To the readers of my Star Wars® and BattleTech® novels:
I need a favor, a HUGE favor.
I know that you've all come to my work because you are fans of Star Wars® or BattleTech®. You love those worlds as much as I do and, not taking much of a risk here, if you're reading this note I'm going to assume you've liked what I'd done in writing those novels. Those worlds really are fun to play in and their appeal is universal. The numbers of you that read those books are staggering.
I hear from a lot of you. I get email. I get regular mail. I talk to folks at book signings. Probably the most common thing I hear is, "I've read all your books," which really translates into, "I've read all your [Star Wars® or BattleTech®] books."
Appended to that is usually the phrase, "And, some day, I'm going to get some of your other stuff."
Well, there's the favor. I need that some day to be today.
The simple fact of the matter is this: publishing is a corporate enterprise where numbers count. My Star Wars® novels sell between 250,000 to 750,000+ copies. My BattleTech books are consistently in the 50,000 unit range. My original fantasy novels come in somewhere around 30,000 copies per book. Those numbers are unfortunately insufficient to allow me to sustain a career. Publishers want me to sell more, or they will find someone else who can.
My 32nd novel, Fortress Draconis, just came out, and finishing that series will take me to thirty-four books. Thirty-four novels isn't bad for a career. I'd like to be able to write more. The other alternative is to get a real job. I've already started practicing: "Would you like fries with that?"
I want to be really clear on one point: I'm not saying that if you don't go out and buy my fantasy novels you won't see any more Star Wars® or BattleTech® novels from me. I have no contracts for books in either line, and I don't know if I ever will get contracts for them. What I do know is that if I have to get a real job, I won't have the time to write such books if I do get them offered to me. (In this scenario, the chances of a sequel to Talion: Revenant fall to zero, despite already having an outline for it and part of the book written.)
A second point that needs clarification: I'm not asking anyone to go out and buy books they won't read. This is why I've noted above, if you've ever thought about buying my original work at some point, I really need you to step up right now. Once a Hero and Eyes of Silver are now out of print. Talion: Revenant will likely be taken out of print by June, 2002. The Dark Glory War could go out of print at early as Winter, 2002; which would be ironic since that would put the first novel in a series out of print before the final two books are published.
In looking at the sales numbers I have, I know that roughly one in a thousand of my Star Wars® readers has come over and bought my original books. Of BattleTech® readers I draw about 10% to my original work. Doubling those numbers would help a lot and if one in ten of my Star Wars® readers came over, well, that would push things well into light speed.
How can you help?
1) If you've not purchased Talion: Revenant, The Dark Glory War, or Fortress Draconis, please do so now. Buy online or from a store, but don't buy used. (Used books are not counted as sales by publishers, and I need sales they can count.) Once a Hero and Eyes of Silver have been taken out of print by Bantam, so while your snagging copies of them would be nice, copies of the other books will help more. If you can only buy one book, Fortress Draconis is the one to go for.
Yes, I do know I'm asking you to spend a bunch of money: close to $30 if you buy T:R, DGW and Fortress Draconis. Oddly enough, if you do buy all three, what I'll eventually see out of that sale is $2.00. What is important is get the sales number climbing so the publishers want to buy more books from me.
2) If you can't find the books in a store, ask for them and order them.
3) Talk to friends and family, classmates, strangers on planes (okay, so you know where I do my marketing), folks in reading groups, teachers, anyone you think might be interested in these books and let them know you think they are good.
In the olden days--the kind of days I chronicle in the fantasy novels, ironically enough--artists and storytellers used to have patrons. Today you get to be the patrons. Buy a book today and you'll be investing in your entertainment future. Buy a book today and I'll be able to continue providing you stories for a good long time.
11 December 2001
(An update to the appeal can be found here.)