in the Wan Chai red-light district. Dealing with homelessness, violence and the ‘Foreign Triad’ – a secretive expat clique that unbeknown to the world works hand-in-hand with the Chinese syndicates – he had to survive in the world’s most unforgiving city, addicted to the world’s most dangerous drug.

What do you think — would you read on?

2016-11-24T01:14:30+00:00September 12th, 2010|new books, publishing|14 Comments


  1. Paul September 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Is this claiming to be a work of fiction or non-fiction?

  2. Pete September 12, 2010 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    Non-fiction, as per usual, but I should have made that clear. Thanks.

  3. Paul September 12, 2010 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Then I’d buy a copy, but I’d approach it with a fair degree of scepticism – it sounds a bit far-fetched to me.

  4. Paul September 12, 2010 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Oh, and, in editing mode, the second sentence doesn’t work for me: it needs something more in the first clause before the comma. I’d take the comma out and start with something like “After arriving in Hong Kong he went through…”, or just remove the comma. I really don’t see the need for the comma after “In 1995” either.

  5. Pete September 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks. Actually crystal meth has since become a big problem in the West, so this book may be well timed.

  6. Phil September 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Sounds intriguing, my interest is already piqued as I like a bit of crime in my life :-0 I’d buy it, although the guy’s surname sounds a bit cliched(is his nickname “En”?).

    Anyway, looking forward to it and congratulations on the reprints.

  7. Viktor September 12, 2010 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Dear Pete,

    to me it seems that the initial sentences are two wordy, I think I would not read past the third sentence… which is a shame, since the story seems VERY fascinating.

    To me, personally, the following elements are what makes this sound like a cool story “Ex-Royal Marine”, in business with the “Foreign Triad” in the “world’s least forgiving city” hooked on the “world’s most dangerous drug”.

    I would make sure all these elements show up in the initial sentences.

  8. Pete September 12, 2010 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    Thanks — yes, the temptation for me may be to cram too much info in there!

  9. Fili September 15, 2010 at 12:24 am - Reply

    Whispers and Moans sounds promising… 😛

  10. t September 20, 2010 at 7:57 am - Reply

    Pete, you should make it clear with a nice big TRUE STORY at the top of the cover that Chris Thrall’s upcoming book is an autobiography, so that potential readers do not dismiss it as fiction, which you must admit it easily could be mistaken for with a blurb like that.

    It’s funny, almost ironic, to me that a guy named “Phil” is accusing someone else have having a cliched name. And btw, I can’t think of a more unique name than “Thrall.”

  11. Phil September 22, 2010 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    actually “Phil” is just my glitzy stage name. My real name is John Smith.

  12. Steve November 8, 2010 at 8:22 am - Reply

    I agree, you need to emphasise that it is a true story. I can’t wait for it to be published having read some excerpts. Well written, humour, enthralling and a lot of insight into the person. Looks good. Would market well in the states I think.

  13. DGPGC November 12, 2010 at 7:15 am - Reply

    I know Chris (that is his real surname) and a nicer bloke you could not want to meet – the kind of thoughtful person (but also very tough) who belies the image of Royal Marines etc as being thick squaddies (actually a stereotype for certain intellectually patronising types which is well outdated now as anyone who has seen coverage of our troops in Afghanistan will know) – he told me something about the HK side when I met him in Africa (also the Triads etc are an interest of mine) so will be interested to read his book.

  14. Susan Blumberg-Kason March 20, 2011 at 1:14 am - Reply

    I’d buy it in a heartbeat. I love the Hong Kong setting, the underworld element, and the implication that the author goes through a huge transformation by the end of the story. Frankly, the front cover reels me in before I even turn it over, but I do like the back cover copy. It says a lot without being too long.

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