Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Strange World of Book Covers

Why can't I be one of those fabulously talented people who can do their own illustrations? But I'm not. Even very kind and nice people fall over laughing when I try to draw something.

Publishers have very clear ideas of how my books should look, and usually also have stables of artists they like to use. Or they trawl around in the great wide world for them. They tell the artist what my book's about, or, if the book's not too long, they let the artist read it for him/herself.

There's a polite myth that the publisher is desperately keen to have the writer love the cover, but of course how much they really care is always going to be on some sort of curve, based on how successful and famous that writer is already. My experience over three books, three different publishers, is that they show me something that's just about wrapped up, and then I suggest a tweak or so. Does J.K. Rowling have meetings with the artist from Day One? I don't know! But I've never ever even had direct contact with an artist yet, which reflects where I've got to on that curve. I always ask the editor to thank the artist for me when it's done, because my mum brought me up right, but it's hardly what you'd call a really close relationship.

Did you know the Questors cover used to be blue? And that odd little green plane (which in all accuracy shouldn't be flying over a city on Trentor, because it should be flying over the deserts of Dalrodia ... not a tweak I won on) used to be red? I'll see if it's okay to print that version on here, because it's neat to see the changes, but I don't want to break any unwritten rules. Not until there's a bit more of the curve below me, and not quite so much of it above!

Cheers, Joan.

P.S. Thanks for all the comments! Keep up the good work.

P.P.S. Work continues on the web site, so soon, Dear Keen Reader and others, there will be more information about Questors there, as soon as my husband's computer-induced high blood pressure allows.

P.P.P.S. For those of you who live in North America - good news! "In Search Of", a four part science fiction serial in Cricket magazine, just started! Get your October issue today! The art work is FABULOUS, including a very exciting two-page scene of a space ship exploding. What more could you ask?


At 8:16 AM, Blogger Joan Lennon said...

Okay, I asked, and the word from on high is that having different versions of the cover out there before the book comes out can lead to mix-ups and confusions, so I'm to put the idea on hold till "the book is established". "An established book" - now doesn't that sound great! Anyway, now we know.


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