The difference


Over in the comments, Jo Walton and Michael_gr reminded me of some issues that came up when The Steerswoman was first released.

One of which was: Market it as science fiction, or as fantasy?

I couldn’t help wondering, at that time: If people think it’s fantasy, then when those who prefer fantasy realize somewhere down the line that it’s realy science fiction, will they feel cheated? But on the other hand, if people assume it’s fantasy, those who prefer science fiction won’t even pick it up at all!

And won’t this totally screw my sales numbers?

It’s a good question to ask, all these years after the first release. I wonder how much effect that ambiguity did have…

But what happened was this: Del Rey came down on the side of “Market it as SF”:

cover art by Richard Hescox

cover art by Richard Hescox

(See the original on the Northern Arts website, here. Where it is for sale.)

And the British publisher, Pan, went for fantasy:

cover art by John Higgins

cover art by John Higgins

(See the version on Higgins’ website, where you’ll have to click it from a list on the left.)

When I asked Pan why they made that choice, they said that they believed that women would especially like the book, and “more women read fantasy”.

That’s what they said, folks.

Anyway, I like both covers, for different reasons.

2 Responses to “The difference”

  • Mike Kozlowski Says:

    As far as weird marketing decisions go, I am still the most baffled by them putting the “Del Rey Discovery” logo on The Outskirter’s Secret. I bought that book, thinking it was a book by a new author, and then had to sit on it for over a decade until they finally published that omnibus version…

    • Rosemary Says:

      Mike —

      Yeah, that struck me as odd, too… A Del Rey decision; I had no input on that.

      But my editor did insist that the story in The Outskirter’s Secret be comprehensible without having read The Steerswoman, which I did my best to do. I also had to provide enough backstory at the the start of The Lost Steersman that someone could come into the story at that point and still be able to understand what was going on.

      With The Language of Power, we didn’t do that… and it would have been hard to synopsize three books. I’ve been told by some who picked that one up first, that it worked fine as an entry point into the story. I was surprised to hear that, but it might be a case of Your Mileage May Vary.