Reasonably Large OMW News

But before the reasonably large Old Man’s War news, a quick link to this review of OMW, from Dave Munger. His review is from a relatively unique perspective, since we went to college together, and he married a dormmate of mine. One of the things Dave notes is that “the book seems practically made with the screenplay in mind,” which is an observation more than one person has made, including my agent, who once asked me if I had written it as a screenplay first and then adapted it into a novel.

Truth to be told, neither this book nor any other book I’ve written has been fashioned with an eye toward turning it into a movie, because if nothing else that would seem a bit precipitate on my part; if you’re aiming past your book to the screenplay, chances are you’re not actually writing a very good book. However, I also don’t deny the books feel screenplay-like: I use quite a lot of dialogue to carry story, and I also have three act structure to most of what I write, which is standard issue for screenplays. Why do I do this? Well, for the former it’s because I find dialogue easy to write; for the latter, well, I have been a movie critic of one sort or another for a dozen years, you know. It’s gonna seep in.

As to whether OMW or any other of the books will sell to Hollywood: You got me. Prudence and a realistic grip on things suggests “no,” if only because movie companies are quite literally flooded with pitch ideas from sun up to sun down, and when my agent pitches these, it’s just one more drop in the flood. And of course I’d rather have a book go unsold than to be made into a movie by, say, Paul W.S. Anderson. But in short, the books I write are written to be what they are, not with the intent of transmuting them to some other form. If it happens, swell. But if not, they’re still fine in the form in which they exist.

Now the reasonably large news: As many of you know, Old Man’s War was bought with the idea of it having a hardcover release followed by a mass-market (i.e., ordinary-sized) paperback about a year later. Well, plans have changed; Tor has revamped the strategy. In between the hard cover and mass market paperback, there will now be a trade paperback release (those are the larger, glossier paperbacks) which will feature new cover art by John Harris (he did the art for this book, and this one, too).

The idea is to use the trade paperback edition to take advantage of some of the good press OMW has gotten so far, and to help set the stage for the Ghost Brigades hard cover, which will follow on the release of the OMW trade paperback. This is of course good news — I’m deeply pleased Tor believes in the book enough to make the additional effort. This is yet another reason why I’m glad Tor is my publisher, and that I am pleased to be in their stable of writers.

And for those collectors among you, it’s another reason to snatch up the hard cover: Not only for the relatively small first printing, but now the hardcover cover art will become something of a rare specimen. Makes me glad I went ahead and bought the original.

22 Comments on “Reasonably Large OMW News”

  1. Sorry for the double – Congrats on the trade-paperback, though. It’s my favorite way to buy books – nicer looking that the paperback, cheaper than the hardback.

    Any idea when that will hit?


  2. To heck with Hollywood. I’m still waiting for “Old Man’s War – The Musical.”

    . . . On ICE!

    or maybe Old Man!

  3. That’s interesting. I thought the usual sequence was this:
    1. Hardcover, for reviews, major fans, and library sales
    2. Mass-market paperback, to sell zillions to civilians
    3. Trade paperback, for long shelf life and backlist sales.

    You may notice that in most stores, the older books that are still in print are all in trade paperback. Like, if you suddenly discover Iain Banks and want all his backlist, you’ll find them in trade. Mass market simply doesn’t have the shelf life. (Maybe nothing has shelf life anymore.)

    Of course, Tor have much more data on this than I do . . . And certainly, the direction OMW is going follows the path set forth by the masters of selling the same thing at different prices–the fashion industry–going from most expensive to cheapest in a linear way.

  4. As a reader, I hate trade paperbacks. If I wanted a book bad enough to spend a pot full of money on it, I’d already own the hardcover. If I wasn’t willing to spend forty bucks on the hard cover, what makes you think I’ll spend twenty-five on a trade paperback? If I didn’t buy the hard cover, I’m waiting for the $9.99 paperback. Plus, they’re too big. I want to take my reading with me when I’m out and about. That’s why mass market paperbacks were called pocket books.

  5. I’ve got my Hard cover… well, I had one till I mailed it off to a certain author to get signed over a month ago… hint, hint. :-)

  6. Yes, and I can see it from where I’m sitting. I’ll be mailing it in the next couple of days. Sorry for the delay.

  7. Another: Dunno. I’m pretty sure they’ll give the Mass Market PB a fair run, however.

  8. John, I’m not sure it’s the dialog so much that makes this book so film-o-genic, I think it’s more the plot and the visual elements of the book that will make for a good movie. Not only that, but there’s something “meaty” for actors: the chance to play both a frumpy old person and a hot young person.

    I do wonder, if they ever make the movie, if they’ll actually make the soldiers green.

  9. “I do wonder, if they ever make the movie, if they’ll actually make the soldiers green.”

    Almost certainly not. It would distract from the very expensive star they would have purchased. Although if they ever did decide to go with green, I would think it would be easier to simply twist the color timing to make skin green rather than to put green makeup on every single actor. They would then just shift the colors of everything else during production so they would look “normal” after the color shift in processing.

  10. I do wonder, if they ever make the movie, if they’ll actually make the soldiers green.

    Wow, I just had a flashback to DisneyWorld a few years ago. After the Toy Story movies they had employees in the parking lot dressed up as green army men.

    I’m sure that wasn’t the visual you were going for when you wrote OMW, but I know that image will be there the next time I read it…

  11. “Yes, and I can see it from where I’m sitting. I’ll be mailing it in the next couple of days.” When you have time. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t lost in the mail. Thanks for confirming its not.

    Back on topic. I would think green facial and hand/ body markings would be a good compromise between no green and totally green bodies. Who to play the “old man”? Clint Eastwood? younger rebuild version? No clue.

  12. I have this bizarre vision (mentioned in my review) of Woody Allen playing “old” Perry. Then maybe Brad Pitt as the young Perry. It would be fun, but not gonna happen.

    I suspect they’d just use prosthetics and have the young stars play their old counterparts.

  13. Based on previous (mal)adaptations, I can imagine a movie version that uses the name “Old Man’s War” and keeps its protagonists old thru the whole movie. Maybe keeps them on earth too.

    But I’m still in mourning for Fever Pitch so maybe I’m just projecting my fears.

  14. I think the answer to adaptation fear has been, and is still… retain the author to assist in production.

    Sin City came out VERY well (if you like that sort of thing (and I do))… I have no doubt that part of the reason that it did was Robert Rodriguez’s iron-clad insistence that Frank Miller take a heavy hand. A hand so strong that RR quit the director’s guild in order to give Miller a directing credit.

    For the record, I still have no idea what “special guest director” means, or how it applied to Mr. Tarrantino.

  15. I graduated from the UofC in ’91 (an English major) and when I saw this book being mentioned on various blogs, I wanted to check it out. I’ve long been a sci/fi enthusiast, and I love reading stuff from fellow alunms. I also work in a Chicago independent book store (besides being a mom). I only got it yesterday (I’m glad now I got a first run copy) and I love the first few chapters. I bragged to my fellows at the store – this guy can create a new sci/fi world AND put beautiful words in characters mouths (and heads). How cool!!!

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