Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Let's See ... Am I Michael A. Banks or Iain M. Banks?

Back in 2003 I wrote a book about being a fulltime writer. The publisher gave it the descriptive, if basic, title How to Become a Fulltime Freelance Writer.

The publisher was The Writer Books, which Kalmbach Books had bought some time before I contracted to write the book. After my book was in print for about a year, Kalmbach found that it just couldn't sell how-to books on writing. (Writer's Digest Books pretty much owned the market.) So Kalmbach dropped The Writer Books line and my title with it in 2004.

Even though it's out of print, you will still find How to Become a Fulltime Freelance Writer for sale at Amazon, because Kalmbach sold the stock it had left to another publisher. Almost from the beginning, there have been troubles with this arrangement. For openers, I make no money from the arrangement because I've already been paid the royalty on the copies being sold. The Amazon listing carried the wrong cover image. I got that fixed, and then the new "publisher" put different pubisher names on the Amazon listing. I got that corrected. That was corrected for a time, but now the wrong image is back.

But here's an even bigger blunder (or a prank): sometime in the past few months someone changed the author's name to "Iain Banks." Iain is a bestselling science fiction writer who lives in Scotland, and the author of classics like Consider Phlebas. and The Algebraist. (He sometimes writes as Iain M. Banks, though the "M" does not stand for "Michael.")

Should I be up in arms? I'm not so sure; putting Iain's name on the listing has quadrupled the book's sales. But perhaps I could perk up the sales of The eBay Survival Guide and some of my older books by making Iain the author. (Iain: I'll even give you a cut, brother!)

(I'll stop short of doing that with my New York times bestseller. I did write it, and I've already suffered from someone trying to steal the credit. And I haven't been paid for all the work I did on that book.)

Back to How to Become a Fulltime Freelance Writer, I can imagine the reactions of people who saw the listing: "A book on writing by Iain Banks? I'm all over that!" And then the reaction when they get the book and find out it's not really by Iain Banks ... Oops! But hey, folks: it's still a how-to, based on the experience of a New York Times bestselling author. So keep it and read it--and let me know what you think. I'm working on a revised edition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike, glad you are doing well, couldnt happen to a better person! Talk to you soon.