Covers, titles and other things beyond my control

HC defends “sexist” jacket | The Bookseller.

Poor Polly Courtney. Clearly she thought her book was a more serious one than Harper Collins Avon thought. I’ll say this for her though: she knows how to get media.  The story of her “sacking” her publishers because she objected to the jacket of her new book It’s a Man’s World as being “sexist” has popped up in dozens of blogs and book news sites, just days after publication. Not surprisingly, each entry actually features a picture of the offending cover. Ms. Courtney must be horrified.

Really?  This cover?

Unless I’m mistaken and the book is actually Anna Karenina, then Courtney’s cover is entirely appropriate for a book about a beautiful young  woman working in a frivolous job.  If Courtney doesn’t like it, then she should write her next book  about a fat old chimney sweep.

Which brings me to my upcoming book. Lorimer is publishing it next spring, as part of their Sport Stories series. We don’t have a title yet. I started with Down East Not Out but they didn’t care for that. Then I proposed All Out but they have another book called All In, so that one was nixed. Now I’m not sure what the title will be. I’m hoping for Back Foot Shot but I think they may go for Wicket Season instead. Either way, I’d like to know so I can start telling people.

As for the cover, my protagonist is Jamaican, black in other words.  Don’t get me started about the whole thing with a white writer like me writing about a black protagonist. This issue is a hot one, and one I would have entirely avoided if I could have. Nicola Richardson wrote an excellent post about it on YA Highway. (scroll through the comments to see details of my experience last time I wrote a character of color). Anyway, suffice it to say, the publisher wanted this book to feature a character from South Asia or the West Indies. I made my choice. I stuck with it. I hope I did OK.

But back to the cover: my only stipulation to Lorimer was that if a young man is featured on the cover, he be Jamaican. As ridiculous as this sounds, there is precedent for a publisher putting out a book a featuring a black protagonist with a white person on the cover (Check out the controversy about Liar by Justine Larbalastier here.)  Lucky for me, my publisher agrees with me.  This was her response when I brought this up:

“As for the cover image, we definitely want to reach a non-white audience with this book, so having a black Harry on the cover will be a priority. I had not read the article you referred me to and, frankly, I am surprised by that Publisher’s decision to put a white girl on the cover! We have been hearing feedback for years, especially from teachers and librarians, that cover images that show characters from a variety of ethnic backgrounds are needed.”

I won’t have the final say on the cover or the title, but I trust they’ll do something appropriate and cool. I can’t wait to see it.

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