During November, I will be sending a limited number of advanced reader copies of The Sword of Kaigen (in both PDF and paperback form) to readers interested in providing early reviews.
As of today, I am accepting ARC requests at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Stuff to know about ARC requests:
Due to shipping costs, I am not able to send paperbacks outside the US. However, I am more than happy to send PDFs to international readers (I know, I hate it too, and I’m sorry)
Also due to shipping costs, I have a VERY limited number of paperbacks available. If it is at all possible for you to read the book in PDF form, please let me know (it will increase your likelihood of being added to the ARC team).
Please feel free to include links to any social media accounts (i. e. Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) where you typically post reviews.
Any further questions? Hit me up at email@example.com.
REMINDER: on May 15th (the same day this cover goes live for the paperbacks), the Orbit ebook will be FREE on Amazon! Bookmark the page so you don’t miss it!
I was overworked and a bit world-building-happy in 2017 when I designed Orbit‘s original cover. Something that I’ve learned in the intervening year is that you shouldn’t try to communicate the whole story through the cover. Trying to tell the story through the cover design is, in fact, a horrible idea that leads to a lot of clutter and confusion.
I was certainly conscious of this idea when I set about designing a new cover. But it wasn’t until I looked at Orbit’s new cover next to its old one that I realized that they illustrate this principle beautifully.
The original cover tries to communicate everything about the story. Everything. Here’s a brief rundown of all the design elements at play:
The gold of the space station
The hands, representing Duna’s reversed racial hierarchy and the light, representing the supernatural powers that most likely created it
The symbols around the central circle, representing the different kafonu and theotypes (with the manga koro and tajaka symbols near the top, and the senkuli and littigi symbols near the bottom)
The stars used throughout the story to represent confusion, disorientation, and uncertain orbit
The fish of the Kaigenese flag, providing a visual representation of two beings orbiting a central force
The sun of the Disanka flag – another celestial body, a literal point of orbit, used as a metaphor for Robin and later Daniel
The spear and shield of the Sizwean flag, representing the power of the tajaka koronu like Zankare who enforce Duna’s hierarchies
The Kaigenese, Sizwean, and Disanka symbols all encompassed in the four-petaled flower of the Yammanka flag, representing Duna’s current world order
The multiple circles in the design, representing a universe uncertain of its center
Oh, and the background pattern is a gold version of the one described on the Dakkabana hospital floor. It contains Yammanka symbols for health and vitality.
And that’s just counting the super surface level symbolism, disregarding more open-to-interpretation stuff like ‘what if the fish represent Hiroshi and Nagasa?’ It’s madness. It’s way too much to reasonably expect someone to unpack at a glance.
Here’s what the new cover has to say:
It communicates the most basic elements of the book’s content (probably enough to let a potential reader know whether or not they would be interested) and doesn’t demand that you bust out your literary degree to make sense of it.
The one thing I don’t love about the new cover is that it’s so basic that it’s hard to tell who the featured character even is.
Fiki. Just in case anyone was wondering. It’s Fiki.
I would hope a reader could identify her by process of elimination. She’s too young to be Zankare, too dark to be Daniel, too female to be Kente, too skinny to be Koko, and… well… not Joan or Izumo for obvious reasons. Honestly, Cover Girl’s facepaint is way more boring and minimalist than any of Fiki’s usual looks, but any attempt to make it more accurate to the book would have cluttered the image with too many competing colors.
The new cover will be available on Amazon, May 15th.
As of posting, this design has been applied to the Planet Adyn paperbacks on Amazon (available for purchase here).
Over all, I’m very happy with this design. While my Photoshop game (as always) leaves something to be desired, I feel that this art captures the content and atmosphere of Book 1 – angst, superpowers, secrets, isolation, melancholy… more angst.
I was personally sad to sacrifice the visual metaphor for racial hierarchy and the bogolan (West African mudcloth) patterns suggestive of the Mande-based world-building from the 2016 cover, but those honestly did little to communicate the book’s tone and genre. The previous cover was wide open to interpretation – something that I loved about it, as the author, but I doubt it did a good job attracting the YA/fantasy readers who have made up my most enthusiastic readership.
In any case, I’m excited to see how this cover does on Amazon. Let me know your thoughts!