She’s ten years old this year, The Snow Leopard. First published by Frances Lincoln children’s books. And they sold her to a French publisher, who astonished me with their beautiful edition. You see…
..La Panthere Blanche was bigger, and somehow more beautiful than the UK edition. She sold so well, the French Snow Leopard, and from the first day I saw her I wanted my books to be bigger. But you see, in France they still have the net book agreement. Time after time I was told, no, big books don’t sell, there’s no market, we can’t do it…. and I watched as Animalium took bookshops by storm with its beautiful pictures and large format. And still, no, I was told. You can’t have a big book, because there aren’t enough pages…..but you can have this….
and my publishers made all my books smaller. Well, it kind of breaks your creative heart a little when that happens. BUT, the small editions were kind of cosy, and cheap at £4.99, and though I didn’t like them and didn’t want them they sold a good many copies, were great little stocking fillers and easy to post for presents, so I guess they had something good about them. They were also good as giveaway things, like a business card with a story, something very portable so if people asked what I did I could show them as it fit in a pocket in my bag. But they always seemed rather throw away… and so strange, to make my pictures even smaller. And in France they did their own lunch box sized edition, so you could take your favourite book to school, like a small comfort blanket. Even the small edition was bigger than the UK one.
But then the publisher decided to end the hardback edition, and just publish in paperback. I looked at my royalty statements. The hardback sales were so strong. The paperback, as far as I knew, were not what my market wanted. It’s always good to know your readers. So I said no. And Quarto understood, and gave me back the rights and I can’t thank them enough because now, ten years on, we have The Snow Leopard, deluxe, artist’s edition, with no title on the cover. There’s more about why no title here.
There’s a magic about this book. A deep magic. She’s helped many people get through difficult times. She works like a spell. If you put her into the window of a bookshop she makes people wander in, and I feel that spell will be stronger, more dynamic, without the spell of words on the cover.
There’s a whole family of these books now. You can still pick up some of the old editions second hand, but the new editions are available, signed, from Solva Woollen Mill. There are only 500 of the artist editions, signed, numbered and stamped with a stamp designed exclusively for this book. One of my favourite editions is the Tibetan one. Sending the story home, from Pembrokeshire and into the dreams of Tibetan children.
You can read more about the making of the book in this page from my old and ancient website.
Meeting snow leopards in real life was an amazing experience.
And if you feel you want a book and a snow leopard I would suggest you contact Jane in Eve’s Toy Shop in Llandeillo.