Who wrote it?

Richard Mason brought up an excellent point. Forget fonts and cover illustrations; sometimes the publisher tries to trick the reader about who wrote the book.

There are a couple of variants on this:

1) Famous Author Presents. Publisher pays Famous Author beaucoup bucks to use his name on cover of book written by Up-and-coming Author. FA gets $$$, UA gets published, publisher makes more sales, everyone's happy except the reader who buys this book thinking it was written by FA.

For example:

Great big 'Isaac Asimov'. Little teeny John Barnes.

2) 'Collaborations'. Often books in a series, sometimes not, these are books co-written by one FA and one UA. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad, sometimes they are awful. Who knows how much time the FA actually put into writing? Judging from some of the results, sometimes it's not very much time. It's hard to tell. While it does get the UA's name out there in front of fans, if it's a bad book, is that really good for their career?

For example, I loved the Carolus Rex books by Andre North and Rosemary Edghill (also known as Eluki Bes Shahar). I hated the Bedlam books by Edghill and Mercedes Lackey.

I love the way Edghill's name is hidden in the light-colored area on the Lackey cover.

I can't deny it's been very beneficial for some authors; for example, I remember seeing Elizabeth Moon's collaborations with Anne McCaffrey soon before Moon graduated to wide success in her independent work.

Here's another great collaboration cover. McCaffrey's name on top: Jody Lynn Nye's name on the bottom.

3) Ghostwriters. Did anyone really believe for a minute that William Shatner wrote the Tekwar series? Yet, there his name is. This was probably a 'work-for-hire' written by some UA who doesn't get either his name on it OR royalties. Not a good deal for him.

Worse, in terms of 'defrauding' the reader, are works 'by' a FA who has farms out his work to other people. The reader is expecting one level of quality and sometimes a very different level is delivered. There are persistent rumours about certain very high-volume authors who shall remain nameless.

Have you been burned by any particularly deceptive book covers, or particularly egregious 'collaborations'? Please share - I'll go browsing for some more covers today.

UPDATE: Here's a great one.

WHO wrote that?


Maxine said...

I'm not sure if this counts, but Meg Cabot (or her publishers) are truly confusing. As well as the "Princess Diaries" series, she has written two (?) other series and some standalones. One series was originally published under another name -- Jenny Caroll I think. I bought these on Amazon for my daughter. Then they were issued in the UK, under Meg Cabot's own name. Another series by Cabot, with the name "Cassandra" in the title, was published under one series "brand" and title in the US, and then under different ones in the UK. I got very confused about all this, and to this day I am very suspicious about any "new" title by Meg Cabot -- the publishers are less than transparent about all this in the flyleaves of the books themselves.

Maxine said...

Another thought. L. Ron Hubbard. "The most prolific corpse in history" as I once read. He is still merrily publishing books long after he died.
Similar to one of your exemplars, Asimov. They keep "finding" books he wrote too.
Virginia Andrews!

Like your James Patterson example. All his books are like that these days. He used to write a lean, taut thriller, but now, forget it. A computer program writes his books now, and not a very good one at that. Maybe we'll iterate to the point where the coauthor's name is in VERY BIG TYPE and Patterson's is in tiny, little script, as word gets around.
(According to the bestseller charts, has not yet, but surely only a matter of time?)

Richard Mason said...

If I didn't know better I might think that book was "Bedlam's Edge & Rosemary Edghill" by Mercedes Lackey.

rose/sis said...

i thought there really was one person who wrote all the nancy drews and etc. i was crushed.

sexy said...