Daniel Abraham and Bizarre Quirks of Publishing

A little while back, I bought The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham. Abraham is the author of the highly-regarded but not all that highly sold Long Price Quartet. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this, but I couldn’t get through the first book, for reasons that are entirely personal and no reflection on the quality of the book(*). Since this is the start of a new and unrelated series, I figured it was a good way to give him a shot, so I picked up the ebook.

A little more recently, I picked up Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey, a new space opera that’s gotten some good reviews. “James S. A. Corey” is, in fact, Daniel Abraham writing together with Ty Franck, who is George R. R. Tolkien Martin’s assistant. I’m really not spoiling anything here, because this information is from the about-the-author blurb on Amazon. I’m really not entirely sure what purpose this pen name serves– do multiple-author books not sell? Do publishers think that Abraham’s name is tarnished by low sales, but bookstore buyers are too stupid to read the about-the-author blurb? If that’s the case, though, why has The Dragon’s Path come out under Abraham’s own name? And if you’re just going to give the real author’s names in the about-the-author note, rather than making up a fake background for “Corey,” then why is the interview in the bonus material with the book written in the first-person singular? It’s all very puzzling.

Anyway, a week or so ago, I opened up the Dragon’s Path on my e-reader, and was surprised to find that it was 900+ pages long. On closer inspection, this turned out to be because the entire text of Leviathan Wakes was included as a special bonus ebook promotion. Which made me feel like a bit of a dope for buying it, but whatever.

Earlier this week, just before heading to DC for the CIP meeting, I opened my electronic copy of Leviathan Wakes to find that it, too is 900+ pages in length. Because it includes the complete text of The Dragon’s Path as a special bonus ebook promotion.

The publishing business is really very strange.

Both books are very good, by the way, and I may say more about them later in separate posts. If you’ve been thinking about buying them but waiting for my recommendation, though, go ahead and get them both.

(*)– The reason I couldn’t get through the first book of the Long Price Quartet is that there’s a plot line early on where a magical entity plans to trick a human magician into killing the unborn child of a total innocent. Which is kind of creepy, but whatever. Except I started reading this either just before or just after SteelyKid was born, which meant I was very much not in an emotional place where I wanted to deal with that particular plot. And what with FutureSibling! being due in November, I’m not going to pick it back up now, either.

2 thoughts on “Daniel Abraham and Bizarre Quirks of Publishing

  1. judith tarr wrote something a while back about how she had to recreate herself with a new name to get published. seems like there are diminishing marginal returns on sales sometimes with a break out author, and publishers get wary. seems strange to me.

  2. I know that I have a bias against multiple author books. I’m not sure if it has any basis in reality, but I just get the vibe from a multiple author book that it’s just not as good a quality as a single author book. “A camel is a horse designed by committee” and all that. It seems like a marketing gimmick to some extent. – You get Author A *and* Author B! Two for the price of one! – I can’t see how two authors can be so in sync with what they want to write that they’re not going to have to make compromises(*). Fans of Author A will be disappointed that it’s not Author A-ish enough, and the same for fans of Author B. (Good Omens was like that for me – decent, but not Pratchetty enough.) Having a pseudonym for the collaboration might temper that somewhat. (You pick it up because it’s interesting, rather than it’s the new book by Author A.)

    (*) But then, of course, someone will mention the compromises a single author has to make to their editor/publisher/audience, and the theory loses the wind from its sails.

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