Twenty-four years ago, Spectra published the mass market edition of MAGICIAN: APPRENTICE, the first book in Raymond E. Feist’s incredible Riftwar Saga. Today, Raymond discusses what led him to Spectra–and his role in Spectra’s 25 years of success:
It was a long time back, but it seems like yesterday and it’s why Spectra will always have a place in my heart. I’m no longer with Spectra, but that was business, and business is business. But how I came to be with Spectra, back in the day, that’s the part of this that was faith and belief.
It started with a conversation I was having with Lou Aronica, at the time a fresh new young publisher at Bantam/Spectra and a real go-getter. He and I had crossed paths at a World Fantasy Convention the year before, and he was in Southern California visiting with several of his authors. He was gracious enough to invite myself and a couple of other non-Bantam authors to drop by for after-dinner drinks and conversation.
So we have a context here: at the time Doubleday and Bantam were separate companies, Doubleday being it’s own self, and Bantam being owned by German publishing giant Bertlesmann. More, Doubleday didn’t have a paperback publishing program; they sold paperback rights to books they published in hardcover to paperback publishers and split rights with the author.
So in the course of having drinks with Lou and some others, I asked him, “Hey, Lou, why aren’t you buying my paperback rights?”
He looks at me and says, “Ray, I know you’re joking, but let me give you a straight answer. I do not want to publish other publisher’s writers. I want Spectra to be 100% originals.”
About a year later, I get a phone call from my agent telling me that my editor at Doubleday, Adrian Zackheim, would like to talk to me about a paperback rights deal. I call and he tells me, “It’s Bantam. Aronica wants to reprint the Riftwar Saga. I really want this deal, Ray. I like his program and I like what I see so far. I think it’s the right call.” So I say go.
Next time I see Lou, I said, “So, what changed your mind about reprints?”
He says, “Sales. They’re threatening me with bodily harm if I didn’t buy your stuff.” Sales was in the form of several sales reps who were tuned into the world-of-mouth my books were starting to get; they were gauging fan enthusiasm coupled with not having a Fantasy franchise in a sea of successful Science Fiction. The ringleader of that cabal was Don Weisberg, at the time a west coast sales rep for Bantam, now after twenty-eight very successful years with Bantam, the President of Penguin Young Readers Group.
Later, Bantam and Doubleday merged, so we ended up as one big happy family anyway. And I went on to have a terrific run with Bantam-Doubleday-Dell, as the new entity became known.
So, why I love Spectra is because sales wanted me, Lou was willing to listen to other people and follow their lead when it made sense, and they turned me into a New York Times Bestselling author with my third book, A Darkness at Sethanon.
Twenty-eight years later, all my Bantam/Spectra titles are still in print, on sale at bookstores everywhere, so you have to believe I really feel a debt to everyone there, to this day.
Happy Twenty Five, Spectra! Here’s to the next quarter century!
–Raymond E. Feist
San Diego, CA June, 2010
I worked on this mass market book jacket in January 1986. It’s been a long time, but I think this was probably the first book that I had worked on for the author, Raymond E. Feist. Doubleday Publishing did the original hardcover, and Bantam had the rights for the mass market edition. I hired Kevin E. Johnson, who was a very well known fantasy artist, to redo the art to show a scene from the novel rather than pick up the hardcover art which was an iconic dragon. The Doubleday title was just Magician. The publisher at Bantam also decided to re-title the book Magician: Apprentice, and then the next book in the series would be called Magician: Master. I believe this happened because the original hardcover was a very big novel and it was decided to break it into two paperbacks. Kevin’s oil painting, when it came in, was just breathtaking and captured the wonderful moment when the young boy first comes through the door and sees the Magician in his stone cottage with a small dragon on the mantle. Everyone was thrilled with the final cover.
I later repacked this very popular series twice–once with Don Maitz, and the last time with Liz Kenyon. If you are curious about how the cover changed over the years Raymond Feist’s website shows all his covers at Crydee.com. It’s a great website to check out.
Jamie S. Warren
To read more about Spectra’s 25th Anniversary and see what other books we’re featuring during this month-long celebration, click here