Never Judge a Book by it’s Cover

 

Australian Publishers Association's Book Design Awards -childrens winner designed by W.H. Chong and Susan Miller

As a wannabe writer I’m aware of the long odds of getting my story into printed book form. Apparently it’s harder to get an agent (so many wannabe’s throwing themselves at their feet weeping ‘pick me, pick me oh please, pick me’?) than it is to get your book in front of the Publisher with a capital P. Although how this works I’m not entirely sure, because it seems that every publishing house and its dog won’t see your book unless  its presented on a silver platter by an agent cloaked appropriately with terms like extensive social media platform, copious followers etc.

Recently I have found myself trawling through the sea of information that is the Internet and slowly learning more about the field of self-publishing. Reading the success stories  of the self-published; the people who took the risk with their novels and sold over a million books. Wondering if the stigma has lessened or if the 2nd rate work that has been self-published with minor editorial issues (spelling, punctuation, plot and character development anyone?) has given it a reputation that won’t ever be shaken.

But as a writer of picture books, the idea of a DIY picture book is somewhat daunting. Can I do this? Self-publish my book, sell several bazillion copies and be wonderfully successful? YES! I repeat to myself in a mantra that would make Shakti Gawain  proud. I visualise fame, fortune and the pleasure of reading emails from my fan base (well my fans parents) telling me how much they love my stories. And let me tell you, I can work this fantasy a loooong time until I hit the stumbling block. My children’s stories are going to involve incredible artwork to tell half the story and the cost of professional artists is astronomical. I comfort myself with the old adage that you shouldn’t judge a book (or illustrations) by its cover. DIY publication, DIY illustrations, right?  But book buyers are very visual creatures.

Wait…wait… wait… did you even know there is an awards night for book covers? Awards for stories sure.  Illustrations? Of course. But the actual covers?

<The Australian Publishers Associations 60th annual Book Design Awards>

It’s been running for sixty years and over 400 books – including children’s books, were entered this year? Well all I can say is they have done a **brilliant** marketing job. Because everyone judges a book by its cover; inevitably we are drawn to read the blurb because of the ‘cover artwork.’

Art work is a vital part of the book buying process. And just try reading a picture book to a class of children who aren’t attracted to the illustrations! So for the timely reminder in my meanderings of self-publishing education, I understand that if I do go the self-publishing route for my children’s picture books, one way or another, I am going to have to get an artist to do the illustrations. Because I know for a fact it’s not just children who judge a book by its cover.

Daniel Radcliffe is his own toughest critic

 

envious of his inside edge.. maybe!

I know that Alan Radcliffe was a literary agent before he took on the responsibility of being the full time chaperone to his young son Daniel,  as he in turn took on the role of a lifetime as Harry Potter. So it might be a tad snarky of me to suggest that Daniel Radcliffe might have an easier road to hoe than most when it comes to getting anything he writes, be it poetry or novels before an agent or publisher for assessment.

But oh thank goodness Daniel too struggles with the ‘gremlins’ in his head (otherwise known as the itty bitty shitty committee) that compel him to believe that what he writes shouldn’t see the light of day.

“I try and write at the moment. I don’t know if I’m any good, as, normally,   when I write I’m so self critical that it’s not long before I have to throw  away what I write.”

It’s encouraging to know that other wannabe authors struggle with believing that they can produce works that other people are willing plunk down hard earned money to own something we have produced. Welcome to the club dude, welcome to the club!