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A Big Leap Of Faith

Oh my goodness! Out of my private pond of musings, and into the world I go!

I have REALLY enjoyed the process of working with a Graphic Designer, to pull together the cover of my first novel,

No Small Change.

Its a huge leap of faith, sharing with someone else the vision you have in your head of what you want something to look like, and hoping they 'get' it and can work with you on it. The process is both exciting and frustrating, as your original idea comes out, and you see it as a real picture, and realise what you want or need to change. Then, you have to hope like mad that you can achieve it!

My graphic designer, Liam Beale, is absolutely brilliant. He's a Lancashire lad, too, which speaks to my heart as a Lanashire lass. On that alone, he got the job (!), but I do have to say that I couldn't have chosen better, because the amount of patience he's had with me throughout this process has been nothing short of incredible, while I sorted through a bunch of airy-fairy concepts in my head, of what I wanted the cover of the book to look like. I had a hunded different ideas pinging around in my brain, trying to decide how I wanted it to look. Did I want it to be humourous, or serious, or something in between? If I decided on a mid-point between the two, for a book that containes a fair bit of humour as well as tacking issues that matter to a lot of people in various stages of midlife crisis, how would we achieve that?

Under Liam's expert guidance I ended up with a clear vision, but the concept turned out to be a bigger challenge to pull together than I first anticipated. I had to make a few compromises, which honestly felt a bit painful, because it had taken me a while to get the clarity, and then once I had, certain elements of it quickly had to change, which meant a few amendments then had to be made to some of the descriptive narrative in the story. So I had to dive back into what I thought was a finished book, and make those changes, for the story to be congruent with the expectations the cover sets up for the reader. But the end result is (I think) a pretty cool 'thematic' cover I can run with for the rest of the books in this series without having to make significant changes to the fundamental enduring protagonist - Teapot Cottage itself!

This process was no small undertaking. Because this is a series, I just couldn't afford to get the first cover wrong, because No Small Change sets the stage for all subsequent Teapot Cottage stories and their covers. Changing the fundamental design for the reader, part way through the publications process, is not what any author really wants. So I had to be absolutely sure I'd settled on a theme I could run with for all seven books.

I guess I just want to tell anyone who's considering publishing their work to a) find a great graphic designer with oodles of talent and patience, b) take the time to get the visuals right, and c) be prepared to compromise at least to some degree where you can accept and be comfortable with something that may not be exactly what you see in your mind, but would be 'close enough'.

What I learned in this process is that while the imagination is a truly wonderful thing, and while the mind can paint the most incredible pictures, it isn't always easy or even possible to replicate that as 'hard copy' art; at least not without endless time and a seriously large bucket of money to throw at such a time-consuming process. If you have those resources, then the sky's the limit, and you can insist on exactly what's in your mind's eye. But I have neither, so for me the process of getting to 'yes' on the design of the Teapot Cottage heptalogy was a little frustrating at times - but never with the designer, only with myself.

And MOSTLY it was tremendous fun, seeing my dream come to life. It also gave a good nod to the underpinning driver for fiction authors, that sometimes where you end up is not where you first imagined you would, but as destinations go its pretty fabulous anway. The cover design for No Small Change was one of the many charming little "Ah! Okay, then" moments that Teapot Cottage has surprised me with, as we've gotten to know one another. I'm sure there will be many more!

The cover design for No Smll Change is something I'm proud to have achieved as the starting block for the rest of the series. Working with someone as talented as Liam Beale, whose philosophy tended to be just like mine, as in "Well I dunno if we actually can achieve that, but let's have a go", meant we could make all kinds of experimental changes, with each one taking us closer to the end result. I love how Liam changed some things, and made others appear or disappear, to meet my ever-changing whims, and he never threatened to desert me once.

We got there in the end, and I hope you, the reader, enjoy the end result of what has been a truly fascinating process. I'm looking forward to pulling the next book cover together now, for The Power of Notes and Spells. It's already bouncing around in my head, but I'm not even vaguely anxious about it, because I have exactly the right help to get it out of there and onto paper for you.

Watch this space.

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