CentreStage with Gilli Allan: Getting All Torn Up over Designing the Cover for Torn

Welcome to a special Saturday edition of CentreStage!

CentreStage features amazing authors from around the world. These authors may share with you their life stories, their stories, the story of their stories, or anything else that takes their fancy. Today, it is my great pleasure to welcome back my lovely friend, Gilli Allan. Not too long ago, Gilli visited here to introduce us to her novel, Life Class which I subsequently read and enjoyed immensely!

I asked her to come back some time and tell us how it’s all going. Well, today, here she is! Gilli talks about the launch and relaunch of her novel, Torn. Yes, launch and relaunch. At the same time. Read on to find out more!

A New Cover and a new format! TORN – Now in paperback as well as e-book.

When I first published TORN I designed my own cover, using my own photograph. Though I’ve always liked the image, I never felt it did the novel justice and wasn’t doing its job of drawing the reader in.    So, when I decided to publish TORN in paperback, with Create Space, I wanted a new, more dramatic cover; a cover which more strongly conveys the main themes of the book. You can never take anything for granted.  Even the sunniest, most inviting prospect can have pitfalls and dangers.  And sometimes the obstacles to what you think you want are in yourself.

Create Space offered various generic styles and templates which I could have used, but they were limiting.  I wanted to design my own cover from scratch, so I went to Bigstock, the online picture warehouse, to look for an image.   I already had an idea in mind which helped narrow down the search.  I purchased five pictures and began playing around with them.  I’d soon narrowed the choice down to one and I could proceed.

For me the design part of the process was easy.  It was the rest that was difficult. You have to precisely calculate your size – incorporating a margin for trim and an extra margin for bleed.  You also have to calculate the spine width – which is variable according to the number of pages. All this was a fairly tall order for someone like me, desperately un-techie and at school not even allowed to do exam level Maths at age sixteen.

And add that to the fact that while I was trying to get my head around all of this I was running in and out of the sitting room trying to keep tabs on team GB’s Olympic progress!

I thought I’d cracked it. I had my draft front cover and I had my draft back cover and spine.  All I needed to do was join the two together. There was a false dawn when it seemed to go right.  So I proceeded to create the final version. Wouldn’t you know it? From then on I suffered failure after failure.  It seemed so simple. To ‘stitch’ front and back together, all I needed to do was slot them side by side into my template, but they stubbornly remained too big, despite me checking the sizes over and over and over and over and…………

My online cries of distress were answered by a professional cover designer – Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics – a friend and supporter of Famous Five Plus, the group of independently published writers I belong to.  She recalculated my template – which to my surprise I had actually got right – and gave me the invaluable tip that when it comes to designing ‘on’ and ‘for’ computers, size is not just inches or centimetres, it’s pixels!

On September 22nd TORN is launched in paperback and re-launched with its new cover, as an e-book.

Whoop! What a story, and what determination. What’s that classic Beatles song? **Sings** “I’ll get by with a little help of my friends…” I love how the cover came together for you, and isn’t it just gorgeous?

Let’s take a closer look at TORN:

Jessica may escape her old life but will she ever escape herself?

TORN is a contemporary story, which faces up to the complexities, messiness and absurdities in modern relationships. Life is not a fairy tale; it can be confusing and difficult. Sex is not always awesome; it can be awkward and embarrassing, and it has consequences. You don’t always fall for Mr Right, even if he falls for you. And realising you’re in love is not always good news. It can make the future look daunting.

Jess has made a series of bad choices. Job, relationships and life-style – all have let her down. By escaping the turmoil of her London life, she is putting her young child first. This time she wants to get it right, to devote herself to being a mother. But the country does not offer the romanticised ‘good life ’idyll she pictured. There are stresses and strains here too which pull her in opposing directions. There is conflict over a new bypass. Conflict between friends with very different, and sometimes hidden, agendas. Conflict between her own nature and her good intentions.

In the face of temptation old habits die hard. She is torn between the suitable man and the unsuitable boy.

From today, TORN is available in e-Book via Amazon and Smashwords… and, of course, in Paperback edition!

Huge congratulations, Gilli, on the amazing relaunch and launch of TORN. Whoot! Wishing you all the very best for today and beyond.

And now a little bit more about Gilli herself…

I suspect I’ve always been a writer. Long before I was capable of committing more than a few laborious sentences to the page I routinely developed long and complex stories in my head, peopled typically with fairies, princes and princesses and the sons and daughters of red-Indian chieftains.

I never finished anything, but I’m nothing if not persistent and once I’d caught the writing bug I carried on throughout my teenage years making many beginnings to various, and increasingly morbid stories.

My career was in advertising where I worked as an illustrator. When I stopped work to have my son, I started writing again. The first two novels I finished were immediately taken on by a new independent publisher. Sadly, my publisher failed to achieve the marketing, promotion and distribution necessary to achieve success for itself or for its new authors. It folded after a few years and since those days the world of publishing has changed completely. This is why, in a time when publishers and agents are increasingly risk averse, I decided to self-publish my novel TORN. I found an e-publisher for my next book Life Class, but they folded before bringing it out. So I have self-published Life Class as well.

Even now, many books later, I cannot follow any kind of formula in my writing. Love may still be the engine of the plot, not that my characters are necessarily aware of this, but I try to write honestly, refusing to romanticise the downsides and the pitfalls in modern relationships.

Come and visit me on the Gilli Allan blog, on Famous Five Plus, or on the  British Romance Fiction blog. You can find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, and I am also a Goodreads author!

Thanks so much for visiting today, Gilli, and for sharing the trials and tribulations of cover design with us. It was worth it in the end!

Over to you! I think Gilli offers some amazing tips for aspiring cover artists! Have you ever designed your own cover for paperback publication?

9 responses to “CentreStage with Gilli Allan: Getting All Torn Up over Designing the Cover for Torn

  1. Congrats, Gilli – love the cover, and also your determination to get it right. I think I’d have thrown the computer out of the window, which is why I leave that side of things to other people!

  2. Thanks for having me, Nicky – I’ve loved being centre stage. And Paula, it was a close run thing. I was very grateful for the advice I received. It saved me and my computer from coming to blows. gx

  3. Could have been expensive!

  4. Love the new cover. Hope it draws in more readers, Gilli. X

  5. Catching up on a little reading. I need to organise a print cover for Gunshot Glitter and have to say this is an area I am very nervous about, so thank you for sharing your insight on this : ) Best of luck with Torn x

  6. Thanks Yasmin. My experience was probably harder than other peoples’ might be because I’m illiterate in computer/internet speak!!!!!

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