Many things about the publishing world make little sense to me. One of them is the reluctance to say goodbye to deceased authors. I shouldn’t say that it doesn’t make sense; in fact, it makes perfect sense. Publishers still make money on authors who “write” from the grave, and several are still writing. For instance, Robert B. Parker died in 2010, but his books are still being written by Michael Brandman, and Ace Atkins. A new Dragon Tattoo book is in the works. Steig Larsson died in 2004, and David Lagercrantz has been recently hired to write the newest book in the series. Other authors who “write” from the grave are:
Dick Francis died in 2010. His son Felix has taken over the writing of his books.
Robert Ludlum, of the Bourne trilogy fame, died in 2001. His books are now written by Kyle Mills, Eric Lustbader, Jamie Freveletti.
Ian Fleming died before I was born, but he’s still “writing,” thanks to Raymond Benson, William Boyd, & Jeffery Deaver. They’ve all worked to keep the 007 franchise alive.
Publishers are able to cash in on these big name authors, even though they’re no longer with us. I've always been annoyed by authors who “write” from the grave, but it really hit me recently when I was placing a book order. There are several reasons that I think we should let deceased authors rest in peace.
- I can't order many books I'd like to, because the money is tied up elsewhere.
- I can't replace withdrawn copies, because I'm spending money on dead people.
- I can't order debut novels, because I'm spending money on dead people.
I’m glad that an author’s popularity doesn’t die with them, but I wish that we could focus on those authors that are still here with us. What do you think? Should publishers stop releasing books from authors who have died? Or do you think it’s OK to keep buying books from ghostwriters?