14. Making a choice

This novel began as a tongue-in-cheek humour/thriller/political/psyschological mish-mash of different stories loosely moulded into one. I admit I still hold a soft spot for my original idea, Sex & Rucks and Sausage Rolls, but I’ve realised I have to be hard nosed if I want to seriously make a go of this author lark.

I’ve completed the rewrite and had it edited by two different people, made suggested changes where I thought they were necessary, and am satisfied that I have produced a piece of work that readers will enjoy.

I gave Adam and Mari, at http://www.madamadari.com/, a brief outline of the plot, telling them basically that it involved rugby and British gangsters, and let them do their thing. I also wrote some blurb for the front, just to add intrigue. As the story now involves a sports reporter with a bit of a dodgy past (haven’t we all?) I decided on: “The past won’t give you a sporting chance”. Then I let them do their thing.

They came back with a number of designs and for a while I was spoilt for choice. I felt a bit naughty going back to them time and again with small tickles and changes. After all, I was on mates rates and their usual £200-plus fee had been heavily discounted. Still, it’s something you want to get right – after all the cover is your shop window to the reading public.

A couple of designs really stood out for me. One I liked because of its simplicity and the other because I thought it was extremely clever. We played around with different background colours and finally I came  up with this…coversforblog

I thought they were very clever and very striking, with an air of menace, the silhouette holding a knife while his shadow was a pair of rugby posts. With a rugby ball for the O of crossing and a pair of rugby boots hanging off the T in The, it all added to the appeal.

I can’t recall which one I said we should proceed with but I think it was the yellow writing on red with my name picked out in yellow. I was convinced I had my cover and went to bed happy. At 2am in the morning I was awoken by a nagging feeling (when you are working on a novel you find this happens quite a lot). It suddenly occurred to me that all the emphasis in the title was on the ‘The’ – hardly the most important word of the lot.

I contacted Mari again and told her that despite all the hours of painstaking work it wasn’t right and I was going back to the drawing board. I had always fancied one of the other designs purely for its simplicity, a knife stuck into the halfway line of a rugby pitch with the H of Whitewash highlighted as a set of rugby posts. To be fair she didn’t strike me off her email list and tell me never to darken her door again when I told her I was ditching the other version. They got to work again, messed about with colours, shadows etc, and came back to me. Then another question arose: Was there actually a centre spot on a rugby pitch? We ended up changing it again to go without one.

I was happy, particularly with the way the “sporting chance” line fades backwards like whitewash on a rugby pitch. Not only does it look like one of the adverts you see painted on the pitch during the Six Nations but it also resembles how the background story is presented at the start of the Star Wars films. Very clever.

I showed my design to one particular “Self-publishing” company who felt the knife looked “a bit amateurish”, so we changed that as well. I may tinker slightly with the wording, but to be honest I’m thrilled with my simple but effective cover. I think it does what it says on the tin.




  • CRITIQUE: £600
  • EDITING: Free
  • COVER DESIGN: £100
  • TIME: Almost two years
  • NEXT MOVE: Considering the publishing options…
  • APPROXIMATE TOTAL SPEND (with office equipment etc)  £850

ps. If you wish to keep in touch with me about my writing, to qualify for any offers and get any announcements plse join my mailing list which you will find on my website and hopefully on here pretty soon…

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