Expanding Universe Follow-Up

You all know what tomorrow is, don’t you?

Right!  It’s the twelfth day after the ending of the Great Expanding Universe contest, the day on which the prizes will expire!  And I still have three people who haven’t picked up the coupon-code for their free electronic edition of The Dragon Variation.

Missing folk are:

Al MacDiarmid

A.W. Ford

Samantha Brandt

If you know any of these folks, give ’em a nudge, ‘k?

Once again, congratulations to all the winners, and many thanks to all those who threw their names into the hat!

The Glamor!

So what I’m doing this afternoon instead of writing is putting together a DMCA take-down notice for seventeen novels and stories written by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller which have been scanned and made available for electronic download in violation of my copyright.

For each of those seventeen violations I have to tell the site owner:

1.  The exact title of the work infringed upon

2.  The exact URL of the infringing work

3.  The exact URL of a legitimate electronic copy of the work

Gosh, this is fun!

Judging a Book by its Cover

We got a letter from a long-time reader the other day, who, perplexed by the fact that Steve and I aren’t Rich and Famous Writers, as we clearly deserve to be (a thesis, by the way, that I agree with completely), mounted a study to figure out why this was so.  The results of study led the reader to the conclusion that we lacked the readership enjoyed by Author X (as a fer-instance) because Author X has better cover art.  The reader therefore directed us to instruct our publisher to get us cover art like that gracing the books of Author X, so that we, too, could become New York Times bestsellers.

Now, I have no doubt that our correspondent is well-meaning, and that the expressed concern regarding our continued state of non-famousness, or at least, non-richness, is genuine.  However, there are a couple things. . .off-center about both the conclusion and the directive to us.

Let’s do the easy one first:  Authors do not dictate to publishers.  Authors do not commission cover art.  Authors may, in this enlightened day and age, actually get to consult on the cover art for their books.  Sometimes.  Other times. . .not so much.  Some authors, the rare writer-illustrator, get to do their own cover art.  These folks are the exceptions.

Now, leaving aside for the moment the whole can of worms that is “better” in terms of art, our correspondent appears to have missed a couple of important nuances.

The first, and most glaring, is that Author X writes Urban Fantasy, and thus her covers are Urban Fantasy covers — specifically of the tits-n-tatts variety (which, as a reader of this particular author’s work, make me nuts, because while, yes, the heroine is indeed kick-ass, she is not tattoo-entwined, as depicted.  I can offer textev.).  Now, there’s no question that these covers are effective sales tools — for Urban Fantasy books.  For space operas, they kinda suck rocks.

This is because genre cover art is shorthand; it is not designed, necessarily, to illustrate a particular scene from the book, nor is its mission (see my parenthetical, above) to accurately portray the characters.

The Mission Number One of cover art is to get the book into the hands of a prospective reader.  Note that our concerned reader had this bit dead on.

The way cover art sells books is by accurately “reporting” to prospective readers what’s inside the box.

Thus, this cover. . .

Cover for The Dragon Variation by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

. . .accurately reports that there is action and romance inside.  A reader — I should say a reader of genre science fiction — who is looking for action-romance will not be misled in their buying decision should they purchase this omnibus, and they are primed to be pleased with what they will find inside.

This cover. . .

. . .promises magic, adventure, perhaps some romance.  I happen to like this cover very much — full disclosure: I’ve been happy with almost all of our cover art, in terms of accuracy of reporting and reader allure — despite the fact that the two front-ground characters look nothing like the people I described in the story; nor is the horse, while bat-winged, particularly my bat-winged horse.  The art accurately reports what kind of story is between the covers, and invites the browsing bookstore customer to pick the book up and have a look at the first page or two.

Once the art has done its job — enticed the browser to pick the book up and look at the text — my job as an writer begins.  I’ve got a paragraph, maybe a page, to grab the reader’s imagination and convince them to buy this book, out of the hundreds of others right there in the science fiction section, or the thousands inside the boundaries of the bookstore.

The argument could therefore be made that the first pages of our novels are weak, while Author X is strong in the force.  It could be that there are more romance readers (a huge market segment) seeking out Urban Fantasy than will take a chance on a scifi novel.

The truth of the matter is, nobody actually knows which books will have “it” and become bestsellers.  If we did, we’d all do it, right?  I mean, we’d be idiots, not to.  The best any of us can do is the best we can at what we do; hope for good art, good marketing support, a steady breeze in the sails, and kindly people at port.

And the winners are. . .

Steve and I solicited the help of our local independent bookseller, Ellen Richmond, owner-operator of the Children’s Book Cellar in Waterville, Maine, to draw the names of the thirty-six winners of the ebook edition of The Dragon Variation, containing Liaden Universe® novels Local Custom, Scout’s Progress, and Conflict of Honors.

Here’s a picture of Ellen, showing off the entries, just before she gets down to the tough job:

Ellen Richmond of Children's Book Cellar, Waterville ME
Ellen Richmond and the Contestant Pool, photo by Steve Miller

Here are the results of her labors; the thirty-six winners:

David Kroll

Tom Knapik

Adora Hoose


Brent Chivers

Mark Yon   webpage

Michael Cummings  webpage

Al MacDiarmid

Liz U

Ivy Truitt

Mervi   webpage


Eric Francis

Sean Holland


Paul Prior

Shannon Lewis  webpage

A.W. Ford

Tili S.

Shawn Gray



Samantha Brandt


Moira Young  webpage



Laurie Green  website

Debby Reagan


Bill Fisk

Monika H.


Angie Penrose  website

Alex Fayle  website

John Ridley

* * *

After Ellen went to the back to soak her wrists, we called on local artist and framemaker Amy Cyrway to draw the blogger winner.  Here she is, caught in mid-deed:

Artist Amy Cyrway draws blogger winner
Artist Amy Cyrway draws the winning blogger, photo by Steve Miller

The fruit of her labor is:  Lissa Davies!

* * *

Congratulations to all the winners!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter the contest, and to all the news sites, bloggers, individual readers, and friends of the Liaden Universe® who helped to boost the signal!

Special thanks to Baen Books publisher Toni Weisskopf, Heather Massey at The Galaxy Express, long-time Friend of Liad Mike Barker, Ellen Richmond, Amy Cryway, and Bill Taylor!

This was fun!  Let’s do it again sometime!

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

July 19, 2010,  edited to Add: Individual emails were sent to all winners at the email address they provided on their entry.  If you have not received that email, or if the email address you provided in your entry is one that you don’t ever check, please write to me at sharonleeATkorvalDOTcom (where The Usual replace AT and DOT) to claim your prize.  Thanks.

Sharon Lee

Contest Closed

The Expanding Universe contest is now closed to entries — and the waiting begins!

Later today, Steve and I will take the Big Treasure Chest full of contestants down to Deepest Waterville Maine, where Ellen Richmond, the proprietor of our local indie bookstore, Children’s Book Cellar will exhaust herself by pulling 36 separate entries.

Watch this space for the winners list.

In the meantime, we’d like to thank Toni Weisskopf of Baen Books for making this contest possible; Mike Barker for suggesting it; Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express for showing us how it could be done; all the bloggers, news sites, individual readers, and friends of the Liaden Universe® who boosted the signal and every single one of the more than three hundred folks who entered the contest.  May the luck be with you all!

The writer, not exactly goofing off

So, I haven’t been around the blogs much, a trend that will probably continue,what with one thing and a lagging book.  Still behind on the email.  I love y’all, though.

Steve has been doing the work of four good men; meaning there are many autographed Saltations in the sky, on  the road, and, reportedly, in the hands of the folks who supported the writing of the project. Signing the books reminded us of how much we owe you guys, and we thank you again, deeply.

I still do worry about the folks on the Lost List.  Take a second to look at the list, especially if you’re in the US and haven’t received your book.  If you see your name, please don’t assume that I’ll cross-check you against the SRM database and thus discover your whereabouts.   Be proactive!  If you see a friend’s name on the list, give ’em a nudge, why not?  My goal is to get a book into the hands of everyone who was kind enough to subscribe.

The last week included an emergency run for Argent the Forester to the Subaru Repair Shop, where he emerged willing, and now able, to drive Steve to NASFiC in a couple weeks.

The day-job continues to be Entirely Too Stressful.  I blame the heat.  And administrative boneheadedness.

This evening, Steve and I are scheduled to read, and he, as a Trustee, to act as host, at the Winslow Public Library’s 100th Year Anniversary Party, which will be lots of fun.

The Expanding Universe contest has 326 entries so far.  Have you entered?  Have you blogged?  Have you pointed a friend to the contest?  Time’s running out for all of those things; the contest deadline is midnight EDT today, Friday, July 16.

Today, late as it starts will be an on-the-sofa-with-the Leewit-day.  Hope everyone has a stress-free Friday!

Expand or Lose

Remember!  The Liaden Universe® celebratory Expanding Universe Contest for a chance to win one of thirty-six electronic copies of The Dragon Variation by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, or (if you’re a blogger who has boosted the signal and posted here) to be entered into a drawing for a BN gift card is in its last hours.

The contest goes over at midnight, Eastern Daylight Time (4:00 GMT) today, Friday, July 16.

Read the rules and enter the contest here

Liaden Universe® Infodump No. 84

August 2, 2011: It having been more than a year since Steve and I finished shipping subscriber copies of Saltation to all the subscribers we could find, we have now closed the shipping window. If you find your name on an old webpage out there on the intertubes somewhere, please don’t write to me asking for your book. We never intended to keep shipping books until the heat death of the universe, and really — a year is plenty of time to notice that the book hadn’t arrived and to contact us.

Thank you for your support and interest.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog.
Saltation Supporters Take Note!
The subscriber books have arrived at SRM Galactic Headquarters.  As of this writing, many hundreds have been signed, sealed and mailed.  Within the US, the books are traveling by media mail, which means a three-to-14 day delay before they reach their final destination.  Outside of the US, travel is on the knees of the gods.  Please don’t write to ask if your book has been shipped, but trust that the system is working as it should.
That said, we do have a list of people who did not reply to the email asking that they verify their shipping address.  If you see your name or the name of a friend or loved one on the list below, please do write to saltationATkorvalDOTcom (where AT and DOT are replaced by The Usual) with your shipping address.

Neal Bahu,
Ellen Barry,
Helen Bassett,
Mike Boulton Motorcylces,
Judith Bramlage,
D. Guy Cadieux,
Robert Callaway,
BR Bear Carson,
Jason Christofilos,
Chuck Clements,
James Collins,
Sharon Corbet,
Sarah Cornell,
Susan Cox,
Angus Creighton,
J T Cullingford,
Deanna Cymbaluk,
A Farmer’s Daughter,
Michael Dobbs,
Sam Ellis,
Janet Evans,
Margaret Fielding,
Tamie Fogle,
Jeffrey Giel,
William Goldsmith,
Donice Green,
Shasta Green,
Bernard Grofman,
Diana Hammond,
Charles Hannah,
Lawrence Hartley,
Yeng-Choong Ho,
Donald Humberson,
Maya Jaklitsch,
Walter Jamison,
Amelia Janisz,
Craig & Vicky Johnson,
Beverly Jordan,
Rita Kane,
Albert Knox,
Mike Kroll,
Kari Lempke,
Jaynae Louden,
Linda Love,
Marilyn Mann,
Kendall Marks,
Ellipsis Math,
Grant McConnell,
Gen McGarvey-Tanenbaum,
Theresa Miller,
H. Nieuwenhuijzen,
Heidi Oliversen,
Cheryl Parker,
Sherri Pileggi,
Sherry Ray,
Stephen Reed,
Celia Roberts,
John Rogers,
Susan Ruoff,
Anita Sanders,
Patricia Schaut,
Barbara Schneider,
Jaclyn Search,
Daniel Snider,
Michelle Thornburgh,
Myriah Tommas,
Donald Wedge,
Kristine Whitby,
Teresa Williams,
Victoria Wirt,
Carl Witty,
Victor Yoder,
Cheryl Lynn York

Expanding Universe Contest

In celebration of the publication of Mouse and Dragon, the thirteenth novel set in their Liaden Universe®, authors Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are holding an Expanding Universe Contest!  No less than thirty-six electronic copies of The Dragon Variation will be given away.

The Dragon Variation is an omnibus edition of three Liaden Universe® novels — Conflict of Honors, one of the first modern SFRomances; Local Custom, second place winner of the Prism Award for best Futuristic of 2002; and Scout’s Progress, the first place winner of the Prism Award for best Futuristic of 2002, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice for Best SF Novel of its year, and the prequel to Mouse and Dragon.

The contest is open to anyone who has NEVER read a Liaden Universe(R) novel.  This is the perfect chance to addict introduce friends to the wonders of Liad!  Complete rules are here.   Please note the additional drawing for bloggers who help spread the word.  Contest ends Friday, July 16 at midnight EDT.

Lee and Miller — and Lee — Publishing Schedule
June 1, 2010Mouse and Dragon AND The Dragon Variation
November 2, 2010Carousel Tides
January 4, 2011 The Agent Gambit
May 3, 2011Korval’s Game AND Longeye

Liaden Universe® Bestsellers

Both Fledgling and Saltation have had turns on bestseller lists over the last couple months.

Fledgling hit the Number Ten position on the Locus list for bestselling mass market paperbacks for March (reported in June)

Saltation was Number Four on the Wall Street Journal’s bestselling science fiction for the the week of April 25 and was Number Ten on the Locus list for April (reported in July).

Thank you all — we couldn’t have done it without you!

There are three full chapters, as well as ancillary information about the novel and the world of Carousel Tides, Sharon Lee’s contemporary Maine fantasy, now up. Keep checking back, there’s more to come!

Where in the World are Lee and Miller?
Steve will be attending ReConStruction, the 10th Occasional North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC), in Raleigh, NC, from August 5-8.

Yes, You Can Read Lee and Miller on Your Ebook Reader!
All of the published Liaden Universe® books, the Fey Duology, and The Tomorrow Log are available from Baen Webscriptions .  There are instructions on the Webscription site for downloading their books to your
Kindle, iPhone, iTouch, Sony EReader, and other devices.

Several Sharon Lee short stories, and the Jennifer Pierce Maine novels, Barnburner and Gunshy, are available from Fictionwise

Support Your Local Bookstore
Uncle Hugo’s
University Bookstore
Pandemonium Books
Missing Volume

Dream Haven
Flights of Fantasy
Mysterious Galaxy
Constellation Books
Children’s Book Cellar

All of the above folks do mail order and take want lists.

Blogs of Note
Theo_Waitley is the discussion group for readers of Fledgling and
Where Dragons Rest
Steve Miller’s blog, Journeyman
Sharon Lee’s blog, Eagles over the Kennebec
SRM Publisher blog
Sharon Lee’s “Professional” blog

Facebook Connections — please feel free to add us!
Steve Miller
Sharon Lee

Liaden Interest Groups on Facebook
Clan Korval
Friends of Liad
Flaran chamenthi

Sharon’s Author Page

Steve’s on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bechimo
Sharon’s on Twitter, too: http//twitter.com/ClanKorval

Disclaimer Stuff
This InfoDump is a product of the Liaden Universe®, accept no imitations. You have received this message because you asked for it. If you wish to subscribe to the Liaden Universe® email list, go here.