Publisher’s Note: Books to Binge On

It’s summer, and from what I hear from many of my friends outside the Oregon Coast, it has been a hot one.

I remember hot summers. Probably the hottest was the summer I spent in Madrid, Spain, with my father, sister, and best friend. It was 1992, the summer of the World’s Fair in Sevilla and the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. We traveled a lot that summer, but my strongest memory is of passing out on the escalator in a metro station in Madrid. I’ve never handled extreme heat well, and it was 110 degrees that day. The metro wasn’t much cooler, even though it was underground, and it had no air conditioning. Needless to say, our plans for the day were derailed by my fainting. Although, thanks to one aggressive Spanish taxi driver, our adventures were far from over. But that’s another story.

Now, when I talk to my good friend in Madrid, and he tells me of the heat, I remember that day. And I think the only good plan for a hot summer’s day is to stay inside the air conditioning and read.

And so it seems wholly appropriate that I have the following Storybundle to tell you about:

The SF&F Binge Reader Bundle, curated by our own Kristine Kathryn Rusch, offers a new (at least new to us) twist on the Storybundle concept. Storybundle, of course, bundles books together for a limited time and a great price. This bundle, however, bundles bundles. Yes, that’s what I said. Four book bundles for $5 or ten for $15.

WMG has four bundles in this Storybundle:

You can read all about this amazing bundle here. But don’t forget, this bundle is only available for another couple of weeks.

We’ve got more books in more Storybundles launching over the next couple of weeks, as well, so stay tuned!

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.

Publisher’s Note: Second Chances

So, I lied. Sort of.

Remember back in May when we announced the one-time cover branding workshop I agreed to teach with Dean Wesley Smith? Well, it turns out that I had quite a bit of fun doing it. So, I told Dean I might consider doing another one if he did, too.

Thus, the one-time Branding Fantasy Covers Workshop was created.

You can read all about it on Dean’s blog (here), but like the last workshop I did, this one will fill up very quickly and then go away. I simply don’t have time to do many of these, much as I enjoy them. So, don’t wait.

As you can tell from the title, this one is genre-specific. But what will be fun for me is the diversity of cover design the fantasy genre can represent. Urban fantasy covers look very different from high fantasy, for example.

The fantasy genre has been one of the most dynamic when it comes to cover design. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them has been the influence from visual media and the popularity of shows such as Game of Thrones.

And that’s the trickiest part of cover design: its dynamic nature. Popular trends have great influence on branding. And in today’s world of instantaneous communication, trends are changing faster and faster.

We just need to keep up.

I’m not going to say more about fantasy design at this point—I’m saving that for the workshop. But I will once again share the covers with you once I’ve created them.

So, stay tuned. I’m looking forward to seeing what we come up with.

Publisher’s Note: Using Tools for Series Branding

It’s no secret that series branding is essential in the publishing business. Well, let me rephrase: It should be no secret that series branding is essential in the publishing business.

But knowing something needs to be done and executing it properly can be two very different things. This is why I’ve started co-teaching cover design workshops again with Dean Wesley Smith. (More about that in the coming weeks…)

We designers have many options for ways to brand a series. Typography is critical. Organization of the elements essential. And consistency with cover art is a non-starter.

And that’s where things get tricky.

In the days of traditional publishing, art was created specifically for the book. This was a very expensive process, and one fraught with its own problems. If the artist created something totally wrong for the book (or too dark or too ugly…you get the idea), often times, you were stuck with it. Even if you got great art, if you were working on a series and that artist became unavailable for future projects, well, frankly, you were screwed.

But today we publishers large and small rely heavily on stock art. Yes, we run the risk of another book having the same art on the cover. But I’ll be honest, that’s the least of my worries. I rarely leave the art alone enough to have my books look generic.

The biggest problem with stock art arises with series branding. That is, finding enough art from the same or similar artists to keep a series going.

And when you have extremely prolific authors, like I do, that’s a real worry.

And that’s when we really start to get creative.

Take Dean Wesley Smith’s Mary Jo Assassin series, for example. We currently have one book published in that series: Death Takes a Partner. So, when I was coming up with the cover concept for that book, I only had the one to go on. This isn’t unusual, of course. A series has to start somewhere, after all. But I know Dean, and I knew he wasn’t likely to stop with the one book. That’s why I insisted we put a series name on the first one from the start (I’ve learned a few things in my five years with WMG :).

The art I chose was compelling, sexy and thriller appropriate, just like the book. I knew I’d be able to find other art like it, but I had no way of knowing how specific I could get for the books themselves since they weren’t even on the radar yet. That was a problem for the future.

Well, that problem presented itself last week, when Dean told me he was writing the next book in the series, Death Takes a Diamond. He wanted to do the Smith’s Monthly cover for that book himself (that magazine is his baby, and he likes to do most of the production himself, too) and he had found a piece of art he hoped would work.

Here it is. And it does work well with the series, and will look great on the cover of Smith’s Monthly.

But when I was showing Josh (one of our valuable WMG employees who has an interest in learning design) the cover I designed and compared it with the first book, he asked a very perceptive question: Could I make the art look more black-and-white like the first book?

I paused barely a beat before I said, why yes, indeed I can! (Thanks, Josh!)

So, into Photoshop we went. There’s a lot of technical steps involved here, but I’ll give you the broad strokes:

 

  1. Using the magnetic lasso tool, I selected the blue eyeball from the original art and copied it into a new layer, which I placed over the original art.
  2. Going back to the original layer, I converted it to black-and-white and applied a warm photo filter.
  3. Next, I used the magnetic lasso to select the diamond (in its now black-and-white form) and pasted it into a new layer.
  4. Then I sampled from the blue in the eyeball layer and used the color replacement tool to wash the diamond with blue.
  5. And voila! Perfectly branded series art.

I sent showed the new art to Dean, and he was blown away (which doesn’t happen often and is a pretty cool reaction to witness <g>).

Series. Branded.

I’ve already started playing with art for a future book. So, Dean better get writing.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to see this one in paperback.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.

Publisher’s Note: Celebrating Independence and the Freedom of Choice

WMG Publishing is an international publishing house, despite our location in the United States. So, as we here in the U.S. prepare to celebrate Independence Day, I want to take a moment to say happy Canada Day to our friends, colleagues, and neighbors to the north.

For those of you less familiar with the holiday, as I was, here’s the Wikipedia definition:

“Canada Day is the national day of Canada. A federal statutory holiday, it celebrates the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867 (then called the British North America Act, 1867), which united the three separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.”

Happily, these two holidays are also well synced with WMG’s publishing schedule for our latest volumes of Fiction River and Fiction River Presents.

Our latest volume of Fiction River, you see, was edited by our Canadian colleague Mark Leslie and is the product of a publishing partnership with Kobo. It highlights not only the creativity we celebrate here at WMG but also our freedom to form international partnerships with foreign companies like Kobo to enhance the reading experience of our worldwide subscribers.

And our latest volume of Fiction River Presents celebrates freedom in another way. The freedom of speech, the freedom to vote, our inalienable rights to state our opinions without repercussion.

Because this volume of Fiction River Presents is called Readers’ Choice for what will shortly be obvious reasons.

Here’s the synopses of each book:

Fiction River: Editor’s Choice, edited by Mark Leslie

Editing an anthology can prove tricky business. Wonderful stories sometimes find themselves on the rejection pile simply because they do not fit in the editor’s vision of that anthology. So, editor Mark Leslie decided to save some of those amazing stories for this latest volume of Fiction River: Editor’s Choice. These tales run the gamut from YA fantasy to cozy crime to slipstream to horror. And they represent the incredible diversity of styles, voices, and genre that inspired Adventures Fantastic to call Fiction River “one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today.”

Table of Contents
“The Four Thirty-Five” by Annie Reed
“Bertie’s Choice” by Jamie McNabb
“Mirror Skillz” by Dave Raines
“Holding the Door” by Elliotte Rusty Harold
“Trees” by Diana Benedict
“The Blood is on the Wall” by Felicia Fredlund
“The Glass Girl” by Leah Cutter
“Breaking Kayfabe” by Kelly Washington
“Lemonade and Larceny” by Lauryn Christopher
“First Day, Every Day” by M. L. Buchman
“Touch” by Michael Kowal
“The Rock of Ages” by Ron Collins
“He Saw” by Dan C. Duval
“Bad Dates Bite” by Kerrie L. Hughes
“No Further” by Laura Ware

Fiction River Presents: Readers’ Choice, edited by Allyson Longueira

Fiction River readers make the call in this latest volume of Fiction River Presents. From a reluctant warrior fighting a battle in her own backyard, to a man coming to terms with the racial inequality of his youth, to a romance blooming out of adversity, Readers’ Choice offers up favorite stories from the first four years of Fiction River. Spanning genre lines from historical mystery to science fiction to Regency romance, this volume proves why Adventures Fantastic says: “[Fiction River] is one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today.”

Table of Contents
“Combat Medic” by Kris Nelscott
“Sisters in Suffrage” by Debbie Mumford
“Stolen in Passing” by Dory Crowe
“The White Game” by Ron Collins
“The F Factor” by Chrissy Wissler
“The Chair” by JC Andrijeski
“The Flare” by Laura Ware
“Suppose They Gave a Ragnarok and Nobody Came?” by Lee Allred
“Jelly’s Heroes” by Louisa Swann
“A Countess for Christmas” by Anthea Lawson

Readers’ Choice is special for another reason. It’s the result of one of our stretch goals from the 2016 Fiction River Subscription Drive Kickstarter.

So, if you’re not already a subscriber, click on the cover to buy one or both of these fantastic volumes. And if you already are a subscriber, we thank you for your support and celebrate your excellent choice!

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.

Publisher’s Note: The Best Laid Plans

As I write this, I’m just wrapping up Pixiefest, an event I helped create and execute for the Kiwanis Club of Lincoln City as a new fundraiser.

Planning this event—not to mention executing it—has been an adventure. In addition to all sorts of new-event growing pains, our very first day of the event was conducted in 93 degree weather (yes, on the Oregon Coast, where we’re usually in the 60s during the day in the summer). Needless to say, we had not planned for that in our initial preparations.

We lost a couple of volunteers to heat stroke, but otherwise, thankfully, the weather seemed not to deter our visitors. A couple of vendors proved so popular that they ran out of food and had to close for a bit to restock. And lots of fun was had at this family-friendly carnival.

Day two saw completely different weather after a cold front moved through (destroying two of our vendor’s tents overnight when the temperatures dropped 20 degrees in two minutes, creating a 65 mph gust of wind). But the sun remained and more fun was had by many.

All-in-all the event was deemed a resounding success.

But getting there…well, let’s just say I felt a lot like Petra in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s delightful (and for me, incredibly timely) story “Petra and the Blue Goo.”

To say too much more—about my experience with creating Pixiefest or about the Petra’s experience with her event—would ruin the story for you, so I’ll leave you to read it instead and draw your own imagined parallels. The story is free on Kris’ website this week only, so don’t delay.

As for me, I’m going to get some rest and try not to do anything extroverted for a while.

Pixies, you’re on your own.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.