Margaret Weis is a legend in the world of fantasy fiction. Not only has she written or co-authored more than 50 titles, including more than 20 New York Times bestsellers, with combined sales of more than 22 million copies, she is also co-creator of one of the most successful role-playing games in history. And now, as Weis's consistently popular Dragonlance game and book series mark their 20th anniversary this summer, she will pull off another unusual feat: helping two competitive publishers, Tor and Wizards of the Coast, join forces to promote her books.
Weis has two hardcovers coming from these two houses within a month of each other. In July, Tor will publish the second book in the Dragonvarld series, The Dragon's Son (simultaneous audio from Audio Renaissance), followed in August by Wizards of the Coast's release of Amber and Ashes, the 23rd book in the bestselling Dragonlance series she co-created with Tracy Hickman. Though Tor and Wizards of the Coast are both distributed by Holtzbrinck and have other writers in common, they've never before collaborated on a major marketing push for the same author at the same time.
"Margaret has such a strong voice in the fantasy world and all of her books are so strongly associated with dragons, we had a lot in common that we could easily build upon," explained Wizards' marketing manager, Mary Elizabeth Allen. "We hope it will be the start of something new," added Jodi Rosoff, senior publicist at Tor/Forge Books.
In addition to jointly booking a BEA appearance, tour dates in eight to 10 cities and media coverage for both titles, Tor and Wizards are developing double-sided bookmarks and posters and staging a big party at GenCon, the major consumer gaming convention in Indianapolis this August. "Margaret is constantly in touch with her fans, who represent a very loyal base going back 20 years," said Allen.
The two houses are hoping their campaign will help them both reach complementary markets for their respective series. Because Wizards of the Coast's Dragonlance series—which encompasses more than 100 titles by Weis and other authors and has been translated into 16 languages—has risen in tandem with the Dragonlance role-playing game, the series tends to attract teenage gamers who adopt characters and undertake imaginary quests. "Wizards of the Coast has deeper penetration in the gaming community, whereas Tor is better known in the publishing community," explained Rosoff.
For Tor, which began its relationship with Weis with last year's Mistress of Dragons, the younger fans of the Dragonlance series represent a very attractive potential readership. Moreover, it's a readership that can be receptive to hardcovers: Wizards has published all of Weis and Hickman's Dragonlance books in hardcover since 1995, and in the last year has even found a market for hardcover collectors' editions of previous titles. For example, The Annotated Legends, which originally appeared in three mass market volumes back in the mid-1980s, got a 50,000-copy hardcover release last June. Allen noted that this is typical for a Weis and Hickman hardcover reprint: "Dragonlance generally has a strong backlist, but Margaret and Tracy's names are a big added draw for our fans."
While Tor is planning a 200,000-copy hardcover first printing for The Dragon's Son—asizable increase from the series' first book, which netted 62,525 hardcovers—Wizards of the Coast is planning a first printing of 67,000 hardcovers for Amber and Ashes. The house is hoping that "more casual readers, who can be intimidated by a line of 20 unfamiliar Dragonlance books on a shelf, might see Weis's name and pick one up," said Allen. "It's a question of author branding: if you present the author as a brand name, fans will follow across publisher's lines."