Long time friend of the blog Ali Bacon has a new book out. It’s called A Kettle of Fish and looks rather good, and when I heard about it I asked Ali if she’d like to come over here to give it a wee mention. Which she has kindly agreed to do, with the BONUS of talking about something I love very much: typography. So, without further ado, here’s Ali…
Going into print
Hello! What’s this, I hear you say, the flash fiction maestro hosting a novelist? My excuse (if I need one) is that when I read Nik’s Not so Perfect a couple of years ago, it was an excellent reminder of the importance of the physical attributes of a book: – short shorts stories in just the right wrapper, what could be better? The format definitely adds to the enjoyment. And then I ended up publishing my own novel paperback. Could I make a decent job of the physical entity?
Of course in the first instance, my Scottish coming-of-age-novel A Kettle of Fish (Crow Road with fish rather than fireworks?) was picked up by an e-publisher, but I was still keen for the jacket (or cover image as we now say) to be striking, evocative and in keeping with the book as a whole. It also happened that my graphic designer daughter had just gone free-lance and since my publisher was happy for me to provide the cover art (subject to approval), we set about designing her (and my) very first book jacket. I won’t go into the details right now, although working with a designer (blood relative or not) was an interesting process in itself involving all kinds of choices I hadn’t thought about before. In the end the one thing which was my suggestion and ended up in the finished product is the typeface we used for the title, the romantically named Forgotten Uncial which provided the celtic look I was after (and was free). Typography, don’t you just love it?
But then came the realisation that an e-book just wouldn’t be enough if the novel was to be read by all my friends family associates and the reading world at large, and so a print edition was called for, using a POD publisher. At this point things got messier. I noticed that lots of self-pub books went for a b/w spine and back cover bearing only plain text. Having agonised for quite some time on the look of the front, I wanted the full wrap-around experience. More work for the resident designer! And although I knew about the problem of web images, screen resolution etc, I’d forgotten it’s just as difficult to get a true colour match in print – cue many emails to the POD provider on paper quality and the demise of several ink cartridges. In the end we had the print cover in a darker tone than the e-book image, although you probably don’t see the difference here. And I love that fish on the spine!
That just left the inside, and admit to a bit of a failure here, not that I’m unhappy with what I got but I really didn’t have time (e-book was due in October and I wanted the print edition to follow asap) to experiment, and in the end I went for the ‘safe’ option of 12 point Times New Roman. Better bland than irritating, I say. And as a final flourish I did manage to get my little fish on the title page (and only wish I had thought of using the same motif for the chapter headings).
So what’s the book about? I think I’ve been here long enough so you’ll have to find out on my website or of course you can always buy a copy (what a good idea!) – a mere £1.99 for the e-book or £8.99 for the full tactile experience, from Amazon.
If anyone wants to know more abut the design process, look out for a longer article in a future edition of What the Dickens Magazine. And finally, the design house (hers not mine) is still going strong and can be contacted at Carrot-Top-Design