May 03

Business of Books: Jane Cable talks to author & book designer Christine Hammacott

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the-business-of-books-interviewswithjanecableJane Cable talks to author and book designer Christine Hammacott
How much of your working life does the business of books take up?
The business of books is extremely varied these days. Being an author doesn’t just involve writing a book. It can involve research, editing, marketing and promotion, social media, blogging, events and book festivals, to name but a few – anything that can help raise your profile.
I’m an author and also a book designer. I run my own graphic design consultancy and spend a lot of time working on logos and brand development across all media both in print and online. Three years ago, I joined forces with a couple of other writing friends to set up a indie-publishing co-operative. We’ve published seven titles so far including my own book. As a result of this I’ve been asked by other authors if I would design their covers. So two years ago I added book design to my portfolio of offerings and word seems to have spread as I’m now constantly working with other authors.  
My writing is a lot less disciplined than the design side, as I’m forced to write around family commitments, often snatching time at the laptop or with notepad and pen in car parks and corridors while my daughter is at one of her out of school activities. It isn’t ideal but it’s a one way of ensuring I have some regular time to write.
Jane Cable talks to author and book designer Christine Hammacott
What’s your business model for earning a living from books?
As far as earning a living from my writing goes I’m a long from doing that. I’m not convinced I’d actually like to solely write, although I would like to address the balance better. In an ideal world I’d like to spend the mornings writing and the afternoons designing with a walk with the dog in between.
I really enjoy designing book covers. My first job after art college was working for a publisher doing just that. I turn an author’s manuscript into a marketable ‘product’ that is visually appealing and conveys the genre and essence of the book. It can be quite difficult getting this across sometimes to an author but it’s important for a potential buyer to know immediately what they are buying and whether they want it. 
I think authors like working with me because I’m an author too and therefore understand where they are coming from and that their work is precious. A lot of them haven’t published before and part of my role is to gently hand-hold them through the process.
What do you write and what do you consider your major successes?
Years ago when I first started writing, I entered a Writing Magazine short story competition and won first prize. That success gave me the confidence to believe in my writing and undertake something larger. I now write psychological suspense. I enjoy finding out how ordinary characters cope in extraordinary situations. My debut novel is about a young woman who just want’s to get back to some sort of normality after a devastating fire that has left her homeless and a neighbour dead. Only she then finds she has a stalker and begins to fear for her safety. It’s a genre I particularly like as it’s very easy to imagine myself in the protagonist’s position and that makes it scary.
Tell me about your latest project
I’m working on another psychological suspense. This one is set in the New Forest and is all about living with consequences, morality, family relationships and how easily a situation can get out of hand. 
facebook   christinehammacott.author/
twitter @ChrisHammacott