Thursday, February 26, 2009


I hadn't known until the other day that there had been some talk in one of the meetings of putting the star maps on the cover.
So glad they didn't.
When you work on illustrating a book you work from page to page but also to design the book as a whole thing, and with this book I wanted it to be like a treasure chest, one that hopefully surprises and delights when opened.
It is like working on a painting where you work on a piece at a time then towards the end pull the whole thing together. But sometimes when other people get their hands on it they don't see the harmony that you have tried to create, and so it begins to jangle, as things carefully placed are moved or changed.
Although the author's and the illustrator's names are on the cover a book is a great team effort, with editors and designers and product managers. I know that all of these people need to have their imput into a job, but at the end of the day I think that sometimes they forget that we have been working in the business now for 50 years (cheating here as I add up mine and James's experience) and maybe we should have more say in the final meetings. And at the end of the day it is our names that go on the covers.

Does that make sense.


Jessie Lilac said...

It does, and I wonder whether if too many people have their say, things can have the effect of compromising instead of honing to perfection. But what do I know, I've never had a book published!x

Anonymous said...

Oh yes! It does make sense! The new covers are beautiful, Jackie, just lovely. But I liked the old ones as well! I think either would work with a sensitive designer and good typeface/use of text.

I think you've managed an extraordinary feat to overcome your understandable frustration and produce work of such quality - not just the shenanigans with the cover but the whole book. And I'm so grateful.

I hope, with distance, you can look happily back at the whole day.

For now - I think it's a magnificent achievement and I agree entirely that your expertise as an artist of experience, training and heartfelt vision is easily overlooked by publishers in the mad scramble to get commercial sales. Of course we all understand that a book needs to sell. No point creating simething lovekly that no-one will see. But Jackie, I know you agree with me when I say that if we were trusted and left alone to follow our vision, to do things our way (apologies if that sounds arrogant), to fully enter into the world we create... then it could only produce something stronger, something more complete and with absolute integrity.

But I feel you have done all that in spite of your trials!

But now...we must wait for words from Barefoot.

James x

Anonymous said...

Complete sense. I hope 'those' people read your blog!

Jackie Morris said...

Barefoot do read the blog. They are pretty clued up about using the net to promote their sales and are getting behind this blog and will be hopefully giving our Starlight Sailor a good launch out into the world of books.
I have other publishers who keep an eye on what I am doing by reading my blogs and journal and one publisher who has no idea. It is often tempting to put together a blog that blogs away some of the myths peopel carry in their minds of what it must be like to work in the cosy world of children's books.
Imagine how my heart sinks as i get yet another email from Amazon offering me books at a 55% discount. Imagine you went to work for a year and then at the end of that year your employer said, oh, I'm only going to pay you about 45% of what we agreed, but that is ok isn't it! This is what it means to an author when a bookseller slashes the prices. Bring back the net book agreement and pay people a fair price for the work they do!
Must go, got to trash my house.

Nicole-Umina said...

I can understand how publishers may want to tweek or change an illustration - I don't understand how they can just change this page and that page around. Just because it doesn't have text on a page doesn't mean that it's not following the story. It seems so strange to me.

My husband is a musician and when he writes or puts something together the final product is a Story it has meaning to the arrangement of the songs. It can't just be moved around. This is the same thing.

I hope that I will be able to let go of this part of my ego in the illustration world, I find it incredible that someone can just say - no we don't want this page here we want it here instead and I can't say hell no. I don't have a problem reworking something, but moving things around seems just wrong.

I have so much respect for your restraint Jackie, it must be so hard.

Richele said...

As a bookseller, I recall a book in particular with beautiful illustrations by Nicoletta Ceccoli and a lovely story by Tanya Robyn Batt. I would display the book prominently and recommend it highly but it just didn't sell well.

The cover was changed last year and with it came an increase in sales. I was so happy to see this wonderful book finally get the attention it deserved.

Do stay encouraged, Jackie. I have the feeling that this is not a case of a multi-media conglomerate only thinking of sales but Barefoot trying to get it just right the first time for all the right reasons.

I personally can't wait to read Starlight Sailor with my own children as well as carry it in my little book stall.

Kim said...

It makes perfect sense to me Jackie and it's so interesting to read from your perspective the way the books are priced and then how price cuts affect you! I for one will be buying this book, not for my children, although they would enjoy it, despite being a little old. But I'm buying it because I've watched it grow and fallen in love with the pictures and your processes along the way. A hoooooge well done to you, oh, and to James too :)

Kim x

Abbeysmum said...

Yes Jackie you are making sense,
I think it would be like a person building a house, then asking a carefully chosen decorator to select all the furniture,fabrics,etc to do the home justice.....only to have a stylist come to the home for a photo shoot to present the home to the public,and proceed to re arrange the furniture etc. from room to room.
Not quite the same result at all.

NAL said...

Yes, totally!

Vicky~ stichr ~ said...

Being a visual person, I look at the 'pictures' more than the text, in a 'picture' book, but my granddaughter wants to hurry to the next page to have me read it, to continue the story. ...but then when she looks at books by herself I see her taking her time looking at the pictures, so I guess it's ok. I read all the time, big people books, but I could sit and look at childrens books for hours!!!