1 book, 3 covers, 3 titles

1 book 3 covers.001

A funny thing happened to me on the way to getting published.

How does one book get published with three different titles and three different covers?

I finished writing Dutch Courage in January 2015.

Incredible agent and selling machine, Oli Munson of AM Heath, sold Dutch Courage to Penguin SA. And to Harper Collins in the UK, who scheduled it for digital release in April 2016.

Covers and titles are tough for an author. Well for this author in particular. I’m in the ad industry, so I have a strong visual aesthetic (read: opinion).

I don’t know which is worse for a publisher, an author with design experience, or one without. Just about all my covers have been torture.

The amount of influence an author has on their cover depends. Generally, the publisher presents a few options to author, there’s some discussion and tweaking, and on (rare) occasion a second round of options. The author gets a say, mostly, but not entirely and sometimes not at all. Publishers have research and strong opinions on what sells and what doesn’t sell.

I instantly LOVED the SA cover of Dutch Courage by Penguin SA. Which is a first for me. We did minor tweaks and sent it to print:

DUTCH COURAGE (4 legs)

(PS: you can buy this book here)

Harper Collins UK changed the title to Like A Virgin (They wanted to change my name too, but that’s another story for another day). I liked the new title. But the cover wasn’t as easy.
I didn’t love it. I didn’t even like it. They did. We negotiated some tweaks. I still didn’t like it. In the end we agreed to disagree, and off it went into the world. You can’t win ’em all:

29845532

 

Cut to July. An email from Harper Collins. By now, the full team I’d worked with on the original edit, cover and launch had left, some already replaced twice. No surprises, it had been over 18 months since they bought the book and publishing is fast-moving. When I read the email I wanted to vomit. Sales of Like A Virgin were tragic. Worse than tragic, dismal. Wait, worse than dismal, pathetic… wait… worse than pathetic… you get my drift.

Mistakes had been made, they said. I waited for them to say a polite but understandable farewell to me and my dreams.

I was wrong. They said they believe in this novel and they’d decided to give it a new title, a new cover, and another shot.

Introducing The Wrong Knickers for a Wednesday. launching in the UK today. 

Same book, new title, new cover, new marketing plan. Who knew.

Whoever said ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’ never had a ballsy, ethical, can-do publisher.

Thank you for the second shot Harper Collins UK, Eloise Wood, Helen Huthwaite, Helena Sheffield, and Oli Munson. And godspeed fun stripper book with lots of faces:

9780008160845

Click here to buy this book in the UK (please, please, please buy this book. I’m not sure they’ll give me a 3rd shot).

One book, three covers, three titles. Which is your favourite:

1 book 3 covers.001

PS: Dutch Courage/Like A Virgin/The Wrong Knickers for a Wednesday is a book about what’s left behind when your clothes come off. It’s set in a strip club in Amsterdam, where all the strippers are celebrity impersonators. Some say it’s smart with a heart (coined by genius editor, Helen Moffett). Which I think is a cute, rhymey description that sums it up nicely.



7 responses to “1 book, 3 covers, 3 titles”

  1. kerry says:

    This is so interesting! I got SO excited when I saw the knickers one – thought it was a completely new book, which I am guessing is just what you needed. So while I cry with disappointment that it isn’t a new book, I will make sure one of the tears shed is a happy one – for you, and the second chance!

  2. kerry says:

    And by “just what you needed” I mean you needed people to think it was new so that you could try again 🙂
    P.S. Agree about the covers – Like A Virgin is my least fave. Love the other two!

    • Paige says:

      Hiiii Kerry. xxx
      I realised when you tweeted that it suddenly seemed like i might have ANOTHER book out, and someone facebook messaged me to say HOW THE HELL did you write another book so quickly… eeep.

      Wish there were more hours in the day so I could. Am busy with a new one now, but I think it’s going to take a bit of time.

  3. Imogen Dent says:

    This is a fascinating glimpse of behind-the-scenes in publishing. Like you I love the original cover; cannot understand why anyone would see the need to change it or the title, both of which are perfect. “Like a virgin” cover & title both give a decidedly coy and mealy-mouthed impression, a phonily cute sub Marian Keyes (sub, sadly, in the less interesting sense). It just goes to show that those who say firmly “I’m the real expert and you have to go along with my decision” are only human, i. e. sometimes they’re wrong…

    • Paige says:

      So true, thanks for your comment Imogen Dent. But how lucky am I that they’re willing to give it another shot? And also a nod to technology. This kind of flexibility wouldn’t have been possible some years ago.

  4. Cat Hellisen says:

    Still love the first title and cover best, but hooray for second (third?) shots!

    Here’s to success. 😀

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