the ego & the book jacket
It’s only natural that, when writing your first novel – or even your second, seventh, or thirteenth – you will have a visual on how that book will look on the shelves. In your mind, you will have already encased your words in a dust-jacket, a jacket that will somehow sum up the words that you have committed to paper – the book cover will carry an image that encapsulates the months and years that have gone into its creation.
This is natural.
In a recent interview in the The New Yorker, the Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø said:
“I am, of course, an exhibitionist.When you sit down and you write your first sentence, the idea that you start out with is, of course, not that I’m going to write five hundred pages, I’m going to send it to a publishing house. The idea is that somebody there with six years’ education will think this is great stuff. They will send it to a designer who will make a great cover for you, people will pay a lot of money, and they will read every fucking word that you have written. And afterward you expect them to come up to you in the street: ‘Can I shake your hand? Can I have your autograph?’ That is the grand idea that you see when you start writing. If not, you wouldn’t need to write it.“
Nesbø is not wrong.
The writer’s ego is one of the most important weapons in his armoury. Otherwise, how would s/he believe that there is someone sitting in the office of a literary agent, or interning at a publishing house, who would find the words & stories written by them, in a bedsitting-room in Paddington, or a cold-water walk-up in Brooklyn (if such a thing still exists in the 21st Century), or a beach-bar in Vietnam of any interest at all?
Ego, as a writer, is your first defence and your last redoubt.
Which is why I know how my first novel will be packaged.
It will be based on the Cuban, Faustino Perez’s poster for Day of Solidarity with the People of Palestine. This image will be re-worked by the British graphic designer Ben Drury.
It will be the cover of ‘Exiles‘.
The cover will reference both the fight against colonialism, and the way that battle is viewed from the here and now.
That is my ego talking.