The cover seems to evoke the feeling of the novel. To me, this is nothing short of miraculous. An artist read my stack of words and turned them into a simple, somber, striking image.
Many publishers don’t let authors have any say over the design of their book covers. I suspect this is why so many novels by women end up with covers that all but scream, “Don’t take me seriously!”
I hated the cover of my first novel, and when I told my otherwise very kind and generous publisher, she replied, “Thank you for your input.” The cover stayed.
If you can’t take the heat
This time around, I got to collaborate with the publisher and the designer to figure out what we wanted the cover to communicate. And by collaborate, I mean something akin to me telling an expert chef, “I’d like you to make a dish that has some peas and maybe a little salt” – and then feeling very accomplished when she produces a risotto.
It’s not exactly accurate to say that I had nothing to do with the cover. I bought the dog tags, and my partner Janet took the photo. And the textured surface you see in the background? That’s our kitchen floor.
But handing a chef some peas and a pot does not a risotto make. So hats off to the designer, and let’s move on from the kitchen metaphors.
My publisher has asked me to write “a short description that really gets at the heart of your book.” The trick is, I have to write it in various lengths: one sentence, 50 words, 100 words, 250 words, etc. This is very difficult to do. If you don’t believe me, try to describe one of your children in 50 words.
Rosalie will take my descriptions and rework them into compelling language to interest booksellers and librarians. She has also asked me to come up with a series of key words about my novel to use in search engines and library or distributor catalogs.
Some catalogs provide a drop-down menu with oddly limited choices. You can categorize your book as a war novel, for example, but not an anti-war novel. I fear readers who are in the mood for a big, macho war novel will be dismayed by Her Own Vietnam.
Break it to me gently
In other news, one of the writers we asked to write a blurb for my book has said no. But it was a very cordial no. She let us down easy.
Meanwhile, two more blurb requests are pending. Who wouldn’t want to blurb a book with such a gorgeous cover?