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An Interview with Lou Anders

In all circumstances I try to front load the artist with as much as I can give them, not only the specifics of the story, character descriptions, etc… but the type of book it is, the audience I’m shooting for, the reception I want the book to have, the feelings I want it to invoke. I generally see a rough a month before final cover, and depending on the illustrator this can be as simple as a pencil sketch (Todd Lockwood) to a very fleshed out digital underpainting (Jon Sullivan). John Picacio and I will spend hours upon hours on the phone, all through the process, talking about all aspects of the cover in great detail, often arguing fiercely, and I’ll see many many stages before the final. Stephan Martiniere, who layers his work up from deceptively simply shapes and textures, doesn’t work this way, so I’m more likely to talk to Stephan about the cover for a week, front loading him with as much as I possibly can, then turn him loose to see what he comes up with. Artists like Dan Dos Santos, David Palumbo, or J Seamas Gallagher may show me a variety of different angles on a specific scene to choose from – either in b&w painting or pencils. I also tend to believe that whenever an illustrator shows you a choice of compositions, they always have a favorite, and that if you can figure out which that is and go with it, the work will be that much better. Not that any of these guys aren’t professionals who would execute any of your choices to the best of their ability, but if there is that extra spark of excitement it will make the piece “go to eleven.”

There is usually not a lot of changes once we get a final beyond little tweaks, though Christian McGrath was kind enough to recently let us go back and switch a model when our early readers for a project felt the look of the female lead wasn’t connecting enough with their image of the character. And Dave Seeley always continues to work at a piece long after its more than done enough, because he is just a consummate pro and a perfectionist. All of them are fantastic, the best illustrators in the world in my humble opinion.

After the artwork is in, the cover goes to one of three in-house designers, Jacqueline Cooke, Nicole Sommer-Lecht, or Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger. I determine which designer gets which cover, and then I go to work with them, briefing them on the type of book it is, the effect we are going for, perhaps showing them a range of examples from other covers. They are all wonderful and very, very good to put up with the amount of breathing over their shoulder that I put them through. Incidentally, we tag all the cover related posts on the Pyr blog with the designers names, so you can see their work and get a feel for their individual styles: http://www.pyrsf.com/blogpage.html. I encourage everyone to check it out and give these ladies the credit they deserve.

Is there an editor, current or past, that you look to as an example of what you wish to accomplish?
The answer to that question has evolved over time. I used to say Campbell for his impact on the field, but I imagine we differ in a lot of other areas. I’m hesitant to say too much about what I wish to accomplish because I’m still accomplishing it. In the last five years, we’ve grown from a small line of 16 books a year -primarily hardcover, primarily SF – to a broad list of around 32 titles a year. We’ve moved into ebook and mass market, have licensed our books to foreign publishers, are honored to have been most of the major award ballots, including 8 Hugo nominations, and have even made our first Young Adult acquisitions. I’ve personally been nominated for the Hugo four years running and am honored by a Chesley win for Best Art director last year.

I don’t think six years ago when they hired me I could ever have predicted the scope of the impact we’ve had on the field already. All I can say is that we are enormously grateful to our writers, our artists, and each and every one of our readers. Our goal from the beginning was to make “quality” the thru-line of our brand, and we hear back continually from readers, critics, bloggers, distributors, and bookstore buyers that we are succeeding. That’s enormously gratifying.

Tell us something we don’t know about Lou Anders, Editor.

I am quite fond of alligator and snake both. Or is that Lou Anders, Person?

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1 Free SF Reader { 06.01.10 at 1:05 am }

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4 Lou Anders on Art Directors/Editors and Illustrators « Greasy Pig Studios :: Arvin Bautista { 06.01.10 at 7:22 pm }

[…] Anders, editorial director for Pyr, Prometheus Books’ sci-fi/fantasy imprint, also serves as art director when it comes to the boo… who also, to my delight, rightfully proclaims Ender’s Game to be the Harry Potter of science […]

5 Geek Media Round-Up: June 2, 2010 – Grasping for the Wind { 06.02.10 at 8:02 am }

[…] Redstone Science Fiction interviews Lou Anders of […]

6 simply scott { 06.02.10 at 10:44 am }

Hurray! Based on Pohl’s definition, I have indeed written a science fiction novel! Just hope everyone likes it! Awesome interview! Nice to hear someone talking without the typical sci-fi nerd condescending tone that is so typical on so many blogs/forums/sites.

7 The Great Geek Manual » Geek Media Round-Up: June 1, 2010 { 06.02.10 at 3:10 pm }

[…] Redstone Science Fiction interviews Lou Anders of […]

8 Pete Miller { 06.05.10 at 11:34 pm }

Thanks for the really terrific interview. Interesting to hear Lou talk about the trends, but very discouraging for the SF reader, but I’m sure “regular” SF will very go away entirely and eBooks will allow many books with smaller audiences to thrive.

9 Interview with Lou Anders | The DARK CRUSADE { 06.07.10 at 9:32 pm }

[…] June 7th, 2010 § 0 In case you missed it, I con­ducted an inter­view with Lou Anders. The inter­view appeared in the most excel­lent first issue of Red­stone Sci­ence Fic­tion. Below is an excerpt. You can read the entire inter­view here. […]

10 Elizabeth Campbell { 06.08.10 at 8:58 pm }

What great questions for a leading publisher in the industry. This is really interesting insight for me as an SF/F reader. Thanks!

11 Pyr-o-mania: Three New Lou Interviews for You (Say That FIve Times Fast) { 06.11.10 at 4:25 am }

[…] Hardy, an engineer who works with scientific research on the International Space Station, and one with Yours Truly (conducted by author David Alastair Hayden). Check it out and give them your love. […]

12 First Issue Survival | The Blog at GateTree { 06.13.10 at 4:43 pm }

[…] interviews would reinforce the fiction. Instead, io9 and several other sites picked up the kick-ass interview with Lou Anders done by our friend David Alastair Hayden and traffic went through the roof. As that excitement […]

13 Interview with KS Augustin « The World SF News Blog { 06.14.10 at 7:33 pm }

[…] Personally, however, I feel SFR is a completely different kettle of fish because of those two letters … “SF”. Because I incorporate science-fiction in my books, I feel compelled to include some deeper insight into the human condition. To me, that’s what it means to write sf or anything sf-related. Lou Anders, quoting Frederik Pohl, said it best in his recent interview at Redstone: […]

14 Redstone Science Fiction #1, June 2010 | Redstone Science Fiction { 06.18.10 at 8:22 pm }

[…] Lou Anders, Editorial Director of Prometheus Books’ science fiction and fantasy imprint Pyr with David […]

15 Black Gate » Blog Archive » A review of Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery { 06.23.10 at 5:07 pm }

[…] again, in a Redstone Science Fiction June 1, 2010 interview: “Swords & Dark Magic (co-edited with Jonathan Strahan) is our attempt to examine, and if […]

16 Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery – Strahan & Anders | von Darkmoor's thoughts { 06.24.10 at 12:39 am }

[…] in a June 1, 2010 interview at The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review. Lou again, in a Redstone Science Fiction June 1, 2010 interview: “Swords & Dark Magic (co-edited with Jonathan Strahan) is our attempt to examine, and if it […]