Wednesday, December 13, 2006

First Shelter Sighting!

I have a history of learning writing news from the internet before my publishers have told me about it. In 2000, for instance, I learned that my story "Going After Bobo" was going to be included in Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction: Eighteenth Annual Collection when I found a Table of Contents on the net during a routine ego-search. Gardner hadn't even sent out contracts yet, and didn't realize that the TOC had been posted. He was very startled when I e-mailed him about it.

So last night, I decided to see if I could find any information about my third novel, Shelter, which is coming out in June. Imagine my surprise when I found the book on Amazon Canada. Imagine my even greater surprise when I saw that the novel was being published in trade paperback, rather than the hardcover I'd expected.

After a flurry of panicky e-mails and phone calls this morning, I've determined that all is well. The book is indeed coming out in trade paper, but my editor Patrick -- who didn't realize that a final decision about publishing format had been made yet, and was as startled as I was to see the Amazon Canada page -- assures me that this is A Good Thing. Shelter's a huge book, 576 pages, and in trade paper, it will be more affordable for more people, and will (we hope) sell better to the big chain bookstores. And I'll still get reviews and library sales, especially since Tor's doing a four-color bound galley. Patrick assures me that the book's getting positive attention, rather than being sidelined, which was what the change of format originally made me fear. I'm still having a bit of trouble overcoming my "hardcovers are more prestigious" bias, but I'll get over it. My agent, who's an avatar of calm and reassurance, tells me that I should be happy, and she knows what she's talking about.

Patrick also reports that the cover looks much better in real life than on a computer screen. On the computer, it's hard to see that what looks like white space is in fact covered with a subtle blueprint, and that the windows of the house are circuit boards. I figured this out last night by tilting my laptop screen for greater contrast, but Patrick says that those details are clearly visible on the printed cover. I'm happy to hear it, since the book is indeed science fiction, rather than a Victorian ghost story (which was my initial impression of the cover).

Here's the back-cover copy for the galleys:
The three basic human needs are food, water . . . and shelter. But in the late 21st century, compassion is a crime. You can get your memories wiped just for trying to help.

Papa Preston Walford's world doesn't allow for coincidences. Accidents. Secrets in the back of closets. Or the needs of his own daughter.

Meredith Walford has reason to seek shelter. She needs protection from the monsters in her mind, in her history, in her family. And the great storms of a changing climate have made literal shelter imperative.

When a cutting-edge, high-tech house, designed by a genius with a unique connection to Meredith, overcomes its programming to give shelter to a homeless man in a storm, from its closets emerge the revelations of a past too painful to remember.

In the world of Susan Palwick's Shelter, perception is about to meet reality, and reality has mud all over it. The truth won't make you happy, but it may just make you whole.
This isn't what I would have written, but I've learned that cover blurbs are about marketing, not about accurate plot synopsis. If this copy sells books, more power to it.


  1. For what it's worth, I agree that trade paper is the best way to go with a big novel these days.

  2. For what it's worth, I'm glad that it will be available in trade paperback. Those are somewhat easier to scan and make into a format I can read. I'm looking forward to reading it; I know it will be wonderful.

  3. Um, that kind of looks like my house.

    Congratulations on the book.

  4. Thanks, all!

    Soren: that's reassuring, since you're closer to the business end of publishing than I am.

    Nickie: I hadn't even thought about the access issues, so thanks for reminding me about them!

    Marcia: Your house has circuitboard windows? Cool!

  5. Well, I'm not a big Sci-fi buff, but the back cover blurb must be effective, 'cause now I'm intrested...

    Good luck with the book!


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