A Note On The New Titles
Why have I changed the titles of the Rain books? Simply because I've never thought the titles were right for the stories. The right title matters—if only because the wrong one has the same effect as an inappropriate frame around an otherwise beautiful painting. Not only does the painting not look good in the wrong frame; it will sell for less, as well. And if you're the artist behind the painting, having to see it in the wrong frame, and having to live with the suboptimal commercial results, is aggravating.
The sad story of the original Rain titles began with the moniker Rain Fall for the first in the series. It was a silly play on the protagonist's name, and led to an unfortunate and unimaginative sequence of similar such meaningless, interchangeable titles: Hard Rain, Rain Storm, Killing Rain (the British titles were better, but still not right: Blood from Blood for #2; Choke Point for #3; One Last Kill for #4). By the fifth book, I was desperate for something different, and persuaded my publisher to go with The Last Assassin, instead. In general, I think The Last Assassin is a good title, but in fairness it really has nothing to do with the story in the fifth book beyond the fact that there's an assassin in it. But it was better than more of Rain This and Rain That. The good news is, the fifth book did very well indeed; the bad news is, the book's success persuaded my publisher that assassin was a magic word and that what we needed now was to use the word assassin in every title. And so my publisher told me that although they didn't care for my proposed title for the sixth book—The Killer Ascendant—they were pleased to have come up with something far better. The sixth book, they told me proudly, would be known as The Quiet Assassin.
I tried to explain that while not quite as redundant as, say, The Deadly Assassin or The Lethal Assassin, a title suggesting an assassin might be notable for his quietness was at best uninteresting (as opposed to, say, Margret Atwood's The Blind Assassin, which immediately engages the mind because of the connection of two seemingly contradictory qualities). The publisher was adamant. I told them that if they really were hell-bent on using assassin in a title that otherwise had nothing to do with the book, couldn't we at least call the book The Da Vinci Assassin, or The Sudoku Assassin? In the end, we compromised on Requiem for an Assassin, a title I think would be good for some other book but is unrelated to the one I wrote—beyond, again, the bare fact of the presence of an assassin in the story.
Now that I have my rights back and no longer have to make ridiculous compromises about these matters, I've given the books the titles I always wanted them to have—titles that actually have something to do with the stories, that capture some essential aspect of the stories, and that act as both vessel and amplifier for what's most meaningful in the stories. For me, it's like seeing these books for the first time in the frames they always deserved. It's exciting, satisfying, and even liberating. Have a look yourself and I hope you'll enjoy them.
Q. What if I don't have a Kindle, and I want to read one of your Amazon exclusives?
Q. Can I read your Amazon exclusives on my Nook?
There are ways of doing this, but the feedback I've received suggests they're not reliable so I don't recommend them. I think the best way to read one of the Amazon exclusives if you don't have a Kindle is as described above.
Q. Why do you do exclusives with Amazon, anyway?
Amazon makes their published books available to any retailer that wants to stock them, but issues the digital versions as Amazon exclusives. Of course I'd rather if they would make the digitals available outside Amazon, too, but I understand their reasoning. And although by publishing with Amazon I give up other retail channels, Amazon's marketing machine is such that I reach many, many more readers than I otherwise would (and I love working with them for various other reasons, too—they're smart, innovative, and overall just a lot of fun).
Does digital exclusivity serve readers? I wouldn't say so, but on the other hand Amazon prices my front list digital novels at $5.99—less than half what my previous publishers charge. Which business model, on balance, is better for readers—an Amazon digital exclusive at $5.99? Or a legacy-published ebook, available at all retailers for $12.99? Shouldn't anyone objecting to the former based on concerns for the welfare of readers be at least as alarmed about the latter?
As a reader, I personally feel better served being able to buy a new ebook at Amazon for $5.99 than I do being able to buy it anywhere at more than twice that price. But I recognize that not everyone thinks lower prices for book buyers is particularly important.
Q. Will your short stories be available in paper too?
Unfortunately, there's no cost-effective way to distribute a short story in paper today. However, if you don't like reading on a screen and you have access to a printer, there is an easy fix. You can purchase the PDF versions of the short stories from Smashwords or from my website, download them to your computer, and print them out.
Q. I hate to use my credit card online, but I'm interested in reading your self-published stories. Any solutions?
Yes, download them directly from my website. My self-published works are available directly through my website, with PayPal as the payment system, so readers who don't like to use credit cards online can now purchase these stories using PayPal. (Though PayPal also allows you to use a credit card securely if you prefer.)
Q. How did you get back your rights to your books?
My previous contracts have been amicably terminated.
Q. Where can I get information on your digital editions?
Information is here.
Q. Tell me about the Rain Fall movie!
The Rain Fall movie movie opened in Japan in April, 2009, produced by Sony Pictures Japan and starring a mostly Japanese cast and Gary Oldman as CIA Station Chief William Holtzer. It was released on DVD in the States in May, 2010. It's very different from the book. I can't take any credit or blame for the movie because other than selling the rights to the book, I had no involvement.
It's common when selling movie rights to a book to give up all control over the screenplay, casting, and everything else. Trying to retain control in those areas would probably result in an inability to sell the movie rights generally. When one becomes John Grisham, one's negotiating leverage changes, but at the outset, authors are typically faced with a decision that can be oversimplified as: do I want to risk a bad movie, or no movie at all? Most authors (myself included) happily choose the first risk. Because no matter how a movie turns out, on balance it will sell more books than no movie would. In addition to which upside, there's the upfront money, and of course there's always the possibility the moviemakers will make a very fine film indeed.
Q. Do I need to read the books in order?
Each book is written to function as a standalone, so you can read them in any order you like (though of course you should read them all ;-)). In the John Rain books, there is an arc to Rain's character as he goes from being a cynical loner to someone with attachments—attachments that often present complications, given the life he leads—so, other things being equal, you might as well start with the first: A Clean Kill in Tokyo. Like the Rain books, each of the Ben Treven books builds on the book that came before it, but each also works as a standalone.
Q. Will there be more Rain books?
That's a perennial yes.
Q. Why are some of your UK titles different from the US?
Sometimes publishers in different markets, in my case the US and UK, prefer different titles. Now that I have my rights back, I've unified the titles and covers and hopefully there will be no further confusion about which book is which. And to the extent that my previous publishers' decisions to use different titles ever caused any confusion, my sincere apologies. It wasn't something I wanted or could control.
Q. Where can I find audio versions of the books?
Q. In Extremis, Delilah is reminiscing about a love affair with Dox. What's up with that?
I'm sorry to report that an overzealous proof reader who didn't think to check with me "corrected" Dov to Dox after my final signoff on the page proofs. It's fixed in the third and fourth printings of the hardback and in the paperback.
Q. I found a mistake in one of the books—wanna know about it?
Yes! I'm obsessive about accuracy and realism, but despite all my efforts occasionally something slips through. I'm grateful to everyone who's ever taken the time to point out a glitch to me—but before you mention one, have a look at the Mistakes page, because someone else might have told me already.
Q. Will you blurb my books?
I blurb very few books—about a dozen so far, which translates into about one for each year I've been in this business. Here's why.
Q. Will you read my screenplay/ manuscript/ treatment/ outline/ synopsis/ poetry?
I get a lot of such requests, and wish I had time to meet them—but I don't, and then of course there's the legal problem of malcontents who send such items to create an excuse for claiming a published author ripped off an idea. The truth is, you don't need a published writer to validate your efforts, and if you do, you might lack the confidence it will take to weather the many setbacks you'll likely face on the way to success. What you really need is here, and I recommend reading it.
Q. What do you think about self-publishing?
Big question! Short answer: I love the revolution in the publishing world and I'm thrilled to be part of it. For more, here's a free download I wrote with Joe Konrath: Be The Monkey: A Conversation About The New World of Publishing. And here are my resources for indie authors. Good luck and keep at it!
Q. Is it true you're releasing your stories only as ebooks?
No. What's happening is that I'm releasing new stories as quickly as possible in all formats. Because paper editions take longer to prepare than digital editions, typically the digital edition will be available a month or so sooner than the paper. Note that holding back the digital version until the paper version is ready doesn't speed the release of paper; it only delays the release of digital, which strikes me as neither sensible nor fair. For similar reasons, audio versions will typically be available some months following the digital release—again, it just takes more time to record, edit, and engineer the narration.
The one exception to the approach described above is for short stories—I can't distribute these cost-effectively in paper, so they'll be available only in digital and downloadable audio versions. As of today, though, I have three short stories and one novella, so it might make sense to release a short works anthology sometime reasonably soon.
Q. What's next?