Friday, 13 March 2009

Somebody Else's Suit

The advance copies for my next book have arrived. (This is one I wrote twelve months ago, not the one I’ve just finished, obviously.) Everyone at my publishing house thinks the cover is great and who am I to argue? The thing is, there’s just one little detail I’m not happy about.

What can I do about it? Well, nothing actually. The plain fact is that a writer generally has very little input into the cover of his or her book – even though it’s the one thing that can really launch or sink it. If you’re lucky they show you a rough of the artwork and then maybe you get to see another stage, but it’s all done at one remove and by the time you actually get presented with the finished item, it’s way too late to change anything, unless you want to delay your book for another six months and make yourself really unpopular with your publisher.

So if you don’t like the cover, you  just have to put up with it. Even if it’s nothing like your own vision of the book. Even if you think it’s badly drawn. Even if you think the colours are garish. Even if you wouldn’t buy a book with a cover like that yourself.

What does it feel like when this happens? It feels like you’ve turned up to a wedding wearing somebody else’s suit. The legs are a bit too short and the chest is a bit too tight and it’s a weird colour that you would never have chosen but everyone is slapping you on the back and saying you look great so what the hell?

Now before I give you the wrong impression, I should make it clear that I actually do like this cover. And no-one else even notices the thing that I'm unhappy about (unless I point it out to them). Which means, of course that my editor is right. It’s a great cover and I’m just being hyper-critical.

But this was my baby once and now it’s not any more. It’s grown up and left home. If I don’t like the way it wears its hair, the time it goes to bed or the company it keeps, that’s too bad. I simply have to learn let go, that’s all. Easier said than done.

1 comment:

Jarucia said...

Must be harder since you raised daughters :)