Debbie Howells

On book covers and that next book…

By on 13th February 2015 in Uncategorised

My book was sold a year ago.  A long time?  Then, I might have thought so, but the months have flown past.  Months in which layers of editing have taken place, a cover has been designed, and then recently, the first proofs have been sent out.
This week, I’ve written a letter, to people who will be selling my book, some of whom will recognise the landscape I’m describing.  It’s a particularly beautiful one, of rolling hills and wooded paths, the shade lifted where the sun breaks through; one that sets off The Bones’ darkness.  With that very much in mind, the wonderful art team at Pan Macmillan created this:

 

When I wrote The Bones, I created a Pinterest board, of tall trees and falling leaves, ethereal figures; of sunlight falling on shadows.  There was barbed wire, too – and paint flaking away to reveal the rust underneath – you’ll see why when you read it.  To me, they evoked the mood of the book.  When it came to the cover, I’d hoped for beautiful, and deceptively simple, but what I got was so, so much more.  Even the back cover is gorgeous.  I feel so very lucky that I truly love it.

Meanwhile, over in the US, there has been more editing.  Different words, phrases telling the same story – of course I’d known there’d be changes to make, but until the editing began here, I hadn’t appreciated what they’d be.  And the lovely Kensington have designed this.  Oh, and that quote.  Thank you, Lisa Jackson.

 

As a writer, I should be able to, but to see the proofs in the flesh for the first time, was a feeling I haven’t yet been able to put into words. And of course, while all this has been going on, there’s the whole other matter of the next book.

When I wrote The Bones, I was writing for myself.  I hadn’t allowed myself to think about what would happen when I submitted it to agents.  Of course I’d hoped.  Really, really hoped.  It’s true to say I was driven in a mad, single-minded kind of way that left no room in my head for anything else, but then I wanted this like never before.
I’ve spoken to other authors who agree. There’s a world of difference when other people have expectations of you; more moments, too, of searing doubt along the way.  When you finish writing that second book, hold your breath and send it out to your agent and editor who are waiting to read it. Yes, this time they will definitely read it, but you know also, there is no entitlement.

In my case, I told Juliet I’d finished, then sat on it for ages, while I plucked up the courage to email it to her.  But I’ve done it and she’s read it.  And so now, moving on, because I need to have a book going on in my head, I’m in the early stages of another, as I count down the months until July.  Not that I’m wishing them by, because I want to hold on to each moment along the way, but it’s not long until The Bones is published…

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  1. mrscarlielee says:

    What a GORGEOUS cover! And I’m so excited for you! And how very sensible to get Book 2 done and out of the way – apparently it’s the hardest (was it?) because all the expectations have changed.

    There’s so much I want to ask you that all of my questions have clogged up…I feel about thirteen again, and asking ‘but what’s it really like? Like, when it HAPPENS?’

    And what sort of changes did you need to do for America? And will you be getting a shiny new website? And have you got launch party plans?!

    • Ah, thank you Carlie, I’m so thrilled with it. As for Book 2… a year ago I’d given Juliet a paragraph – a suggestion of a book I’d yet to write. Trisha, my editor, liked the sound of it, so on the strength of that, I got on and wrote it. Then redrafted, changed the ending, changed it back again. Then it was the same as with The Bones, because I’d lost all sense of objectivity by that stage. All I kept thinking was, what if no-one likes it?
      When eventually I sent it to Juliet, it was fine!!

      What’s it really like? Those days last year when my book went to auction were just extraordinary. The kind that I’d read about happening to other people, only they were happening to me. I’ll never forget how that felt. I think I floated through that time, where my everyday life was interspersed by Juliet’s phone calls. I’ve never smiled so much. Never had so many people either, who wanted to hear how it happened, or share the excitement. What it’s really like, quite simply, is life-changing. I just feel so lucky to be doing something I love.

      The US edits were mostly to do with words/phrases they don’t use there. In the UK version, for example, there are Police Constables, who had to be changed. That kind of thing. One or two other tweaks but it’s the same book.

      My US publisher have asked about a website and that’s on my list of things to do. And launch party – not decided yet, but hopefully somewhere local to me, I’m guessing in July…

      And tell me how it’s going with you! Any news??

  2. Linda Boa says:

    I wish I could link this to my Twitter feed, as we’ve been doing quite a bit of discussion on book covers the last few days. It’s always intrigued me, the decision for different covers in different covers. Why? What appeals differently across countries? Plus one book that’s been relaunched with a (frankly terrible) cover is A Pleasure And A Calling, by Phil Hogan, about a creepy, but very darkly humorous, estate agent, who has all the keys to all the houses he’s ever sold, and let’s himself in and out. The original was fabulous, the new one – well, I don’t think you’d get what you’re anticipating, frankly! Check it out, if you’ve time. And thanks for showing some light on the US editing process for UK books; I wondered why it was necessary to have a second editing process! I’ll look out for your book, and hopefully review it on my blog crimeworm.WordPress.com, I think I kind of boxed myself into a corner with the name, but I am trying to extend my reading interests, as I’ve never just read crime. Incidentally, when is it due out?
    And I’ve just spotted who your agent is – you couldn’t be in better hands; she did a wonderful job with The Min. Good luck, Debbie!

    • Debbie Howells says:

      I’ve just looked – such very different covers. It is interesting how styles vary in different countries. Would love you to review my book – it’s due out in July.
      And thank you, I have the BEST agent x

  3. Rebecca Beesley says:

    My husband has just reviewed your book here: http://thebeesleybuzz.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/book-review-bones-of-you-by-debbie.html Couldn’t find you on twitter but thought you might like to see the review. x

    • Debbie Howells says:

      Hi Rebecca

      Thanks so much for letting me know – and thank you Richard, for such a lovely review.

      Debbie x

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