THE SACRED BAND by David Anthony DurhamFrom the comments section on Durham’s blog:


Mr Durham, do you have any news about the UK publication of The Sacred Band?

I wish I did. My British publisher has been dragging their feet. I think my editor is supportive, but the number crunchers are complaining that The Other Lands didn’t sell as many copies as they wanted. The verdict is still out on whether they’re going to bite or not, but the delay isn’t a good sign.


If you could help sell a few more copies of TOL in the UK that might help. Or, just buy the US edition. ;)

What a bunch of bullshit. Even more egregious than Tor’s treatment of The Price of Spring by Daniel Abraham, but even more disrespectful towards fans of the series by withholding the book entirely. Bantam’s not happy with sales of the series. Okay, fine. Publishing’s a business. But it’s also a business of building and maintaining a relationship with an enormous, dedicated group of fans who support the company by buying their books on a regular basis. This is just a reminder, however, that there comes a time when a publisher should ditch their pride, cut their losses and do something for the fans, rather than strictly for the bottom line.

Adam Whitehead points out some similarities to Bantam’s treatment of Paul Kearney’s The Sea Beggars:

Bantam UK does seem to be the most drop-happy of the UK SF&F publishers, having canned Paul Kearney’s Sea-Beggars series after the second volume. In fact, the circumstances seem to be almost exactly the same: they market Book 1 strongly and it sells quite well. Then Book 2 sneaks out with no fanfare at all and sinks without a trace (I had no idea The Other Lands was on its way until it was already on the shelf). They then panic at the under-performance of the second volume and drop the series. The only difference is that with Kearney they also retitled the second book just a few weeks before release, completely confusing the few people who did know it was coming out.

Famously, Kearney nearly quit writing as a result of that fiasco. Durham, however, is more optimistic:

I was (well, I still am) planning on going to cons here, promoting the series, doing what I could on UK soil to help the series. I still will, but it’s a bit of a bummer not to have a British edition in hand as I do so. (And yes, my UK publisher does know that I’m here for the year.)

I think there’s still a good chance they will publish it here in some version, but, no, clearly it’s not going to be the full press of a large format paperback that comes out near the US edition.

No matter how you cut it, Bantam looks like a bad guy here. I can buy into the Bantam dropping an author after the conclusion of his or her sales, but it’s not easy to justify leaving fans high-and-dry by cutting them off from the concluding volume. Hell, purchase the US edits and release a damn eBook edition (where overhead cost is low) and allow fans at least some opportunity to finish the series. Is there any chance of Durham doing this himself? Luckily, in the case of The Sacred Band (but not the case in Kearney’s series), UK readers can import the novel from the states. But, really, is that an acceptable solution? Not even close.

Do better next time, Bantam.

  • Justin September 20, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Can’t imagine a publisher not signing this as a 3 book deal from the get go. I mean ACACIA isn’t even a complete arc. It was a trilogy from day 1.

  • Bets Davies September 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Babes, it’s BANTUM. What do you expect? The SF world has been glutted and in a down spiraling panic since pushing the nineties. Everyone over committed to authors and now have no room to spend grooming new prospects. And it is a business. A business that is generally flailing. They can’t get their shit together–why would they do us a favor right now?

  • Adam Whitehead September 20, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Publishers will sign up a series ahead of time and give an advance for it, but they are under no obligation to publish all the books. I assume the writers keep the advance if the publishers choose not to publish the later books, especially since the writers can argue (and they certainly can in this case) that the books not selling are a result of poor marketing.

    All I can say is that it’s a good thing that Bantam spent so much money on the MALAZAN books that it became ‘too big to fail’, since otherwise it would have almost certainly been dropped by the third or fourth book due to low sales. However, this only makes things worse, since MALAZAN shows that supporting and growing a series over the long run does eventually pay off, big-time. So it looks even more ridiculous, short-sighted and insulting when Bantam UK then don’t pay the same respect to Kearney and Durham that they did with Erikson and drop the series too early.

    Obviously with Durham we can just order the US edition instead, and Kearney is now completing his SEA-BEGGARS series with a new omnibus from Solaris next year (including the never-before-published third book), but this kind of behaviour (mixed with long gaps between publication for other series) is what is making people more wary about committing to a series before it’s completed, and that in turn can only have a negative impact on sales and on the genre.

  • Patrick September 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Something similar happened to Drew Bowling. I wrote an article about it on my website! It’s terrible to see!

  • Rob B September 21, 2011 at 5:15 am

    Tor, at least, is course correcting and issuing LONG PRICE in omnibus format. Also helps, I’m sure, that Mr. Abraham’s books seem to be doing so well for Orbit.

  • A Shadow Falls September 26, 2011 at 6:47 am

    Ok, so as a big fan of the first two books and living in the UK, where do I get my copy from?

    I’ve just taken a look over at and it’s got a release date of the 4th of October, with free UK shipping.

    I assume this is just Amazon selling the US version in the UK then? At any rate, as long as I can get a copy without paying the earth for shipping, I’m quite happy :)