I've got my final cover for The Four Ms. Bradwells
, and am so excited about it that I am going to leap ahead in my narrative here to cover the great cover process. For starters, you might like to know that deciding on a cover for The Wednesday Sisters
was a long and tortured process. We had an early cover that I and everyone on the editorial side loved, but which for reasons I won't explain (long stories don't always shorten), the Clayton household, in response to some feedback from the sales force, now calls "Decapitated Women." You can imagine why that cover was scrapped. Happily, the cover for The Four Ms. Bradwells
- at least from my perspective - was nothing like that.
You might like to know, also, that the cover is something the author generally has no control over. I certainly know authors who hate their covers. And authors whose publishers don't even ask if they like the cover or not. So...
I sent my editor a copy of a photo by an amateur photographer I'd met on a trip to Smith Island
in the Chesapeake. For whatever reason, I found this photo very evocative. It's a skiff like my characters go gut-running in (although not the only boat they take), and something about the muddy water and the crossed lines reflected in it connected to the book for me. The photo is oddly ugly and beautiful at the same time, and I'd used it as the background on my computer throughout the revision process.
I sent it to my editor on March 11 with the caveat that the first time I met the publisher at Ballantine, she'd asked if I had an idea what the cover for The Wednesday Sisters
should look like, and I'd promptly replied, "I've always imagined the coffin photo as the cover." (Readers will know what I mean.) After long pause she responded, "No coffins on the cover, Meg."
Someone was already working on the cover, but that my editor passed the photo along. On March 30, I emailed her a link to some Holga photos I love
, by Adrienne Defendi, with a note that I particularly liked the shot of the toy boat tipped in puddle/leaves. A few days later, I emailed her about Katie Crouch's covers
, which I love. The only thing any of these photos had in common? A boat.
Well, I wasn't the only one thinking boat for this cover. And I had no idea how beautiful a boat cover could be.
On May 10, Caitlin emailed me a peek at a possible cover. I opened it, picked up the phone to call her and - to borrow my favorite term from Trish at Hey, Lady! Whatcha Readin'?
- I squeed
. I couldn't have imagined a more perfect (or more gorgeous) cover.
The only thing I would change, I told her, was that my name was a little big, and too bright. She laughed, and said I was playing the wrong role here, that the author is supposed to insist her name be bigger
- or get her agent to do so - and the house was supposed to say no. It didn't occur to me until we hung up that she might think I was joking. So a couple days later I talked to my agent - who very nicely told me size matters in the author's name on the cover, and I should leave it alone.
It wasn't final yet - and I do have the final now, but...
Take a look at this version, and I'll share an interim version and the final in a few days. - Meg