Last year we had the pleasure of publishing the hardback of UNDER GROUND, a page-turning locked-room survival thriller by authors S. L. Grey, that received rave reviews and had many of us here at Pan Macmillan reaching to turn on the light switch! But the real challenge was how to convey that this book was, in the words of the Guardian, 'J. G. Ballard meets Agatha Christie, with a soupcon of Patricia Highsmith thrown in'. 

In the end I think we nailed the hardback cover, and when I say 'we', I actually mean our incredibly talented Art Director, James Annal. This was our hardback look, below. Would you press that lift button on the front? I don't think you would. Naturally, black was the only colour that could convey the depth of darkness contained within the pages, and we went for a type that added to the tense, sinister feel of the writing. But how would we adapt this for paperback publication?


Adapting hardback covers for paperback publication can sometimes be very tricky. For a start, it tends to be a different type of person who buys paperbacks, and different retailers who will stock the book, so the cover needs to appeal to a broader cross-section of people. Secondly, you want people who have noticed a hardback book but not bought it to think 'hang on, there's that book I want to read, only it's now only £7.99', so the book needs to be recognizable. Thirdly, the size of paperbacks is different to the size of hardbacks, so the composition of the cover has to be adjusted.

With this book we were happy to keep the concept of a lift button, but we also wanted the paperback cover to scream 'big blockbuster', so we switched the type to something much more dramatic and edgy. We also wanted to highlight some of the amazing review quotes the book has received in a way that is simple and eye-catching; sometimes with reviews the 'less is more approach' is what really draws the reader's eye. 

In my opinion, the end result is very striking! What do you think? Tell us in the comments.


They're trapped fifty feet down, and someone wants them six feet under . . .

The Sanctum is a luxurious, self-sustaining survival condominium situated underground. It's a plush bolt-hole for the rich and paranoid - a place where they can wait out the apocalypse in style. When a devastating super-flu virus hits, several families race to reach The Sanctum. All have their own motivations for entering. All are hiding secrets.

But when the door locks and someone dies, they realize the greatest threat to their survival may not be above ground - it may already be inside . . .

Click here to read an extract from the book!

‘It’sJG Ballard meets Agatha Christie, with a soupcon of Patricia Highsmith thrown in. Grey rotates the viewpoint through the eyes of five very different characters, ramps up the tension to an almost unbearable level, and ends with a stunning double finale.’ 


‘Cramped, claustrophobic and menacing, with a climax that kicks the stuffing out of you’


Under Ground shifts from slow-burn chills to its frantic finale with considerable expertise. A gripping book – and definitely not for the claustrophobic’ 


Under Ground is well paced and it certainly has the potential to become a classic thriller if it’s able to get the exposure it deserves on release. It’s full of well-developed characters, captivating twists and an unpredictable conclusion that will have any thriller fan guessing all the way through.  A thoroughly enjoyable read' 


‘Atmospheric, readable and all too plausible. Under Ground is a grim, effective chiller that takes you to the edge and leaves you there’ 


‘A complex survival murder mystery . . . A gripping and unpredictable thriller with many twists and turns’ 

Shropshire Review