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You have a book containing stories by the following writers. Which five names do you put on the cover?

Peter S Beagle
Jack Dann & Paul Brandon
Terry Dowling
Andy Duncan
Jeffrey Ford
Kathleen Ann Goonan
Eileen Gunn
Gwyneth Jones
Ellen Klages
Margo Lanagan
Maureen F. McHugh
Garth Nix
Lucius Shepard
Bruce Sterling
Ysabeau Wilce

Actual answer here. Vote before you click.

EDIT: See also jlassen's two entries, and Andrew Wheeler here.

FURTHER EDIT: Commentary from rosefox here and leahbobet here.
Have people learned NOTHING!!!

I am not asking for anti-sexist gender parity, nice as that would be. CYA anti-sexist gender parity would do just fine.
What gets me is it looks to me as though there was some effort made to solicit stories from women writers -- I mean, Maureen McHugh and Eileen Gunn are not (alas) hugely prolific, so I'm guessing they were asked for stories. But it's a bit pointless doing that if you're then going to slap a boy's own cover on the thing.
In trying to second guess you I note that the two "mistakes" I put in were women. I thought Maureen F. McHugh and Gwyneth Jones were more likely to help sell a collection than Lucius Shepard or Jeffrey Ford. (I've never even *heard* of Ford!)

But I am not going to assume there was definitely sexism involved. There could be many other reasons for chosing those names which might be perfectly innocent.

(stupid, ignorant, but innocent.)
Hmmm, the writers themselves were roughly 50/50 split between male/female AFAIK.
Huh, 4 for 5, my mistake being that I put in Lanagan instead of Nix. The lesson I take from this being that the choice of names is even more strongly oriented towards the US market than I'd thought - though this should've been obvious to me.
That was roughly why I put Nix in :-)
Good grief ... back to the days of evry fule kno gurlz don't write science fiction.
too right!

I've picked the five I've heard of...
A useful datapoint in itself. :)
Hah! Five for five! The best part is that, once I was done with my selections (which I made based on who I thought were the most recognizable names on the list), I looked them over and thought 'huh, no women.'

(By the way, Torque Control appears to be eating my comments. Any idea why?)
(By the way, Torque Control appears to be eating my comments. Any idea why?)

No idea. I've rescued it, though.
I had no input into what names did or didn't go on the cover, though I have no objection to the ones they've chosen. The first thing to remember, when you look at things like this, is that this book is only being published in the United States. The only reason to put names on the cover is to sell the book. Nix is the biggest selling author in the book, both in the US and the UK, and by some order of magnitude, so he was always going to make the cover. Beagle and Sterling are both well-established, enormously respected authors. They too are something of no-brainers for the cover. After that, it could have gone either way.

As to the gender breakdown: I know I'm likely to get into trouble for this, but I never considered it. Not when I was soliciting stories, not when I was buying and editing them, and not when I was assembling the final book. It's really only now that it's been pointed out that it's clearly that it's close to 50/50, which is nice, but coincidental.

Glad to see the discussion of the book, btw. I hope you guys like it when it comes out.
Thanks for the comment and yes, I knew the selection of names would be a marketing decision. It just struck me because as I went through my blog-reading this morning I saw the contents first and got excited about new stories by McHugh, Jones, Lanagan, and Sterling -- in that order. So, even knowing that I am very far from a typical bookstore browser, and that I am not in the country where the book is being marketed, to then see that the cover only mentioned one of the authors I was most interested in was a bit of a surprise.
I too realised right away that it was a gender thing. I voted approximately for the 5 names I thought were the biggest, although I think missed Beagle.
If I'd be voting for the 5 names I'm most excited about, I'd go for:
Terry Dowling
Jeffrey Ford
Kathleen Ann Goonan
Margo Lanagan
Bruce Sterling
but of course that would mostly be nonsense in terms of selling a book. I guess so would Lanagan now that Jonathan points out that it's solely for the US market (I could also tell it was Jonathan's collection right away), but I still think the publisher could've included at least one female name - a few are pretty big!
(I could also tell it was Jonathan's collection right away)

Heh, yes, I could probably have guessed too. :)
Also, I am _much_ more likely to pick up a collection based on the cover if it lists the names of ALL the contributors (there are plenty of designs which allow this). Or at the very least all the names are on the back. I--and I suspect most readers, those I could be wrong--will not necessarily buy a book for a short story by one author I like. I want to at least feel like the anthology has a bunch of worthwhile stories, whether I'm ever going to read them or not. If I only recognized Ysabeau's name, for instance, then I'd just read it in the shop!
Who am I trying to sell this book to?
As many people as possible.
i guess the firebirds anthologies have a pretty interesting presentation, then? no authors on front cover, all authors on back cover ...

how am i doing?
Well, I like fire, so...
Hah. 3/5, because I included Jones and McHugh instead of Nix and Ford. I'm frankly surprised that Jones didn't make the cover; my perception of her is that she's a big enough name for that to be standard (though I may be entirely wrong). Nix, on the other hand - I like him a lot more than I do Jones, but he's an Australian YA fantasy author; I wouldn't have thought that would make him an obvious selling point for a non-Australian adult anthology with an SF-looking cover...

I nearly included Ford, but I decided that McHugh was more interesting *g*. I wish she'd publish another novel! For the record, my personal five "ooh!" choices are McHugh, Lanagan, Nix, Beagle and Sterling, in that order - with the last two more because I know they're popular among my acquaintance rather than because I am myself a massive fan.
I'm frankly surprised that Jones didn't make the cover; my perception of her is that she's a big enough name for that to be standard (though I may be entirely wrong).

I think that may be a UK/US difference -- Jones doesn't have a mainstream publisher in the US. Life won the PKD Award but came out from Aqueduct, for instance. I'm still a bit surprised that she's not on the cover, because she is a Night Shade author -- they published Bold as Love, although not, so far, the rest of that sequence -- and this is a Night Shade anthology.

I am happy in the knowledge that there are several McHugh novels I have yet to read. But yes, it would be nice if she wrote some more; I always feel I have to eke out the backlist of authors who aren't very productive ...
Just realized that that name is Maureen McHugh, not Maura. I am dumb, and have revoted accordingly.
Heh. I picked the names I was most excited by (Jones, Klages, McHugh, Lanagan and Wilce), but of course, that's probably because I pick up most of my reading from recs from my rather feminist and female-oriented flist.
Depends on who I want my market to be. If I am me, I want to appeal to people looking for the cool new women writers, while still pulling in the folks who don't know who they are. So Beagle, Wilce, McHugh, Jones, and Nix.
See my reply to buymeaclue above: you just want to sell as many books as possible.
Two cents from the person who got decided who got put on the cover and who didn't.

Five names is what we decided would reasonably fit on the cover. Who to pick...? As the publisher, I have one job and only one job. Make this book sell as many copies as possible. If we want to have an Eclipse Two, then the first one has to turn a profit. That's the business.

So I'm going to pick the five names that I think will best sell the book, and frankly, gender isn't important in that decision to me, unless I think the author's gender will help me sell copies of the book. So why did I pick the five names that I picked?

Garth Nix - sells books by the metric ton, and while YA, has been around long enough to have a lot of crossover fans
Bruce Sterling - sells lots and lots of books
Peter Beagle - sells lots and lots of books, and oh yeah, that whole Last Unicorn thing
Jeffrey Ford - multiple-award winning short story writer, his last two collections were both starred reviews, and his last novel won and Edgar and sold a ton of copies
Lucius Shepard - rabid fan following, and I publish his novels and he sells a lot of books for us, which makes be believe he will sell copies of this book

Why are some of the other authors not on the cover? I'll not name names, but some of them are not on the cover because they are not well-known outside of YA. Some of them are not on the cover because they don't sell particularly well, no matter how well they are reviewed. Some of them are not on the cover because we decided to put five names on the cover and not six.

I have read posts here that say "so-and-so is a way bigger author than so-and-so that you put on the cover, so you must be sexist" and you're going to have to trust me on this: you're probably wrong. I have access to sales data, you probably don't. I do this for a living, I own the company, and I don't have a foreign conglomerate backing us, so when I'm wrong it costs me a lot of money. If I thought putting five women on the cover would sell more copies, I'd have done it.

Bottom line, I don't have enough money in the bank to worry about agendas. I'm going to put names on the cover that I think will move the most copies of the book. Readers are pretty predictable. Put names on the cover that they recognize, they will be more likely to pick up the book. Put names on the cover that they don't recognize, and they will be less likely to pick up the book. This is fact, not speculation. If you think I'm completely wrong, toss down your $20,000 and show me the right way to do it.

Jason Williams
Night Shade Books
And yes, by the way, all the names are on the back. Because we're not completely stupid.

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Re: The real answer by Anonymous :: Expand
Re: The real answer by Anonymous :: Expand
So. Have you ever examined how you stack up with regards to parity on people reviewed and people doing the reviewing?

I'd love to know.
You mean what I personally review or what gets reviewed at SH? (I have tracked both ...)
That is to say, if you write your CoCs so they can "pass", your GLBT charas so that they stay in the closet of your head, and there's no (or minimal) indication to your readers that they're not just more white het mainstream Hollywood heroes, then you a) can't complain when your readers object that it's a vanilla world you've written, and b) don't get any "steppe cred" for writing minorities, either.

--That goes for the Invisible 50%, too.
Andrew Wheeler

Who, in his review, uses the phrase:

Eternal Floating Internet Wiscon

And thus wins ONE FREE INTERNET!

-- tom
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