Little Wonder captures Manchester launch on film

Guests arriving

Launches in Manchester and London saw AMOLAD make its official debut in October, with numerous friends and associates hearing readings from the book and seeing the paperback version up close and personal for the first time.

The Richard Goodall Art Gallery in Manchester hosted the first launch, and Little Wonder Television was on hand to record proceedings and to conduct an interview with author Paul Carroll. Proceedings moved on to London, and hosts House PR, the following evening.

First sales

Over the two nights an impressive number of books were sold- the first of many it is hoped.

Judging a book by its cover

We hear you – Nicholls has it covered

Apparently, the cover of David Nicholls’ ‘One Day’ went through fifty incarnations before they settled on the final treatment.  Of course, once launched there was no getting away from the block orange silhouetted faces, the black asymmetrical title typeface and the concise tagline which seemed to peer out from every book shop and airport display in the world. Classic design.

Not what you’d call a wizard design…

Coming up with a cover for your own book is not an altogether different task. The aims are the same as for Nicholls’ publishers (even if it won’t need to be translated into fifty languages): grab attention, convey the story, create instant empathy and scream ‘buy me’.  What you may be missing is the resource, budget and expertise Nicholls had at his disposal.

No matter.  Remember many book covers have had more thrown at them than Nicholls’and still came out looking awful.  J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy anyone?

The cover for A Matter of Life and Death went through the same process as both Nicholls’ and Rowling’s latest efforts – well, through three or four incarnations, rather than fifty, but the objectives were the same.

Authors are not designers: Repeat.

First, the author’s idea: a library shot edited to depict a ‘jolly’ funeral.  Nope. Time to get the professionals in.  Immediately, we were leaving library shots behind – the refuge of the lazy – and aiming a little higher in our cover aspirations.  The addition of a tagline – ‘Everybody should be famous for fifteen minutes. After they die’ – lent confidence to the hope we were getting the message across.

Writing’s on the wall for this treatment?

Next, a Banksy type treatment, referencing one of the characters in the book.  No – too misleading.

Then left-field abstracts – a pint of milk , referencing the song ‘Ernie’ in the book.  Forget that – too obtuse.

No milk today, thanks.

Back to the literal and an illustrative treatment of a skeleton in a coffin that urged a second look.  Yes, we can build on that.  But nothing too gothic.  So, change the colours to fluorescents for modernity and add a jaunty flourish by giving the skeleton a party hat and an iPad  – all that’s left after the ‘celebration of life’ has concluded.
Does it work? Time will tell but remember, appearances are rarely misleading….

Getting back to basics

Drop the gothic, splash the dayglo, add a hat and an iPad – print!

Funerals Top Ten goes on and on and on…

Co-operative Funerals ran a ‘most popular songs played at funerals’ story this week – only 16 years after I first came up with the idea for them whilst at Communique PR.

Back in 1996 it was relatively rare to hear popular music tracks blaring out of crematoria and chapels, so we knew we were on to a winner with the story – we were right; it grabbed a lot of coverage.

While we repeated the top ten idea for the following five years, I don’t think anyone really expected it would be running nearly twenty years later.  Some would accuse the Co-op of a total lack of imagination in their annual recycling of this old story, but isn’t the main point that a funerals top ten is still ‘news’? – it chimes with the public’s understanding of bereavement now probably even more than it did back in the 1990s.

Having said that, I wonder how much of the Co-operative’s 2012 top ten is actually based on statistics ‘from 30,000 funerals’ – we, shall we say, tended to be more ‘creative’ in our compilations in order to get in more comedy value (I mean, has anyone ever actually heard ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ or ‘Knock on Wood’ at a funeral?)   Mind you, we made sure ‘My Way’ and ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ were always in there.

In writing AMOLAD I knew from the outset I wanted to use song titles that could be played at funerals for chapter headings.  I also wanted to avoid the over-obvious, so selected songs that had resonance to the action as well as being poignant and stirring in their own right. Not one of my chapter headings makes the current Co-operative chart.

Which songs would I have played at my own funeral? I think it best to just stick the AMOLAD playlist on random shuffle and see what pops up.

Check out the songs featured in the AMOLAD chapter headings here or listen to them on Spotify here.

Communique’s Co-op Funeral Top Ten, Daily Mail, 1999