There have been wonderful statements made by the great and good in the publishing industry concerning listening to readers, and it makes me think of our first Hookline novel, The China Bird by Bryony Doran.
Given that we let reading groups choose the novels that go to print, I thought we would let our readers select the cover that went on the book. We had several images. The one I favoured featured a china pie bird. Not being domesticated, I didn't realise that it was a kitchen utensil for preventing a pie from falling in on itself. Our designer, came up with a beautiful white swan rising out of black depths - in keeping with the novel's plot. Our readers, who had all read the novel, said they didn't like the domesticated pie bird cover and chose the beautiful white swan. I was a little disappointed, but went with their decision.
At my first meeting with Waterstones to promote the book, the 30-something man responsible for independent publishers shook his head at the black cover. "Women will not like that," he said.
 The China Bird 6 FrontBut women chose it," I said.He tutted, and I knew I could forget any persuasion. He knew best.
We changed the book cover - small publishers have a tough time in this industry and I didn't want further obstacles. But I can't help but think about this when I hear the old guard in the industry talk about listening to readers. Is it just words? Or do they believe in what they say?