Friday, July 08, 2005


In Which I Am the Sex Man...

This will amuse you: I am officially an international author. A while back, one of my books--the last of which I wrote 7 years ago--was sold to publishers in China and the Czech Republic. Today, I finally received complimentary copies of the foreign editions from both countries. Apparently the Chinese edition is selling like hot cakes. Or rice cakes, if you prefer.

And as soon as I looked at the cover, I could see why. The book I wrote was a semi-amusing volume on men and dating. I can tell you this without fear of compromising my secret ID because there are, oh, some 1,300 such books on the same topic over at Amazon and mine is no longer even in print in the U.S.

But it's important you know the subject matter: Men and dating. Guys and relationships. Sure, of course, there's some mention of sex. Nothing X-rated, nothing explicit. Sex is not the thrust of the book, as it were.

So you can imagine my surprise to gaze upon the cover of the Chinese edition of my book and see that it is nothing more or less than a string of Chinese symbols superimposed over a close-up color picture.

Of someone's bare buttocks.

What the f--? I thought. What's an ass doing on the cover of my dating book?

But that's not the best part. The best part is that a friend who knows Chinese translated the title for me. Apparently, my original title--which I admit was a bit wordy in English--wasn't appropriate for the Chinese market. So the publishers translated it as


With my name right below the title.

As you can imagine, I didn't exactly pick up the phone and call the folks with the good news. Mostly, I just spent my day staring silently at the book and shaking my head.

I can't begin to tell you how little in common this new title has with the old one. It would be like someone translating Catcher in the Rye as This Loaf of Bread Contains a Baseball Player.

And, alas, the indignity doesn't end there. Further translation of the jacket copy confirmed my growing suspicion that the Chinese publisher decided to market this book as part sex manual, part memoir of my own personal sexual exploits--which it most certainly was not.

Between snorts of laughter, my friend further informed me that the cover copy also seems to imply that the bare ass depicted on the cover is not just any bare ass, but MY BARE ASS.

(stares at book and shakes head some more)

Either my friend is pulling my leg--right out of its socket--or a great deal of the intent of the work fell screaming into a vast linguistic/cultural gulf somewhere between Manhattan and Beijing.

Whatever the case, there's pretty much nothing I can do about it, since I don't even own the book. I wrote the manuscript when I was young and stupid and thought $45,000 was a lot of money. Which it was, as some book advances go. However, I wasn't paid that money as an advance. That was--and ever will be--all the money I am fated to earn from that book. I wrote it under a work-for-hire agreement, see, which means that the publisher owns all rights to the work. They make the money. All I get are courtesy copies. If I'm lucky.

So kids, I guess the take-home message here is: never sign away all your rights to your work.

You'll just end up having your ass handed to you.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Bwaaaahahahah - MM is: "The Sex Man". I'm not exactly sure that is accurate & not completely sure why that is funny, but it is.

Is it, at least, a nice looking bum on the cover? Not that yours isn't. Though, having never seen it, I cannot judge.

Are there Gina exploits involved? 'Cause that would make it even more hilarious.

Take heart, a lot of Japanese men won't have sex with their own spouses because they think of them more as sisters than wives.

Although you never thought of yourself as a stud, so to speak, it seems you have achieved a sort of "Playa" status with the Chinese.

Embrace it, I say! There is no better line for HLS than: "You know, I am considered THE SEX MAN in China!"
Consider me, thoroughly amused.
If you don't mind, I would willingly double check the translation for you.

As I am chinese, and I do live near beijing. :)

Well ... as near as Malaysia will ever be.
Now THAT'S funny... having your ass handed to you! *snert* I'll take your words to heart, just in case creativity one day strikes me to produce something interesting enough to inspire someone to want to pay me for it :)
Doesn't that just bite the wax tadpole.
Brilliantly funny! I'll never be able to buy rye bread again without laughing. (You've also influenced the way I carry hot soup BTW.)

Hey I still think $45K is a bunch of money. Where do I go to sign away all my rights? Can't be too difficult to write a book I'm sure, but well, I'm short on time so you can give me some cheat codes ok? Heh. ;)
You'd better hope Shane doesn't have a friend who speaks Chinese, because Amazon China is just a click away ;)
Found your blog yesterday and checked it this morning for my first laugh of the day. Thanks for that. Cheers.
Oh my god, that's so fantastic in a completely weird sort of way! My question, though - can we see the cover...?
What?! And show you what millions (okay, several thousand) of residents of China think is my ass? What kind of exhibitionist do you take me for?

Here's a zen poser: If enough people believe a picture of AN ass is a picture of YOUR ass, does it really become your ass?

Sigh. I'll see what I can do. I am kind of curious to have izchan check to see if my friend is just messing with me. Problem is, my name is on there--in perfect English, for some reason--and well, I'm kind of a shy fellow, as you may have surmised.
Problem is, my name is on there--in perfect English, for some reason...

That's what the blur tool in Photoshop is for, Sex Man.
What?!? And leave a big blurry blemish on my ass? You must be mad!

Or wait, maybe I am...
What does Mrs. MM say about this? Her husband is now know as the Sex Man in China. That might be worth bragging about, hehehehehe.

BTW, I think it's hysterical. Would love to know if your friend is putting you on or not.
Oh man - this place is very quickly becoming one of my favourites. That was a hilarious read with the 'Chinese' proverb at the end - killer!
I'd like a copy, please.
Sorry, the "Laura Parisi" comment was me. I forgot that I have a blogger account.
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