Thursday, 29 March 2012

Serpent's Tail - London : Portfolio Visit #8

Last Friday a group of us went to visit Serpent's Tail publishing down in London. Serpent's Tail is an independent publishing house owned by Profile, and pride themselves on publishing daring and edgy books and, as they put it, 

"voices neglected by the mainstream, and still has a reputation for publishing
the best of all kinds of writing, from literary novels to
crime fiction, from work in translation to books on music and politics."

 When we were there we had a group meeting with Niamh Murray, the marketing director, who talked us through who Serpent's Tail were, what they did, and how they went about commissioning artwork for their books. She had a few examples which she talked us through, and explained how when they pitch cover ideas, its not just to the Serpent's Tail art director, but representatives from the big big shops, amazon and the supermarkets, who all have a say in the choice, based on their own needs. For example, as most books are seen as thumbnails on Amazon, they are usually looking for some bold, readable type, and the supermarkets are looking for a cover that will stand out amongst a lot of books, and appeal to a broad range of people etc.These were all interesting points that I didn't really consider before. She also spoke about how a different cover on the same book can really affect how it sells. I never really considered that the book cover would have such a strong affect on the sales of a book but it seems it really does, so getting the cover right is very important to them.

We then had the opportunity to individually show our work to the art director Peter Dyer. He went through my work quite quickly, and picked out the Stolen Peace album cover as the sort of thing that could work on a book cover. Overall he was pretty positive and mentioned sending through any new work I do that I think might be appropriate for them.

Overall, the visit to Serpent's Tail was really informative and gave me a much better understanding of how a publisher goes about sourcing and choosing work. Everyone there was really nice and seemed to have a genuine passion for finding good work and creating a great book cover.

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