Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Cover Blues

My publisher claims to be committed to working with me to produce a cover image for my book that I like, or at least that I can live with. But this is turning out to be more of a challenge than either of us bargained for. And it is causing me a great deal of stress. I think I am being clear about my thoughts on the cover image and then they forward to me a new version that still does not address my issues with the image. I am wondering where the short circuit is here. I finally wrote directly to the cover designer, for the first time, in an email yesterday. Previously, I was depending on my contacts at the publisher to convey my thoughts. Hopefully this will work and the designer will make the desired adjustments. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. See what you think. There are two huge issues that I am having with the present version.

The first issue is that there are images of two women, one in the foreground and one in the distance, seen from the back and they have straight hair. I keep asking for them to have curly hair. Straight hair doesn’t work. My book is about Jewish women, and granted there are many Jewish women with straight hair; but it is the Jewish women with curly hair who are ridiculed, made to feel inferior in appearance, and viewed in negative stereotypic ways by the dominant culture. For me, seeing straight hair on these women feels like if I wrote a book with all Black characters and then the publisher put a picture of a white woman on the front cover. When I attempted to discuss the cultural significance for me of curly hair on the women in the cover image, the publisher attempted to make me feel like I was concerned with an abnormal level of detail. The women in the book are described as having curly hair. The publisher, a white guy, not Jewish, told me not to be so literal. Huh? I find this disturbing. I thought I had made myself clear, and that he would convey to the book designer the need for this change. But it didn’t happen. In my opinion, the straight hair makes it look like the book designer never read the book (although the publisher swears to me that she did).

The other issue that I have with the cover image is that there is a tree on it that does not resemble any real fruit tree that I have ever seen. If there is a fruit tree on the cover, and I like the placement of the tree and the fact that there is a tree at all, but if there is a fruit tree, it should have the shape of a real fruit tree. It is triangular, with the small point of the triangle at the top. No one in their right mind would prune a fruit tree like this tree and I can’t imagine one growing that way in nature. A few weeks ago I offered to send images of fruit trees to the cover designer and the publisher said, no, no, we’ll take care of it. But that sorry tree has not changed one iota since. I finally sent images of apple trees and cherry trees to the cover designer, explaining that with just one glance, she will get what I mean about the problem with the shape. Additionally, it is a pretty sorry tree. Trees are such exquisite creatures and they play such a significant role as a symbol in the book, I would think that the cover designer could put some energy into producing an image of a fruit tree that would be beautiful. As a gardener, who has lived with and cared for fruit trees for close to 30 years, I think it is not too much to ask to be given at least a believable fruit tree on the cover of my book (if not a beautiful one).

Sorry for the rant, but this is what is on my mind today. I had to say it. I hope I am heard by the book cover designer and not shuffled aside as being unreasonable.

No comments: