Most of you know by now that the Riyria Revelations was not originally published by Orbit. The series actually faced a very long road taking turns being self-published, small independent published, self-published again, and finally traditionally published through Orbit. These changes can perhaps be best followed by the changing covers of the first book of the series—The Crown Conspiracy.
Initially I never intended to publish the books for money. Before ebook readers were invented, when Amazon had only recently started turning a profit, I had decided to just post my books online for free download. I never sent them to a publisher, never sent a query to an agent. I had given up on that waste of time. I was going to write and put them on the Internet, feeling this was better than in a drawer.
I built a website and created this cover for the first book, which at that time I called Heirs to the Throne.
In all the time I had it on the Internet, I doubt a single person ever read it.
Then my wife found me an agent and I took the site down. My agent wasn’t thrilled with the title. Turned out no one was. I pondered the options for days until I settled on The Crown Conspiracy, that everyone agreed was much better.
When my agent was unable to get any traction, and eventually quit the industry for personal reasons, Robin and I set in motion plans to self-publish. This was still before the ebook evolution and we were saving up for the printing and warehousing costs. In the meantime I created this new cover that played off the new title.
My daughter hated it having a bias against computer generated art. Turns out she had a point, but the point became moot when before we could implement our plans for self-published world domination, I was offered a contract by AMI a small, independent publisher.
They inquired about what I would like to see on the cover. To give them an idea I pulled some images off the net, most by Alan Lee and sent them this concept art: (you'll notice that Nyphron Rising was at that time entitled Legends and Lore.)
They liked the look and feel and hired their own artist who returned with this sketch.
I became concerned. The castle was too imposing, more like Dracula’s, the river looked like Harry Potter’s scar, and there was an aqueduct where the Winds Monastery should be. I also couldn’t figure out where they planned to put the title. With Robin’s encouragement I did a cover painting of my own and sent them this:
Which in their wisdom they changed to this:
After financial problems caused AMI to return the rights to me, I then had no choice but to self-published, but this was the Spring of 2008.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Amazon released the first generation Kindles on November 19th 2007, but after selling out in five and a half hours, the devices remained out of stock for five months. Kindles became available in April 2008, the same time Ridan began selling the Riyria Revelations.
Then in 2011 I signed a contract with Orbit Books, changed the title, and work on the covers began all over again. This was the first cover idea I saw back in February of last year. A far cry from the simple, subtle landscapes that I created.
Eventually this was paired down to the more shelf/series brand friendly:
And this is where we are today except that Royce and Hadrian have escaped and gone international. Orbit’s UK arm produced this cover using Orbit’s original art.
But I have presently signed foreign language rights contracts or have deals pending with: The Czech Republic, Russia, Poland, Spain, France, Germany, Brazil, Japan, Denmark, and most recently, Bulgaria. The first of these covers have been appearing as the books are finally being released overseas.
Funny how many different ways a single book can be packaged.