Weidenfeld & Nicholson Established in 1949. Publishers of high quality, prize-winning fiction and non fiction across a range of categories including autobiography, business, cookery, economics, fiction in translation, history, literary fiction and popular science. Phoenix is the paperback imprint. The Bookseller Industry Awards - Winner 2015

The art of reinvention

Fiction, J.W. Ironmonger

Amy Davies - May 14th, 2014

COINCIDENCE MMPSometimes, before we publish the paperback edition of a book, we consider whether we should give it a new jacket.  Here Gail Paten, Senior Editor talks about the process for the upcoming paperback of the fantastic The Coincidence Authority:

‘It’s always nerve-wracking briefing a new cover for a novel that everyone in the company is in love with. Especially a book that had a brilliant hardback jacket. But my job is to make sure that our paperbacks reach every reader who might enjoy them and sometimes that involves changing the cover for the mass-market edition.

The Coincidence Authority is an original, heart-warming story that takes you from the windswept stone steps of church on the Isle of Man to the dark side of Uganda by way of a seedy English fairground. It makes you cry and it makes you think and it makes you laugh. Everyone at Orion, from our CEO, David Young, to our graduate trainees had an opinion on what the cover should be. In fact, the author was the least opinionated of all of us!

I was no different and I had a very clear ‘vision’ of how our paperback cover should look. I wanted swirling African dust, I wanted children playing and I particularly wanted a tiny little mission church perched on the lettering. It sounds great, doesn’t it? Kind of like The Poisonwood Bible meets The Rosie Project, which actually sums up the novel pretty well too.


So I discussed my ideas with the lovely author, John, he gave the thumbs up and I gave my very prescriptive brief to our Art Director, Steve Marking. We were off. Steve thought the work of the talented designer and illustrator Edward Bettison would be a good match for the book.

But when the rough designs came in they weren’t working. They looked a little colourless and didn’t feel right for the book. So much for the visions of Editorial.

Steve and I sat down together and talked about the book again. As soon as I talked about the fairground scene, where our heroine is discovered as an abandoned child, Steve immediately thought that an image related to that would be perfect and work with the title, rather than against it. He started sketching images that suggested luck, coincidence, randomness. He was inspired by the idea of doing something influenced by the work of pop artists Jasper Johns and particularly Peter Blake, who was influenced by fairground/folk art.

The images we were looking at were items like playing cards but in the end we all felt the idea of a wheel of fortune was ‘the one’. Steve wanted the arrow to look like it could spin to any of the letters of the title. He passed his rough back to the illustrator who did tons of versions. When we presented it at the Art meeting everyone absolutely loved it and we had that happy feeling that only comes from finding the perfect cover design for a great book. I think this design works so well because it sprang from someone talking about a book they love to a colleague with a clever visual eye. The Coincidence Authority is a beautiful, life-affirming read about how we can all feel trapped by fate and how love can give us the strength to choose our path. The gorgeous, colourful cover design expresses that perfectly. As fate would have it, the author, John Ironmonger, agrees too … which is lucky.’

Watch John Ironmonger talking about The Coincidence Authority.

The Coincidence Authority is available now in hardback, audio and ebook, and will be out in paperback with a beautiful new jacket in October.  Read an extract here.

Have you ever experienced a coincidence that seems too strange to be true? Tell us your story here.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 at 1:47 pm and is filed under Fiction, J.W. Ironmonger. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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