I am not entirely pleased with the cover, but Penguin did make a couple of changes that I requested. This version is better than the original. I'd have preferred something a lot more subtle, but the people whose job it is to sell my book are certain this cover will help to move the novel, so there you go. The woman on the cover would be Constance Hopkins, the painter who comes to live in the attic above Sarah Crowe in the old farmhouse near the red tree.
Also, a great deal of time yesterday was spent just talking to Spooky about the story I'm about to begin, which hasn't quite come together in my head. I think it's going to be steampunk, but I'm not yet entirely certain. This isn't for Sirenia Digest, but for an anthology. And we also talked a great deal about Joey Lafaye, where it might go and what it might become.
Later, we drove down to Newbury Comics in Warwick. A chilly and thoroughly overcast day, the trees still brilliant in the last throes of autumn. Spooky found a used copy of Strawberry Switchblade's The 12" Album (1985; this is a copy from the Canadian re-release). Heading back into Providence, there was a marvelous fog. We did the Kindernacht thing and watched Mike Newell's adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). Neither of us had seen it since the theatrical release, and I still think it's really very, very good. Alfonso Cuarón's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban remains my favorite of the Rowling adaptations, but Goblet of Fire is a close second. Oh, and have you heard the rumors that Daniel Radcliffe may be chosen to play the Eleventh Doctor? I think that could work quite nicely, though I'll hate to see David Tenant go.
Yesterday, a reader wrote to ask my advice regarding self publishing. As I said very recently, i don't like dispensing writerly advice. And I'm not exactly the most market savvy person. So take what I say next with that caveat in mind. Based on what I've seen and heard and been told over the years, by agents, editors, and other authors, it is generally a very bad idea to go this route, especially if you ever want a shot at being published professionally or trying to make a living off your writing. Myself, I would avoid the POD option like the plague. I would suggest that if you are a good enough author to warrant publication, then you also need to find an agent and a real publisher. This will take time and tremendous patience. You'll be rejected over and over. It might well take many years. Meanwhile, you will become a better writer. I think the POD thing lures in a lot of impatient young people who desperately want to be published, but who cannot imagine enduring the long trial of rejection and concession that is usually necessary to achieve publication. I still have the mountain of rejection slips that were lavished upon Silk. It sucked, but, eventually, the book found a home and has managed to stay in print for a decade now.
As regards self publishing, one must also consider distribution. If you do it yourself, how will you get the books to your readers? It's hard enough getting decent distribution when you have one of the big New York publishing houses behind you. And no, I don't think that Sirenia Digest is relevant to this conversation, as I was already an established author when I began it, and would not have been able to launch without the support of Subterranean Press. In the end, my advice, which I am reluctant to give, is to be patient and stick to the traditional road. When you know that you are good enough, find an agent, and the agent will find you a publisher. Persevere and hope for a lucky break. It will be hard, and, yes, truthfully, you'll probably fail, because most authors fail, regardless of merit. But if the only alternative is POD, it's not much of an alternative, beyond whatever private rewards vanity press has always brought. POD will, almost certainly, make you less attractive to actual publishers, should you ever approach them. For better or worse, it's preferable to have no publishing credits than a string of self-published POD novels.
And I'm only saying this because I was asked my opinion.
And now, I go to the platypus.