January 15th, 1998

Winter 97-98 Update

Posted at 6:18 PM by Jack Chalker

Things aren’t a wholelot better, but I wanted to bring you up to date. Del Rey nowhas two books of mine in hand, the first of the new Well projectthat they’ve had for most of the year, and a stand-alone big novel,Priam’s Lens, which I delivered at the end of August. I’mnow working to finish the second Well book so they can publishthem fairly close together. At the World SF Convention, reps fromthe sales division told my agent that the reason they decidedI was a has-been was that my backlist was no longer selling. Theyparticularly mentioned Four Lords of the Diamond and Ringsof the Master. Now, as any of you can quickly discover, theseare out of print. It was suggested that since they weren’t inprint nobody could buy them and maybe that was why theyweren’t selling. The response was “Nonsense.” If youthink we’re exaggerating the state of publishing today, that shouldtell you something! I’d love to get Four Lords back inparticular but they are fighting doing it. I think the one-volumeversion of it would do better than reprinting some of the morerecent ones. Well, nobody listens to me (they just blame me).The new distributors don’t know books from paint samples and theytherefore let computers do their thinking for them. Result: sinceWonderland didn’t do so well (never mind why) they havecut orders on my books and consider me no longer viable. I amnot alone in this. Everybody has at least one book thathas problems; that means everybody is getting this sametreatment progressively. Nobody can sustain the book businesson that basis, but it’s a trying time.
    At any rate, alsodue to the mentality behind current distribution, the main reasonfor going to stand-alone novels is simple: bookstores and distributorswill no longer retain older titles in a series or serial novel,so people who discover a series/serial with book two or threecan’t find the earlier ones any more. Stand-alones do not havethis problem, and I’ve been wanting to do some for quite a while(they just weren’t interested until now).It also gives me a chance, at last, to do some new things innew ways that my editors fought before. I hope you like the newdirections—if you ever get to read them.
    Anyway, I can stillsell books, I’m just not getting paid what I used to and thatis causing the problems. Hollywood producers please call. I needyour money.
    Rumors about my recenthealth also deserve comment here. It is true that I developeda potentially serious medical problem that kept me in the hospitalfor a hefty part of September. They never found out what it was,but it eventually stopped on its own. During the tests, they foundsome other things that bear looking at and that’s what they lookedat in October, but it appears to be just one of those things (alltests said “benign” so you’re still stuck with me!).Thanks for all the good wishes.
    Thanks to all thatnonsense they pulled I currently have no due dates for new stuff,but as soon as I do I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I’ve posteda selection of covers of my non-North American editions that manyfolks never get to see. You can’t buy Four Lords or Ringsor Soul Rider in North America any more, but you sure canif you know Russian, Polish, Danish, etc…. Sigh….  –jlc 1/18/98

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