Monday, 16 June 2014

New Book Cover, Raymond Briggs and Sunshine

Well.  Quite a lot has happened recently, or is about to happen...

I decided to splash out on a new cover for my memoir.  I know I need to move on with my writing, and I have in a way - I have quite a few books out on Kindle now.  But most of them are not all that good, if I say so myself.  None of them are full length, for a start.  I have published two 'How to' books, a set of three chick-lit novellas, a short children's book, a poetry pamphlet...  I think I have at least four pen names.  I've kind of lost track.  That's the thing about self-publishing - you can be as diverse as you wish.  No chance of pigeon-holing me.

Anyway, the memoir is still the only book that really sells, partly because of the fact that it's a better book than the others, also because I have taken the time to publicise it, and probably for various other reasons I haven't got time to analyse just now.  (There's a chicken pie and some oven chips cooking and there is going to be a disappointed family if that lot burn). 

Having second thoughts, I just dashed to the kitchen to turn the oven off.  I know what I'm like once I start blogging (or any sort of writing).  It was only a matter of time before the smoke alarm went off. 

I am writing outside in the summerhouse.  This is only comfortable for a couple of months of the year, so I am making the most of it.  The boys are in the conservatory.  The older one is teaching the younger to play chess.  This would be one of those proud mother moments, except that every fifteen minutes or so there is a minor argument and some tears, followed by one or both boys stomping off angrily, before they reconcile their differences and move on with the game.  I can see and hear the whole thing from my window out here.

Where was I?  Oh yes.  The memoir really provides me with my only writerly income, so I need to maximise that.  Plus, I think it has a really important message, and I think there is still potential to reach a wider audience and that would be a good thing.  So a few days ago I found a locally based firm that design book covers, and got in touch.  After looking at the website I was convinced that I would not be able to afford their services, because they have produced books for every major publisher I can think of, and the BBC and the British Library and...  Anyhow, as it turned out, the designer was taken by an urge to help me and offered me a special price.  I am not sure that I feel entirely comfortable about that - but then I hope that she will also design future book covers for me, and I am sure she won't be doing me favours for ever.  Hopefully, this is just the start of a mutually profitable enterprise. 

I can't wait to see her initial designs!  SO exciting!  And on the same day I engaged the cover designer, I plucked up my courage to contact Raymond Briggs (of The Snowman et al) and asked whether I could use his kind quotes about my book (I sent him a copy back in 2012 and he sent me a lovely letter in reply).  Mr Briggs replied very promptly and said yes, I could quote him.  So we are going to put some of his lovely comments on the new front cover. 

I am en route to finishing my recovery book (I know, I have been saying that for years, but I am at forty thousand words now and working steadily).  Hopefully, it will come out not long after I re-launch the memoir with its new cover.  The idea is that both cover designs will then tie in.

I don't really know why I am blogging about all this.  It is a big step forward for me though.  I have known for a long time that it is really important for self-published books to look professional, and I have been promising myself for a while that I would invest in my own.  I just needed to have a product worth investing in.  And since I haven't come up with a new one yet, I have decided to re-issue the memoir, see how it does, and then make sure any subsequent books I publish are properly presented.

I am lucky that I don't need an editor (or I don't think I do).  I can write comprehensibly and reasonably accurately without one (although it's handy that Kindle allows you to change the e-book manuscript without charging for the service.  I have had to go in and correct typos more times than I would have thought possible).  But a book, self-published or not, should at least look like a book - and lovely as the photo on the front of mine is, it does not make up for the fact that everything about the cover looks really unprofessional. 

Finally: after what felt like weeks of constant sunshine here in the South of England, the sky has finally clouded over.  I'm not sorry.  I miss the sunshine and the heat, but it made me feel as though I should be hot-footing it to the beach every instant.  I did write every day, but it was a struggle.  I took the boys swimming daily last week after school (making me very unpopular with the rest of the family who came home at six pm to find that dinner was not on the table ready and waiting as they are accustomed to finding it).  Now at least, I can get on with my writing during school hours (and even sneak a little extra time after school today).   Hope the summer hols are sunny though.

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