Today I’m delighted to welcome Jane Davis to the blog. Jane and I have been Twitter and Facebook friends for many months now, and this autumn, we share a very special occasion – our latest books both came out on October 1st. Here’s Jane to talk about self-publishing, her amazing cover designs, and her books.
Over to Jane:
One of the huge joys of self-publishing is choosing how to present your work. Given that mine is difficult to categorise, I was conscious that I needed a strong brand image. I spent some time thinking about what mine should be and decided that, rather than start from scratch, I would use elements from the cover of Half-truths and White Lies as building blocks: the font and the strong photographic image, repeated on the spine. The brief I gave cover designer Andrew Candy was that my books should look like a set you’d want to collect. I was thinking of my own bookshelves: the novels of John Irving; Frank Herbert’s Dune series; the classic Penguin paperbacks. I wanted that certain something that would make people say, ‘Oh, another Jane Davis.’
As I learned to trust Andrew’s instincts, my briefs have grown more complex. I am always absolutely clear about what I don’t want. My novel, These Fragile Things, is about a family in crisis when teenage daughter Judy claims to be seeing religious visions. But that’s only one element of the storyline and I didn’t want to exclude readers who wouldn’t normally read Christian fiction. I chose a butterfly with a broken wing, which not only fits the title, but represents transformation and hints at vulnerability.
For the cover of A Funeral for an Owl, perhaps the most literal of all my book covers, I had the image of a boy in mind, and my search for the right image took a long time. I was thinking of Ken Loach’s film adaptation of A Kestrel for a Knave (the wonderful Kes), but I was also thinking of U2’s album cover for Boy. I provided Andrew with five separate images and precise instructions about where each should go, but the end result was still a surprise. I didn’t ask for a single change.
For An Unchoreographed Life, my novel about a ballerina who turns to prostitution when she becomes a single mother, I wanted to avoid any hint of erotica. Told partly from the perspective of a six-year-old, my story has more in common with Henry James’s What Maisie Knew than Belle de Jour. I described a scene where my main character Alison comes face to face with a deer. I asked if it would be possible to combine the image of a ballerina with a deer. Andrew’s answer was yes, but only if I could find the right woman and the right deer, so that was my challenge. The final image suits the book perfectly: a woman who hasn’t been able to let go of her past and wears a mask.
The design for An Unknown Woman needed to show a woman undergoing an identity crisis. I wanted it to represent the difference between the way we see ourselves and how others see us, but also to hint at a complex mother/daughter relationship. I came up with the idea of two halves of a woman’s face and Andrew suggested the idea of adding a cracked mirror. I sourced the image of the younger woman, but it was Andrew who found picture the older woman, and then used his technical wizardry to manipulate it so that they look like one and the same. The cover has won two awards and I have no doubt that it contributed greatly to Writing Magazine’s decision to name An Unknown Woman as their Self-published Book of the Year.
For my latest release, My Counterfeit Self, I chose an image by Sergiy Glushchenko/500px, which has already won an award for underwater photography. My main character, Lucy Forrester, is a political poet whose main cause is CND. It struck me that the bubbles could be manipulated so that they were in the shape of mushroom cloud. I particularly liked the idea of the mushroom cloud coming out of the poet’s mouth.
If asked for a short-list of the key elements of my cover design and branding, I would say that it has to be instantly identifiable, inclusive and – I hope – intriguing.
Jane Davis is the author of seven novels. Her debut, Half-truths and White Lies, won the Daily Mail First Novel Award and was described by Joanne Harris as ‘A story of secrets, lies, grief and, ultimately, redemption, charmingly handled by this very promising new writer.’ The Bookseller featured her in their ‘One to Watch’ section. Six further novels have earned her a loyal fan base and wide-spread praise. Her 2016 novel, An Unknown Woman, won Writing Magazine’s Self-Published Book of the Year Award. Compulsion Reads describe her as ‘a phenomenal writer whose ability to create well-rounded characters that are easy to relate to feels effortless.’ Her favourite description of fiction is ‘made-up truth’.
Jane lives in Carshalton, Surrey, with her Formula 1 obsessed, beer-brewing partner, surrounded by growing piles of paperbacks, CDs and general chaos. When she is not writing, you may spot Jane disappearing up the side of a mountain with a camera in hand.
Her latest novel, My Counterfeit Self, was released on 1st October 2016.
‘A compelling portrayal of the bohemian life of an activist poet, the men she loves, and the issues she fights for.’ Eleanor Steele
Links and social media:
Jane’s website: (Anyone who signs up to www.jane-davis.co.uk/newsletter receives a free copy of her novel, I Stopped Time. Jane promises not to bombard subscribers with junk. She only issues a newsletter when she has something genuinely newsworthy to report.)
Amazon Author Page