Saturday, 23 July 2011

Kids, Get The Crayons! - Simon Cheshire

From the minute I started on this DIY publishing thingummy, I've broken Rule No.1. Well, Rule No.1 according to every self-publishing website I've ever come across, namely: never, ever get your kids to design your covers - if you can't do it yourself, pay a professional.

I ignored that advice for two reasons: 1) I'm OK at designs, but I can't do artwork (unless it's stick people, and there are only so many books that'll suit having stick people on the front); 2) I can't possibly afford to hire an artist.

No, actually, three reasons: 3) I genuinely worried about doing the jackets, but then I took a walk around Waterstones. Now, I know this is going to sound harsh, but I thought to myself "half these book covers are just identical to other book covers, a lot of them tell me nothing whatsoever about the book, many of them look like the work of five minutes, and if I can't reach a similar standard myself I have no business calling myself a creative genius."

When I got home, I shouted "Kids! Get the crayons!" It struck me that one thing you don't see on children's books is children's artwork, and children love seeing other kids' artwork on things. Postage stamps, logos, company brochures, whatever. So my two have done ten covers for me now, and whenever I visit schools and literary events and the subject of jackets comes up (as it usually does), the presence of my own children's work not only creates extra interest in the books, it creates extra sales. I've regularly had kids suddenly delve into books just because they've discovered how the jackets were done.

I'm pretty sure my DIY covers don't appeal to adults, and I'm certain that any professional jacket designer wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry at the very sight of them. But they're definitely liked by 8-12 year olds. And that's who they're for, after all.

(By the way, my kids' latest work can be seen on Amazon here).


Joan Lennon said...

I love your kids' artwork!

madwippitt said...

Great idea - love the covers!

Debbie Bennett said...

Wow, your kids are talented! They look like pro covers to me, not DIY.

Katherine Roberts said...

Brilliant, Simon - use kids' artwork to sell books to kids!

Reminds me a bit of the famous pairing of Jacqueline Wilson with Nick Sharatt. Before that, I understand her books were average sellers. After he did the covers... straight into the best-seller lists, apparently!

Susan Price said...

Great titles as well as great covers!

Karen King said...

Years ago I wrote some activity books and had to provide rough sketches for the artist. I can only do mathstick men so got my kids to do the sketches. They were great, much better than my efforts. I had to pay them, of course. Did you??

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your kind comments!

Karen, no I didn't pay them... shhh! I don't think they've cottoned onto the fact that people get money for these things... yet..!