Same Book, Different Countries…
People often ask me if I’m published in other languages. The answer is yes – but I often don’t see the finished books. There was a time when I didn’t even see some of the different English language versions. Some from Eastern Europe had covers that were hotchpotches of old pirated film posters. One looked like ‘Rambo: First Blood’. The ones in Cambodia were actually pirated, and their paper quality was annoyingly better than my own publisher’s.
The French and Spanish editions of various novels have been passable (although Spain now has a publishing disaster on its hands as very few readers are buying books). The American covers were, well, let’s just say that American design can sometimes be a bit on the nose. I always thought these whizz-marks on the Trafalgar lion above were hilarious. I wanted to put a cartoon sound effect on them. US type design is often meticulously planned and executed but can end up looking rather fusty and obsessed with pointy serif typefaces.
The Russian covers were always interesting, often uncluttered and very well designed. My Russian editor was a fantastic guy who broke out the vodka within minutes of meeting up and proceeded to get blind drunk. I loved the Russian cover above, and I adored the cover of the Japanese edition of ‘Roofworld’, an ethereal melange of wispily dressed sprites floating across an unrecognisably oriental London, which I sadly can no longer find on my shelves.
Sometimes covers that were rejected proved more interesting than the ones that were accepted, like this one for ‘Hellion: The Curse of Snakes’. Note the jaunty ‘Chris’ that put me down with the kids. Not. My one venture into the hellish world of YA – never again. Although I was very happy with the book’s contents.
Sometimes titles change so much that I can’t tell what book it is that I’ve actually sold. And of course there’s never a time when you see any of these on sale, whereas you can go anywhere on the planet and find ‘GOAT’. This is the US cover for ‘Nyctophobia’, attractive but nowhere near as effective as the original
And here’s the one developed by Solaris, which I liked, except that they did such a clever little design thing inside it that there’s nowhere to sign a copy! The designs of independent book companies often greatly exceeds the larger companies, and at the moment I love what Valancourt are doing with their rereleases.
It has taken a long time, but e-books have forced book designers to raise their game, and make novels attractive as gifts once more; ‘The Essex Serpent’ in particular is very elegantly produced, although I’ve yet to read it.