My book is not naked

Yesterday was a big day for The Bone Season. There are now less than 200 days until publication. More importantly, I'm very proud to present the jacket design! Sorry for the delay – Entertainment Weekly had the exclusive, so I wasn't allowed to blog about it until the 1st, but here it is, in all its glory. Just to confirm, this is the cover for the UK,USA and Australia – it may be different for other territories. 

If you're wondering why there are twelve numbers there (and two sixes), it's because it's based on this design (see right). That's one of the faces from the sundial pillar at Seven Dials, specifically the pillar facing Monmouth Street, where I first got the inspiration to write The Bone Season.   

I'm already hearing lots of opinions on the cover; I'm so intrigued by what people think of it. It's definitely unusual in that it doesn't, in my opinion, commit to any particular genre or audience. Bloomsbury's teams in London, NYC and Sydney worked very hard to find a design they all liked. I didn't want it to have pictures of the characters on the front, as I don't like assigning a particular look for them – I want readers to be able to imagine them as they please. The design is based on three symbols that run through the story. The anchor is the symbol of Scion. As for the flower, you'll have to wait and see. Oddly, the thing I like most about it is the font. It's called Pilgrim. I love the strange mix of sans-serif and serif.

I was also thrilled to receive my first proof pages for The Bone Season yesterday. They're pages that have been properly typeset, i.e. put into the right font and had chapter titles added, that get sent to the author to do final checks for typos and so on. I nearly cried when I saw them. The pages look beautiful.

If you head on over to the Facebook page, you'll be able to see a new excerpt from Chapter 1 by clicking the 'exclusive content' tab. It's my favourite excerpt out of the two that have been released, as it gives a lot more context than the EW excerpt. You'll get a much better idea of what Scion's all about.    

I also did an interview with the lovely book blogger Lisa Lueddecke if you're interested in finding out a bit more about the book.  

Designing covers is a big job. You have to work out what fits the story, what grabs the attention of readers, and what the authors themselves will like. After all, most of us judge a book by its cover. To give you some idea of what a designer does, I've done a little interview with the brains behind the cover of The Bone Season. Send him some love on Twitter if you liked the cover – it's his hard work.   

Q&A: Art Director

David Mann is Art Director at Bloomsbury, where he's worked since 2006. He's designed a lot of covers in his time, including the cover for The Bone Season (which makes him one of my favourite people on Earth) and has also worked for Penguin and Simon & Schuster. David was kind enough to answer a few questions for me as part of what I hope will be a series of interviews with publishing-type people. Thanks for being here, David! Over to the Mann himself.  

When did you decide you wanted to be a designer? 

I always wanted to be in the Visual Arts. I started as a window dresser which was just enormous fun, and while doing this I started helping out with retail graphics which I found more in line with my skills – which led me into applying to a Graphic Design course at Art College.

How did you come to work for Bloomsbury? 

I’d recently moved to Penguin from Simon & Schuster. Within a year of working at Penguin though, I’d heard (publishing is a very small world!) that the Art Director position at Bloomsbury had come up. Bloomsbury publish some of my very favourite authors including Margaret Atwood and Edmund White, and Bloomsbury have a reputation for fantastic cover design... so I got in touch, and was extremely fortunate to be offered the role. Thank you Alexandra Pringle!

Tell us about your average day at work. 

It’s usually a combination of working with the rest of the team on their projects, designing new and developing existing covers when approved, art-working, and interactions with the Editorial, Sales, Marketing and Production departments. Also, always planning ahead to my weekly cover meeting, where we present several options for each title.

What are the best and worst aspects of designing a cover? 

I would say that the best aspect is when an author really loves the design! It’s a huge responsibility to produce a visual to a writer’s work, that is so personal and has been a huge part of their lives for sometimes many years. The only downside I can think of is when a design you have your heart set on is rejected – the ones that got away! But, fortunately this doesn’t happen often and the end result can often be more successful.

Who else is involved in the process? 

All our covers go to a weekly cover meeting, where the Editorial, Sales, Marketing and Publicity teams choose from a selection of approaches, or discuss developments. The author will then have approval. Editorial will then supply copy and circulate through the teams for sign off. The designer will then artwork the cover – the technical bit, producing files separating finishes such as foils, embossing and spot gloss and then it is over to the Production department.

What software or equipment is used in book design? 

Usually Photoshop for the initial design, and then Indesign when the cover is approved and goes to layout (when copy/author photograph etc is supplied). My Assistant Art Director and Senior Designers are amazing illustrators too, and they will sometimes start a job with sketches.

What’s your favourite cover you’ve designed, and why? 

Favourite covers are usually the ones where I love the book to bits... Recently – The Bone Season, Maggie and Me, The Song of Achilles and The Misogynist. And Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns when I joined Bloomsbury will always be special to me.

What’s your favourite cover you haven’t designed, and why? 

One at the moment that is a work of sheer genius is Penguin’s paperback edition of 1984, designed by the ever brilliant David Pearson.

Favourite book of all time? 

Argh – hard to choose one... If I can break the rules and have a top five in fiction, they would be The Handmaid’s Tale, The Magic Toyshop, Hotel Du Lac, 1984 and The Song of Achilles.

Any advice for budding designers? 

Go for it! I would suggest that anyone trying to get into Publishing produces lots of self-initiated book cover projects for their folio, to show what they can do. There is a lot of competition as cover design is ‘what I call’ the Holy Grail for many designers.

Thanks again for all your support, everyone. Readers are brilliant! 

What did you think of the cover and the excerpts? What's your favourite cover on a book? Let me know in the comments section.