Oct 8 2012
The old question has come up again, this time via FaceBook, from Penny Cunningham who, I have to presume from her letter, lives in the U.K. I’ve answered it before, many times, but time moves on and new readers continue, understandably, to be confused by the names of the different editions of the various books in my series. The fact is that there are a number of my books “out there” in different countries and under different names, and the inherent difficulties of that situation have been aggravated in recent years by the leap in popularity of e-books in particular.
Everything in this situation boils down to the matter of jurisdictions, and I’m pretty much helpless in being able to do anything about it, other than passing along the information time and time again. I have legal contracts with multiple publishers in multiple countries and each publisher establishes it own ground rules within its own sales arena, which explains in part why the cover artwork, for example, varies so widely from country to country. It began for me back in 1996, when the first US edition of my "Camulod" books was published. The marketing people in the United States decided, in their wisdom, that the Canadian title, A DREAM OF EAGLES, was too arcane and obscure to be easily understood or accepted by its American readers, (this in a country where the eagle is the predominant symbol of integrity and worth—go figure.) And so they changed the series title to THE CAMULOD CHRONICLES. That was the start of it. Later came the Canadian edition of CLOTHAR THE FRANK. Too obscure for American readers, the pundits said, so they changed that title to THE LANCE THROWER. There were minor editorial differences between the editions in question, I acknowledge, because I had different editors assigned by the publishers in each country, but intrinsically the books were 99.5% identical.
By the time the British edition of THE GUARDIANS series came along in 2010, there were strong and apparently cogent reasons for changes there, too. Apparently—and I’ve only been told this; I’ve never seen it for myself—there is a massively popular Teen/Young Adult series in Britain called “The Guardians”, directly aimed at the teen-aged female readership/demographic (I just love those grand, imposing, statisticians’ words,) and the UK publishers were justifiably reluctant to go to press with a new and untried series of the same name. The potential for confusion and disastrous conflict were just too great, they said, and I was in no position to dispute the arguments that were presented to me. And so the British series was renamed from THE GUARDIANS, to THE BRAVEHEARTS CHRONICLES, while at the same time, the anonymous Marketers (or perhaps Marketeers would be more appropriate,) pooh-poohed THE FOREST LAIRD, as a title, in favour of the terser, snappier, REBEL, because it conformed to and “fitted in” with their backlist of other, notably short and pithily-titled Historical Fiction successes.
So yes, Penny, REBEL and THE FOREST LAIRD are the same book—word for word and edited by the same editors.
All of this confusion could be quite easily avoided, of course, if the publishers in each country could be induced to acknowledge these differences within their own editions. How difficult would it be, I hear you ask, to add a slug line on the credits page of REBEL in the UK, saying, “Published as The Forest Laird in Canada and the USA.”? Hey, I can't answer that. I'm only the Author.
But it’s going to get worse. Already, months prior to publishing the newest novel, THE RENEGADE, (which I believe the Brits will issue simply as “RENEGADE”) the US Publisher has decided to issue the book there as ROBERT THE BRUCE. I have no comment to make on that decision at this point.
I will, however, publish an updated version of conflicting Titles and jurisdictions here as a Blog entry within the next few days, as soon as I have checked out the publication details in each country, so stay tuned…