Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cover as proof

Back from Wales (and whitewashing walls) to find the bound proofs of my collection of stories waiting in the hall. Strange to see several of my stories collected together like that: although most of them have been published previously, and between book covers (in anthologies) at that, they had only ever been published singly and I have always previously seen them as individual and scattered, rather like my kids. Yet here they are together, grouped together in ways that show their links (or I hope they do), and suddenly they seem like a family, and the greater project to which each story has contributed is revealed even to me. Well, whether it will be revealed to readers, remains to be seen of course... And there's the cover, concrete rather than electronic: what will people think of that?

I discover that Emma Barnes of Snowbooks recently wrote on the Guardian books blog about the importance of covers, and there are some interesting comments. Although The Writers' Guild and the Society of Authors have always fought for writers to have a say in their covers, marketing imperatives often mean that this doesn't happen too much in practice, and I understand that it's the big booksellers now who often have the biggest input. But Salt is an independent publisher with a great concern for the writer, and I was asked immediately whether I had any ideas for the cover. This was wonderful, but what a responsibility! Emma Barnes says that a cover needs above all to inform you about the kind of book inside, and I was very conscious of this fact. Trouble was, though, one of my abiding principles in writing short stories has always been to make each one unique, and I couldn't then see the overriding mood or style. It was Ann French, one of the members of my reading group, who came up with the unifying notion of a sea horizon. Salt went with it and added the picture and chose the typography. I love the result and I'm grateful to them all. Needless to say, though, it's the readers who'll decide...

1 comment:

Vanessa Gebbie said...

How exciting! The cover is fabulous, and I look forward hugely to reading what's inside.

I have absolutely no idea what will be on mine. This is an amazing journey, to be sure.