Friday, September 14, 2007

Done Deals & Fair Warnings

So, two more sets of negotiations concluded, two more contracts signed and sent: Arabesque (a new imprint of AST Publishing) is now officially putting out a Russian edition of Blindsight, and Bibliopolis is tasked with the Spanish translation.

Both have promised me input on cover layout.

Ominously, the editor at Arabesque — after having seen the author photos I sent him — mused tentatively about using one of them as an actual cover-art element. Not sure how that would work. I suppose my nose could stand in for Big Ben, if the light was right...

The crawl might be going down briefly over the next couple of days. Apparently, by keeping all its files at rifters.com, I'm depriving us all of cool things like Polls (which would allow me to learn how many of you really do think that this tiny white-on-black motif blows goats and would rather that I went with yellow on chartreuse). I think I can move everything back to the Google server while still retaining the appearance of a rifters.com URL — if I can't, fuck it, it's staying put — but who knows what's gonna happen? So if your bookmarks suddenly take you to 404via, wait a bit. If they still don't work, go to my Updates page; any new architecture will be reported there.

See you on the other side.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

This seems to be a good opportunity to thank you for releasing your books in ebook form. That format where I first became acquainted with you and I read all of your works in that form.

After doing so I decided that they should go in the permanent library and bought them all in paper form.

Do you have any feel for whether your ebook releases have helped or hurt your paper sales?

September 14, 2007 at 11:53 PM  
Anonymous david ellis said...

Several of the preliminary studies for the cover of BLINDSIGHT you posted on your website would make excellent covers (certainly better than what was picked---I agree with you, it blows).

I wonder if there would be any problem getting the rights to use one of them.

September 15, 2007 at 3:44 AM  
Anonymous david ellis said...

My vote goes to the one you described as looking like a cataract-afflicted eye.

A good shot of THESEUS would be good too but I'm not really crazy about any of the preliminary studies featuring it.

If only they had hired Stephen Martiniere to do a digital painting featuring THESEUS prominently. That would be perfection.

September 15, 2007 at 3:52 AM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

Paul said...

Do you have any feel for whether your ebook releases have helped or hurt your paper sales?

Actually, my numbers spiked significantly the very week after I set Blindsight free, and stayed high right up until the end of the window for which I had data. More recently, David Hartwell told me that "I wish all our books sold that well", and Boingboing recently quoted Patrick Neilson-Hayden as saying my initial sales were "poor" until I went the Creative Commons route. (This makes an interesting albeit circumstantial contrast with an earlier statement by David Hartwell to the effect that the cover art "obviously isn't hurting sales". Given that even Tor admits that sales were tanking initially, it seems to me that something was sure as shit hurting them...)

david ellis said...

Several of the preliminary studies for the cover of BLINDSIGHT you posted on your website would make excellent covers (certainly better than what was picked---I agree with you, it blows).

I wonder if there would be any problem getting the rights to use one of them.

I dunno. I think the artist has moved to Ontario by now, to work for a games company. Maybe I should try and look him up...

September 16, 2007 at 1:22 AM  
Blogger AR said...

I took the cover off my copy of Blindsight, and really, I find that this actually works very well: A solid black cover with the title embossed in silver letters on the spine, and that's it. Inside, there is an abstract rendering of the torture donut, and in this set up that is the only visual art to the entire thing.

I see you have a poll up, but it doesn't let me bitch about what I don't like so I'll just do that here.

For as long as I can remember of the Internet, webpages featured the ability to automatically word-wrap text to fit the width of your screen, and would be designed to extend horizontally to an arbitrary length. Now all of a sudden, you have blogs that, in defiance of all previous standards, are fixed width, resulting in excessively long vertical pillars of text for all but those with very low resolution displays.

I know I've mentioned this before and may be starting to sound like an audio-loop, but is it really so unreasonable to expect all manner of fancy coding and formating to replicate a function automatically implemented in basic HTML? Your blog isn't the only one that does this but it is by far the worst offender I've seen so far.

September 16, 2007 at 3:50 AM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

... Your blog isn't the only one that does this but it is by far the worst offender I've seen so far.

I'm surprised (and a bit doubtful) at that; I've actually spread the main text column width to 600px, which is wider than most ready-made template blogs. But the more interesting question is why virtually every blog template out there defaults to a narrow column in the first place. My understanding is that this happens for the same reason that newspapers are printed in columns, rather than a wide band of text that extends across the whole page. The eye (okay, the non-AR eye) prefers short hops to long slogs, finding it tougher to read a long line of text than a series of short lines containing the same number of words.

I'm told they've done studies on this. Most people prefer narrow columns. Sorry.

And I love the phrase "torture donut". Like the weekly special at some satanic Krispy Kreme...

September 18, 2007 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger AR said...

I'm sorry, I said blog when I meant the comments in particular. The blog part is actually just fine since you widened it. If you made the text section of the comments as wide as your blog text is now, that would be perfect.

September 18, 2007 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger Scott C. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 19, 2007 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger Scott C. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 19, 2007 at 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you can get away with publishing the novel online for free, why can't you put your foot down for the cover?

Btw: With all due respect etc bla bla bla, I think the design for the crawl (& the website in general) sucks ass (I love the theme, but not the execution, or is that taking it too far?). This white txt on black just does not work, personally, I have to specifically put my monitors brightness all the way to max to make it readable. [*] Not that I blame you, who has time for all this html crap. Still, there are tons of blog (I hate that word) management systems that would do the trick just fine.

I love the web, you can harass anybody with impunity. ;)

[*] Blaming IE users for their crappy experience is, imho, a bit lame. Consider that 95% of every computer hooked up to the internet is running IE. You may want to educate the average joe on the benefits of using another browser, but there are other ways of doing that, it's a lazy excuse and more importantly, is that what this site is about? (Excuses for being anal about shit that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. ;))

September 24, 2007 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

Anonymous said...

If you can get away with publishing the novel online for free, why can't you put your foot down for the cover?

Well, I kind of did, in the same way that I handled the text of the novel: there are half a dozen alternate covers available online, here. But as long as Tor controls the printing presses, I got no control over what happens with either the text or the cover down on street level.

Btw: With all due respect etc bla bla bla, I think the design for the crawl (& the website in general) sucks ass (I love the theme, but not the execution, or is that taking it too far?). This white txt on black just does not work, personally, I have to specifically put my monitors brightness all the way to max to make it readable.

I'm actually leaning towards lightening up the crawl, even though three-quarters of you like it just fine; I'm pretty sure that that same three quarters wouldn't object to dark-on-light, and if it makes life easier for the remaining quarter, then sure...

[*] Blaming IE users for their crappy experience is, imho, a bit lame. Consider that 95% of every computer hooked up to the internet is running IE. You may want to educate the average joe on the benefits of using another browser, but there are other ways of doing that, it's a lazy excuse and more importantly, is that what this site is about?

It's about me. I thought that went without saying.

But wait, are you saying that folks who land here using IE have a crappy experience? Because I thought this site rendered pretty well under IE, at least in terms of static imagery. It's just that MS kept plugging all the security holes in IE6 by grimly hacking away at its functionality, to the point where not even javascript worked unless you explicitly turned it on. And without javascript, you can't even do rollovers. I would have hoped that things would have improved with IE7, though (although I still haven't downloaded it. I don't trust those guys, especially after that mediaplayer debacle. In fact, I should have a new Linux machine any day now, if certain small businesses who have already cashed my check would stop reading this blog and get back to the workbench...)

September 25, 2007 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger AR said...

Only about 60% of computers use IE now, and Firefox has about a 35% share. Source.

Black-on-white is much brighter than white-on-black, which is really eye-straining for those who need to have lights off for a sleeping roommate. But besides that, the readability of either is the same to me, which makes me suspect that anyone complaining about the "readability" of white-on-black just has a bad monitor or system that for some reason can't display text right.

September 26, 2007 at 2:30 PM  
Anonymous JanusDOA said...

Hey, that cover sucks a lot less than the hardback one.

I still wish they'd used one of the chunky-ship-over-planet ones.

December 8, 2007 at 3:57 AM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

Agreed on both counts. But at this point, I'll take what I can get.

(Well, not always. Tor just asked to do an audio books version of Blindsight, and I didn't take that. Turned them down because the deal disallowed any authorial input. I do not have what you'd call a trusting relationship with these guys any more...)

December 10, 2007 at 5:29 PM  

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