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. 


  1. Very striking and beautiful cover, and worth the wait!

  2. Samantha, this looks amazing! You're such a huge inspiration for all of us writers. It's great to see that you're enjoying the process of your books creation.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting! I'm so glad to inspire other writers. I am enjoying it, it's lovely to be able to share it with everyone.

  3. Your cover is stunning. As you say it doesn't commit to a genre at all, which is intriguing. The font is beautiful and I like how it is interwoven with the dial. I also like the very subtle golden '1'...

    David's chosen covers are fabulous. Bloomsbury do produce the most gorgeous cover designs, I think it's one of the things people note them for.

    Hard to pick a favourite cover, but one I saw recently that I think stands out is this version of Lady Chatterley's Lover:

    1. Thank you Claire! I agree, David is fantastic. I love the fact that it doesn't stick to a genre. & interesting version of Chatterley.

  4. It's bold. It will do the job. And, the job of a book cover is to attract the eye. To compete against thousands of other book covers.

    If a browser picks up the book, as a result of the cover, it's done its job.

    Good luck. Mac.

  5. Really interesting reading the two excerpts, and love the cover. I'm getting the impression that the Bone Season is verging on steampunk? If so, how timely! It seems like 2013 is going to be the year steampunk enters the mainstream consciousness, from what I've read in the past few weeks.

    1. Glad you liked the cover! It does include some steampunky (yes, I'm going to use that word) ideas. I was trying to think of a word to describe it for the EW interview. It's not quite cyberpunk, and it's not quite steampunk because there's no steam per se, but there's a lot of Victorian influence. Possibly neo-Victorian? I said 'retro-futuristic' in the end, but you'll have to see what you think when you read it!

  6. You were right, the shakes and withdrawal were well worth the wait. Sadly, I will have to wait until I get home to read the excerpt. No facebook at work.

    My favorite cover of all time is possible the Frank Miller cover of Gravity's Rainbow, or maybe this version of Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger.

    1. So glad you like the cover! I'd recommend the Facebook excerpt more strongly than the one on EW – the FB one gives a lot more context and gives a better idea of the overall writing style. The EW one is slightly odd because it's an action scene.

      Both interesting covers. I like the fact that they didn't put many colours on Gravity's Rainbow.

  7. What a marvelous cover ! Definitely worth the wait and David Mann, along with his team has done great job. I liked blue colour and red flower symbol. What is the logic behind two sixes at sundial pillar at Seven Dials? Yes, without characters on the cover makes it more impressive. I hope readers will find characters in the illustrations in the inner pages.

    If i am not wrong, will different volumes will have different covers? And wow, excerpts are really interesting. I cant wait for August.

    Congratulations for such a gorgeous cover design !

    1. David did do a great job, I'm very lucky to have him designing the books!

      There probably won't be any illustrations on the inner pages – like I said, I think the reader should be able to decide for themselves what they look like.

      I'm not sure of the logic behind the two sixes. Interestingly, though, there are only six sundials at Seven Dials. The original plan was to build seven roads, and the pillar was commissioned before the seventh road was added.

  8. Really interesting cover design, glad to finally see it! I especially like that connection with Seven Dials, seeing as it's important not only to the books, but to you personally!

    I read all the chapter excerpts as well, and I have to say, you've got me really excited! 1984 is one of my favorite novels too, so I'm interested in seeing your take on a dystopian world. I think what I'm most looking forward to how the abilites work in TBS, always love when a story has some supernatural elements.

    Dunno if anybody's asked you this yet, but here goes: Was "The Bone Season" the original title you had for the series? And if so, how hard was it to come up with that title?

    Some food for thought there, maybe a blog about titles (finding the right one, do the editors change them, etc.)

    Either way, I'm really happy for you, think how excited you'll be when it's under 100 days to release!

    1. I really like that about the cover, too. Very glad you enjoyed the excerpts!

      I'm going to blog about the title next week – someone else asked me that very same question today. In short, though, yes, it was my original title.

      I'm looking forward to showing everyone how the abilities work; developing lots of different clairvoyant types was possibly the part of TBS planning I enjoyed the most!

  9. I love the cover and your train of thought as to not have characters on it.

    Great design, well done Mann! I'm now even more looking forward to reading the book. Less than 200 days!

    1. The Mann is the man. And yes! Can hardly wait. I still remember when that counter read 400 days...

  10. Sweet cover. Fabulous work David Mann! I've really liked it since the EW exclusive, though I could have sworn I remembered some green on the cover around the flower or a vine weaving through the gold arrows. Still lovely though. I'm glad that the cover doesn't have a picture of some girl. That would really put your book in a genre. Of late, the books that are read by people of ages seem to have really strong, attention grabbing covers, like The Hunger Games covers (REALLY strong stand-out covers that compliment the tone and atmosphere of the book) and the Harry Potter covers that I also think are wonderful and compliment the tone and atmosphere of the books.
    The excerpt on the Facebook page was interesting, if a little confusing. The guardian angel thing was what confused me. What exactly is it and what does it do and is it always with people (or whatever he is?) That is, however, probably something that I will discover with the more context when the book comes out.

    1. Glad you like it! There wasn't any green on the cover, no. Fun fact, though: originally the cover was gold.
      I was very relieved that they didn't suggest putting Paige on the front. I was really against having that kind of cover, I think it forces the reader to imagine the characters in a certain way. Oddly, there is an early version of the Hunger Games with Katniss on the cover: I definitely prefer the versions with the mockingjay symbol and nothing else, much more effective. The HG film cover is good, too.

      Yes, I can imagine the excerpt was quite confusing without context! The concepts of guardian angels, mediums etc. are all explored throughout the book.

  11. I am still looking at the cover, from time to time. I just love it so much! And, I did a double-take when I saw my name up there. Haha. :)

    Hmm. I think, as of right now, my favorite covers are for THE HUNGER GAMES and for DIVERGENT. I love book covers that don't have people on them.

    I can't wait to see what the rest of the covers in your series look like! Even though we have a bit of a long wait for them. :)

    1. I've seen two different covers for DIVERGENT. I'm actually quite a fan of the UK version; very nice colouring. I do like the US version with the flames, but it reminded me a little too much of HG.

      And I can't wait, either! I trust David will continue to make the covers brilliant.

  12. Hi i love your blog so much! been following it since the beginning. I have two questions that i've been dying to ask

    1. Any advice on how to deal with sequels? Like should I know what is gonna happen all through out the series even before i start writing the first one just so I know what clues and scenes and questions to include in book 1 that would be revealed and answered in the sequels. I dont if my quetsion is clear hahaha

    2. I am having a difficult time giving a title to my first book, and a title for the series itself. Any advice on how to come up with a strong individual titles for the books and one very strong title for the whole series?

    Thank you so much. and I absolutely love the excerpts! can't wait to read it on August! counting the days, weeks, months, seconds haha

    1. Hello! Thanks so much for following the blog, glad you're enjoying it! And that you're looking forward to the novel.

      I've written a little bit about my planning process in these entries ( Generally I'd recommend having at least a rough outline of the series if you're intending to write one. It seems like publishers are generally most comfortable with debut novels that could potentially stand alone, so if you do include clues for foreshadowing, make sure they're very subtle. You can always add more obvious ones later, in the editing process, if you get a deal for more than one book (although foreshadowing should be subtle anyway!).

      You're the third person to ask me about titles this week, so that will be my post today!

  13. I absolutely love this cover! I'm so excited to be finally see it, and thanks for sharing the brilliant interview. I just read the excerpt up on facebook and can't wait to read more. :)

    1. Thank you so much, I'm so pleased you like it!

  14. Love the cover - very, very classy and intriguing - the extra 6 pulls you in at once. I have worked in graphics for 20 years so not an amateur saying this!!
    Read the extracts and now can't wait for publication. I'm also a big Atwood and Wyndham fan and thrilled to know that you are too, 'cos with them as role models I know I'll enjoy diving in.
    You are a star Samantha.
    Huge well done.

  15. This is Lovely. I really satisfied.


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