I know, I know, it’s what’s inside that really matters. But after you’ve poured your soul into the best story you could possibly write, chewed all your nails down to the quick to find an agent and/or an editor who loves your work, and developed ulcers over the hair-splitting process of revising the revisions, you have no idea how exciting it is to have a lovely piece of artwork bearing the title of your book and your name.
I’ve been impatiently bugging my agent and editors since November when they were able to tell me that Richard Tuschman had been hired to do my cover. I was like a child waiting for Christmas morning and I wanted them to deliver the package NOW! Traditionally the author and illustrator are never invited to communicate with one another, and that holds true for me as well. But thanks to the Internet, I was able to look him up and instantly fall in love with his work. If you do the same you will see that he has done the covers of twenty-nine books, including the 2011 Newbery Medal winner, Moon Over Manifest. Yazoo! What a luck of the draw for a first timer like me. No, what an absolute blessing is more like it!
Now, about my cover. I was thrilled when I first saw it. I love the colors and the composition and the inclusion of the pelicans, also key in my story. But my first very honest and human reaction was that the bridge was wrong. Without giving away the spoiler, there is a bridge in the book that plays a major part, almost like another character. I’ll just say the book cover bridge doesn’t look anything like the one in my head as I was writing the book, which was a real bridge that I had walked across many times in my childhood.
I was comforted by the fact that my agent, Julia Kenny, had similar concerns, and she went back to the editor with those concerns on my behalf. Needless to say I got to appreciate once again the value of having a great agent do the hard work for me. I didn’t have the first idea how to express what I was feeling without making a mess out of it. Next, I got to appreciate the value of great editors at Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, who came back to us with a very simple explanation that made all the sense in the world. The bridge is intended to be conceptual, not literal. It’s intended to heighten the emotion of the book. The protagonist (Laura) is, indeed, standing on the edge of frightening and overwhelming circumstances. I hope this beautiful cover does what it’s intended to do, and that’s make you want to read the book and find out what those circumstances are. (Note to those of you who have read early drafts or walked across that literal bridge with me, I will especially love to hear your thoughts without spilling all the beans, of course!)
As for me and my continuing education in this wonderful world of book publishing, I am in awe of the whole process. I have to admit that I have never really considered the integral part that the cover plays in the marketing of a book. And from now on, I think I will be taking a second look at the cover after the reading to see if I can discern the clues that the artist had in mind.
Hey READERS, I would love to hear from you.
Is your MIND FULL of old thoughts or new?