La Saga des Wildenstern

The Wildenstern Saga is being published in France by Mango Jeunesse, translated by Patrick Imbert. They’ve just sent me the cover for ‘Ancient Appetites’, or ‘Voraces’, and I have to say, it’s pretty cool. AA-French CoverI saw an earlier version last week and asked for a minor change to the back cover and they actually took that on board, which is unusual. Often, an author doesn’t get any say in the covers of foreign editions.
This is because when you sell the rights into a foreign country, you’re selling a finished product, rather than working closely with a publisher to create a book, as you would do in your own market. The foreign publisher’s task (in this case, Mango), is not just to translate the words that you’ve already edited in your own language. They must also tweak the style of the narrative, the dialogue and the overall look of the book for their, often very different, market.
All that clever wordplay in ‘Asterix’ would not have worked if it was translated slavishly from the French. That took some serious writing ability.
This cover is also an excellent example of how a different publisher, working in a different market can produce a different vision of a book, while still staying true to the essential nature of the thing. City of Lost ChildrenAs I’ve mentioned on the blog before, I’m a big fan of the films of Jeunet et Caro (‘Delicatessen’, ‘Amelie,’ ‘The City of Lost Children’) and the front cover definitely has a similar feel about it. Although the velocycle on the back looks more like something you’d see in one of David Cronenberg’s ‘body horror’ films like ‘eXistenZ’ (another director I like).
I’d have very firm views on covers – I’ve had worse arguments with publishers over the designs of my books than I’ve ever had over the text. It goes without saying that the cover’s one of the most important elements in selling a book – it’s often listed as the second most common reason for choosing a book (a recommendation from a friend normally being the first). And I have a very clear idea of how I want my books to look. But I also have to recognize that a style that works in my market, might not work in another country, so there comes a time when you just have to let it go. Even so, I’d hate to see a badly executed design on the cover of one of my books, and so far I’ve been pretty lucky in the designers who’ve plied their trade on my titles. The cover of ‘Voraces’ is no exception.
Mango have already published ‘Small-Minded Giants’ as ‘Liberté Surveillée’. You can check out the cover of that and other foreign editions (there are more in the works) at my Cover Gallery.