The Mail I Get – This and That Edition

McGraveCover-HomeQuestions from this week’s mailbag…

Hi Lee. I’m sort of new to your work. I’ve read The Walk, Dead Space, My Gun Has Bullets and I just finished McGrave. I really like reading your books. They’re too funny to put down and I have definitely stayed up way past my usual bedtime just to finish reading one of your gems. Now that I’ve heaped on the flattery, I must say that you should do an entire series of novels featuring McGrave. […] I’m really hoping that you consider it. In any event, you’re my new flavor of the month author and I’m going to read everything that you’ve written. Now go back to work and write me something good to read.

I was all set to write a series of McGrave books… in fact, my plan was to do them in-between new King City books…but the Fox & O’Hare project with Janet Evanovich unexpectedly came along and it has changed everything. We are co-writing two books a year (the third, The Job, comes out in November) and it hasn’t left me much time for anything else, not that I am complaining. I love writing the Fox & O’Hare books. But I do intend to get back to both McGrave and Tom Wade one of these days. Speaking of McGrave, you might enjoy a new, a short video from my good friends at Firelight Entertainment Group about how the book came about.


I have written a movie novel for the DreamWorks film ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ but haven’t published yet because I’m worried about copyright. I’m thinking about self-publishing on How would I go about getting permission to do it?

Thank you,


Publishing the book yourself would definitely be copyright infringment. If you go ahead and do it, at best the studio will demand that you withdraw the book from sale. At worst, they will sue you. In order to publish the book, you would have to ask DreamWorks, the studio that made the movie, for permission and I think it’s highly, highly unlikely they will grant it. You would have more luck finding a dragon and training it.

I came across this article in the New York Times ‘I Was a Digital Best Seller’ a few weeks ago, and it made me think of you and your blog.  The article describes the experience of an established non-fiction author, and his experience with a digital publisher called Byliner, which (at least to me) looks and sounds like a legitimate publisher.  The article (and many of the comments on the article) gives me the impression that writers and musicians will still need to work with agents and publishing companies to get their work marketed in the digital world, even though it is at least theoretically possible for anyone to ‘self-publish’.  At the same time, it looks like the digital publishing industry itself is still evolving.

I read the article when it was published and I got a different message from it, and that is: Don’t be an idiot. I thought the article showed how incredibly stupid the author was and that he had no one to blame for his misfortune but himself.