Friday, June 01, 2007

"Ghastly 'chicklit' covers"

Also in today's blog

More on Katie Fforde's book jackets
Madame Arcati self-publishing her novel
Lorna's comment

As a matter of courtesy, I try to let people know when I blog about them. Recently I emailed three men, a best-selling American author, an historian whose TV programme I had enjoyed, and the economics editor of a national newspaper.

How long does it take to hit the reply button and type, "Thanks"?

But only one of these three did the polite thing. Which one?

The journalist, Jeff Randall.

First I received an Out of Office [until May 30th] reply. No doubt his Inbox was full when he got back, but at 9.53 a.m. on the day of his return, I received the following message – "Anne Many thanks for letting me know. JR"

"Ghastly 'chicklit' covers"

I am indebted to Transita author Jane Gordon-Cumming for steering me to an interesting discussion about Katie Fforde's book jackets.

On May 31, Jane G-C posted the following comment on my blog about Katie's covers. She wrote -
"Funnily enough Elaine Simpson-Long blogged about the very same subject on her
'Random Jottings' a few months ago: I commented that I too much prefer Katie's older covers, but a young friend much prefers the new ones."

So off I went to Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover, sub-titled "A commuting book and opera-aholic personal assistant living in the oldest recorded town in the UK, Colchester."

Here are a couple of quotes from the discussion.

"I've never read Katie Fforde because the current covers put me off while the old style would not have done."


"Katie Fforde used to be published by Penguin and the books were beautifully designed with lovely covers which caught the eye. She then moved to Michael Joseph who kept up the high standard, but then moved again to Century who immediately started to produce the books in the most ghastly 'chicklit' covers. They were the usual candy pink, orange and pale green with which publishers seem to be obsessed in this genre, and I really feel they do these books a disservice. Whereas the first books looked classy, the later ones look, well, just ordinary really."

Other comments suggest that the Century covers are more attractive to younger readers.

But as we are frequently told that oldies now have more cash to spend than their children and grandchildren, I wonder why publishers court the young to the exclusion of middle-aged readers and those like myself who are long past normal retirement age but still working full-time and firing on most of their cylinders?

The answer seems to be that most publishing people, except at the highest level, are under 40. But CEOs are not. Gail Rebuck head of Random House – they publish 1500 books a year - is 55. Marjorie Scardino, head of Pearson, is 58. Doesn't it ever strike them that their minions are neglecting a lucrative market?

Madame Arcati to self-publish her novel

Thanks to Grumpy Old Bookman [see link in sidebar] I learn that Madame Arcati has written a novel and is publishing it herself.

She writes, "It astonishes me how potent still is the glamour of commercial publishing to writers of fiction, as if a freely hatched chicken would choose to live in a battery, behind its bars. How sad.

Far better to synchronise with technology's liberating applications and produce a book that matches or exceeds the production values of orthodox publishers. Readers can decide whether it was worth reading."

I agree with Madame A that commercial publishing presents a pretty dismal prospect these days. On the other hand DIY publishing demands huge amounts of energy which most writers would rather reserve for writing.

Lorna's comment

Lorna, if I may I'll reply to the question in your comment on Thursday's blog in Monday's blog because I need to look up some links.


At 02 June, 2007, Blogger emasl said...

I am always staggered when I see my blog mentioned elsewhere. Why? I don't know really, after all I expect people to read it don't I??? Thanks for the mention and do drop by again.


At 29 June, 2007, Blogger Arcati said...

Thank you for mentioning my novel - I am quite confident that an orthodox publisher probably could not flog any more copies of my particular kind of book than I will as a self-publisher, using one of a number of sophisticated US enablers.

Regrettably, a great many writers still buy into this nonsense that someone calling themselves a publisher is the judge of what is publishable. This is fabulous nonsense - but I would never under-estimate the whorish opportunism of orthodox publishers to catch up when they smell money.

As for self-publishers having to work hard to sell their work - well, who doesn't?

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