Monday 27 February 2012

Some thoughts about book covers

It’s quite easy to make a striking cover. There are some talented artists around and there are also some very good stock pictures available, which you can download for a small fee and use more times than you’d probably be able to sell books.
However, getting the cover to look right isn’t just a matter of having a fabulous picture. You need to take several other matters into account:
Is there a natural place for the lettering?
Or the blurb?
What colour / shape should these be if they are to show up well?
Will the size of the book allow you to have a decent–sized spine? One where you can fit in the title and the author?
Will the picture bleed okay without losing integrity?
Will the paper version be a good match to what you see on screen? This point can be very vexing. Printers produce colour in a very different way from computer screens. Printers who know what they are doing can make the paper version match the digital file but they can’t guarantee that they can match what you are seeing on your own computer screen. You need to set your screen to industry standards and it’s actually not quite possible with domestic screens and totally impossible with laptops.
You also have to remember that a colour will look much darker on mass than it does in small quantities in the lettering – especially if letters are against a dark background.
Be prepared to be surprised. If you’re using a professional designer, they tend to know what they’re doing, so the surprise can be a pleasant one. You may have a few nasty shocks if you’re doing it yourself. Even so, try to look at that cover objectively. Does it actually work? Does it matter that it doesn’t look exactly as you saw it on your screen? As long as you’ve actually not got any nasty clashes it could be fine.                       

Thursday 16 February 2012

Why editors and agents have to love not just like what they see

The main problem is everyone only has a certain amount of time. We sometimes feel that if we worked with an author for a while, we could eventually help them to produce something of really good quality that exactly fits our imprint. Unfortunately we probably don’t have enough hours in the day to do that nor can we be sure that an unknown author will be capable of reacting professionally to editorial comment. We’ve also got to be sure that we’ll continue to be enthusiastic enough to get behind it with our marketing efforts. So, unless we love the work rather than just liking it, it’s probably a no go.
I’m a writer too and I know how frustrating it can be to be told by an agent / publisher that they like our work but don’t love it-  especially after they’ve held on to the script for several weeks. But if they say “I’m afraid we like this but don’t love it, but we‘d love to see more of your work.”, count this not as a rejection but as an almost acceptance. They have seen the potential of your work, they can see your professionalism, and they can see that you are almost there. It’s worth carrying on.
I’m currently looking at the entries for The Red Telephone 2011competition. I’ve seen some good writing and some fascinating ideas. There are of course other judges. And I have a few more to look at. There will be a winner, whatever happens, and whichever one we choose it will be easier to be enthusiastic about a novel we love.  
This will become even more crucial for The Red Telephone shortly. Once the competition results are out we’ll be going into open submissions. We’ll only be publishing a few and I expect we’ll soon accumulate an impressive slush pile. At that point we can certainly have the luxury of only publishing what we really love.