On Sat, 2 Jan 2021 15:49:32 -0500, Joel Polowin
Post by Joel Polowin Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
You have no idea how book marketing works, do you? The person who
actually puts words on the page is the writer, but the AUTHOR -- which
is all the marketing people care about -- is the name on the cover,
regardless of who the writer was. Fox had handed down an edict
saying, "No new authors" (not "no new writers"), so Nathan needed
another credit before they would let me do the Predator novelization.
I hadn't been aware of that distinction between "author" and "writer".
That seems to me to be bizarrely arbitrary for this purpose, and
potentially counterproductive. They might have lost good work by a
skilled professional by insisting on it, if you hadn't been willing
to do that other book. And I doubt if the people who bought the
Predator novelization (a distinct but overlapping set from the people
who *read* it, I know) would have cared much if "Nathan" had a single
previous writing credit to "his" name, in the DS9 franchise.
Did the Predator book even mention "Nathan"'s DS9 book? That is,
in an "about the author" blurb or "Also by Nathan Archer" list, etc.?
You're assuming far more common sense than exists in licensing
franchises, and far more communication between the editorial
department at Dark Horse and the suits at Fox than actually existed.
Fox had made it a rule: No new authors. They did not want their
franchise to be seen as accepting work by beginners. They felt, with
some justification, that some spin-offs and novelizations were seen as
amateur-level work and places where fannish wannabes could break into
publishing (as in fact some franchises, such as "Magic: the
Gathering," really were). They did not want to be seen that way, and
therefore did not want to entrust their product to total unknowns.
Thus the rule.
The editorial folks at Dark Horse didn't give a damn who wrote the
books, as long as the quality was acceptable and they met the
deadlines and other specifications. Failing to follow the rules set
down by Fox meant losing a profitable licence, so they followed the
letter of the rule regardless of whether it made any sense. If it had
meant losing a particular author, so what? They were paying enough
that it wouldn't be hard to find a replacement. Everyone knew it was
the "Predator" logo on the cover that would sell the book, not the
Bothering the suits about any specifics would have endangered an
editor's job, because the suits didn't want to be bothered. There was
the rule: Follow it. Period.
I don't understand why people are having trouble with any of this.
20th Century Fox was a huge corporation subcontracting out a tiny part
of one successful product line; since when have huge corporations
behaved logically or paid any attention to what their contractors or
Should I mention that the one editorial change demanded by Fox on any
of the books I wrote for them was that I was told to remove an
"X-Files" joke, because they did not want to take any chance of being
seen as mocking one of their OTHER hot franchises? (I replaced it
with a "Melrose Place" joke. They didn't own "Melrose Place," so they
were completely cool with that.)
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.