Today, CMers, we're talking collaborations. But let's be clear: this week's question ain't about Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman teaming up to write GOOD OMENS. Nor King and Straub playing literary twinners as they toiled away at THE TALISMAN. And we sure as hell ain't talking Bruen and Starr's brutally hilarious cult-fave BUST trilogy. What we're talking about are the books you see in lines at grocery stores, or stacked fifty high on tables at Sam's Club, emblazoned with some blockbuster author's name in 48-point font, never mind the fact he or she (though almost always he) didn't write it. And then below, in font so small it looks like a line intended to highlight the bigshot author's name, there's the byline of the author who actually wrote it:
THE MICHELANGELO CONUNDRUM
BY SCHMAMES SCHMATTERSON
*And Mary McRealWriter
So. The question(s) of the day: Good practice, or not so good? And would I take second billing? Allow me to answer both in one fell swoop:
DEAR MEGASELLING AUTHORS: MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS CHRIS [AT] CHRISFHOLM [DOT] COM. I WORK CHEAP, AND I'M AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY. I'VE EVEN WON AWARDS AND STUFF. REFERENCES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.
Look, I'm not going to pretend I'd find executing someone else's outline as fulfilling as writing my own fiction. But writing full-time is a dream of mine, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna look down my nose at folks with the discipline to churn out hit after sure-fire hit. I confess, the sorts of books we're talking about don't exactly clutter up my to-be-read pile, but that won't stop me from writing them if asked. A paying gig's a paying gig, and I'd doubtless learn more about my craft pushing Clancy's or Sanders' or Patterson's brand than I ever could waiting tables or working an office job. Seems to me, most writers have day jobs (me included), so why not take a day job as a writer? Long as the contract's fair (a huge caveat, to be sure) and the pay's half-decent, it seems to me there are worse ways to spend one's time. But you can be damn sure I wouldn't shelve my own writing to do it.
As for whether or not the practice is good for readers... honestly, I've no idea. But I find it hard to believe anybody's ever thinking, "Cormac McCarthy or the new McNally mystery? Ah, the heck with it - McNally!" The fact is, there's a market for these books, and that's argument enough in favor of them for me.
How'd that post go? Okay, I hope. 'Cause truth be told, I was distracted when I wrote it. See, yesterday, the second novel in my Collector series, THE WRONG GOODBYE, was released in the US. Next week, it'll hit the shelves in the UK and Australia as well. It's about this undead guy named Sam who collects the souls of the damned and ensures they find their way to hell. Problem is, the soul he's tasked with collecting goes missing - stolen by someone he once considered his closest friend - and to get it back, Sam's forced to dive down the rabbit-hole of the demon drug-trade, where black-market human memories are mainlined like so much heroin. And oh yeah, there's also an ancient pissed-off bug monster, a blind transgendered fortune-telling showgirl, and the looming threat of all-out-war between heaven and hell.
The buzz so far's been pretty decent. Which is cool, because I'm pretty sure it's the best thing I've ever written. If you wanna check it out, there are links up on my website to purchase it (US and UK, big-box-store and indie.) Or pop in to your favorite bookstore and ask, NAY DEMAND, that they stock it. Oh, and you know that email address I posted up above? If you want some Collector series bookmarks, drop me a line with your mailing address and I'll send you some; I've got an open policy of sending 'em to whoever wants 'em.