Yesterday, I received the pretty-close-but-not-quite-final cover art for the mass market paperback edition of Bitter Seeds and the hardcover/ebook edition of The Coldest War.
At long last! I’ve been waiting a long time for this! Felt like I’d been waiting forever to see the new package. (I learned about the repackaging in August of last year; I wrote a long blog post about it here. All of the information in that post about the original cover art, bookseller reaction to it, and the decision to revamp the marketing approach is still relevant. The projected publication dates in that post, however, are no longer up to date, as has also been chronicled in excruciating detail.)
It was worth the wait. WELL worth the wait.
Below the cut, feast your eyes on major awesomeness from the superb Chris McGrath.
These covers were unveiled a little earlier in the day over at the Mad Hatter’s, so if you’re in the mood to see what other folks have been saying — or if you feel the need to complain about the cover art change, but feel self-conscious about doing it right on my front porch here — head over there and join the conversation. (Not that you’re not more than welcome to comment here, too, of course. You’re always welcome here. You know that, right? I hope you do. I try to make this blog a place where you (yes, both of you) and I can have a place to talk. Because I know you appreciate that. No, I know you’ve never said it in so many words. Don’t worry; I can tell. I’m good at reading the body language of imagined anonymous strangers at vast distances.)
Here’s the brand new cover art for the mass market paperback of Bitter Seeds:
DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH GRETEL. DO NOT DRAW HER ATTENTION. BACK AWAY AND HOPE SHE DOESN’T NOTICE YOU. IN EVENT OF DRAWING GRETEL’S ATTENTION, KILL YOURSELF.
I just love the expression on her face, the way it combines hints of a calculated long-term determination with an imperturbable sangfroid as she strides through the raging Blitz like she doesn’t have a care in the world. As Gretels go, this is pretty damn good. And this is the first time we’ve had a glimpse of the wires in her head; the original Palencar cover, which I still love and cherish, leaves that to the reader’s imagination.
A more detailed and complete version of the Gretel image can be seen on Chris McGrath’s website. Damn, but the guy is good.
And here’s the hardcover/ebook artwork for The Coldest War:
DO NOT INTERRUPT KLAUS. DO NOT TAUNT KLAUS. DO NOT QUESTION HIS BELIEFS.
Man. Von Westarp really did a number on these kids when he jacked the wires into their skulls, didn’t he? I love, absolutely love, the expression on Klaus’s face here, too. He looks like he’s deep in thought, there in the midst of the coldest of wars. And he should be. Oh, yes he should. He has a LOT to think about.
(Addendum, August 1: The full and complete Coldest War cover can be seen on McGrath’s site here.)
Like I said the other day, I just can’t believe my good fortune that my little trilogy has landed artwork from not one but two incredibly talented top-flight artists. I’m lucky.
Yeah, sure. I know it’s a drag that the hardcovers of Bitter Seeds and The Coldest War won’t match, artwise. I get that. Really, I do. I read a lot, too, you know. And I like having matching sets of books. My copy of Game of Thrones doesn’t match my copies of the other books and it’s a minor irritation. But you know what I like even more than having matching sets of books? Selling books. I especially like it when book buyers for big bookstores take an interest in my books and want to sell them. Which, you know? Kind of the point of the exercise here. So please. If you’re feeling the need to join an internet dogpile somewhere (or send me hate mail) about what a horrible person I am because I changed the cover art on you, and you were looking forward to reading Coldest War but now you’re going to avoid it like fucking herpes because you liked the original Palencar artwork so much, please do a couple of things first:
1) Read my detailed post about why the art changed.
2) Educate yourself on how publishing works for small-fry authors like me. I don’t control this stuff, okay? Because, shit, dude, I don’t even influence it. I’m just the guy who writes the stuff that goes between the front and back covers. There’s much, much more to publishing a novel than that. Trust me.
The Palencar cover captures the emotional tone of Bitter Seeds extremely well. That’s one of the many things I love about it. (I don’t hang artwork in my house unless I adore it. And believe me, I have to REALLY adore something to overlook a swastika. And it doesn’t matter how small it is. It’s a bloody swastika, for Christ’s sake.) But it miscued a lot of potential readers (and, more importantly, book buyers) because it suggests a quiet, contemplative story. It doesn’t suggest espionage and black magic and explosions and zomg battery-powered supermen. That’s the root of the marketing rethink.
In other news, I had a completely shitty day at work, then came home this evening to find that somebody had broken into my car by smashing the window. They didn’t even steal anything, because I guess I have crappy taste in music. Not a single CD stolen. Nothing at all. (Probably because THERE WAS NOTHING TO STEAL IN MY GODDAMNED CAR, YOU KNUCKLE-DRAGGING BOTTOM FEEDERS. But I guess you know that now, don’t you? Wow, that must have been a major disappointment for you.) And then I got a letter from my dental insurance company stating that they changed their fucking minds and decided that they’re not covering the cost of my last dental appointment after all, and that they’re not obligated by law to explain this reversal, and it’s absolutely final. (I have no idea why they didn’t go all-out and write, “PSYCHE!” or even “UP YOURS, TREGILLIS” on the envelope.)
So that’s been my day.