Friday, October 20, 2006

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover...

But the fact is that everybody does.

It's the first thing that we notice in a bookshop or on a website, the thing that makes us pick up the book and read the blurb, or click on the icon to learn more.

So, when Random House decided to make Sebastian Darke happen, they were determined to get the right cover. It's so important, not just for the reader, but also for the book reps who need something visual to take around the bookshops in order to get those all-important advance orders. But finding the right cover was easier said than done.

I waited in some apprehension to see what the chosen artist would make of my work. Every writer has a picture in his or her head of what the characters should look like. How awful if the artist got it wrong!

Sadly, the first artist was way off the mark. I looked at the rough images and my heart dropped. This wasn't right, I thought, not by a long chalk, but luckily, the people at Random House agreed with me. Another artist was approached. They didn't even let me see that version, so I can only guess at what that was like! And the third artist... well, I have to say, I loved what the third artist did. He'd obviously read the book and the characters were spot on; but sadly, some of the major booksellers we were showing the cover to didn't agree that it was going to appeal to enough people. Happily though, 12 of Bob Lea's superb illustrations will still appear inside.

At the 11th hour, artist David Wyatt stepped into the frame with something much simpler, more iconic... and at last, everybody seemed to be happy. Including me.

You see, in these stories, Sebastian Darke wears a lot of different hats... and that's the key to our new look. I hope our readers like it as much as we do.


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