Author Archive


Karen Miller’s THE INNOCENT MAGE, which we published in 2007, has been one of the most successful fantasy debuts of recent years, and continues to feature prominently in the fantasy bestseller charts. THE INNOCENT MAGE was followed by a sequel, THE AWAKENED MAGE, and then the Godspeaker Trilogy (EMPRESS, THE RIVEN KINGDOM, and HAMMER OF GOD), as well as the first two books in the Rogue Agent series (THE ACCIDENTAL SORCERER and WITCHES, INC.) written under the pen name K.E. Mills. As well as Star Wars novel, WILD SPACE. She’s also written five books by Patrick Rothfuss and completed the Song of Ice and Fire. Okay, maybe not.

But we are definitely delighted, thrilled, and pleased as punch to be releasing this week Karen’s new book, THE PRODIGAL MAGE, in the US and UK. It marks a return to the world of THE INNOCENT MAGE – with some familiar characters and some new – and the start of a new 2-book story arc that will conclude with THE RELUCTANT MAGE. We’ve given Karen permission to take an afternoon off to celebrate her hardcover debut, on the strict understanding that she makes up the time later in the week.

Deals and Deliveries: THE EDINBURGH DEAD by Brian Ruckley

What do you do after “putting the epic back into epic fantasy” (in the words of If you’re Brian Ruckley, author of the Godless World Trilogy (WINTERBIRTH, BLOODHEIR, FALL OF THANES), you write THE EDINBURGH DEAD. I can’t improve on Brian’s own description “a dark, heroic fantasy set in 19th-century Edinburgh. With swords and gaslamps.” Brian is writing the book now, and we hope to publish it in 2011.

Anybody who reads Brian’s post, please note that we did actually sign this contract on purpose. It wasn’t an administrative error (like the first one).

Orbit En France

We are delighted to announce that French publisher Calmann-Levy will be launching a new Orbit imprint in October 2009. On the launch list will be authors Kristin Cashore, Brandon Sanderson, J.V. Jones, Stephen R. Lawhead, and Mark Chadbourn. Orbit launched in the UK in 1974; in 2007, we launched in the US; and last year we launched in Australia. Orbit in France will be committed to publishing the most exciting SF and Fantasy authors — both new and established — from around the world, and we wish them every success for their launch and in the years ahead

Legend Shortlist Announced

We’ve just heard the fantastic news that two Orbit titles, Brent Weeks’ THE WAY OF SHADOWS (US, UK, AUS) and Andrzej Sapkowski’s BLOOD OF ELVES (US), have been shortlisted for the inaugural David Gemmell Legend Award. The Legend Award is unusual in that both the shortlist and the winner are decided by popular vote, rather than committee or convention-goers. We think it’s a great idea. It’s an award that gives general readers and fans everywhere the chance to support the books that they’re actually reading and enjoying. We’re also delighted to see a debut novel such as THE WAY OF SHADOWS on the shortlist. The Legend Award is named after David Gemmell’s own first novel, LEGEND, a modern classic of the fantasy genre.

The Way of ShadowsIt’s rare for a publisher to release all three books of a series in three consecutive months. But not as rare as it is for a new author to become the bestselling new Fantasy author in all three of the world’s largest English language markets (the US, UK, and Australia). That’s exactly what’s happened with Brent Weeks’ remarkable Night Angel Trilogy.

Orbit published THE WAY OF SHADOWS, SHADOW’S EDGE, and BEYOND THE SHADOWS in October, November and December last year, and with all three books out in rapid succession the Night Angel Trilogy quickly became a huge success wherever it was available. Brent’s writing has clearly struck a chord with fantasy readers around the globe. As recently reported, THE WAY OF SHADOWS has even debuted on the New York Times extended bestseller list, a full 6 months after its initial publication, proving that word of mouth is continuing to drive new readers to the series all the time.

The Blood of ElvesWe’re always thrilled to see one of our authors become a bestseller – but it’s particularly exciting when it’s a new author. Congratulations from all at Orbit to Brent on his remarkable success.

Andrzej Sapkowski is one of Poland’s bestselling authors, but another author only recently launched in the US. BLOOD OF ELVES is based on his character the Witcher — who inspired the critically acclaimed video game of the same name. His first book to be translated into English was THE LAST WISH, which we published last year, and BLOOD OF ELVES will be released in the US next month.

Best Served ColdA special Orbit hurrah too for Joe Abercrombie, who has also found his way onto the shortlist with THE LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS. Orbit is publishing Joe’s new novel, BEST SERVED COLD, in the US in July. And it’s bloody marvelous.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite book on the DGLA shortlist, which can be found here.


As well as publishing many established writers, Orbit is committed to launching new authors — and we put a lot of effort into our publishing plans for them. Early success for an author isn’t always necessary to ensure a successful writing career (and it doesn’t always guarantee one), but it’s certainly a great help and encouragement to all concerned.

We’re happy, thrilled, and pleased as punch, to report that in 2008 Orbit published the bestselling SFF debut novels in both the UK and the US.

The Way of ShadowsIn the UK, the bestselling SFF debut of 2008 was THE WAY OF SHADOWS, by Brent Weeks. The first book in the Night Angel Trilogy, we published it in October, and with the second and third volumes following in subsequent months it quickly became clear that fans everywhere were talking about Brent and THE WAY OF SHADOWS. This year has also got off to a great start for Brent: this week, the three books in the Night Angel Trilogy are the first, second, and third bestselling mass-market paperbacks in the UK SFF market.

Across the Face of The WorldIn the US, Orbit published the two bestselling debuts of the year. Double happy! The bestselling SFF debut of 2008 was ACROSS THE FACE OF THE WORLD, by Russell Kirkpatrick, the first volume in the Fire of Heaven Trilogy. This is a great fantasy adventure series, with world-building and storytelling equally epic in scope. The second bestselling debut of 2008 in the US was Brent Weeks’ THE WAY OF SHADOWS (see above!).

Congratulations from all at Orbit to Russell and Brent … and here’s wishing a Happy New Year to everyone — especially the loyal readers who helped make Russell and Brent so successful.

You Say Data, I Say Dattah …

The April issue of Locus magazine carries its annual “British Book Summary” – a report on SFF publishing in the UK. I admire and appreciate Locus’s amazingly comprehensive reporting on all things SFF-y from around the world, but as somebody in the publishing industry I have to say that this survey always bothers me. (more…)

More Coverage

Following up on the post below, the cover debate continues here, here, here and elsewhere. I left a comment at Lou Ander’s blog that explains a bit more on our approach to cover design.

One thing to add: a few people have expressed the view that for a publisher the most important thing about a cover is that it appeals to buyers (those people in the book industry who determine whether or not–and in what quantity–a book gets on to the shelves). For us, that’s not true. Of course, it’s a great advantage if a buyer loves a cover we’ve come up with; and it makes things more challenging if they don’t. However, we–and I’m talking only about Orbit here, to be absolutely clear–have one thought in our mind when we’re thinking about covers: how to make it as effective as possible for the widest possible readership. And by “effective”, I mean visually exciting, distinctive, and appropriate to the book’s content and style.

Of course, we listen to buyers, we talk to buyers, we take buyers’ feedback very seriously, and we’ll sometimes change a cover as a result. But we don’t ask ourselves: what kind of cover would the buyers like? We ask ourselves: what kind of cover would potential readers like?

Another aspect of this issue that’s sometimes overlooked is what the author thinks of their cover. Some authors are more interested in their covers than others–some prefer to leave it to their publisher, others have very strong views on what they would like. Either way, I’m often struck by how revealing an author’s reaction to seeing a visual representation of their work can be. In my experience, authors themselves can be great judges of whether a cover works or not. One author reaction to seeing her cover for the first time summed it up for me when she said: “That’s exactly what my book looks like!” For her, the cover had captured something exciting and important about the book and made it instantly recognizable. If a cover doesn’t achieve this–at least to some degree–I think it’s unlikely to be a particularly effective cover.

I guess it all comes back to what one considers to be an effective cover.

Standing out or fitting in?

Ron Hogan at Galleycat and a poster at Metafilter have recently drawn attention to the covers of of three Orbit authors, Charles Stross and Ken MacLeod (Orbit in the UK only), and Iain M. Banks (Orbit in the UK and US).

For the most part, when we publish an author in the US and the UK, we publish with the same cover — and some of those covers are developed in the US and some in the UK. The cover for Iain M. Banks’ MATTER, for example, was developed in the US, whereas CONSIDER PHLEBAS and PLAYER OF GAMES were developed in the UK.

Banks Cover Comparison

If we felt that a book would appeal to a wider readership if it had a different cover in the US or UK, we’d give it a different cover. But usually we don’t. Not everyone will agree with that — but that’s fine.

Going back to the Galleycat comments, we don’t really have any rules when it comes to covers, but there’s one thing we always do first when we’re discussing them: we decide what it is that excites us about a particular book/series/author. What makes it stand out? What makes it different to everything else out there? And then we ask ourselves: how do we reflect that in the cover approach? What kind of look would be the perfect way to reflect what we think makes this particular book/series/author special?

What we don’t do is think: this book is epic fantasy therefore it has to have one of these covers; this book is military SF therefore it has to have one of these covers. And so on.

And it’s not just the cover illustration/design that this relates to — it’s the format, the production values, the entire package for a book.

This is the issue, I think, at the heart of the Great SFF Cover Debate/War. It’s nothing to do with where the book is being published in the world; it’s to do with the question that every genre publisher has to ask themselves: do we want our books to stand out or do we want them to fit in? Most genre publishers would say both: they want their books to stand out by looking exceptional, but they also want them to fit in by being immediately recognizable to readers of similar books within the genre. Depending on where you put the emphasis, though, the cover for a particular book can go in some very different directions.

Orbit is a publisher of genre fiction, and we’re proud to be a publisher of genre fiction, but at the moment we definitely seem to be putting more emphasis on trying to make our books stand out. Why? Check out the SFF section in your local book store. How quickly can you find a book from a writer you don’t know that excites you because of the way it looks? Hopefully, you’ll find something quickly and the book itself will turn out to be just as exciting as it looks. That’s why we like our covers to stand out.

The Orcs are Coming!

Stan Nicholls’ ORCS is one of the most entertaining fantasy books of recent years. The idea is simple: take fantasy’s ultimate bad guys (the orcs); add a teaspoon of compassion, followed by a great big dollop of aggression. Sit back and enjoy the fun. ORCS has already been a huge bestseller, with worldwide sales rapidly approaching a million copies. Orbit will be unleashing them for the first time in the US this September. And do we love this cover? We certainly do.