30 November 2010

All the Way Around the Half-Continent

At last I have a matched set! Kind of.

Some readers were bowled over by D. M. Cornish’s Monster Blood Tattoo and its sequels. I wasn’t one of them. I thought the first novel devoted too many pages to world-building, started too late, and ended too early. There was a lot of interesting stuff going on, and a lot more.

I remain impressed, however, with Putnam’s perseverance in seeking an audience for this series in the US. As you can see, the company revamped the cover design and even the series title with each new volume. But now the American editor has left the firm, and I’m not sure the books will get the same sort of attention.

Another series I’ve seen undergo that sort of ongoing reinvention is Linda Buckley-Archer’s time-travel series which began with Gideon the Cutpurse before it veered off into retitling. See the complete rundown of covers and titles so far at Damsels in Regress.

3 comments:

dotdotdot said...

You "remain impressed," I remain incensed! Ugh! I think it's cruel and unfair to the author and to fans to shuffle around the particulars of the series so much.

At least with Buckley-Archer's series and covers, I felt that the publisher was upping the ante by throwing the James Jean illustrations on there. They were much more compelling than the original hardcover, and once they changed on the first paperback, the change stuck through the rest of the series' releases. It made me feel that the publisher really supported the title and felt that it deserved a better shot than what it got with the first cover.


There's absolutely no way to get a real matched set of Cornish's series, and I think it smacks of desperation on the publisher's part, as well as lack of confidence in the material. It's a shame, cause it seems like a perfectly respectable series.

In addition to the cover dysfunction, retailers have to be sure and cross-reference the changing series titles, or else customers who come in looking for "the next Monster Blood Tattoo book" are going to be sent away empty-handed by any staff member who hasn't carefully monitered the mercurial naming tendencies of the Putnam folks.

Bah! Thank God this doesn't happen more often, let me tell you.

J. L. Bell said...

I agree that there’s some sense of desperation in Putnam’s repeated changes of cover design and series title for Cornish’s book, but I think that it shows a lot of confidence at the publisher that the books have an audience waiting for them.

I’m not so sure about that, but the alternative would have been watching each new book’s advance orders be limited by the sell-through of the previous volume with nothing new to push. The publisher also repackaged some of its older titles in the series to march the latest volume, another sign of faith that the right readers would discover Cornish’s world.

But every change does have a price, and consistency fell by the wayside here.

gail said...

I liked this series overall, but I felt the elaborate world-building made for some demanding reading. I don't know who the audience will be. Between that and all the title and cover changes, I wonder if the readers who would embrace it will find it. I think these changes were only in the American edition, not the Australian. And, yes, I agree, the American publisher's willingness to do so much for it was impressive.

I have no idea what became of the Gideon books. I agree that the original name didn't fit the material, but, still, they lost me with all the changes. And I liked the first book.