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PENNTERRA is out (once again) from Fantastic Books 
28th-Aug-2009 05:46 pm
Pennterra cover
My first novel, PENNTERRA, published in hardcover in 1987 by Congdon & Weed, has gone through more editions than any of my eleven books, including my three other novels. There was the 1988 mass-market paperback from Worldwide, and the second mass-market paperback from Ballentine/Del Rey in 1993. There were also foreign sales, to England and Italy. And now there's this new trade paperback edition from Fantastic Books. Check out editorial and customer reviews, if you care to, at http://www.amazon.com/PENNTERRA-Judith-Moffett/dp/1604597291

I blogged here in April and May about Warren Lapine's venture into reprinting backlist titles in POD trade editions. Without seeing how the final product was going to turn out, I was reluctant to sign over reprint rights to THE RAGGED WORLD and TIME, LIKE AN EVER-ROLLING STREAM--Volumes I and II of what I'm now calling the Holy Ground Trilogy. (Volume III, THE BIRD SHAMAN, came out a year ago.) I thought of PENNTERRA as a trial balloon; if I liked the looks and quality of that one, I meant to let Fantastic Books reissue RAGGED and TIME as well.

I promised to report back when I had a finished copy in hand, and now I've got one--ten of them, actually--and I'll say right away that I'm more than pleased. The book is unapologetically POD; there are no blank pages and the cover illustration is a doctored photo. That conceded, it's an attractive book. The photo fits the story pretty well and has nice bright colors (see userpic, bearing in mind that it looks less dark at full size), the paper is cream-colored and of a reasonable weight, the font is appealing, and the print, though small, is no smaller than many a commercially printed book. While this edition is not as comfortable to read as the 1987 hardcover edition, which had margins, spacing, paper, and a font size that strike me at this remove as verging upon decadent, it's less heavy; and it fits the hand much more agreeably than the mass market editions do and isn't nearly as taxing to keep open!

Best of all, this edition is the most accurate that's ever been published. Marty Halpern, who acquired and copy-edited the book, is far and away the best copy editor who has ever worked on any manuscript of mine. No backward-facing apostrophe or incorrect em-dash escapes his eagle eye. This was not a particularly easy book to copy-edit; for one thing the electronic version had to be created by scanning, and for another Part Two is full of charts and diagrams that the scanner made mincemeat of. We had a PDF file to work with, not a Word document, so the corrections had to be, not made, but DESCRIBED in such a way that Warren would know how to enter them himself. (That approach won't be tried again!) It was a lot of work for both of us, but especially for Marty, as I've explained before. But we caught, not only the inevitable mistakes from the scanning process, but a surprising number of errors that had crept into the first edition, copy-edited by someone much less eagle-eyed than Marty, whose work had then been corrected by a very inexperienced me.

So that's the report. You can still get a copy of one of the other editions--from Amazon, or David Hartwell's dealer's table, or me--but I'm happy to recommend this one.
28th-Aug-2009 10:40 pm (UTC) - Ain't nothin' wrong with *that* 'doctored photo'!
It's funny (to me, at least): my brain tells me I should be offering my condolences for the fact you've been "reduced" to POD publishing, but my heart other brain can't help but think you might be in the vanguard of a viable alternative to short-sighted oligopoly that has swallowed most of what we used to call "publishers". (As I'm sure you know far better than I, there was a time when "mid-list" meant something quite a bit better than "out-of-print".)


I think the cover looks fine — actually, more than fine — and I'm delighted you're happy with the production values. I hope you'll keep us informed as to how the experiment pans out.

And also (since I'll soon be a book-vendor), does Lapine intend to develop any kind of distribution system or will it be strictly print on demand?
28th-Aug-2009 11:15 pm (UTC) - Re: Ain't nothin' wrong with *that* 'doctored photo'!
Well, thanks for the heartening message! I will certainly pass along any developments. And I'm glad you like the cover--your response makes ME think better of it! My one reservation was, no mountains (it's supposed to be a mountain lake). The "doctored" part refers to the two moons in that blue, blue sky.

You'd probably better ask Warren himself about his distribuition plans. He's on L-J. Or get his email address from me, if you really want to know.

You'll soon be a book vendor??
31st-Aug-2009 01:23 am (UTC) - Re: Ain't nothin' wrong with *that* 'doctored photo'!
Yes, I'm in the process of renovating a space which will be a bookstore/cafe. Frankly, I thought we'd have opened our doors a couple of months ago, but, well ... Cheops' Law and all that.

Anyway, I will contact Warren, once we're closer to opening. I'm a strong believer in the theory that carrying mid-list writers makes a lot of sense and, since I'm going to be able to put it to the test, I intend to do so. (Wish us luck!)
31st-Aug-2009 01:36 am (UTC) - Re: Ain't nothin' wrong with *that* 'doctored photo'!
As a card-carrying mid-list writer, I do most sincerely wish you all sorts of luck!
31st-Aug-2009 01:52 am (UTC) - Re: Ain't nothin' wrong with *that* 'doctored photo'!
Must. Not. Start. Ranting. About. Short-term thinking. Of shtinking Bean-counters now running publishing industry. (What's so hard to understand about, "John Wyndham is a good long-term investment"? Muttermuttermutter.)

But thank you, I (obviously) hope it's a success as well. And if we can make a go of it by carrying, you know, books we actually like instead of endless vampire series and Star Trek novelizations, then all the better!
31st-Aug-2009 01:56 pm (UTC) - Re: Ain't nothin' wrong with *that* 'doctored photo'!
Hey, it's my kind of ranting, so you go right ahead! Though I know about subjects one rants about obsessively. Damages the brain to no good end.

Conventional wisdom says you will go under, but what a glorious chance to prove them all wrong!
1st-Sep-2009 02:39 am (UTC) - Pennterra--All Right!!
Glad to hear this volume lives. And you, too, as recent emails to your account have bounced. Was beginning to worry about you. Better now.

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