My debut novel is being published this February, and a few weeks ago my editor asked me the question every author dreams of hearing—“So, have you given any thought to the cover?” In fact, I had spent years thinking about the cover.
In fact, before I wrote the book, I thought about the cover, and I had a hazy image in my mind of something with Bestseller on the top and my name on the bottom. But that was as far as I got.
My novel is about a mother and a daughter. But it’s also about a teacher and her class. The mother and the class are never in the same place. If the cover focused on the mother, it would leave out the half of the story; but if it focused on the class…
So I said to my editor what I always say when I’m not sure, which is, “What do you think?” My editor said I’d written a great book and it was like a multi-headed hydra and that someone wonderful was working on designing the cover and she was sure that I would love it. Which I took to mean she wasn’t exactly sure what the cover should be either.
(I should say that, like most debut authors, my contract does not give me a lot of say over what my cover looks like. It says that I shall be consulted, but that in the event of a conflict, the publishing house “shall prevail.” I find there to be something thrilling about that language, as “prevail” makes me think of my editor as a knight on a horse, but that was not particularly helpful in this context.)
Anyway, one does not like to look like an idiot, and I felt I should suggest something, and so, upon reflection, I passed along two thoughts about the cover to my editor.
First, I told her that my favorite color is blue.
Secondly, I suggested that the cover should be pretty. Like a gift. Because in my mind, this book is a gift, because in all my years of writing, nothing has ever come as easily to me as this book did. Also, the very fact that it is being published is a gift to me, and finally, because I hope that mothers and daughters will give it to each other as gifts, and that the novel will help other families heal relationships in the way it helped me and my mother heal ours. (That’s a longer story that I will address at another time.)
My editor agreed wholeheartedly with this last (she is a lovely person) and in the next installment of this blog, you can see what she came up with. Meantime, why don’t you tell me what you’d like the cover of your book to look like. (Don’t worry if you haven’t written the book yet; that didn’t stop me either.)