Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Ebook Tango with Judith Moffett - Step 1

Tiny TangoOccasionally, I'll come up with a fairly cool idea. Not one that I've necessarily thought through completely, of course, but a cool idea nonetheless. The most recent instance of such a cool idea occurred this past fall when I contacted author Judith Moffett and suggested she publish her Hugo and Nebula award-nominated story "Tiny Tango" as an ebook.

[Additional award note: And I have no doubt that, had the James Tiptree, Jr. Award been presented in 1990 (for works published in 1989), "Tiny Tango" would also have made that award's short list, if not won the award outright.]

I blogged about Judith Moffett and her novels and stories back in 2010 (here). At the time I referenced -- and quoted from -- Matthew Cheney's Mumpsimus blog post in which he wrote about "Mindblowing" stories that affected him as both a reader and writer. One such story was "Tiny Tango."

Then, most recently, writer/critic/reviewer Ian Sales posted his list of "100 Great Science Fiction Stories by Women," which also included "Tiny Tango." And that list was what pushed me over the edge, so to speak, and into said cool idea.

If you click on the Tiny Tango cover graphic pictured above, or the text link in this sentence, you will be swept away to Amazon's World of Kindle and to the Tiny Tango ebook listing: we were, in fact, successful in our efforts to publish the story as an ebook. But the path to get there, well, that's the story I'm about to tell you....

When "Tiny Tango" originally appeared in the February 1989 issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, a black-and-white illustration by Janet Aulisio accompanied the opening pages of the story. Judith informed me that she owns the original illustration, which is currently mounted on the wall above her desk. She purchased it from the artist shortly after the story was published -- and assuming she can obtain permission to do so, she wants to use the illo for the cover of the Tiny Tango ebook.

So began our task of tracking down Janet Aulisio in order to obtain her permission. Following a lengthy online search on both our parts, we discovered that Ms. Aulisio has no online presence whatsoever: no website, no blog, no Facebook page, no storefront. Judith then contacted ASFA -- the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists -- only to learn that they were unable to help either: Janet Aulisio was not a member and they had no record of her contact information. A further web search yielded a 2012 interview with Ms. Aulisio, conducted by Scott Taylor for Black Gate magazine. So I emailed John O'Neill, the BG publisher, who put me in touch with Scott Taylor, who in turn passed on my contact info to Janet Aulisio. After Janet contacted me, I forwarded her email to Judith, and she obtained the artist's permission to use the illustration for the cover of the Tiny Tango ebook.

Judith then had the original b&w illustration scanned into a PDF, and I used a conversion tool to covert the PDF to a JPG file. So far so good.

copyright ©1989 by Janet Aulisio

Then one day, maybe a couple months or so after that cool idea first hit me, the light bulb finally lit: I have a black-and-white illustration to use for the book cover, an illustration that encompassed two facing pages when it appeared in Asimov's. But an ebook only has a front cover; there is no wrap-around cover art on an ebook, no landscape layout. How was I going to fit this illustration on the cover? And even if I could figure that out somehow, I didn't have the appropriate tools (e.g PaintShop or its equivalent), nor do I know how to use such tools, to create such a cover, and with the necessary typography, too. I will be the first to admit: I am not a graphic designer.

Though I didn't know how to do this myself, I did know people who could help me, or at least who could point me in the right direction.

To be continued:
The Ebook Tango with Judith Moffett - Step 2

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