Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Musings

Hi folks,

By now, most everyone in the writing blogosphere (or more specifically, the children's writing blogosphere) has read/heard about the flack over the cover of Justine Larbalestier's newest title, LIAR. I haven't read her book yet, but I'm gonna throw in my 2 cents anyway. Also, there is a wide barrage of comments at Editorial Anonymous, the blog where I first read about this.

Apparently, the protagonist of the story is a black female who wears her hair in a short natural (sort of like a low-cut afro, I'm assuming, but correct me if I'm wrong) style. Okay. I get that. But that is not what's portrayed on the cover. So what I want to know is: how can the publisher be so misleading to such an impressionable audience as to which this book is marketed? I, for one, am baffled. I mean, I know most authors don't have much say as to what's portrayed on the cover. But did the Bloomsbury marketing department, like, not read any of the book, or what? Hmmmm . . .

Thankfully, the author has spoken out on this terrible occurrence. Here are her thoughts. And I applaud her for her fantastically brave post.

One more thing. Now, I don't mean to go on and on about this, but when Justine said in her post, "Every year at every publishing house, intentionally and unintentionally, there are white-washed covers," I found that kind of scary. And then I thought, well, if it can happen to her, it could happen to any one of us children's writers, but maybe--okay, probably--to me moreso as an African American writer. I mean, I have an idea for a contemporary YA novel with a multicultural cast of characters and I'm wondering now how that cover would be portrayed if the protagonist were a person of color. Then, as I read more of what Justine heard from editors & sales reps, I wondered if I should even bother querying agents or even continue writing. But . . . I quickly dismissed those thoughts, because, you know what? I like a challenge (for what it's worth, I went to both a very competitive high school & college, so I guess it's ingrained in me now). But even more than that . . . I LOVE to write! So come what may . . . I'm still in the game!

Okay . . . I hope I haven't been too outspoken here . . .


Tabitha Bird said...

No, I don't think you have been too outspoken and you make a great point. I wonder about many of the book covers that I see too and think, did the artist read the book?'
I have a really scary insight though. My husband is a designer in the exhibition industry and usually works with trade shows etc, however a printing company approached him recently to design the cover of a book. My fist comment was, 'What were they thinking?' and then I said, 'Oh well I guess that's apart of the whole self publishing thing if you go down that route.'
BUT here is the scary thing. My husband said to me, 'No the author is not self-publishing, this has come in from a publishing house that sent the book to this printing company without a cover and told them to just do 'whatever' with the cover! SCARY! Lucky for this author my husband can design and was contacted by this printing press to do something decent with the cover. BUT what if the printing company didn't care less? SCARY! Hopefully that will never happen to you :)

Corey Schwartz said...

I agree with you. It is very scary! I really hope that bloggers have drawn enough attention to this issue that publishers will think twice about it before doing it again in he future!

Tess said...

I find it very interesting that Bloomsbury almost 'requires' to have a face on their mg/ya covers. that alone would make me cross my fingers for a different house. mostly because I don't usually like covers with real people pictured on them - it somehow ruins my journey to find who they are.

Good thoughts here, Crystal. I feel so bad for that author.

Crystal said...

Thanks so much for your thoughts on this.

Tabitha--Oh wow, that is really unbelievable! Thank God your husband is a good designer . . . that is definitely scary.

Corey--Yes, let's hope that all publishers will take heed from this fiasco.

Tess--Yes, that is an interesting "requirement" from a publisher. This is the first time I've ever heard of anything like that, too. I don't really mind covers with real people but I don't think I want EVERY book I read to be like that either. And if the picture IS a person, at least have it be of one that pertains to the story. But, yeah, I can understand that ruining the journey--sometimes you just want to run with your imagination.

Thanks again, everyone! :)

Meg Wiviott said...

So much for a post-racial world!
Crystal, don't you dare stop writing. We need more diverse writers and readers if there is ever to be hope of breaking the "white-washed" world of publishing.

Crystal said...

Yes, Meg, I agree--more diversity is still needed in the world of publishing, on both the writing and editing sides, and probably in publicity and marketing, too.

Thanks for stopping by, Meg. Great to hear from you! :)

MG Higgins said...

I wasn't aware of this controversy and I'm glad you posted about it and provided the links. I'm among those who generally don't like photographic covers anyway, and to get it so wrong..... Jeeze, what were they thinking?! Please hang in there with your own writing.

Crystal said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, MG! Glad the links were helpful. This cover flack is certainly thought-provoking, isn't it? And thanks for the encouragement on my writing; I really appreciate it!

Stephanie Faris said...

You definitely haven't been too outspoken. I think it's great that so many people are taking a stand against this. I'd also add that to me, it's important in general that the picture on the cover depict the author's vision in every way. I know marketing is a huge part of choosing a book cover but the book is near and dear to the author's heart and nobody knows it as she does.

Crystal said...

Yes, Stephanie, you are so right! The author's vision should definitely be considered because, let's face it, without the author there would be no book, and thus nothing to market.

Thanks for stopping by here!
Enjoy your weekend!