Here is the final and approved cover design for Dan and the Shard of Ice, the third adventure in a series about a boy who sees ghosts. It will be published by Bloomsbury in May, but I think it can already be, ahem, pre-ordered.
I’m pleased with the cover, and think it’s the strongest yet. It shows me improving my Photoshop technique, I think. I’m pretty pleased with the inside art too, and I’ll share some of that nearer the publication date, along with an extract. As for the writing, I can honestly say this book was the most fun I’ve had on Microsoft Word ever.
Okay, so that’s a title designed to attract attention. But it does refer to a question I often get asked by people writing children’s books. People writing children’s books outside the industry, that is, but wanting to get in. The hard fact is though, anyone asking that whilst planning to get published the traditional route is unwittingly waving one of the reddest of the red flags that drive prospective agents and editors away. Because here’s the thing: the author almost never chooses the illustrator for their book.
This is because the look of a book is so vitally important to selling and marketing these days, that editors want to be in firm control of the visual side, especially with a new and unknown author. And this is as true of picture books as it is of the cover for your novel. Declaring that your Aunty Joan — whose watercolours are always so popular at the church fête — will ‘be doing the pictures’ is the kiss of death to your chances. It’s never been easier for publishers to say ‘no’, remember? Even if your aunty Joan is twice winner of the Kate Greenaway Award, and you are Neil Gaiman, your future editor will still want to be the one who finally decides.
But this is good news, isn’t it? It means all you have to do is sell the text, then sit back and let the professionals handle the rest. And you’ll always get some say in the matter. Of course, if you are aiming for self-publication then you are free to choose who you like and handle it all yourself. But that’s a different blog post. This one has just run out of room…