Not gonna lie, I feel kind of guilty writing this month’s update because it’s about something very cool that many of my readers may covet… and it’s no longer available. But it’s too cool not to discuss!
I’m talking about the limited edition of Kushiel’s Dart that was just released by specialty publisher Subterranean Press. They produce highly, highly collectible books with original artwork, which you can see featured here on the homepage, and this surely must be one of their most stunning.
Working with Subterranean Press is the most involvement I’ve had in the actual design of a book, and I loved it. Authors don’t often have a great deal of say in their cover art. My contracts specify that I have a cover consult, but in my experience, that usually translates to my editor soliciting my input, and then by and large ignoring it. That’s fairly standard in the industry. The marketing and design departments tend to think authors don’t know what kind of covers make books sell—and no doubt that’s often true.
But sometimes it’s impossible to know. Courtesy of my former day job, I have a fairly extensive background in the visual arts, so when asked for an opinion, I generally have one. I lobbied hard to get Imriel on the cover of at least one book in his trilogy, and was told books with male figures on the cover don’t sell. Maybe it’s true—but I also know it’s true that there are tons of male fantasy readers who have avoided those books because they’re convinced they’re geared toward women (and tons who haven’t, for which I’m grateful). I lobbied hard for cover art for the Agent of Hel series that thought outside the standard paranormal fantasy box, that conveyed some of the books’ quirkiness and whimsy. I didn’t get it.
Would those books have found a broader readership if my vision had been realized? There’s no way to tell. All I know is that it was a tremendous pleasure working with a publisher who took my input seriously at every step of the way, starting with the recommendation of an artist. I had a few ideas, and I asked my fans on Facebook to suggest cover artists they admired. I checked out at least a couple dozen and recommended several of them, one of whom was Tran Nguyen, the artist responsible for this lovely work.
Subterranean Press consulted me at every stage, and when my choice of concept sketch to develop for the cover was at odds with the managing editor’s, they went with my selection. Tweaks I suggested were implemented. The end result, in my humble opinion, is a particularly gorgeous book.
At their request, I’ve been sitting on this news for over a year. Subterranean Press didn’t want to announce it until the book was in stock and ready to ship. Twenty-six lettered copies and two hundred and fifty numbered copies were produced. It was announced on Facebook and Twitter on Monday, September 19th… and to my amazement, the entire print run sold out within 24 hours.
And now you know why I feel guilty! I wish all my readers could have had the chance to acquire a copy, but a limited edition is by virtue of its very nature just that—limited. It’s what Subterranean Press does, and they do it very well. So my apologies to everyone who missed out on this opportunity! I truly never expected it to be available for less than the span of a single day.
At least we all have some fantastic new artwork to enjoy!