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Victor Hugo, World Auto Racing's angel investor

Here's a story about why Victor Hugo is World Auto Racing's favorite author.

After quite a few trips to Kinko's and playtesting we had the rough concept of World Auto Racing. Ocea, the other founder, background is working with manufacturers so we felt pretty squared away there. I (Connor) am an accountant, so we felt like we had a pretty good handle on designing cost projections and planning out the business. Even though we had those advantages in our corner, we definitely did not fully appreciate the amount of time and cost it would take to get where we are now.

As we figured costs, it all added up quickly. Artists are expensive and we realized we would need a professional. There was the first several thousand dollar line in my spreadsheet. We wanted well crafted gameplay mechanics, so we hired a friend that is a true expert. Not particularly cheap. Oh, and then there is manufacturing. We're going to Kickstarter, and many creators go there with prototypes. For us, being first time creators it seemed important to have some on hand to prove we can do this to our backers. Side note that adds to this cost, we insist on offset printing to ensure high image quality, making smaller quantity printings more expensive. Finally, there is that whole thing about advertising, which is not cheap but absolutely necessary. After all there is a decent chance if you're reading this you were initially brought into our world from an ad. Add on random other expenses (Kinko's, State of Oregon, professional writing, legal stuff, etc.) and this will be tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket before we sell any product. Not to mention we've got more than a few hours into this and tried to get the friends price whenever possible.

We don't have trust funds, and while we're fortunate to have stable good paying careers that didn't mean we had this money lying around. What were we to do? Where there is a will there is a way as they say. We found the reddit/r/flipping community, which led us to discover selling used books. In a previous post I mentioned the origins of WAR being finding a hobby that paid minimum wage. Book selling became that hobby. Every weekend we were driving to book sales, on phone calls talking about World Auto Racing as we toured around Oregon looking for books. Was this a get rich quick scheme? No, more like get financially secure slowly, but it was fun and we made more than minimum wage most of the time.

There was one Antiques Roadshow treasure moment. I was at my day job, and Ocea was taking lunch from his day job. Well there was something listed as an estate sale on craigslist, which included books. Ocea shows up, and it's not really an estate sale. It's really someone scrambling to clear out a house after a parent passed to get it ready for sale. None the wiser, Ocea heads out with this box of books. He starts looking them up on Amazon, and there is something strange. There is a set of books, that look old but are in great shape. On Amazon they are rarely sold, but each one is listed for nearly $1k. Sometimes that happens, and for whatever reason there is something without many copies on Amazon and for some reason the ones that are are listed are priced extraordinarily high.

Ocea calls me up and he's asking me to Google things as he is paging through this. He starts reading the inside of the book, and what he is holding is a first edition of Les Misérables. Written by Victor Hugo and published by Carleton in the 19th century. This was the first English publication of the Victor Hugo classic, and here we had a very good quality (for 2021 that is) copy. Needless to say we didn't know what to do with it, and we started working on finding rare book dealers, and even contacted some of the more famous auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's. Ultimately, after trying to sell it on commission for a while we decided we wanted to get some money out of it and we sold it to a rare book dealer for a few thousand dollars.

We had some other good scores, but that was early on and lit the passion for thousands of books sold to come.

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