Will The Narrow Road Between Desires lead to The Doors of Stone?
What does the DAW acquisition mean for The Doors of Stone?
One claim I’ve seen online is that by failing to turn in The Doors of Stone sooner, Rothfuss is responsible for DAW’s financial woes in the first place, which is what inspired them to sell themselves to Astra. That’s likely an exaggeration, or at the very least, not the full picture.
However, DAW editor and owner Betsy Wollheim did say that major authors failing to produce can have an impact on their publishers, speaking out in an unusually candid Facebook thread. “Book publishing is not as lucrative as many other professions, and publishers rely on their strongest sellers to keep their companies (especially small companies like DAW) afloat,” she wrote. “When authors don’t produce, it basically fucks their publishers.”
DAW has a huge backlist of titles from a wide range of authors, and despite everyone still waiting for The Doors of Stone, the first two books in Rothfuss’ trilogy still sell copies to this day. So while the long wait for The Doors of Stone did have a negative impact on DAW and could have been part of what inspired them to sell, laying the blame for a corporate acquisition of this scale solely at Rothfuss’ feet doesn’t feel like a reasonable conclusion.
But let’s get back to the original question: how did Astra acquiring DAW affect The Doors of Stone? Corporate acquisitions of this kind can create complications for authors and their work. For instance, when Disney bought 20th Century Fox, some authors working under Fox’s publishing arm had issues with contractual obligations being ignored (#DisneyMustPay). But it’s unlikely that that sort of thing happened with Astra and DAW, since publishing is their entire business. Instead, it’s more likely that contracts had to be renegotiated during the transition. That’s especially true of someone like Rothfuss, who had presumably gone into breach of contract after blowing past whatever deadline was originally set out for The Doors of Stone. And even if he didn’t do that, it may have been time to renegotiate a new contract with different due dates anyway.
There are signs that something might have been amiss with the release of Rothfuss’ work. The biggest is that no 10-year anniversary edition of The Wise Man’s Fear was published in 2021, the same year that DAW was acquired by Astra. Rothfuss had said multiple times during his Twitch livestreams that he expected there would be an anniversary edition of the book, but for some reason it never materialized.
This is more than a little curious, since a 10-year anniversary edition would likely have sold well; it’s very hard to imagine DAW not wanting to capitalize on demand for this series. And The Wise Man’s Fear is an already finished book, meaning it could have been republished without significantly interrupting Rothfuss’ work on The Doors of Stone.
So what happened here? Most likely the acquisition threw up some kind of hurdle — either contractual or related to production — that the publisher has yet to clear, resulting in a delay for a tenth anniversary edition of The Wise Man’s Fear. In July 2021, four months after the 10th anniversary of the book, Rothfuss weighed in on whether such an edition was coming. “Eventually, but no news yet.”
Since then, there’s been no word about when or even if a 10th anniversary of The Wise Man’s Fear will be released.
Patrick Rothfuss started his own small publishing company, but it’s probably not cause for alarm
Then there’s the fact that Rothfuss has started his own publishing house, Underthing Press. Some have looked at this and concluded that Rothfuss plans to publish The Doors of Stone through Underthing rather than DAW, but this doesn’t seem likely. Rothfuss has described Underthing Press as a small publisher that will allow him to put out books by other authors or side projects that he feels passionate about, not a way to publish his own full-length novels.
“It’s something I’ve kinda wanted to do for a decade,” Rothfuss wrote on his blog. “A place where I can bring books I love back into print. A way to maybe revive series that have been canceled or abandoned by other publishers. And, of course, a place where I can publish some of my own odd little projects without having to worry about making the project appealing to a publisher. I want to do my own weird shit in my own weird way.”
So on its own, Underthing Press isn’t necessarily cause for concern as far as the future of The Kingkiller Chronicle goes. It’s very difficult to imagine The Doors of Stone being released by any publisher but DAW, because regardless of the long wait, there is no doubt it will sell by the truck load whenever it releases. DAW has no incentive to abandon those publishing rights. And as it turns out, we just got a huge sign that things might be alright after all between Rothfuss and his publisher: the newly announced novella The Narrow Road Between Desires.