Cover Story 42


I wrote the below very quickly while dashing out to get ready for a meeting in Montrose this evening. I was in a panic as I had forgotten to prepare. I tweeted about it as I was just about to leave, and received several replies telling me that the meeting is tomorrow (which is why I hadn’t got ready for it earlier).

This is not particularly old age. My friends will tell you I have been this scatty all my life. I can give an hours lecture on Byron’s political views, radicalism among Nottinghamshire stocking weavers or US neo-imperial policy in Africa at the drop of a hat, but ask me today’s date or where I put my spectacles and there is a very slim chance I will remember. All of which is to excuse myself for having couched the below request for help in particularly graceless terms! I fear I was somewhat distracted.

I am bringing out new editions of Murder in Samarkand and The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, both of which are now out of print. They will be available as print-on-demand books on Amazon (I know, sorry). I need a new front cover for Murder in Samarkand, as the art work does not belong to me, and frankly I never liked it anyway. I am inviting those with an artistic bent to submit designs.

The side and back will be plain, so it is front cover only. The size is 8″ by 5″. The image needs to be at least 300dpi. The design should include the title, author’s name and two review quotes:

“A fearless book by a fearless man” – Harold Pinter
“A remarkable achievement” – Noam Chomsky

I should like to offer a prize, but am more than usually skint! I shall be very grateful for anything you can come up with, that reflects the content and themes of the book in some way. The contact button at the top of the blog sends me an email.

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42 thoughts on “Cover Story

  • Alcyone

    “I was in a panic as I had forgotten to get ready for the meeting. I tweeted about it as I was just about to *relieve*, and received several *relies* telling me that the meeting is tomorrow (which is why I hadn’t got ready for it earlier).
    Thanks for the dramatic *release* Craig! 😉

      • Shatnersrug

        Craig I went all the way to St Mary’s in Paddington for a physio appointment, I arrived half a hour after my appointment card. After begging for them not to discharge me, they checked the computer to discover my appointment was actually the following day, I was not late I was in fact 22 hours early!

        I’m am 45 so I hope it’s not senility, although I have had a bad reaction to anaesthesia so I’m blaming that!

  • Alcyone

    And I agree the Murder In Samarkand will definitely benefit from a facelift, especially after a rather beautiful cover on Burnes.

    Btw, the behaviour you describe is not unusual for creative people, though order can be wonderful too as long as someone else sorts it and it is not anally obsessive.

    I think Einstein was someone who had this sorted.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Why not offer a free signed copy of all three of your books as an inducement? Cheers, J

  • Richard Gadsden

    Could I suggest offering a (small) cut of the royalties on Murder in Samarkand to the winner?

    Even if it’s mostly just to show that you value their work as work, rather than being likely to compensate them properly, at least they would get something for their time.

  • Anon1

    Can we put a picture of a zero-hour contract worker being beaten to death by his line manager for taking a piss break, on the front cover?

  • Iain Orr

    Will these new editions be substantially revised? There are substantial developments in central Asia and in West Africa since both books were written, as well as changes in the global context. At the very least (as well as correcting or updating any niggling points of detail), I hope that both “on demand” new editions will have a new introductory chapter or an Afterword which will allow you to draw a few lessons that apply – perhaps in different ways – to the world now. In particular, I hope you can counter the way in which the UK’s interevention in Sierra Leone is oftem wrongly seen as an example of beneficial liberal interventionism.

    Do copies of substantially revised new editions also need to go to the copyright libraries?

  • RobG

    Craig, I was surprised that you published ‘Sikunder Burnes’ in the traditional way. Don’t apologise for publishing under CreateSpace (or whatever Amazon now call it). Traditional publishing is now as dead in the water as the mainstream media. By self-publishing you have almost complete control of how your book is presented and marketed, etc. Plus you’ll get bigger royalties; not that much more with print books, but a huge amount more with e-books.

    I’ve got a heap of work on at the moment, but if I can find a moment I’ll have a go at re-designing your book covers, for you to take or leave as you see fit.

    The other big thing with self-publishing is that first 10% preview of the book which Amazon et al allow potential purchasers of the book. Those early pages really have to zing.

    I talk as someone who used to deal with big publishers, but for the last six years or so I’ve entirely self-published via the likes of Amazon.

    • nevermind

      Great Idea Rob, could we go one step further and offer the blogs readers a choice vote, like/ dislike, lets have a short-list of three designs and see what the old fashioned public who reads, likes best.
      BTW. I’m savouring Sikunder, only read it when I made time for it. Just come to the crucial Cabool Conference and some serious questions have to be asked.
      How was it possible for Alexander to have a prestige property with gardens assigned to him, a property that was not empty or belonging to nobody, who had to vacate their very lush home for this young British spy?
      was this information part of the cuts you had to undertake, Craig? was it, as I suspect, a member of the Barukzai fa,ily that had to move out for a while?

      • RobG

        I like the idea, nevermind, but the old cliche is that writing a book is a bit like giving birth (I’ve now written eight books and can testify to this).

        The proud parent might not like us dictating terms.

      • Brianfujisan

        Great Idea..Nevermind

        I had Thoughts..Then Counter thoughts.. I thought of the Women.. And the battles with police . DONT ANYONE PUT STRAWS ( Jack ) on

        • Brianfujisan

          Sorry.. You would need Two Women.. I was usual.. A vision of new book caught my imagination..

    • craig Post author

      Thank you Brus that’s really wonderful. 1977 is the year I arrived. Several people I knew on that video.

  • Peter wright

    Jesus Christ you have the Nam Chomski seal of approval wow I am impressed, Craig he who lives skint and can do it is best at parties when a windfall arrives keep on rocking mate and forget the problems life is to short, as always you are my hero peter

  • giyane

    Books don’t talk, at least not while you are re-binding them, which is why I left the ivory tower of bookbinding and conservation for the real world. I have a vague hankering to return to bookbinding when I retire, which of course would drive me batty with my own company again. So as it’s not going to happen please may I make a suggestion for your Togo cover. The best bookbinding goatskins are from Nigeria and the textures of the hide can be very interesting, especially over the backbone of a large animal, which can look like mini elephant hide. Obviously nobody would want elephant hide, but goats do get eaten.

    This suggestion comes free with the unwanted advice to you that you also never regret leaving the service of the intrinsically corrupt, dividing and ruling, British Foreign Office, whose current Secretary is a piece of shit.
    Any unwanted suggestions or advice, please discard.

  • Sharp Ears

    Print out and put it up on the wall Craig.

    Tuesday 7th March in the Black Abbott, Borrowfield at 7.30 pm talk to Montrose SNP Branch on the Next Independence Referendum. I understand they will be inviting other SNP branches in Angus.

    Thursday 9th March 6.30pm Talk to Motherwell and Wishaw Rotary Club on Lessons from my Diplomatic Career.

    Saturday 11th March 11am, Tigh Na Sghire, Portree, Isle of Skye screening of London Calling and discussion of BBC Bias. London Calling – Skye (PDF)

    And a few longer term but interesting ones:

    Sunday 26 March, Pacific Quay, Glasgow, BBC Bias Protest

    Saturday 15 April, Doha, Qatar, Al Jazeera Forum. Speaker on “State Crisis and the Middle East.”

    Thursday 11 May 2.30pm Upper Room Town Hall, Chipping Campden. Sikunder Burnes, Master of the Great Game. Chipping Campden Literary Festival tickets £7.

    • Sharp Ears

      Israeli parliament passes bill barring BDS supporters’ entry
      Mar 7, 2017 1:4AM

      The Israeli parliament has passed legislation barring the entry of supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

      “The Knesset (parliament) passed on its second and third readings of the entry into Israel bill,” read a statement released on Monday.

      It noted that visas and permanent residency of any manner will not be granted to foreigners if they or their organization which they are active in have issued public calls for the BDS or pledged to take part in it.

      “In recent years calls to boycott Israel have been growing… It seems this is a new front in the war against Israel,” added the statement.

      Critics of the bill say that its wording leaves it open to target Palestinians temporarily residing in the occupied territories.

      The BDS movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations that were pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

      Read More:
      •Icelanders vote to join boycott on Israeli goods
      •BDS says Israel behind cyber-attacks on its pro-Palestinian website
      •Israeli academics promoting campaign to boycott Israel: Report

      Thousands of volunteers worldwide have joined the BDS to help promote the Palestinian cause, including scores of Palestinian and international trade unions, NGOs, initiatives, scores of academic societies, business societies, trade unions, and cultural figures.

      It has also gained support in countries such as the US, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Romania, South Africa, Australia, and Britain.

      Israel says the movement is a strategic threat and accuses it of antisemitism, a claim the BDS has denied on multiple occasions.

        • Sharp Ears

          Perhaps those who wish to deliver aid and help for the Palestinians in the laughingly named West Bank and Gaza too. All arrivals (unless by sea) cross via the Allenby bridge or fly in to Lod airport (aka Ben Gurion post 1948) where Shin Bet are much in evidence.

    • craig Post author

      It is worse than that. I knew the talk was on Tuesday 7th. But I thought yesterday was Tuesday 7th!

  • Alcyone

    Craig, your friend Binney was on Hannity @Fox News last night. (So was Louise Mensch in another programme, quite well spoken I thought.)

    You need to develop on this story ( ) in terms of current events and Obama being integral to and shadow Leader of the Deep State. Now continuing to camp out in Washington, protecting the eco-environment of The Swamp.

    I don’t think Obama likes Hillary Clinton much. After all, she lead the charge into Libya, something which Obama secretly regrets. He publicly chided her for not reaching deep enough into the states that mattered in her campaign.

    I suspect he’s rooting for Michelle Obama to be the first woman President of the United States. If so, she will in one fell swoop, also be the first black President of the US; after all he himself is mixed-race, and that’s not an alternative fact.

    That is today’s Cover Story.

  • Paul Barbara

    I put out your request for an artist to come up with a new cover on another Forum I frequent, and linked your post.
    Good luck with the reprint.

  • J

    Hi Craig,

    Important point, do prefer a wrap around illustration and what are the approximate dimensions including spine? Would you prefer finished print ready artwork with all text in place, titles, blurb, quotes, ISBN etc? If so can you supply these in text form, (I’m thinking of the blurb) and for the ISBN an good quality uncompressed image?

    Here’s a link to a recent book cover of mine, both illustration and design:….7.jpg

    I’ll post a rough for you to have a look at.

        • J

          Very sweet of you. I can’t agree perhaps because I grew up on that penguin design aesthetic and I do love it, willingly doffing my cap to its focus, clarity, severity, superiority, uniformity. Maybe that’s the point. After all it successfully argues through design the primacy and centrality of the content.

  • Ben

    Ach ! I keep hoping the ethnocentrism would subside or go out with the tide but it is a relentless disability, isn’t it?

  • Brianfujisan

    There’s Beauty

    I remember a Paragraph.. where Craig is sat on a fence Far from Anywhere, with Nadira, and a Lady interpreter I think the Twilight, with a wee wine…

    I was thinking though.. The cover would need a dark side.. the other half of page becomes an cell.. with blood on the floor..

    Best wishes anyhoo

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