Talking Covers and Newsletters

This month’s newsletter is about covers and newsletters. That sounds circular, to have a newsletter about a newsletter, but bear with me. First, though, let’s talk about covers.

I’m a sucker for a good book cover. Probably you are too. It beckons and promises to transport you to another world. Everything about it – abstract or realistic, bold or subtle in color, cutting edge or classic – drops hints about what you’ll read.

Say you like vampire stories. Dark, smokey backgrounds and titles in lurid colors will be your thing. If you prefer experimental literary fiction, you may go for cutting edge design, the kind that wins awards in design competitions.

About my cover, I had a preliminary conversation with my publisher. I suggested iconic objects from the mid-twentieth century, the time period of my book, but she advised a more conventional approach. The cover of a biography should signal that the book is about a real person or a group, not an artistic dreamscape. Photographs are typical. When the person is well-known, the image alone will attract readers. Think Michele Obama and Eleanor Roosevelt.

But that wouldn’t work for me. The women in my book are not so famous that readers will gravitate to their pictures. Plus, my book is a group biography, where the group represents an idea larger than any one individual. With that in mind, my publisher and I decided to go with sketches that have a vintage feel, without tying them to any one individual. Here it is!

Now, back to newsletters. It may surprise you when I say that a newsletter is a two-way communication. Sure I write it, but you react according to your interests and experiences. Sometimes you send me comments which make me think again, almost as though we were together, talking over coffee. Even when you don’t tell me what you are thinking, I know you are there. That simple fact transforms me from a solitary writer into a social being. It makes me feel that I have opened up, as I recently wrote in this essay.

Thanks for being there.