Take it away, Sue!
"I fell in love with this retro shrink cartoon art and decided this has to be the cover of my debut novel Speed Shrinking. It was (autobiographical) comic fiction about my intense connection to my handsome shrink who I said in the book had a Clark Kent aura. So this (below, left) was perfect, right?
"Everyone hated it. The publisher said it looked old and derivative and they wanted something young, fresh, and new.
"When they sent me their cover design (below, right), I literally cried. I hate pink. I am so not a pink girl. And I hated the quote bubbles which made no sense to me. And she had white shoes! It's an autobiographical book and anyone who ever met me knows I wear black shoes. Not white shoes. So it made me want my funny retro comic shrink cover even more. I even took both covers to my shrink, who agreed with me.
"Everyone in the book world with a brain hated my retro idea's guts. I told my PR guru Barb Burg it looked like the cover for a young adult book for 15-year-old girls. She said that she and her daughter both bought and loved Sophie Kinsella books that had girly pastel color purses on them and they sold a gazillion copies. But I argued that the only message conveyed from their cover was: 'Honey I shrunk the couches.' I at least wanted a male shrink on the couch too. Since the book was about shrinks we overanalyzed it to death. Barb said a male Freud would look old and might scare little girls in Peoria who like pretty couches. Once they bought the book, I was shoving therapy down their throat anyway.
"My editor, Katie Gilligan, and my agent, Ryan Fischer-Harbage, who are both much younger than I am, agreed with Barb. They finally convinced me that the retro cartoon cover I liked was for 40- and 50-year-olds like me and my shrink. And we needed something fresher, younger, and newer. But I still hated it. So I hired an outside designer I loved to come up with something new and blue.
"The publisher apparently really hated that I was being such a pain and insisted on their design in pink. But I argued that most of the book review and feature editors in the world I'd worked for were male and would not assign a review or story on a pink book that looked like it was for little girls. Finally they agreed to try a cool blue cover. And slowly they got rid of the idea bubbles. I really wanted a Freud on the cover but they said 'Don't push your luck.' When they gave the cover girl black shoes, I acquiesced.
"Oddly I then started loving the cover that went to press and so did everyone else! And now I'm so glad my editor, agent, and PR guru made me give up my retro image."
Thanks, Sue! Ha! This story makes me laugh, and I love the various incarnations. I have to say that I think the cool blue with the varied couches is the winner among them all. All's well that ends well?
What do you guys think of this cover?
Melissa Walker is the author of four Young Adult novels, including the Violet trilogy and Lovestruck Summer. She is co-creator of the popular teen newsletter I Heart Daily and the new awkward-stage blog Before You Were Hot. Her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com.
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