Tag Archives: North Herts College

A Great Big Thank You

In the last couple of weeks I had the pleasure of meeting up with the students from North Herts College who designed the covers for ‘Murder, now and then’, in a cover competition and it was heart warming to spend some time with them. (once a teacher always a teacher!)DSCN1208

First I met up with William Smith who designed the image for kindle. I asked him what he thought of the experience.

Available on Kindle

Available on Kindle

It’s one thing learning at college but it is another thing designing to specifications and deadlines and working with an author to make amendments. The  other good thing was when I had an interview for university, I felt that I had something real and interesting to talk about and it helped. It gave me confidence.’

I wish Will good luck in his next few years at University and I’m so pleased it was such a positive experience. Sorry about closing my eyes in the photo though! I’m always doing that.



DSCN1230Then last week I had a chat with Emma Black, who painstakingly designed the paperback cover in 3D before having help from a tutor 😉 to do the formatting. She needed to be so patient when it came to amendments and it was not until half way through the process that I realised she was modelling each image before taking photographs of it. Amazing. I asked her what she thought of the experience.

Murder, now and then available on Amazon

Murder, now and then available on Amazon

‘I looked at your specification and I chose the elements I thought were the most important and spent some time thinking about the design. I know you were worried asking me to change parts of it but I just wanted to get it right. I did find the time keeping part difficult, since I had my other course work to do at the same time, and know I have to work on meeting deadlines, but my family are so proud of me now. I enjoyed the experience!’

I am not only thankful to these students, but their tutor Ben Hogan and another tutor and friend Peter Arnold for making it happen.



Filed under Book reading, Events, Murder Now and Then, Publishing your novel

Cover Competition Results ~ Hooray!

Firstly, I have been overwhelmed by gratitude and pleasure by this event and want to thank all the students who have submitted covers, those who tried but did not submit, all those folks in college including their tutor Ben, my Facebook friends and readers and twitter followers who have entered wholeheartedly into the spirit of this event!

There was such a wonderful buzz with helpful feedback, comments and opinions, sometimes quite heated, for this cover competition by students at North Herts College, Hitchen. After that I spent a good while discussing each cover with several of the Ampthill Writers’ Group face-to-face at the new Costa Coffee and the church Soup lunch, my editor, proof reader, family and finally I had the results from the college on line vote too. The final decision wasn’t easy and in the end I will not please everyone but I think you will all agree that the students are the heros here for allowing their work to be discussed so publicly!

Here is a summary of feedback:

Cover A

Cover A


College Votes 10

Facebook lots of positive opinion, likes and useful comments too. Here is my  feedback:

“Well done for completing a wrap around cover. The designer clearly followed the specification quite carefully. It was the men particularly who liked this cover best of all on Facebook and with my readers it gained equal votes to Cover B. They liked the vibrant, eye catching colours and the retro style, in keeping with a murder mystery. My writers’ group made some useful pointers for amendments which would need to be made but suggested that it would stand out on Kindle. This cover won my readers’ vote by a small margin.”


Murder Now and Then CCollege Vote 27

Facebook Many liked this best of all and there were lots of favourable comments too with helpful hints for amendments which could improve it.

Here’s my feedback to the student:

“Immediately I saw this cover it made me smile because I thought how cleverly the designer had interpreted the specification and made an image I felt was intriguing and eye catching. Feedback from my readers caused a great deal of discussion verging on being controversial, which I think is a good thing! Some loved it including myself, especially the puzzle aspect and the spy glass. There were some valuable points made though, and if the designer is willing and able to spend some time working with me to improve her cover I feel that it could be a winner.

It certainly won the college vote and I congratulate the student for her unique design.”


Cover C

Cover C

College Vote 7

Facebook Likes, equal to A and B and a lot of favourable feedback. Here’s mine:

“There was excellent feedback from several of my readers who backed it as the best cover for its simplicity and shelf appeal, fitting for a murder mystery in today’s market. My writers’ group felt that, though they liked it, the historical significance of the shape of the cross being German in WW1 rather than English was not in keeping with the theme of this particular novel, although the designer was not to know this since she had not been given the opportunity to read the manuscript. I would like to thank the student for her proposal and congratulate her that the feedback from many I asked was extremely positive and she should be proud of her work.”


Cover D

Cover D

I have to hold my hand up here and admit that I had no intention of using this cover, which I designed myself to give the students some idea of what I needed them to achieve. I thank you for the positive and flattering response although I feel that it is mainly due to the fact that it is complete in every way, rather than for the design. When I looked at it on a Smart Board with the students we felt that there was too much plain brown and for an e book cover one student aptly commented that, ‘it looked like a bible.’


Attempt 1There was a late entry that I would like to acknowledge here because I feel that the designer has worked hard to produce something a bit different. I discussed it with close friends, family and members of my writers’ group unfortunately after my Facebook event. I felt that it was a very clever cover and I have seen a similar style used recently.

Here is my feedback to the student:

“I thank the student for entering their proposed book cover and it was looked at and discussed by my writers group, all of whom liked the formal lettering, clean lines and thought that it was a balanced overall look with a photograph which could be relevant for a novel set in a stately home or country manor. Overall it was felt that the cover was designed in a style more appropriate for non-fiction but that it was a commendable book cover nevertheless. “

At the end of the week I must admit that my head buzzed on the verge of aching with the decision I had to make. I could not please everyone and so this is what I decided:


I am going to launch cover A, the orange  one, for the book on Kindle because it is bright, eye catching and fun, with colours and images both sinister and speaking of danger. The designer has agreed to carry out some small amendments and complete the design and I will share it with you when it is finished, asking permission to mention his name too. I have asked if he would complete the paperback cover too and I will hold it for possible future use, but intend to use it for some of my posters.


I am going to launch an amended version of Cover B for the paperback version. I was told after this decision that the designer made the images in 3D and so I am in awe that she is unphased by the changes I have suggested and we are now working together on amending the design which will incorporate much of your feedback. I will share it with you when it is complete.

Congratulations to both of these designers and all those who have taken part in their first ‘real’ work experience in art and design. The final publication date for ‘Murder, Now and Then’  will be when all is complete but fingers crossed it will be in April!


Filed under Marketing your novel, Murder Now and Then, Publishing your novel

Murder Mystery Cover Competition ~Entries from North Herts College, Hitchin

As explained fully in my previous post, some students of North Herts College have risen to the challenge of designing a book cover for my murder mystery which will be published shortly. I have been  impressed by their enthusiastic response. Although only a few have managed to produce a version in time for the competition,  I know from emails that many more have attempted the task.  I am also sure that the experience for all will have be valuable.

Here are the covers submitted. Many folk have commented on Facebook over the last week but I would appreciate any constructive feedback. Which do you like best and why? What don’t you like?

Cover A

Cover A

Murder Now and Then C

Cover B

Cover C

Cover C

Only an e cover submitted on Cover C above but that’s fine for now.

Cover D

Cover D

Please remember that these are draft proposed covers and that the students have worked extremely hard to produce their first ever book cover designs. I am impressed with their ideas and the way they have interpreted my specifications in such a varied way. I would appreciate your positive feedback and constructive criticism; in fact any comments which would make an interesting fledgling design a great one!

The final decision will be made by members of The Ampthill Writers during the coming week. Watch this space!



Filed under Events, Murder Now and Then, Publishing your novel