Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Publishing Quandry - What to do?

When can we say that all elements of the novel are completed and ready to publish? My list for my first novel has gone something like this:

  • Manuscript is accepted
  • Copyediting is completed
  • The manuscript has been checked and rechecked
  • Cover copy is complete (blurb, author's note, dedication)
  • ISBN numbers are in place
  • Deal with Amazon to publish as an ebook is done
  • Front cover is complete
However, in the case of Driftwood &Amethyst, the front cover is in the process of being altered (again) to appeal to as wide an audience as it can within the 7-11yrs remit. With an audience of under 12s as the potential market, Driftwood & Amethyst initially had a light, holiday type front cover which did not evoke the darker elements of the story.
The image was then replaced with a full figure wooden puppet sat on a bobbin, head bowed, in sepia and reds. He is a bit creepy, which is deliberate, and central to the story, but he does not represent the main characters of the story. Is this image inappropriate? Or coy and mysterious? I wish I knew.

Initially, I was completely sure that the image was correct and was happy with the suggested choices my publisher had made. Yet, as publication draws closer and closer, I am doubting everything about this book's front cover.
Reassured by a range of author posts online, this seems to be an all too common case of the pre-publishing jitters.

Writing magazine's article 'Softening the fear factor' by Anita Rowe proved enlightening too as it reassured me that my writing is pitched well to:

 'arouse those shivers down the spine without scaring young readers out of their wits'

and encouraged me to worry less about the cover as the story will be the part of the book they either love or hate!

But after much consideration, the cover image is now being lightened, in order to reach the younger (yet brave) end of the market and take away the horror element I don't want to evoke on the front cover. The book has got to picked up off the shelf after all.
Unsure of our grasp on the fear factor coped with by readers of this age group, I'm considering trialling the image with a group of children between 7 and 9 to check how realistic we are being. Would this really make the whole damn business any clearer? I doubt it!

After all, Doctor Who has an audience of 5+ and recent episodes have been visually terrifying - the book covers are ultra-creepy too. As are many of the examples of speculative fiction for pre-teens I've looked at, except for the fact that the protaganists are sometimes on the front cover in a 'comic book' style.  I, unfortunately didn't have this option as money for an illustrator was a luxury I could not afford.

Must focus on the bigger picture - the book is being published after all. Maybe I'm panicking? I think I am. Must stop this madness and get on with some story writing. I've been wittling (as my dear Grandma Green would say) all morning.

And in the great words of ... somebody out there:

Worry, worry, worry - it's like you're on a rocking chair,
You worry, worry, worry, but you get nowhere.

I'll ring the guy in charge of the front cover for a little supportive chat and then get on with something else. I want the book to be perfect, but essentially, I want it published - let's hope this time the front cover is more as I had envisaged.

Procrastination over.
Onwards and upwards!

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