JM Originals, the new list from John Murray Publishers, has revealed the covers of its first two titles, chosen through a public competition.
The publisher announced the competition in December via social media. The winner was Harriet Sleigh, who had just graduated from the Manchester School of Art with a BA in Graphic Design. Sleigh said: “For Generation [by Paula McGrath] I decided to focus on the idea of time and space and how the different characters’ lives interlink. For An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It [by Jessie Greengrass] I wanted to focus on the isolation of each character in the 12 stories.”
Both books will be published on 30th July as £10.99 trade paperbacks with flaps.
Mark Richards, editorial director at John Murray, said of the decision to commission covers this way: “It’s in the spirit of the list—it’s quite open and you don’t necessarily have to go through all the hurdles you might usually have to.”
Richards continued: “It’s interesting to consider the access points and filters with both writers and designers—how are talented people being recognised and are the filters working? There’s a message being heard that we want things that are completely done and polished with no questions that it will be a slam dunk success. That’s not how it works.”
JM Originals will be looking for titles both through agents and elsewhere, focusing on “fresh and distinctive writing“. Richards said: “You have to be able to nurture and publish people when they are younger and support them on the way to their great novel. I worry that there have been writers who have been overlooked because they aren’t coming through the normal systems. I love working with agents and I want all my authors to end up with agents, but it’s no surprise that lists have started opening up submissions—there must be a reason for that, a feeling that not everything is being caught—and I want to address that.
“As an industry we must always make sure that the most talented people are coming to us and we are supporting them.”