Saturday, 12 April 2014

What goes onto the back of the book?

One of the questions that we authors often face in interviews (or wherever) is "How long have you been a writer). For me, it's quite easy to answer. I actually have the evidence. Let me explain.

I started writing books when I was about five. I know, because I still have the books. Well, when I say "books" I mean pieces of paper stapled together, but for a five year old, I reckon that totally counts as a legitimate book.

I used to write books about everything. If I spent a day out at the park, I wrote a book about it. If I went on a family outing, I wrote a book about it. Whatever happened in my life would be the inspiration for a book (to be honest, I'm not sure things are any different now).

These books were generally scrawly drawn pictures (hey, I said I was a writer - I never said I was an artist) with a minimum of text (hey, I was five years old). However, there was one thing I always put a heap of effort into. The back covers.

Then (as now) I saw the back cover of my books as a wonderful marketing opportunity (not that I knew what marketing opportunities were back then). Inspired I think by Little Golden Books, I used to draw the covers of all my other books onto each back cover. Which ultimately led to a problems.

With every book that I wrote, I had more books I had to add to the back cover. But not only that. I also had to go back to every other book I'd written so I could add my new book to their back covers. This began to get pretty time-consuming. After a while, I think I was spending significantly more time updating back covers than I was writing new books. Some of the later books were barely more than two pages in length. I'm pretty sure this is what ultimately ended my first attempt at becoming a writer.

This came back to my recently, after I put out my last novella, Scrawling. Now being so aware of the potential for marketing in a book's back matter, I spent quite a bit of time not only placing information about my other books into it but also going back to the other books to add info about Scrawling. It gave me a very strange feeling of deja-vu.

Funny how the more things change, the more things stay the same.