The publishing industry professionals are up in arms. Well not all of them, but the traditionalists are. There I go tainting a swathe of friends unfairly. Let’s start again.
A year ago at a writers’ retreat in Greece (Limnisa.com) I launched my imagination into space. LL-Publications, who publishes my ARIA Trilogy and INCREMENTAL short story collection, said, ‘Nelder, we want a science fiction novella – a series.’ I admit that the scifi story in me bursting to get out is a trope: crashlanded spaceship lands on a barely inhabitable planet and need to survive / check possibility of human settlement / watch for nasties. Where it is different is that the natives are a million years ahead of Earth in their civilisation, science and evolution. They ignore the four humans crying out for help. Worse, but I won’t give too much away.
I’ve taken this opportunity to create a strange world yet with viable science even if that science follows rules in the Kepler 20 planetary system. The buildings are odd, the natives… where are they? Not all the birds are birds and not all the butterflies are lepidoptera. There is so much strangeness that even the charming British science fiction writer, Jaine Fenn of the great HIDDEN EMPIRE series says it has ‘original touches’. One of the butterflies attaches itself to Gaston, the senior science officer. It appears so much in the story it has become a silent yet important character.
While in Greece I was in the spaceship and it needed a name. Many real space vehicles, films and novels use names of famous astronauts and scientists, or laudable human goals such as Endeavor, Enterprise, Challenger but I wanted to be different (surprise, surprise). Suppose we call the ship erm… SUPPOSE WE. So I did. Initially as a temporary, working name and the novella’s temp title also became SUPPOSE WE.
However, as I neared the end and I mentioned to the critique group I inhabit that I might change the name, I was threatened with a lynching. Suppose we … could do this, or that. Suppose we don’t. Suppose we explore the universe and suppose we discover something absolutely astonishing… The group and I fell in love with the name and what it could mean. Even so it is unusual and in publishing terms that makes it a ‘filter’ between a browsing reader in a bookshop – strike one.
The atmosphere on the Keplerian planet is often a lilac colour. I found a stock image of an astronaut on a lilac planet with a butterfly! What are the odds? The publisher bought the licence then played with fonts. This is what happened.
Yay. It’s bold, adventurous and experimental and there’s an enigmatic tower in the story that the vertical Suppose could symbolise. Butbutbut will casual browsers in the Kindle and bookstores ‘get’ it? Has it become filter number two? I put the question on facebook, some scifi writers and book discussion boards and sat back. Whoa! Like Marmite, people either loved it or hated it. Well, maybe hated is too strong but many found it hard to read. Do you? I am wondering if we’d hit on a cusp in optic perception when a few people couldn’t read it at all. Someone said maybe it is like the issue some have in reading white on dark backgrounds.
I laughed when a friend read the title as WE SUPPOSE then a few more did. Funny because I had considered We Suppose instead of Suppose We. They’re both enigmatic and I might use We Suppose as the title of a sequel!
I examined the comments from those who advise we shouldn’t use that font (EVAA). Many merely found it difficult initially, some found it unreadable and the industry professionals (agents and other publishers) wanted us to be normal, use standard fonts and horizontal words. You see, they are interested in sales. Some publishers expend more money and energy into marketing tricks and being ‘normal’ than in the art, originality and literary exuberance of what is between the covers.
To be honest, I don’t sell many books. I’m not famous and probably not good enough. So if a few readers don’t get the title I’ll not notice. In the meantime more responses rolled in and gradually the swing was towards acceptance. Some loved the bizarreness and scifi look although one (I was surprised it was only one) accused us of being ‘too’ scifi and pretentious. On the more positive side some readers have come up with interesting variations:
Alt cover for Suppose We by Peter Baldiccino
Eg this from twitter’s @moonsparrot (turns out that I’d taught him over 30 years ago!)
My favourite comment came from Bindi Workman, writer of fantasy, poetry and shorts as Robyn Cain: “It’s good to be different and true to yourself.”
From Oscar Windsor-Smith “I like it a lot. The title does take a few seconds to sink in, but that’s no bad thing, surely? Rather like those scrambled sentences that are deliberately created with missing letters, the pattern recognition part of our brains engages and gives a rewarding buzz once the meaning resolves. The typeface is very distinctive and the overall effect is eye catching and intriguing. I think you have (another) winner.”
We have yet to make a decision but the experience has been illuminating.
Other Nelder news
INCREMENTAL is an amazing collection of surreal shorts. For a tenner, you can laugh, be amazed, and blurt into your coffee. paperback or as a Kindle and KindleUnlimited
Xaghra’s Revenge is set in Malta Libya, a harem in Constantinople and in France.
When pirates abducted 5000 from Gozo in 1551 revenge was inevitable even though it took 500 years for me to give it to them. Free on KindleUnlimited
Run, hide! alien apocalypse.
Infectious amnesia. Free on KindleUnlimited or
99 pence/cents ARIA smarturl.it/1fexhs
My other books can be found on the Amazon Author page http://author.to/Amazonauthorpage
Or if you fancy a children’s picture book about Timmy the Tornado – a kind of social story to help children grow up and be kind. ebook 99 pence https://payhip.com/b/2aj3
Local to North Wales & Merseyside too. Data, graphs, analysis
Air Pollution ebook £1.50
More info https://payhip.com/b/62pM