I shuddered at the thought of switching editors mid-stream, as many of my colleagues have been forced to do.
Editor’s Note: When news came that Bradley P. Beaulieu was leaving his publisher, Night Shade Books, and making the change to self-publishing, I was puzzled and intrigued. I’ve invited him here to talk about his experience, his decision and the changing landscape of publishing. If you’d like to support Beaulieu, he is currently running a Kickstarter to support the relaunch of his trilogy, The Lays of Anuskaya.
Several months back, I learned that my editor, Ross Lockhart, was let go from Night Shade Books. It had been very good to work with Ross up to that point. He was enthusiastic about the series, he kept the wheels of publishing (at least for my books) oiled and running smoothly, and he gave me some great advice on the series. I’m grateful he was there to help for all three of the books in The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy, and I shuddered at the thought of switching editors mid-stream, as many of my colleagues have been forced to do. Such a change can end up well in the end, but it can just as easily cause serious and permanent damage to an author’s career.
So Ross’s departure was worrying news, indeed. It comes as no surprise to any who have cared to look that Night Shade has been a cash-strapped business for some time. This is bad enough, worrying about where your future with them was headed, but the loss of my editor made me doubly worried about how my books would now be handled. Taking a pragmatic look at the change, cutting back on staff is normal in business. It can help a business survive. But when it happens it means that fewer people will be doing a lot more things, at least in the short- to medium-term. None of this boded well for the release of my third book, which frankly I hadn’t heard much about from my publisher. Not having heard anything different, I had assumed it would be coming out in April of 2013, as the first two books had been released that same month. Everything else—the initial editing, copy edits, and artwork—were all in works already, so things seemed good for an April release, even if it would be a bit rushed. Continue reading
There has long raged a debate about the quality of UK vs. US cover art and the different ideals behind design aesthetics in the two regions. In general, fans seem to consider the UK to be the stronger market, and for a long time they were, but it’s my feeling that in the past couple of years, thanks to publishers like Tor, Night Shade Books, Pyr Books and Orbit Books, that the US has eclipsed the UK and is generating much more interesting cover art in general. Hurley herself said, “I am told the UK market is way more stuck-up about their covers. I adore my Conan covers, but $1 says the more mainstreamy-cover sells more books.”
If this is a ‘mainstreamy’ cover, I’m not sure I like where Del Rey UK is taking the series. Still, It’s nice to see Hurley seeing a release from a major publisher. What some people might not know is that Del Rey was originally meant to publish Hurley in the US, first picking up her novel, God’s War, before, for a variety of reasons that I’m not clear on, deciding to let Hurley and the series go. It, and its edits, were then picked up by Night Shade Books. Continue reading
A few days after announcing his next trilogy, The Song of the Shattered Sands, Bradley P. Beaulieu announced today that he has left his former publisher, Night Shade Books, and will be republishing eBook editions of The Lays of Anuskaya, as well as entirely self-publishing the final book in the series, The Flames of Shadam Khoreh. These new editions will feature new covers.
Beaulieu gives reason to his decision to redesign the covers for their eBook release:
As part of the gear-up for the release of my third book, The Flames of Shadam Khoreh, I’m also re-releasing The Winds of Khalakovo and The Straits of Galahesh. I have to admit some disappointment that the previous versions didn’t have a unifying theme. So I designed these around that basic premise, that they would look and feel like a series. I hope I’ve hit the mark.
[I've] closed a deal with Betsy Wollheim for a new epic fantasy trilogy called The Song of the Shattered Sands. It’s a story set in a powerful desert city that controls the flow of trade and spice through otherwise impassable terrain. There are echoes of both A Thousand and One Nights and Thieves’ World.
It’s a story about Çeda, a woman who fights in the pits to scrape a living from the cruel but beautiful city she calls home. As the story opens, she discovers that the book her mother left her before she died holds the clues to the unraveling the mystery of her mother’s death, which was tangled up in the story of the Twelve Kings of Sharakhai, men who have ruled the desert with an iron fist for nearly two hundred years. As Çeda begins to unlock the secrets hidden within the poems in the book—as well as what her mother was trying to do before she died—the Kings learn of her, and they will stop at nothing to keep those secrets buried in the desert where they belong. And so the chase is on. Çeda must unlock the hidden riddles of her mother’s book before the Kings find her. She had better hope she does, for she is the last hope for the people of the desert.
It’s great to see Beaulieu take the critical success he received for his first trilogy, The Lays of Anuskaya, published by Night Shade Books, and parlay it into a deal with a larger publisher. Daw is home to some of the best (traditional/epic/secondary world) Fantasy writers working today, including Patrick Rothfuss and Saladin Ahmed. Beaulieu’s Arabian Nights-inspired trilogy sounds like it will be a good fit. It’s great to see more Fantasy written that features a setting inspired by something other than Medieval Western Europe. After Beaulieu’s first trilogy, with a Russian-inspired setting, he’s quickly asserting himself as one of the most interesting world builders in the genre. I’m quite looking forward to this.
An author from an online writing group once offered some advice. He said a homosexual character should never be included in a story unless his/her sexual preference figured into the plot. Otherwise, it was a distraction, he said. To him, a gay character stood out—didn’t fit—and anything non-default about a character should be important to the plot.
Sometimes I get a dizzy feeling and I think I’m communicating with someone from another planet. This was one of those times. The idea that all characters must fit to some ‘default’ expectation threw me. How would I know who all my readers were, and what the ‘default’ was for them? Were they all straight? White? Middle-class? I didn’t think so. And where does one have to live so that homosexuals stand out as unusual? Yes, I have lived in urban areas most of my life, but still. Still. Even for an extremely plot-oriented writer (for whom characters are tools of the story), this guy was missing something.
So. Reader expectations. I cannot possibly guess what they are. I can comment only on reader behaviour, and that may reveal a bit about their expectations. And the first thing that comes to mind is that, as a member of both the fantasy/sci-fi community and the adjacent gaming community, I see a lot of discomfort with gender issues.