Monday, November 23, 2009

Preliminary book covers for Children No More and Jump Gate Twist are online

Publishing is a long-lead-time business. The books that will appear in bookstores next summer are now (and have been for a few weeks) in catalogs that publishers' sales reps use to help sell their upcoming titles. One consequence of these long lead times is that publishers often have to design preliminary covers before they have the final art in hand. Similarly, artists have to create cover illustrations before they have the final book in hand; in fact, many artists must complete assignments without ever having the chance to have read a word of the book.

All those issues exist with Children No More, the fourth Jon & Lobo book and the one that I am still writing. To some degree, Jump Gate Twist has the same problems, because though both the publisher and the artist obviously have the two books this omnibus collects, they do not have the other material I will be adding to the collection.

All of this is to explain that the covers I'm about to show you are preliminary, not final but still publicly available.

First, check out the look of the draft jacket for Children No More. It's a very different look for Baen, a bit of an experiment, and I quite like it. I find the black-and-white basic composition to be very compelling, with the two art components nicely telling readers that this is indeed SF. I think it screams "big book," which I would love CNM to be. I hope readers feel the same way and pick it up by the tens of thousands (which would be some trick, because there's no way my publisher will be printing that many, but, hey, a guy can dream).

Next, in another very different look we have the John Picacio cover for Jump Gate Twist. I've heard from a lot of women fans, readers, and friends who liked my books that they did so despite their male-oriented (in the opinion of those folks) covers. The goal with this new treatment is a simple, blatant one: To package the two books to attract a broader female readership.

Is that crass commercialism? You bet.

Do I mind? Hell, no. I think it's excellent. I pushed for it. I want my books to have the broadest possible readership.

Even though what you're seeing is still very preliminary, not even done, and even though I know my pal John will greatly improve the final product, I have to say that I also greatly like this cover.

So, what do you folks think?


Ed Bear said...

The cover for Jump Gate Twist was definitely a more "ethereal" treatment of Jon than the covers for the three earlier books. He looks as if he and his symbiotic nanotechnology have become more than just one and the same being, and the result is somebody you can care deeply about and for, want on your side, and definitely do not want to come looking for your ass.

The "Children No More" cover was a bit more puzzling. It's almost information-free, except for what is clearly a representation of Lobo in the upper half, and three people (one of them a child?), all soldiers, in the lower half. It definitely conveys the impression that Jon is so not going to be having fun while he cleans up somebody else's mess.

I'm looking forward to the new material in JGT, and CNM is clearly going to be treat.

Thank you.

Mark said...

Thanks for the comments and the kind words, Ed. You're completely right about the CNM cover, and, yes, that is a child who is also a soldier. This book is rough on Jon. The jacket copy will probably be a lot like the blurb you can see on the CNM page, and as it tells you, this one is going to be hard.

Michelle said...

As a female reader, JGT's cover jumps out and feeds my "cuteness" scale. Jon looks like a teenager/young adult; vulnerable, worthy of attention and very "Edward Cullen" like. Uhlike the other covers where he is clearly a soldier, he looks like a young man on the threshold of adulthood. I like it. CNM appeals to my sense of simplicity. It screams "Take me seriously", which from the hints you are giving about the book, seems to be the theme. Well done!

Mark said...

Thanks for the kind words. Jon should appear to be about 28 years old, so he looks a tad young to me, but he is definitely good looking in the Edward way here.

J. Griffin Barber said...

The JGT cover will work as a draw, I think. The ethereal representation will capture the attention of the ladies far more than the previous covers.

CNM's cover is very compelling, and the treatment's departure from their usual (successful) covers a testament to the folks at Baen having a firm belief and confidence in both you and the book.

Mark said...

Thanks, Griffin, for the kind words.

Ticia said...

I never buy books for their covers. By the same token, I never don't buy books for their covers either. 

The covers on the first three books remind me of the Edgar Rice Burroughs books I enjoyed as a child. Each book promised exotic adventure. Men's adventure. 

Men had all the fun when I was a child and I wanted in on the action. Swashbuckler movies like the Crimson Pirate, tales of derring-do like Robin Hood. Tarzan and John Carter. Superman and Flash Gordon.  

Your books also follow through on the promise of those covers. But they offer so much more. 

The new covers will tell people unfamiliar with your work that these are books worth looking at. And once they pick the books up to read the blurb, they'll be hooked. Because your books are wonderful.

And John Picacio's Jon is amazing. The whole cover is amazing.


Mark said...

Good philosophies. Thanks for the kind words about the books and the covers, though of course none of the credit for the covers belongs to me.

amosgirl said...

I've been thinking about your post all week. I wanted to say something profound and supportive, but everyone else covered those so well. I'm commenting anyway because I still want you to know - I love the new covers and I'm really excited to hold the books in my own hands. More importantly, I think a whole lot of NEW readers are going to love the books!

Mark said...

Thanks, Amy. I really appreciate the support and the kind words. I hope you're right!


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