There are good ways and bad ways to find become immortalized in print. One good way, famous among the science fiction community, is known as a “Tuckerization”. Wilson Tucker liked little more than to take a friend or associate and include them as secondary characters within his fiction. Such guest appearances typically display the featured person in a positive light.
One bad way is to offend an author. The one group of people who can get away with such offense, however, are publishers. No author wants to risk offending the person who’s signing their paycheck, no matter how angry they might be.
Unless, of course, the author is particularly clever.
A.A. Wyn was the publisher of Ace Books, a paperback house that began producing novels in 1952. Ace was beloved among readers, not least for the creation of the “Ace Double”, two short novels which would be bound together. Flipping over a book would result in a second book; two front covers, the stories ending toward the center of the paperback.
He was also an early publisher of works by authors trying to move from short fiction and magazine sales into book sales. Many authors – including Philip K. Dick, Dean Koontz and William Burroughs – had their first book produced by Ace as half of an Ace double.
From this, one would expect that A.A. Wyn would be beloved among authors. He gave new writers a chance at publication and he could ensure readers would buy their books. What he did not do, however, was pay them well.
Many stories exist of the minimal paychecks that Ace would provide, knowing that they could convince authors to provide excellent work in exchange for pennies just to increase the author’s visibility. Ace would not merely pay low wages, though; they often locked authors into multi-book contracts before they’d agree to publish.
David McDaniel, one of the stable of writers for the Man From U.N.C.L.E. series, was one such author. Locked into a multi-book contract, he saw his work surge in popularity and sales… while he was getting a minimal paycheck for each title.
In book 8, he vented his frustration.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. books were expected to have titles not just for the book, but at the beginning of each chapter. For The Monster Wheel Affair, McDaniel dutifully complied.
- A Dollar A Pound
- An Awfully Big Haystack
- What Did You Expect – Big Ben?
- You Know A Party Named Kropotkin?
- Neu-Schloss? What’s That?
- I’ll Show You A Magic Trick
- Sing For Us, Rameses
- A Message From Space
- This Is Your Submarine – Keep It Clean
- Island Ho!
- Get Those Intruders!
- Head For Home, James!
- The Highest Con In The History of the World
- We’ll Have To Ditch
- Accidental Misfire
- Dauringa Island Calling the World!
Apparently Wyn didn’t know what an acrostic was, or he simply didn’t notice. Either way, he accepted the book, published it, and paid McDaniel for the book… where McDaniel had called him out for his stinginess across the first letters of the chapter titles.
Question of the Night: What’s your favorite spy/mystery television show?