Thursday, December 18, 2008

Italian Cover Part 2

You may recall the cover to the left here as being my Italian cover for Acacia. I kinda liked it, the broodiness of it, the way it reminds me of some Gothic Victorian tale. I also liked that I could make sense of the image - assuming it was Haven's Rocks from the Isle of Acacia. The title was entirely different, but, again, it made some sense: I Ribelli del Mondo Oscuro (The Dark World Rebels). I can get a handle on what that means.

Thing is, my Italian publisher, Piemme, decided to break the book into two volumes. Two books, two covers, two titles... I'm pleased to announce I just got my first look at the new edition. As ever, I dutifully offer it up to you lot for consideration...
Admittedly, this one requires me to squint my eyes a little. That's not to suggest I don't like it. (I like all my covers, don't you know.) It's just that the image is its own thing entirely, and the title Il Guerriero del Lago D'Argento means The Silver Lake Warrior. The what? Who dat? I had to ask the publisher.

Apparently the Silver Lake Warrior is Aliver Akaran. And, apparently, this lake is mentioned several times during the book. A miracle of translation, I guess, because I never used the term...

So, there it is. I am now the proud author of The Silver Lake Warrior. (I wonder if I can add that to my resume as a separate title?) Honestly, I'm rather pleased. It feels like another milestone of having "made it" when your books arrive with translated titles and references within them that are completely new to you. Thank you, Piemme, please keep publishing me.

But that's just me. What do you think?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is pretty strange, at first glance; I was trying to think of scenes in the forest but could only come up with the cover being a representation of the last Akaran General's state of mind after the massacre in the snow (made me think of that immediatly), but the title? That is pretty cool, even though the 'silver lake' thing is a bit out there. :-) Still, congrats David! It's a beautiful cover and I wouldn't mind having it on my shelf. :-)

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, now you know why I prefer to buy most fantasy and sci-fi books in English...

1:22 PM  
Blogger Corby Kennard said...

Another gorgeous cover.

I wonder if that would have increased sales in America? What is the thinking behind different covers and how the respective populations view them?

12:51 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

I'm not convinced anybody knows what makes a successful cover and/or how much they help a book to sell, or not. If it was really something they could quantify the publishers who have been in it for ages would have it all down to a science. They don't.

Honestly, at least a part of cover design hinges on what the power buyers like B&N and Walmart say about a cover. If they don't like it and say they'll not order many books... well then the publisher may well go back and try to come up with a design that they do like - all of this before the book is ever offered up to the reading public.

As for this cover in the US... I can't see it happening. I think, really, that it's too subtle. It doesn't announce that the book is a fantasy. My US cover didn't do that either, but it's closer. I'm sure that some people would have preferred a cover like this; others wouldn't. It seems like for every reader that wishes fantasy covers didn't embarrass them on subway there's another reader that thinks a fantasy book should look like a FANTASY book...

Granted, Piemme must be presenting me differently to the Italian market than, say, my Swedish publisher is to their market, but I won't try to make too much sense of it. I'll just hope they know their readers.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Corby Kennard said...

That's really interesting. I didn't know the stores/market demand specific looks rather than the publisher just creating art and that's what they get. I suppose it makes a certain kind of sense. But it feeds into something that bothers me about the media companies.

I understand what you are saying about American consumers thinking the cover is too subtle - but I respectfully disagree. The Terror had a pretty gorgeous and subtle cover, and I think it did pretty well, didn't it? Granted, it was a little tougher to classify - I saw it in the literature section, the fantasy section, and the horror section. So the cover may have made it a bit more difficult for the booksellers to position, but maybe that is an issue with how we try to classify everything here.

Americans are generally perceived as being boorish and stupid by the world at large, and our last couple of elections didn't prove anyone wrong. But it seems to me it is a self-perpetuating cycle - if we are only given stupid movies to see, for instance, and people see them because there are no other choices, then we are perceived as only liking stupid movies. "The Descent" is a perfect example. Neil Marshall, the director, truncated the ending because he felt American audiences don't like downbeat endings. Turns out, the ending he chose made no sense, and people were not too fond of it. Instead, they liked the original ending, because it flowed with the story and "felt" right - not manipulated like the truncated one.

Anyway - the idea that Americans are unable to appreciate subtlety and just want to be force-fed happy endings and perfectly categorized entertainments rankles me just a bit. I tend to deride the WalMart crowd a bit, but I shop there sometimes, too. If we keep dumbing down our entertainments, we will keep having to dumb down our expectations, and it becomes, has become even, a vicious downward cycle. I think we could start to do with some intelligence and subtlety in our daily lives - Acacia would have been a perfect place to start.


2:40 PM  
Blogger Corby Kennard said...

BTW - last couple of elections: 2000 and 2004, not the latest one.

10:53 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

I don't disagree with your feelings about dumbing things down for the US audience. Frankly, I've staked my life's fortunes on believing I can make a living writing intelligent, challenging, sometimes patience-requiring fiction. If I didn't believe that readers can be entertained by serious writing I wouldn't have written the novels I have. I'm very aware that there are things certain writers do to shape their work toward their audiences' short attention spans and happy ending expectations. I haven't done that, and because of that I do believe each reader I gain is rather hard fought on my part - and I know that I love and respect them for working with me.

Regarding the Simmons' cover... I don't think it's that good an example if what we're talking about are covers that defy the obvious classifications of genre. As you suggest, the book itself makes the classification difficult. Also, Simmons is famous author with lots of books behind him. His publisher can know that his name recognition will go a long way toward selling the book.

Even that, though, doesn't control everything. Take a look at his covers for Ilium and Hyperion etc. They strongly suggest quality sci-fi. They make it quite clear what's to be found in the book, and I think the same will be true for future books of his. Next time he writes another horror novel there will likely be a spooky house on the cover. The next space opera they'll be an alien planet landscape, etc. The next time he writes a novel that's a fusion of history and horror and native mythology... well, you'll get a cover that occupies some middle territory - and maybe looks all the better for it.

I'd say Doubleday did the same thing for me with Pride of Carthage. They used a detail from a Turner painting, one that creates a classic feel, with images that could depict lots of different things. They avoided an illustration of Hannibal, or elephants, or of beefcake men in skirts fighting it out. They tried to represent the literary side of the book, making sure they didn't send the wrong signal to prospective readers.

And with Acacia I know that they faced questions about why it wasn't a more obvious fantasy cover. It may not be your preferred cover, but believe me they were thinking out of the genre box when they designed it. I'd like to think the Italian cover will work for that market. Sorry, though, I don't think it would work for ours in the US. It's not just that it's subtle. It's that books have at most a couple of weeks to connect with readers in bookstores (if they even get into the bookstores at all - which many titles increasingly don't). Considering that, publishers don't have the luxury of hoping readers will pick up on subtlety, pick up a new book in a series by an author that may be new to them, read enough to get interested, and decide that the subtlety of the cover is somehow something they're going to take a risk on... Sounds nice, but that's just not the way things work on mass, especially not in a market as competitive and difficult as publishing.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Corby Kennard said...

I see what you mean about having a short time to grab the reader's attention. And it makes sense from the publisher's POV, especially in this climate with less readers and poor economy.

I like to stand on my ideals and scream about how the world "Should BE!" but that is a young man's game. I can be realistic, though, while still having those ideals in the back of my head. It's what keeps me sharp, don't you know. Besides, if I can impart my sense of justice (and compassion) on my daughter it will maker her a better person later in life. Hopefully.

Anyway, the fact that you are right on every point does not lessen my annoyance at the existence of Adam Sandler movies.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how did the italian publisher divided the book in two? I mean, how many chapters include the first book? I don´t see the book cut...

1:55 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Yes, well, the cut really just divides the book in two. It's not particularly at an obvious stopping point. It ends with Chapter 39, when Aliver admits to the Santoth that he doesn't know anything about the Book of Elenet...


10:44 AM  

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