Monthly Archives: April 2010

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (ebook)

As always, Tor.com has a fantastic post about the process behind the cover, and showcases the reaction of several people close to the project. Most interesting, perhaps, are the comments of Beth Meacham, the editor of the novel, who had some concerns when she first found out that Tor was creating a new cover for the novel:

When Irene told me that she’d been cleared to create a new art package for Ender’s Game for the eBook release, I confess that I groaned. Covers for this book have always been a problem. It’s not a children’s book, but when you ask for a painting of a ten year old boy, it’s hard not to get something that looks like a children’s book. This can lead to problems, like the email I recently got from a school librarian who was sure that there was some mistake; this children’s book had “bad words” in it.

Gallo, however, wasn’t so concerned:

I had no doubt Sam could portray a boy who wouldn’t put off older readers. I have often felt a number of his paintings show a cool exterior while suppressing some kind of underlying trouble or anxiety; if anything describes Ender, that’s it. When I contacted Sam, I wasn’t surprised to hear that Ender’s Game is one of his favorite novels.

[...]

In the end I was intrigued by Sam’s use of scale in the chosen sketch. I loved seeing Ender large with an entire planet underfoot—whether it’s Earth or the alien planet, the fate of both worlds depend on this small boy. The weightlessness, of course, refers to the Battle School exercises so memorable in the book. The flat-color triangles, representing the holographic game pieces, set against the realistic rendering of Ender and the planet, enhance the lie of the game.

Upon seeing the final art, even Meacham was sold:

The sketches that I saw were very good. The artist is wonderful, and it looked very promising, though again the sketches were of children. Irene and Sam heard me when I said that if we were going to put a child on the cover, that child had to have old and wary eyes, had to look like a real child who had been under great stress. The finished art has that quality in spades. My reaction to seeing the finished art was “Oh! That’s Ender!”

The composition is spectacular, too—it actually illustrates something that is such a powerful part of the novel: Ender has been separated from Earth and humanity even as he is being forged as a weapon to protect them.

Also interesting are some of the early sketches, which are a bit more experimental:

Early Sketches for the Ender's Game ebook cover

Though I’m not a fan of Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game remains one of my very favourite novels and I’m glad to see it getting the treatment it deserves from Tor. The typography alone makes me giddy. Now, if only they’d release the retail edition with this cover!

The wonderful art is courtesy of Sam Weber.

From Mihai, at Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews:

French Edition of Lamentation by Ken Scholes

French publisher Bragelonne is gaining a reputation for producing some of the best Fantasy covers, even above the heavy-weight American publishers. This cover, with artwork from Marc Simonetti, for Ken Scholes’ Lamentation is another great example of why. Rather than focusing on a hodge-podge, or generic photo montage, Bragalonne commissioned a very distinct piece of art featuring Rudolfo, one of Lamentation‘s many lead characters, watching over the Desolation of Windwir, a central piece of imagery from the the novel. Very nice, and much preferable to the recently released covers for the North American editions of Canticle and Antiphon.

If you’re interested in seeing more of Simonetti’s art, you can read and interview between him and Mihai HERE.

Press release I received in my inbox:

New York, NY – Monday, April 19, 2010 – Tor Books is proud to announce the return of New York Times bestselling author Terry Goodkind to their list. The first book in the 3-book deal will be a new Richard and Kahlan novel, due in early 2011. Richard and Kahlan are the principle characters from his previous New York Times bestselling books.

“We are excited to publish Terry Goodkind again,” says Tom Doherty, President and Publisher of Tor Books. “Millions of people delight in the novels of Richard and Kahlan and eagerly await the continuation of their story.”

Twenty five million copies of Goodkind’s 12-book series have been sold worldwide and have been translated into more than 20 languages. A television series adaptation of the novels, titled Legend of the Seeker, produced by ABC Studios and broadcast via syndication, first aired on November 1, 2008 and is now in its second season. The Sword of Truth is one of the most successful series ever published in the fantasy field.

Said Goodkind, “I’m thrilled to be back with Tor to tell more stories of Richard and Kahlan.

I had to laugh when Tor mistook The Sword of Truth as a Fantasy series. Clearly they’re erroneous in their categorization, despite being one of the biggest and most powerful publishers in the genre. Something tells me that The Law of Nines (Goodkind’s first foray into Urban Fantasy the realm of Thriller novels) didn’t sell as well as expected. Maybe Goodkind wasn’t objective enough in his assessment of his fan base?

Over at Writer’s Beware, Abigail Goben has an interesting post about the process she goes through into determining which books make it onto the shelves of her library. I’ve pulled out some of the most relevant points, but the whole post is certainly worth reading.

Where I find books:

* Professional Reviews: I spend time diligently going through Library Journal, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and other professional review journals. The majority of my selections come from there, and that’s probably what you’ll catch me perusing at the reference desk.

* Librarian Blogs: We’re a chatty bunch and love recommending things to each other. There are certainly better or worse blogs, but when it’s a review coming from someone whose blog I respect, I’m more inclined to consider a purchase. Librarians working with patrons every day know what goes well with their audience and what might go well with mine.

* Patron Requests: I’m fortunate enough to have a big enough budget that if a patron requests it, we can usually get it. I do verify that the requester belongs to my library system.

I guess us bloggers don’t have as much pull as we like to think. To people in the industry, are fluffy Kirkus reviews really more useful than some of the in-depth reviews written by non-professional reviewers?

What sinks a book:

* A bad review followed by only ho hum reviews. If there is one bad review in four and the others are pretty positive, it stays on my list. If there is only one review and it’s bad, or the other reviews don’t make me believe–I’m not buying it.

* Bad cover art Cover appeal is huge both with both children and adults. There is an extremely decorated and celebrated children’s author who prefers very stylized art on his covers. The majority of the kids I’ve attempted to booktalk/handsell it to didn’t like it, and so whether they were interested in the story or not, they didn’t take the book. You may not have a lot of input into your cover, but keep in mind that abstract doesn’t tend to go over well with the 12-and-under crowd, and that I, as a librarian, do consider cover : art.

* Proclamations of the book being the next whatever–HP, Twilight, Grisham, Patterson, Kellerman…you name it, we’ve seen it.

Ahh, well… that one sort of throws a kink in my whole let-the-cover-stand-out-and-forsake-cliche/trends argument. This librarian is speaking of children’s books, but I’d be curious to hear similar first-hand experience from somebody working with adult Speculative Fiction novels. Also, the next time your librarian tells you not to judge a book by its cover… just remember that they might have when deciding whether it deserved a place on their shelves.

Let’s be realistic:

* It is extremely rare that I will purchase anything from a vanity press. It’s not impossible, but the items purchased tend to be of the local history, local celebrity nature rather than a pedantic children’s chapter book, poorly self-illustrated picture book, or a church collection of recipes.

* Everyone writes WWII books. Please, if you’re interested in writing historical fiction, choose another time period. I see an average of 4 “escaping the Nazis” books a month and while we certainly don’t discount Holocaust literature, there is so much more out there that would also benefit from time in the limelight, and it’s more likely to catch my eye for not being WWII.

I suppose every genre has its kitchen-boy-saving-the-world-from-a-dark-lord-type story. Remember, kiddos: generic cover art = good, generic stories = bad.

You can read the whole article HERE, where Goben goes into more detailing pertaining to authors and their role in getting their novels into libraries. In all, it’s an interesting look into a side of the industry that isn’t well represented online (we have lots of pundits, marketers and authors, but few booksellers/buyers or librarians, despite how much influence they have on the industry.) I’d love to hear more tales from people on the buying side of the industry.