Saturday, January 16, 2016

What kind of challenges did you face bringing this series from its early years to today's success. Were there any specific issues that come to mind?

It's been hard to market these books so that all of those whom they will appeal to will find it. In the early years if a chain store passed on a book, it would take years to build an author or series back up with that chain, even if you could prove they were losing sales. These are not easy books to put covers on, too, and the cover is your primary advertisement about the content of the book, especially before an author has built up a reputation. The Vorkosigan Saga is about heroism—but how can you portray a short guy with bone problems heroically? How do you paint charisma? The books are about family and loyalty and honor—great to read about, hard to portray in concrete images. They contain epic love stories—but how to put that on a cover without alienating the people who are first attracted to the interesting world-building and scientific extrapolation, which are also integral? Probably we needed to put three or four covers on each printing of each volume in the saga!

I've always felt like that's the right way to market this kind of book, 4 covers, to appeal to the sf, fantasy, bodice-ripper and adventure novel buyer.

LMB: Years ago I read an interview with a forensic pathologist who said he had never gone into a bad crime scene, where he had to clean the blood off the walls and whatnot, in any place where there were a lot of books. It occurs to me that because books give us escape even though we may be physically trapped wherever we are, they give us a "time out" space. People who don't have this have to stay in the pressure cooker as the pressure goes higher and higher, until they finally explode into violence expressed either externally or internally in stress illnesses. Books give readers a place to go. This is good for your health and potentially good for the health of the people around you as well. In that sense, I think reading can be a form of self-medication.

That's been the case for me. A stressful environment can be managed as long as I have a good book or an internet connection. Right now the room is too cold, outside is colder,and there is the babble for 20 people talking over each other,but I'm fine, because I'm reading the above interview online.

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