Monday, 22 June 2015

Olives - A Violent Cover

This is the new cover for Olives - A Violent Romance. You can go here to buy it, as well as my other books. No, no need to thank me. It's a pleasure.

Why on earth would I want to change the cover, five years after publishing the book in the first place?

It seems more like a million years than five, I must say. A great deal has changed since then for me, personally and professionally. If you'd asked me back then if I thought I'd end up writing six books, I'd have laughed at you, hollowly. 'Ha ha', or something like that. Maybe just 'Ha.'

I'd turned my back on the endless round of submissions and rejections that had characterised my life as a writer up until then, finally accepting if I was going to go anywhere with this writing thing moving forwards, it was going to have to be on my own two feet.

I started looking at publishing platforms, stumbled upon Smashwords, wrangled with Amazon's strange idea of HTML to get a Kindle edition up and running and downloaded Createspace templates and started playing with book formatting.

Before long, I realised I needed a cover and I lost no time turning to Lebanese designer and graphic artist Naeema Zarif, whose clever and compelling work I had long enjoyed and who had also provided the 'visual identity' for GeekFest (although it was brother in law @deholyterror who came up with the initial logo for GeekFest 1.0, just to give credit where it's due!). Sadly, her website appears to be no more.

Naeema created that blue and beige cover, a superimposition of the Mediterranean sea and sky, the soil the olives grow from, a peace treaty and the edges of leaves. It's how her art rolls, layers of imagery super-imposed to create a series of visual 'jokes'. There's a bit of Amman's Citadel in there, too. It was just the ticket and I was pleased and proud to have her art illustrate the cover.

But that was then, this is now. The old cover is much admired, but is very, well, Arabesque. And my other covers have taken a very different direction, tending towards that very stark white space with a single illustrative element; Beirut's lipstickbullet, Shemlan's pillskull and now the two new books look like they'll have iconic emblems on the covers.

You can see all my book covers arrayed together tastefully here.

Olives ended up just looking odd and out of place, so I decided a long while back to update it. That's the lovely thing about publishing online, you can do that sort of thing. The UAE print edition, clearly, was going to stick with the old cover!

I've cast around for an image for Olives, to no avail. It's a very bad title for a book (I've had it confirmed by a top professional that my book titles suck lemons. That's sort of okay, it's the way things have ended up and I probably wouldn't have it any other way) at the best of times and a cover image is hard to think up. What do you do? Some olives? A crushed olive? I found a nice image of some olives and a skull, but it wasn't quite right. I've asked artist/designer friends, but nobody seems to have been able to come up with an image that 'does the trick', so I've finally invested a few days in finding some things that might work. The result is certainly impactful.

Amazon et al have been updated. So if you bought the book with the old cover, you now hold a limited edition print in your hands, one of about 2,500. There'll never be another one. I rather think, and hope, that'll amuse Naeema.

The old cover. A limited edition of 2,500 prints with a free book.

So there we have it. A new website, new cover and two new books. Golly, it's all change around here these days, isn't it?


Rootless said...

Your book covers present a compellingly consistent image, though not yet compelling enough to make me buy one. That aside, one cover jars particularly. I suspect I won't have been the first to point this out. A Decent Bomber (the comment about your titles is very accurate) features a version of the Easter lily sold annually by SF/IRA fundraisers in commemoration of the 1916 Easter rising which is the fountainhead of Irish Republicanism. But the version featured on your cover is the self-adhesive paper sticker which was an innovation introduced by Official SF/IRA who broke with Provisional SF/IRA in the early seventies. The Provos continued to sell the traditional lapel pin and derided the Officials as the "Stickies". The Provos also continued with the campaign of terrorism while the Stickies shifted quickly to non-violent mainstream leftist politics, evolving into SF The Workers' Party, then the Workers' Party, then Democratic Left and finally merging with the Irish Labour party whose leadership they came to dominate (providing, for example, the last Tanaiste - Deputy Prime Minister). Thus the stick-on lily that you show represents the opposite of what you probably intend and looks really poorly chosen, though I get the graphic immediacy. Like putting a blue cover on a book involving Liverpool football club...

Alexander McNabb said...

Just buy the book, dammit.

Interesting comment.

The cover is actually a paper Easter lily, but not an adhesive one. It was worn with a pin through it (it has the hole in it). It was picked up in a bar in Carlingford.

Unless you read the book, you'll never really know what makes my decent bomber decent... >;)

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