I have them: title, subtitle & cover

It’s official. Riverhead today sent me the jacket, ie cover, of my book. This is a big moment for a first-time author.

Alas, my editor pleaded with me not to share it with you yet. A big sales conference is about to happen and a catalogue is being made up, and apparently this sort of thing must be sprung upon certain people as a surprise.

But I will blast it out right here as soon as I get the green light.

In the meantime, you might be asking me whether I am happy with the result. I’m almost surprised to say Yes, even on the first go.

I admit that when I first opened the PDF file, I had whiplash. It was not at all what I had expected.

But then my focus groups went to work: wife, parents, agent, agent’s office colleagues….

And I had to agree with them. The cover — think of it as an aesthetic package of words and visuals — is:

  • simple (a prerequisite in my worldview),
  • bold (some people will love it, others will hate it, which is a good thing),
  • playful and tongue-in-cheek (which is important, because it’s an intellectual book, which might turn some readers off).

As my editor said when we discussed it (I made him expound on every single visual element), it comines “vibrant and subtle,” and is Riverhead’s way of saying “big idea.”

As I said to him in return: I was in charge of providing subtlety and nuance and texture between the covers; so I always knew I couldn’t be the one to deliver the direct, right-hook punch on the cover.


PS: Does anybody have any views on which WordPress themes are particularly elegant for book authors?

32 thoughts on “I have them: title, subtitle & cover

  1. Congratulations! Can’t wait to for the revealing!

    To answer your question, Vigilance seems to have served you pretty well, but given your new appreciation for Gen Y thinking you might opt for a more grunge sort of look 🙂

    • Aha. Any grunge/Gen Y themes spring to mind?

      Actually, I was thinking more classical/Zen, with a good (appropriately shaped) space in the top right for the book cover.

  2. Dear Andreas,
    Congratulations on this prodigious moment in your life. We have followed your journey during the last 2 1/2 years and thank you for letting us inside this process, one that for most people, is only a dream.

    Yours is coming true and what better to make it all seem real than a book cover and title.


    I think I’ll pour a glass of deep red wine now and drink a toast to your success. We are all very happy for you (your readers, Judge Blah, the damn dog, and of course, I ) I note that in writing the word “happy”, I am always corrected by Judge Blah that “contented” might be more apt.

  3. congratulations!

    The Book Cover: An Aesthetic Package of Words and Visuals Meant to Convey Big Ideas

    i’ve used caps in your honor 🙂

  4. Congratulations on the progress. But, reading your post, I was reminded of an old BBC comedy called “As time goes by” (hope that link works), especially an episode where Lionel goes through the book cover design. For those not familiar with the show, Lionel ran a Kenyan coffee plantation after the Korean War was over and wrote a book about it. The marketing of the book and a the production of a Hollywood movie based on the book was a sub-plot that ran through a large part of the series.

    • Not quite. It was a bit of a running joke. The cover photo the publisher set up was him dressed like the Great White Hunter standing with rifle in his left hand, a scantily-clad babe on his right arm, and one foot on dead lion. The story turned into a screenplay had nothing to do with his actual story, of course, which was about the trials of managing a coffee plantation in Kenya.

      But he had a title, a book cover, and sales. It was all about marketing.

      I am sure that this will not happen to you.

  5. Andreas!

    It’s official. I have them: some congratulatory words about the unveiling of your book cover. Alas, I cannot share them with you yet. Apparently, this sort of thing must be sprung on certain people (namely you) as a surprise.

    But I will blast them out right here as soon as somebody actually shows us the cover.

    I can tell you though, that my words will be:

    perhaps playful?

    possibly even tongue-in-cheek?

    vibrantly and subtly,
    your readers in the midwest

    • Thar she blows, the original, the authentic, the one and only Jenny. No one congratulates as she does.

      BTW, I had to put my fears of witty, savvy, sophisticated readers like you aside when I said Yes to the cover jacket. For you, it won’t be subtle enough, I guarantee you. But how many Jennies are there? You’d scarcely fill one or two book clubs. Nope, I thought, gotta hit’em a bit harder, make’em smirk at the same time, can’t scare’em away just yet (on the cover), need’em to come inside first, around page 100 or so they’ll be ready for the subtle twist….

    • ….I had to put my fears of witty, savvy, sophisticated readers like you aside when I said Yes to the cover jacket…….

      You appear to be looking for Republican readers.

    • Witty, savvy, sophisticated readers — aka Hannibal Blog followers. We’re already hooked, so the jacket’s not really for us anyway.

      We do like to bicker, though.

  6. How does it feel to have your P.S. query universally ignored? And why don’t you just switch to .org and design your own theme? You could make the screen look like a Kindle, for instance. Perfect for modern authors.

    • Well, the question is still out there. I’ll browse for themes in the coming months.

      As for .org and designing my own: I know you have done that, but I couldn’t. I don’t have the time to put into learning the basics. The law of Ricardo’s division of labor tells me that I should use the skill and effort of WordPress’s designers (amateur or not) so that I can focus on my part, ie words.

    • Well, if you don’t want to do it may way and get yourself fired, in which case you’d have all the time you need to learn the basics, employing the services of a web designer is always an option. These days, there are more web designers than lawyers. After all, I’m assuming you’re planning to maintain your web presence for good, and a prefab theme will always look like a prefab theme, no matter how “elegant” it may be.

  7. Christopher Hitchens mentions in Hitch22 that Salman Rushdie instantly supplied these Robert Ludlum-like titles (“The Eiger Sanction”; “The Bourne Inheritance”) for
    Hamlet, “The Elsinore Vacillation”; 
    MacBeth, “The Dunsinane Reforestation”; and  
    Othello, “The Kerchief Implication”.  

    • Henry V: “The Crispin’s Day Deluge”

      King Lear: “The Daughter Trap”

      Romeo & Juliet: “The Capulet Curse.”

      Nope, I’ve not quite got it down yet. A half-tone off….

  8. The Elsinore Imposture

    The Lear Inheritance

    The Verona Imbroglio

    The Banquo Delusion

    The Shylock Addendum

    The Rubicon Conspiracy

    The Tennis-Ball Salutation …


    He therefore sends you, meeter for your spirit, This tun of treasure …

    Henry V:  

    What treasure, uncle?


    Tennis-balls, my liege.

    Henry V: 

    We are glad the Dolphin is so pleasant with us,
    His present and your pains we thank you for.
    When we have match’d our rackets to these balls,
    We will in France, by God’s grace, play a set
    Shall strike his father’s crown into the hazard.

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