A week before I returned to our house in Portugal, USPS brought me the box I’d been eagerly awaiting for weeks. Not a large box, but big enough to hold several Advance Reading Copies of my book– Expecting the World —a memoir of the thirty years I worked for the World Bank. I was especially eager to see how my cover turned out, whether I was still happy with the choice I’d made.
This cover wouldn’t be the one I first imagined. Nor the second. Or even the third. It had taken me more than a month to decide what cover to use. And no doubt that I was overthinking it by half. But since I was sure that most of us do judge a book by its cover, I wanted to get mine right. (Or as right as I could make it.)
My first idea was a cover bright with colorful flags from around the world to celebrate the many countries to which I’d traveled over the years. But on reflection, such a picture felt far too generic — not to mention overwhelming–to really do the job. Unlike many of my colleagues at the World Bank, I didn’t work with countries writ large – Ministers of Finance, Economy or Planning. I worked with village women–in groups or individually–to help them manage their micro-enterprises to increase their incomes. All those flags might give my reader the mistaken impression that I was a big-time World Banker and not do justice to the women who mattered so much to me.
My second idea was a photo of one of these hardworking women– the young Senegalese book binder at her press or the Shipibo potter sitting cross-legged on the ground, shaping a vessel from wet clay. My friend photographer Larry Merrill had taken many compelling pictures of African, Peruvian and Bhutanese craftswomen with whom I’d worked as part of our Artisan as Entrepreneur program. But as my husband Terry pointed out such a cover might mislead my reader in another way. A reader might assume that my book would read like a World Bank report about women in development. Not at all the case. Expecting the World is a memoir, a book about my work with women, yes, but also about my life in and around that work. And even if this were not the case, how could I ever choose just one photo of one woman in one country to stand in for so many?
About the same time that I completed my fourth and last re-write of the book, my sister, artist Katie Dell Kaufman, completed “Passages” an encaustic collage that she was planning to include as one of several masterful works in an upcoming art exhibition. I loved the way the colors and shapes in her collage worked together, the depth that the layers of paint and wax made possible. I wanted the piece myself and convinced her to let me jump to the head of the line of people I knew would also want it. I was thrilled to add this work to the art we were collecting for our house in Portugal. This was when I came up with my third idea for a cover.
I could use Katie’s new work as the cover of my new book. All the back and forth, coming and going, circles and squares, paths from one world to another could tell the story of my work over the years.
But when I looked at this beautiful collage again, I realized the palette was wrong for my cover. Katie’s collage of deep blue, white, turquoise and aqua are luminous and cool. My stories from the Sahara and the Kalahari, the river banks of the Ucayali are the colors of sand and straw. At the same time, the village women in these stories couldn’t have been more colorful – their boubous and sarongs a wild mélange of orange, green, red, gold. Such vibrant women in such dusty places.
So, rather than one of Larry’s compelling photos or Katie’s beautiful collage, I chose stripes – seven strips alternating between (the women’s) brightly patterned cloth and the (villages’) dusty tan, a canvas for the title in black letters : EXPECTING THE WORLD – Learning from Women in Left-Out Places.
I made my choice. I hope I got it right.
It looks like you really did get it right! Bravo! Can’t wait to read it! Big hugs, Barbara
Thank you so much, Barbara! I can’t wait for you to read it either. We are hoping for an end-November pub date. I’ll definitely alert you when we are getting near!! Big hugs back, Jerri
It was the right choice. It invites the reader in.
Thanks so much for this feedback, Robin! I’m happy you agree with my choice!! All the best, Jerri
I love the cover, Jerri! Congratulations on the completion and publishing of your book: I look forward to reading it!
Thanks, Pat! Artist that you are — I’m especially glad you like the cover! And I’m eager for you to read the book . . . soon. . . soon!
Yes, excellent choice. But I hope there will be a version for which the cover matters little if at all–i.e., an e-version! Sad to say, my 70 year-old eyes aren’t nearly as good reading dead-tree books than they do books on my iPad. So will there be a Kindle version, I hope?
There will definitely be an e-book version, Paul! But no saying disparaging things about 70 year old eyes . . . our eyes are Just Fine!!
It looks great!!! how exciting!
You got the cover totally right…as I’m sure is also the case with the text. Congrats.
Thank you so much, Mark! I’m so glad to hear this from you. And I appreciate your confidence that the text will have something to recommend it, too!!
So excited for you, Jerri! And thanks for sharing all the thinking about your cover image. I spent many many years working with designers on the “just right” cover, be it for a book or a magazine and it’s an exciting, but also fraught, process. People ABSOLUTELY judge a book by its cover–and knowing your book as well as I do 🙂 , I highly approve of your final cover choice! Can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands.
Thank you, Krystyna! (And not just for your kind comment about the cover, of course, but for everythig you’ve done to bring this book into the world!!) I had hoped to be able to send you an ARC, but there were only enough for the people kind enough to blurb the book. I spoke with the publisher yesterday, and it’s looking like December 1, 2021 will be the pub date!! So, they’ll be in Frostburg before I am. So glad you liked the cover — that means a lot coming from you!
OOOOH! It’s beautiful. I love the designs and colors of the patterned fabric. I’m eager to read your second book and to learn more about the experiences that have shaped your life.
(I agree with Paul that reading backlit text on my iPad is easier on my one good eye, although I miss the nostalgic heft of holding a book and the ritual feel of page turning…)
Thank you, Paige! And I am eager for you to read my book, too! Pub date: December 1. Maybe you can convince your book club friends they’d be interested in it as well!! I Who knows?t will be available both in paper and electronically. So, no worries!!
I like the process you went through regarding the cover choice. A hard task to portray what you want it to say about the work it encases. Well done. I look forward to reading the book. Regards Vivienne
Thank you, Vivienne! (Both for your kind words about the cover and for subscribing to my blog!) Yes, finding the right cover is tough, but it makes you think–which is never a bad thing!! Pub Date is December 1 – and I am eager to know what you think of the book!! All the best, Jerri
Gostei muito da escolha da capa do livro!
Bjs aos dois
Muite obrigada, Inês!!
Uau, great cover, Jerri! Can’t wait to read your book, Congratulations!
Thank you so much, Bela! My publication date is December 1. I’m nervous, of course, but also happy!! Our trip to the Douro this month was wonderful and we plan to travel a little more –including to Spain–before we leave for the U.S. on December 20. Are you home now? Or are you still traveling? We’d love to see you!
It is a gorgeous cover, Jerri! And it works both in terms of it’s inviting design, and the warm color temperatures that reference the communities you worked with. Great choice! I look forward to reading the book!
Oh Katie! This means so much to me, especially coming from you – the most talented artist (and color/design expert) I know!! And I look forward to your reading the book, too!! Thank you for posting!! Big hugs