Thursday, 13 August 2009

Lord of the fruit flies

After a plague of flying ants and a continuing plague of wasps, I am now enduring a plague of fruit flies. Every time I pick up a piece of fruit or lift a glass of wine to my lips, a fruit fly or two (or six) will appear and start bothering me. Their tininess is somehow part of the irritation.

I will destroy them.

There was an interesting report in the Guardian about a furore over a book cover in the States. This involves the American branch of my publisher Bloomsbury and a book by Australian novelist Justine Larbalestier. A character who was black in the book, was depicted as white on the cover. There seemed to be a curious notion that covers with black people on them did not sell. This strikes me as odd. It did not seem to affect the sales of Maya Angelou or Alice Walker.

Or maybe it did.

Anyway good on Bloomsbury for backing down and listening to the author and good on Larbalestier for sticking to her guns. But the whole episode says a lot about the false logic of marketing. As the wonderful Ursula Le Quin pointed out in this piece: it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you do not put black people on the covers of books you will not find out whether the book-buying public are as racist as you think. And if they are, then do you really want to pander to it - encourage it even? A few successful books with black people on the cover and marketing people will be demanding they appear on every cover regardless.

Or is it that marketing people are the racist ones?

But the important thing to remember here is that what goes on the cover is irrelevant to whether a book sells or does not sell. It is the quality of the writing.

Just kidding.

It is the publicity budget.


And speaking of covers I found this oddity on a Google search the other day. It is always a bit of a risk putting something on the blog when I can't actually understand the language, but it is so weird, I can't stop myself.

I apologise for the low res quality, but I have not the faintest idea what this is, other than it seems to me a foreign edition of Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror. Edgar seems to have mutated into Harry Potter. And it seems to be a riff on a David Roberts drawing without actually being his work.

If anyone knows anymore then please tell me. I don't even know what language that is.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mr Priestly, I can't read the language, but i think it is Thai, or Cambodian. I love reading your books, btw. I think they're refreshingly spooky without being in-your-face. I love that you've incorporated the latest craze i.e. vampire tales in your book [black ship], even though it's just a short one, it's still tonnes better than the overhyped Tw**ght series.
    Thanks, very much and keep on writing!

    Cheers,
    Celeste [from Singapore]

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