Friday, 30 September 2011

We've got it covered!

The front design of the cover jacket for City Chronicles: A Tale of Nine Cities is complete. I think it looks fantastic and have to thank my designer, Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics, for all her hardwork and patience as I umm'd and err'd as to the best look.

I believe the jacket sums up the tale inside...two girls setting out on an exciting and inspiring trip around Europe; that travel stretches the mind, opens the senses and can be a wonderful adventure.

The book will be published in October 2011 and will be available via

Know no boundaries, go and explore!!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Judging Covers of Books

‘Never judge a book by its cover’, well that may be so if we are using books as a metaphor for people, but for books the cover is important. I am about to enter the very competitive world of book-selling and I want every advantage I can muster. I have found a cover designer but she needs direction from me, quite rightly. So, as part of my homework on book cover design I have perused over a thousand book covers to see what catches my eye. It was an interesting exercise. Here are a few of the covers that made me look twice.

I like this because of the colours blue and green, the title is clear, it has symbols of WWI without it being warlike, it hints at what is within. The cover is almost in direct contrast to the title, i.e. war in the title but, apart from the darker clouds, a peaceful feel to the cover. Bad points – author’s name is lost at the bottom.

Once again the colour blue is in evidence. The subject matter is hinted at – Algiers represented by fuzzy palms. The title and author’s name are clear and the eye moves down from the title and is captured by the white palms.

These I do not like! Chick Lit is what it says to me and chick lit I do not read as a general rule. I would be put off by this, and so would men.  This style would narrow my potential readership I think.
HOWEVER, they caught my eye.  I would expect my reader demographic to be female in their 30s and 40s so it might be a good style – still don’t like it though!!

I like the map detail. The title grabs the eye immediately. I like the sub title being a different colour. The use of a pin and string draws the eye and makes it stick. The different colours of the countries also adds interest. Once again shades of blue.

This is a memoir and we can see the history in the young girl. The title is reflected in the cover through use of shape – triangle. Diary scribbles and the edge of the map also refer back to this being a memoir. You can tell from the cover what to expect inside.

You can’t tell that this a biography straight away but the cover is very eye-catching. Once again blue is the colour (definitely a theme here) but with other bold statement colours/pictures to draw the eye in. Bad points – title not clear enough. 

This made me laugh; which as it is a humour book is good. Looking at the map there are not country names but words to describe the inhabitants – drunk, robbers, unclean! The titles are clear. Everything is clear. You know what you are going to get from this cover.

I own this book and the reason I first picked it up…the cover! It stands out – a smoking skeleton. I did not know the author, and the title I missed. Still, I picked it up from the shelf and read the back and a random page within…then bought it.

This has been a very helpful exercise.  Scanning through thumbnail book covers, which is what many will do when they buy from Lulu and Amazon, these are what caught my eye. I did look at the chick lit covers but l then dismissed them. They were eye-catching and they told me what I needed to know - so I moved on!!
There were many books with abstract covers which seemed to be predominantly  re-published classics. Once a book has its name known this is just a refresh and the publisher can use the cover to attract readers again, perhaps buying books they studied at school or have been lost in house moves. I loved the surreal covers for Kafka’s works (not shown above) but they are not suitable for my little book.
So what can I deduce from my perusal of book covers?
1.       Blue as the background cover is what attracts me, but will it attract readers? I like covers that tell me what to expect within (with the notable exception of David Sedaris).
2.        I want to be able to easily discern the title – I think red will do the job. As A Tale of Nine Cities is the first in the City Chronicles trilogy I think that City Chronicles should be in red and the sub-title a different colour each time.
3.       I need to give an overview of the content of my book but add a little something to make the potential reader wonder, and more importantly, purchase!
Easy then! Over to my cover designer Cathy Helms to work wonders.
I researched the book covers from

Monday, 5 September 2011

Reader Report

These are excerpts from a reader's report from a potential publisher. I have been allowed to use their comments, without attribution (for which I thank them, even though I have decided not to go with this particular publisher).

Very positive feedback! Not too long before you have the chance to find out for yourselves!!

The author has a lovely turn of phrase and at times her prose sings off the page. Both committed smokers, their favoured method of travel was in the (often full) smoking carriage of Europe’s trains, and so they found themselves “a fag paper away from relaxation”. After a severe row, and fearing her friend may not wish to travel with her anymore, Deborah describes how she made the decision to restore good relations and “screwed my pride into a tight little ball and swallowed it”. On arriving home and taking stock of their adventure, they both decide they had crammed too much into too short a time. “It was a bit of a mad dash. Not so much a Grand Tour as a  Grand Prix, trying to squeeze as much as possible out of the vehicle as possible.”

These lovely little nuggets of writing nestle in amongst the vivid pictures the author paints of the architecture, culture and anthropology of the local scene, giving the armchair traveller a multi-sensual taste of the cities the women visited, leaving them hungry for more. Extensively researched, and taken just from scraps of a diary written a decade earlier, the book provides a fascinating insight into the girls’ journey; one not to be read by the parents!

A Tale of Nine Cities is thoughtful and sophisticated, entertaining and nostalgic, and a great memento of an unforgettable journey.

Style points: Beautifully written, this book will require very little editing.  A lot of time has been put into this travelogue to make it polished and ready for publication.

Jacket Blurb

I have been working on the jacket blurb for the book, the words on the back cover of the book. Hopefully it will entice readers to buy the book. Let me know what you think.
A Tale of Nine Cities relates the tale of an eye-opening and inspirational trip taken by two 30 year-old friends around central and eastern Europe by train. Cramming nine cities in eight countries into fifteen days this is no mean feat.
Full of fascinating facts and history of the places visited this is more than a cultural travelogue. The tale is also an amusing and frank account of the adventure during which the girls face some hard facts about themselves and their differing takes on life.
The final edit is underway and I have also sent a copy to my travelling companion to give her a chance to redact (Julian Asange I am not!). So far - silence. Either she has not had a chance to read it yet or is so absorbed she has not had a chance to give me feedback. I hope it is the latter!!

Wanderlust - Blog of the Week

Wanderlust Travel Blog of the Week

Follow on Twitter