Nathan Bransford, Author


Friday, August 14, 2009

This Week in Publishing 8/14/09

Sdrowkcab Gnihsilbup Ni Keew Siht

Remember the cover controversy a few weeks back where the girl on the cover of Justine Larbalestier's book did not exactly look anything like the actual protagonist? You may be pleased to know that Bloomsbury has changed course and will be using a new cover. Congrats to everyone all around.

And speaking of covers, remember my client Lisa Brackmann's query for ROCK PAPER TIGER, which ended up selling to Soho? Well, Lisa must have been friends with the God of Awesome Covers in some past life because she got a great one:



ROCK PAPER TIGER, as you may recall, is about an American Iraq war veteran who is down and out in Beijing when she's suddenly chased by international security contractors and the Chinese authorities and she doesn't know why. Like all great covers, this one is both visually striking and instantly conveys what the book is about. Very exciting.

Meanwhile, ever wondered when this whole vampire thing will die? (insert joke about vampires being undead and then follow it up with a joke about vampires sucking.) According to a NY Times Op-Ed by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (who have a vested interest in the subject): NEVER. Bwa ha ha ha ha....

It was Sony Week this week as they had a steady stream of announcements. First up was an announcement of a new line of $199 e-book readers that come in multiple colors (the cases, not the screen). They also will be moving to a semi-open ePub format that will allow Sony e-books to be read on multiple devices. The FinePrint blog took a look at what it all means.

And in other technology news, are e-book readers all hype? The Times UK online takes a look at a Hype Cycle analysis. (via Mary Fitzsimmons).

Ron Hogan at GalleyCat initiated a very interesting /plea for editors to be more brand conscious. If imprints exist (and boy howdy do they), why not get out there and build some brand loyalty among readers, Billy Mays style?

In the latest discussion of Freevangelism and books, The Millions has a really interesting take, riffing off a HuffPo article about how if no one pays for content we're only going to be hearing from those who can afford to write for free. C. Max Magee also wants to deromanticize the model of the writer building an audience by way of free, noting, "Paying writers nothing is just a way to increase profit margin."

While I was away we had a great guest post on how to solicit blurbs by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, and over at Murderati there's a similar guide by Louise Ure about blurb etiquette. As you can probably tell there's a wide, wide range of opinions about blurbs, so consult your agent during the process.

In agent advice news, Kristin Nelson has a seriously important, essential post on nuts and bolts things you must do once your book sells. Among her suggestions: get a good accountant, keep track of your dates, and pay your taxes.

Rachelle Gardner discussed something that really doesn't help a query: spending time telling an agent why you love to write. As I've said before, I don't care if you hate writing more than I hate Robert Horry as long as you write good books.

(It's not overly personal, Robert Horry. But you should know that if I get my hands on a time machine the absolute first thing I'm going back and changing is this).

I somehow missed this one the first time around, but now that Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE is coming out next month it's worth revisiting her utterly awesome post about the stages of writing a novel in the form of a love story. (via Lisa Brackmann)

My most excellent colleague Katherine Arathoon passed along a hilarious post about writing: the 7 vices of highly creative people. If you live up to these you'll probably be dead in under three years. In the immortal words of Mark Twain: "My vices protect me but they would assassinate you!"

And finally, ever wonder what an intern at a book publisher does? Well, the geniuses at Orbit put their intern to work counting the different cover elements in all the fantasy books published by major imprints. The resulting chart is priceless. You'll be pleased to know that the three most common elements in fantasy covers are swords, glowy magic and a castle/citadel, although I'm sad to tell you that "completely dark cover of meaninglessness" languished in 10th place, just ahead of "staffs" and behind "wolves." (via @Ginger_Clark)

Have a great weekend!






57 comments:

nkrell said...

As always, very entertaining. See, you were right. Everything did work out for the cover art of that one novel. Corecction made. No harm, no foul. Life will continue as we know it.

Rock, Paper, Tiger does look amazing. Congratulations!

That was fascinating about the fantasy cover elements. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know what graces most romance novels. I wonder what is more prevalent for science fiction. Desolate space landscapes or space ships?

Thermocline said...

They missed "Males with Long Hair" on the Fantasy Cover Art study.

Mira said...

You're funny, Nathan. I like the vampire jokes - those were clever. Bitingly clever. Ha, Ha.

Wonderful links, as always. Thank you. The fantasy novel breakdown was hilarious. Even more hilarious is they had an intern do it. Poor intern.....

The freeevangelist links were really interesting. And rather alarming. And I'm so glad they bowed to pressure and changed the cover of Larbalestier's book. I'll be browsing the rest of the links this weekend....

Re: Rock Paper Tiger (great title, btw) can I disagree? The cover is arresting, but I would think it's about hunting Tigers, or something like that. I wish they had a hot woman with a gun, with lots of leg showing, superimposed over the Tiger. Could they still do that?

And yes, I may be a feminist, but let's be real here. We're trying to sell books.

Have a great weekend.

Ink said...

Nathan,

You gotta let it go, man. I know it still hurts. But he's retired. Painful, I know. But there comes a time in every fan's life when they gotta put down the voodoo dolls and turn off that Youtube video.

The cowbells will ring again.

RW said...

That is an awesome cover. Related: I saw this post from a design blog looking at and discussing interesting cover designs that ultimately didn't make the cut. Interesting to see the discussion of why not.
http://www.printmag.com/Article/Kill-Your-Darlings

Rick Daley said...

Who else read the seven vices hoping to stake a claim to all of them?

I did pretty good, except for fashion (I am the anti-style, but that may count in its own way).

I would be really good at the credit one if it weren't for my wife and her balancing act when it comes to the checkbook.

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

I so wanted a completely dark cover of meaninglessness now I'm leaning towards glowy and magical to complement my pun-y title!

Thanks for the weekly round-up and have a good weekend!

SZ said...

Someone met the cover Gods indeed !

Other Lisa said...

Hey, that's my book! Hi, book! You're lookin' good!

Mira, a writer friend of mine did a "chicklit" version of the cover - I think I still haven't stopped giggling.

Kristi said...

Lisa's cover rocks - it made me wonder whether all other things being equal, agents hope for certain publishers over others (i.e. ones that are known for better covers and/or a better publicity department).

Loved the 7 vices - I apparently need to up my level of dysfunction - although I do need a stash of chocolate near me while writing. One down, six to go. Happy Friday!

Kat Sheridan said...

I came to celebrate Lisa's truly glorious cover, but found myself entertained and enlightened as well! That red is going to stand out on the shelves, and looks serious and enticing instead of salacious and enticing. Nathan, any chance of gving the artist some public credit? As for the list of vices? Let's just say I must be a truly creative person.

Kat Sheridan said...

And what's with the publishing backwards thing? Is it opposite day and someone forgot to tell me? (trust me, there are some things that are should never be worn backwards).

mythicagirl said...

Nathan,

Many thanks to agent types like yourself and the most excellent Editorial Anonymous for spreading the word on the cover of LIAR. And many thanks to those posters, emailers and dissenting voices who got Bloomsbury to think twice about putting out a cover that in no way resembled the protagonist.
While the next cover is still generating some debate (model is light brown with longer hair than the protag) it was a victory none the less.

Also, I don't think vampires will cease any time soon. What about the vampire myths from Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world that have yet to see the light of day - terrible pun intentional. The Chupacabra lives :)

On a side note: too bad you don't rep Graphic Novels.

Elyssa Papa said...

Lisa's cover is awesome. Congrats to her!

Dana Fredsti said...

LOVE the cover for RPT!!! Soho did an outstanding job and it's one of thoe most eye-catching covers I've seen. The tiger in the center immediately jumps out at you...

congrats, Lisa, on a gift from the Cover Gods!

Dana Fredsti said...

Mira, interesting take on the cover, although that never came to mind when I saw it. I'm a big cat lover (platonic only!) too...

The cover Soho has chosen really reflects the story whereas a hot woman with her leg over the tiger would be totally misleading. Although eye-catching.

Malia Sutton said...

Great Cover design.

Mira said...

Other Lisa - I'd love to see that! :)

I realized after I wrote that about the cover that perhaps literary fiction takes a higher road, than say.....me.

Congratulations on your book. I can't even imagine how wonderful that must feel, to see it in print!!!

Margaret Yang said...

I totally want a book cover with glowy magic.

Other Lisa said...

Mira, I have found that in life, a lot of things don't live up to your imaginings of them.

This, however, has been a notable exception! Pure aweomeness. I gotta say.

Word Verification: Inguar. That sounds sort of big cat-ish!

Mira said...

Lisa, I totally believe you!

I'm happy for you - Mazel Tov!

And just for that, I'm going to have to read your book when it comes out. Even if the cover doesn't have a half-dressed woman draped over a tiger. :)

kathrynjankowski said...

Hooray for Friday links! Thanks for culling them for us. I especially enjoyed the list of vices.

Anonymous said...

Rock, Paper, Tiger... that has to be one of the coolest titles ever.

Reesha said...

I agree, great title and awesome cover! :D

Those poor Unicorns.
I hope my cover has a unicorn wearing stillettos with a hobit on its back brandishing a sword and reading a map at the same time, while the unicorn is engaged in a battle between glowy magic and vast darky meaninglessness....in front of a castle.
My book would sell for sure. You want in, Nathan?

Stefanie said...

I can't wait for the vampire thing to die off too. Whatever happened to good ghost stories? The genre had a brief shining moment after The Sixth Sense. Now, it's all vampires again. :(

PurpleClover said...

I seriously got stuck on the first line for a bit. But I figured it out eventually. Glad I spend my time so wisely.

The cover looks pretty sweet!

Unfortunately, I still can't afford a Sony e-book Reader. But maybe when I graduate in December and have a job I can afford one...or maybe I'll get one as a graduation gift!

As for the covers, I think it is hilarious they had their intern do that. But I'm even more pleased the stilettos made the top 20! Woohoo!

Dana Fredsti said...

Mira, Lisa says you're a kidder and that I'm too literal minded.
Dang! :-)

Anonymous said...

That should read: 'Blurb-equette"

Kristin Laughtin said...

ROCK PAPER TIGER has the most badass cover I have ever seen.

Just sayin'.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Just a note... The Shatzkin Files, http://www.idealog.com/blog/ has some very interesting information about ebook sales increasing faster than expected... Tipping point here it comes!

Haste yee back ;-)

Rick Chesler said...

Thanks for yet another informative TWIP, Nathan.

mrmurph said...

I just realized one advantage of electronic books: silverfish (wretched little bugs) ate tunnels and holes in some of my favorite books. You think your books would be safe sitting on their shelves, but no!
So let that be a word of warning to you. Guard your treasures. Spray occasionally with Raid.

Jenny said...

Lisa's cover is brilliant. I trust you are now working on her movie deal. . .

terri said...

Here is another fun link I didn't get to you in time for your consideration for this week.

http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/

A hilarious account of John Gilstrap's ("No Mercy") experiences with book signings.

Nathan, you are racking up some serious votes over at Editor Unleashed to be considered one of the 25 best writing blogs. Check it out Branford-ites, let's get our fav blog onto the list!

MarianneHarden said...

Witty and informative as always, Nathan. I love ending my work week with your 'This Week in Publishing' post. Thanks for everything. Have a lovely weekend.

Pink Bug said...

I'm so happy they changed the cover. Who's crazy idea was that other cover anyways...? People amaze me sometimes...

Vampires...they're great and all but there's other things out there. :)

Michelle Moran said...

Fantastic cover. Congratulations Lisa!!

abc said...

I used to think I wasn't into vampires, then I got obsessed with those Twilight books (someday I'll publish a book about the secret ingredient of those books that makes even 30 something women addicted--and I hate romance novels, so it isn't that. is it?). And now I'm watching True Blood. Gee whiz.

Tigers!

I'm glad to see Libba Bray has a new novel. And with a character named Dulcie! My 6 yr old is named Dulcie. I sometimes have to convince people I didn't make the name up.

I wish sugar counted as a cool vice.

Jen C said...

Oh man, I failed miserably at the vices, I don't do any of those things! Does this mean I'm out of the club?

Mira said...

Dana,

Lisa's right, I am a kidder.

Unfortunately, I was not kidding about super-imposing a half-naked woman's silhoutte in a James Bond pose over the tiger. I think that would move books.

But then I spend most of my time drawing silhouettes of half-naked people on all the covers of my books, so take it for what it's worth.

(I am kidding about that.)

(Sort of.)

Regardless, it's a cool cover.

I'm going to go vote for Nathan at the editor's blog thingy now.

Linda Godfrey said...

That cover is one I would pluck off the shelves to inspect in a banano-second. Kudos to the artist!

I did love the 7 vices link. I must say these creativity aids were well covered in my education as an art student. Probably lucky for me that they mostly didn't take.

T. Anne said...

Oh Nathan, the flux capasitor is in my garage!*Shhh*
Will trade one ride for representation. (Look out Horry)

hance_melissa said...

Not Billy Mays...too soon...too soon!

Mimm Patterson said...

Too funny...although I live such a chaste life I'm saddened to discover I haven't a creative bone in my body...

whisky! bring me whisky!!

Thomas Burchfield said...

The 7 Vices essay was tremendous and well, inspiring, esp. to his scotch drinking, occasional cigar smoking, snazzy hat-wearing scribe (Though I fall down in department--my debt load is small).
I shall share it with many.


That's truly a great "You Want to Read Me" cover for "Rock Paper Tiger" which brings up a troubling irony for those of you who are e-reader fans and for publishers. E-readers, so far, offer no graphics. I recently saw my first Kindle and I have to say I wasn't that impressed. Still seems more of a business tool than an entertainment/art medium. Back to silverfish-infested paper for me.

Kiersten said...

I have a question for you, Nathan. Is there any sort of precedence for release dates? Is one season "bigger" than the others? I had always assumed summer was the one to get, but I'm hearing fall is best. Any input? Any time you like your clients' books to be released?

Lydia Sharp said...

Agreed. Awesome cover.

Chuck H. said...

The seven vices...ah yes. To quote the great philosopher Tom T. Hall "I had it all when I was young and in my natural prime. Now it's old dogs and children and watermelon wine." Does that mean my days of creativity are gone forever? Alas.

Jess said...

Rock, Paper, Tiger looks great - and I am so relieved to see that Liar got a proper cover. I had read about that issue in horrified shock, and it's great to see it resolved.

And I'm actually pleased to hear that vampires aren't dying yet. I may not gobble up all vamp fiction, but I do enjoy a decent share!

Other Lisa said...

Hey, thanks everyone, for the positive words on the cover. I absolutely love it. I feel like I could not have asked for a better representation of the book. I want T-shirts made from this cover.

Oh, and re: the 7 Sins of Creative People? I'm around 3. No, I'm not telling you which ones.

Janny said...

Nathan...

Just a note--

"Sdrowkcab" should actually read "Sdrawkcab."

Stop me before I edit again....

Janny

mleaves2 said...

It's funny that the article on the 7 vices mentions Julia Child, as she was on my mind for another reason.

Having just seen Julie and Julia, I'm curious about its effect on as-yet-unpublished writers. We see the author of "The Joy of Cooking" saying she got cheated by her publisher and made nothing; Julia et al getting advances on a 700-page cookbook that took years to write and even more years to publish, then Julie Powell getting some favorable press in the NYT and having the publishing world beat down her door.

Will the depiction of Julie's out-of-nowhere success discourage writers who face the more realistic task of querying and possible repeated rejection?

Ink said...

Janny,

Not if he's making a play on words... (backwards = backwords = words printed backwards)

And notice my own clever play on words, because I said "play on words" when the word being played on was "words"... Okay, I'll stop now. It's been a long day. I shall blink stupidly and await a new post.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, quick question. I heard an agent say that due to economy, many publishers are blocking reading the work by new authors. Is this true? If so, aside from being thoroughly depressing for want-to-be authors such as myself, is it even worth crafting/shipping out our queries?

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

I have only heard about that type of thing in isolated instances, but in any event it's no reason to stop querying. The publishing market is going to do what it does, you can't control it, and it doesn't do much good to try and time it or wait it out. It is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I was hoping you'd say something like this.

Reesha said...

Hey, what does "Sdrowkcab Gnihsilbup Ni Keew Siht" mean?
Some weird rage you typed on the keyboard and forgot to edit out? I'm dying of curiosity.

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