Alexander Gordon Smith

Archive for the Category Window Cleaners


Furnace 4: The Window Cleaner

Authors have surprisingly little input into the covers for their books. At least that’s been my experience. It’s one of the things I was actually quite surprised at when my first book was published, especially because at Egg Box we always gave authors a large amount of input into their covers, although the final design was always up to us. I don’t necessarily mind too much, I mean I’m not a great designer and if I tried to design my own cover it would probably look daft (I’d probably go for a big picture of my face). But all the same it’s nice to have a say. I know quite a few people whose experience of jacket design has gone a little like this:

Publisher: I’ve attached the cover rough to this email, could you let us know whether you like it?

Author: I’ve had a look and it’s not really the sort of thing I wanted. Could we maybe go for something different?

Publisher: Ah, well I’m afraid it’s a bit late in the day for that. This is your cover.

Author: Oh.

I feel I’ve been pretty lucky with my covers at Faber. I honestly love them, and the cover for Furnace 4 is no different. Although saying that, the first version that my editor Julia sent me wasn’t quite as dramatic as I’d have liked, because it featured what looked like a window cleaner… If you look very closely you can see him, cleaning the U of FURNACE:

And in close up:

I wrote back and said that I loved the idea but wasn’t too sure about the window cleaner. I mean there is no window cleaner in the book! I was even pondering whether to add a window cleaner to the book just in case it was too late to change the cover. Fortunately, however, there was no need. In the next version of the cover the window cleaner had been removed and replaced by a policeman, which is far more fitting really. It’s not that I have anything against window cleaners, of course!

There are some interesting stories about past Furnace covers too (involving gorillas), I’ll post them here when I have a chance!