Unicorn and Dragon

Well, I’ve always been the sort of writer who needs to write the way rats need to gnaw-- I worry that if I ever stopped my brain would burst from an excess of plot and characters. This philosophy has led me to wander down the paths where other, more cautious writers might fear to tread.

One of those paths was my dalliance with Byron Preiss Books which produced the two books, UNICORN AND DRAGON and CONQUEST. If you’re in possession of either of them and open them up to the page opposite the title page you’ll notice that the copyright notice lists Byron Preiss, not me, as the copyright holder. This is a guaranteed indication that I did those books as work-for-hire. I got paid for them and (in theory, at least) I get royalties for them, but I have no control over how they’re published, when, or where, or anything else...

Which means that I wasn’t involved in any of the decisions that led up to the iBooks (not e(for electronic publishing)-book editions that appeared earlier this year (2003). I certainly had no say in the decision to take what had been two separate books and publish them as a single volume; or the tacit implication that readers would find a complete story between the bindings.

Of course, if I had been consulted I would have raised a fuss because the story isn’t complete and isn’t ever likely to be completed. Byron is smart enough to know this and to know that he doesn’t NEED to ask my permission for anything. What he did need, apparently, was some fast turn-around projects. In the last few months iBooks seems to have republished virtually every project Byron had under his control. 

I understand that some of the authors involved have received minimal payments; others have not. I fall into the latter category...and, again, Byron’s perfectly within his rights to leave me hanging in the wind. It’s the price I paid and continue to pay for decisions I’ve made to write whatever I could whenever I could. If a more legitimate publisher wasn’t clamoring for my prose, I wrote for the publishers who did want it.

On the other hand, this leaves me with very mixed feelings when something like the iBooks version of UNICORN AND DRAGON hits the stands. Readers can’t be expected to know the politics and economics behind the books they’re buying.

Readers know that they’ve just shelled out good money for what they thought was a complete book only to discover that it’s not and won’t likely ever be complete. I don’t blame them for being more than a bit annoyed with the situation, especially as the likelihood--never great to begin with--that I would complete the story is even fainter now. I can’t even object when readers focus their frustration on me--my name, after all, is on the cover, not Byron’s.

As the person whose name is on the cover, I apologize for this disappointment.

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