Taking The Punches & Fighting For The Books

Part of my job, after I’ve bought all of the books, is to work out what cover we want on them. Gotta wrap the text in a nice package that tells you something about the book and makes you want to pick it up, yes?

And this week, trying to do that has just knocked me flat.

I’m lucky that Rebellion has quite a chilled-out covers process; we basically just figure out some directions, have a chat, email around, have another chat, find an artist…. and fucking hell is it hard work. I feel like for every punch I’ve stood up from, another’s come and knocked me straight back on my butt!

The problem with book covers is that there’s usually multiple directions they could go in. What’s popular generally? What’s hot in the genre? What’s going to be hot in a year’s time? What do readers expect? What does the US like, versus the UK? What’s going to suit the book? What looks good, great, fabulous? What’s going to make people buy this?

You’re also doing that within time and budget constraints, of course. Nothing new there.

Every time I thought I’d got something figured out, someone hit me with a new idea or a new direction. For every decision I made, I encountered another point of view. Every time I tried to get out of the rabbit hole, another four passages opened up…

And it was hard: stressful, anxiety-inducing and plain discouraging. I’m doing my best, and I keep getting told I’m not good enough.

But actually, that’s not true.

I’ve got to remind myself that I am fighting for my books.

A mediocre cover won’t do. A “meh” cover won’t do. I am not letting these books that I bought and I love out there in the world with a cover that doesn’t represent them. I want people to read these. I need people to read these.

And every alternative suggestion, every “not good enough”, every critique – it’s not aimed at me. It’s going into making the cover the best damn cover it can be.

That said, I still have to filter and refine and work out which suggestions are worth listening to, and which are Michael Rowley being bloody irritating. (I do adore him, but Michael can talk for England. Keeping him on track and away from pirates/chocolate/new book ideas can sometimes be very hard.)

And I need to take the knocks – because they’re not aimed at me. They’re aimed at my books: I am championing something bigger than me. And I am damn well going to make sure everyone knows that they need to read these ones.

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