Book covers are like bathroom faucets and wedding salads. Huh? Yes. Stick with me. Generally speaking, if you don't notice or remember the font or image on a book cover, or the finish of a faucet, or the dressing on a matrimonial salad, that's a good thing, right? I've always thought so. That a cover doesn't need to be a revolutionary masterpiece, but should be subtle, purposeful, inoffensive. Truth be told, I've never really had a reason to ponder the intricacies of cover art.
Until now! I got a very exciting email from my editor last week saying that the HarperCollins art department is beginning to design covers for Summer 2010 books. That means BLACKBERRY GIRL (now LIFE AFTER YES)! She asked me if I have any ideas for the cover. Of course I have ideas! About a million of them. I have simple and stark visions. I have complicated and intriguing visions.
And I sent my variety of visions to her in a jumbled mess of an email. One of my favorite ideas is was to have a picture of white handcuffs on the cover. Because, yes, there are (uber-symbolic) white handcuffs in my story. My editor very diplomatically told me that a portrait of white handcuffs sends the wrong message. Promptly, I realized that I have no idea what I am doing. A rookie indeed. Promptly, I thanked my lucky stars that I have a wonderful editor to hold my hand during this maiden voyage and that there is an entire department at my publishing house to handle these things.
Because we are not talking about bathroom faucets. We are not talking about wedding fare. We are talking about my debut novel. A story I took years to write and a few more to polish. A story of which I am maternally, rabidly proud. More than a few people have told me that these days a cover makes or breaks a book's success. That, for better or worse, despite that proverbial admonition not to, we do judge a book by its cover.
So. I want to get this right. I want your advice. Because you buy books. And read them. What makes you pick up a book, particularly a novel? A simple and stunning cover? A haunting illustration? Bold, undeniable fonts? Photographic clues?
Let me know what you think and I promise to keep you posted on the process. And in the not-too-distant future, I hope to post actual BLACKBERRY GIRL (now LIFE AFTER YES) cover possibilities and let you help me choose!