Stargate Monuments

marthawells

Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus


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marthawells

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I did a guest post over at The Night Bazaar: Cover Art Covers are kind of a big deal. Even as ebook sales increase, readers who browse bookstores and libraries are still a large part of the reading/buying audience. Even if the publisher does get the book placed in the new release stands at the front of the chain stores, or faced out in the regular shelves, a passing glance at the cover may be all the chance it gets to make a sale. Covers are also important for attracting the attention of the chain book buyers. They don’t give space or prominent placement to covers they don’t think will sell.

There are a lot of theories, and superstitions, about what makes a good book cover, like the superstition that having non-white characters prominently featured will cause the book to magically fail. This one has been offensive to writers and readers for a long time.



Juliet E. McKenna: Women being published in SF - an issue for all genre readers


If you're on Twitter, check out the #YAsaves tag, as a response to the Wall Street Journal article on YA fiction.

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ARGH. Don't get me started.

Why do Liz Williams' books go begging, when 40-bajillion bad Buffy clones are on the shelf? (If I read one more dustjacket reference to shoes and sexy clothes, I may barf.)

Why can't I find Nina Kirikki Hoffman's work in the stores?!? (Especially when there is complete drivel on offer.)

::stomps off before I get a rage headache::

FWIW, I thought the Wheel of the Infinite cover was gorgeous and promised something exciting and interesting. I think much the same of the cover for The Cloud Roads.

By contrast, I thought the covers of the second and third Fall of Ile-Rien books were weak (The Wizard Hunters wasn't fabulous, but it served its purpose.) The landscapes were passably alien but not reallystand-out, or quite the actual mood of the series, and worse, the tiny figures were very awkwardly posed, even worse than the slightly overbalanced forefront figure in the Wizard Hunters, which meant once I looked at them, they bugged me. They were surprisingly *improved* by the plain colour bands of the paperbacks and the de-emphasis on the art; the design looked better, and drew attention to the author's name and the book title.

(No useful thoughts on women in SF, as I write Fantasy, except that she makes good points. My SF shelves are closer to 50/50 than I feared, but by contrast, my fantasy shelves are strongly skewed female. But sometimes, yes, finding the names to check out is harder than it ought to be.)

I think the thing that hurt The Wizard Hunters cover was that the airship's design, and Tremaine's clothing, made it look like SF instead of fantasy. It came out long before steampunk was popular, and the publisher didn't want to put any of the 1920s Rienish elements on the covers. (The artist didn't get the actual description of the airship from the book, so didn't know they were black spiky airships that looked like flying versions of Disney's Nautilus.)

I've never paid any attention to the gender of the author when I'm picking out books; even when I was a kid, before I was conscious of authors-as-people, I didn't pay attention to that. I think it might turn out that there are readers who use gender of the author as a criteria for choosing books, and readers who don't and have never even thought of using it as a criteria.

I didn't consciously notice it, definitely not as a child or teen, but when I looked, I seemed to have ended up overall with more female authors, but not by so much that I worried I was overbalancing. Even since I've been paying attention, and discovered that my experience was far from universal, I don't think I've changed my book buying habits at all. (My last two major SF discoveries were Sandra McDonald and John Scalzi, and my last two fantasy were N. K. Jemisin and Ben Aaronovitch)

Certainly, I never had any conception that the road to publication might be harder because I was a woman. Sadly, that's changed as I've grown older and read more about publishing, and about attitudes outside my immediate circle. Though even now, I know it's one of many stumbling blocks, and far from the largest.

Yeah, it's weird. There's a quote from Anthony Boucher from back in the 40s, talking about mysteries, where he said he didn't understand why there weren't more female detectives and protagonists in novels, when there were so many great female writers and editors in the field.

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