Just ask Brandon Sanderson.
The original title of the sequel to The Way of Kings was once upon a time not Words of Radiance.
Initially, the title of the second book in the Stormlight Archive was to be named after the tome character Shallan is given at the end of The Way of Kings: that book is titled The Book of Endless Pages. However, the name of the sequel was changed when the publisher realized how large the second book would be, worried about cheekily titling the book the very thing that it is.
Enter fantasy fan Tracy. Tracy lives in Portland, OR and is an avid fantasy reader. He is a mainstay at Powells Books, one of the best bookstores in the world. Having met most touring writers multiple times and always good humored, Tracy decided to do something fun for Brandon Sanderson’s most recent visit: He propositioned the help of artist Lee Moyer and created a dust jacket for The Book of Endless Pages and presented it to the bestselling writer!
Hilarity follows. Here is video of that presentation:
Tracy was thrilled with the entire project but it almost didn’t make its way to Brandon’s signing. Here is Tracy’s account of why he created the dust jacket and how the events unfolded:
THE FAN SPEAKS: HOW THE DUST JACKET WAS CREATED
The genesis of the idea really starts in 2012 I think, when Brandon Sanderson announced that book two of Stormlight was going to be called Words of Radiance instead of The Book of Endless Pages. My friend Kim and I had loved the working title, partially because of it’s relevance to the series, and partially out of the playful poke at the 1000 page epic it was destined to be. Rarely is the genre very playful with it’s titles, and we had both appreciated that. So we texted back and forth some hilarious cover blurbs from various writers that would go on such a cover, and gradually decided to create a fake cover for the signing when Radiance was released.
I had talked to a friend who is a pro artist, who was super busy at the time, but was hoping to have a couple very large projects off his plate, and able to do a simple cover that would work for what I needed.
When the time came, he was still very busy, so I turned to my friend Lee Moyer, probably best known for his stunning and playful ‘Pinups’ charity calendars, to see if he had a couple of hours that he could create a simple cover that I could get printed out and on the book for the signing at Powells.
What Lee came up with was no simple cover. It was beautiful! He managed to almost exactly match the font Tor had created for the covers, and he captured the strange landscape and threatening skies of Roshar. It was nothing like the simple cover I had envisioned, and was instead something far, far better.
The night before the signing, I started to get cold feet a little bit. I started to wonder if Brandon would ‘get’ my intention, or if he’d think that it was just weird and not cool. So I messaged Peter Orullian, who I knew, and I knew he knew Brandon well enough to gauge how Brandon would take it, and Peter not only thought it was brilliant and that Brandon would love it, but he wanted a copy for himself too.
My confidence renewed after our talk, I picked up the final prints of the cover on Friday morning, and was stunned with the final look. They were amazing. And when Brandon saw it on Friday night, it was worth all the expense and time I put into it. My friend Joel had recorded Brandon’s reaction, and Brandon himself took a photo of me with the cover. It was an amazing experience, and the people who have commented on the video on Facebook, and shared it have been really amazing.
I’m starting to think about my next project already. And you know, Brent Weeks has a book coming out this fall….
I decided to take Tracy’s story and interview Lee Moyer about his role in all of this.
Here is that interview:
THE BOOK OF ENDLESS PAGES INTERVIEW: LEE MOYER
Shawn Speakman: How were you approached to do this incredibly unique yet hilarious project?
I loved everything about it. I love the opportunity to work in other people’s sandboxes – matching styles, working with typography, and being a little subversive if I can – in short, it was was right up my street!
Shawn Speakman: You have an incredible body of work that ranges from pin-ups to fantasy covers to gaming. Do you have a favorite area of the publishing world that you like to work within?
- Covers, because I love the books within, and I want to do justice to the author’s hard work (paying especial attention to the spine of the book. There is no more important real estate on one’s shelf than those few precious inches!)
- Maps, because – whether the Dragon Kingdom of 13th Age or China Mieville’s New Crobuzon – nothing makes new worlds so real.
- And Design. I love creating symbols, working with type, and fitting all of the elements of a project into a single elegant design – much of the challenge of “Endless Pages” was matching Brandon’s genuine wraparound cover.
Happily, Brandon’s real book is filled with interior illustrations, and endpapers that would be the envy of many other covers. While many people in publishing are worried about the end times, it is so refreshing to see a book like Words of Radiance where the publishers seem to understand that books are objects of beauty and reverence above and beyond. I greatly enjoyed reading Brandon’s essay on what this book means to him, how he is pushing the limit of what “epic fantasy” can mean, and how fully he is creating this world in all it’s aspects (art, maps, symbols, short stories, poems and languages) for his readers.
Shawn Speakman: I’m sure you’ve seen Brandon Sanderson’s reaction to the new dust jacket. How does that make you feel to see the joy it brought him?
While I do not know him well, I feel he is one of the hardest working authors in the business and I respect that so much.
I keep hoping that Tor Books & Brandon Sanderson will let the dust jackets be sold, with monies going toward a charity of choice, maybe Worldbuilders. Fingers crossed! To learn more about the people who put this together, visit Lee Moyer at www.leemoyer.com and Brandon Sanderson at www.brandonsanderson.com!
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson is in fine bookstores now!
Fans are awesome!