Subtitle: "Ballad of the Devolution of the Cover of a Paperback Novel"
I saw this morning that the cover for Red Delicious has been posted on Amazon and that preorders are being taken (the release date is 2/4/14). Among other things, this means I've come to a blog entry I've been holding off on writing, but NOW IT CAN BE TOLD! Well, okay, this tale ain't nothing half that exciting. But it is, by turns, disappointing, amusing, annoying, angrifying, and just sort of exasperating. And it's probably also a metric fuckton more interesting than anything else that's happened to me since I returned from New Orleans.
Preface: Recall that I did not loathe the cover of Blood Oranges. I was, in fact, impressed (and amused - there's that word again) that the cover of a campy, farcical novel about a "werepire" demon slayer was so much more tasteful than are the covers are usually get for my actual "please take these seriously" novels.
1) Back on April 11th, I was shown the cover of Red Delicious, which you may see behind the cut:
Now, prior to this cover's creation, I was consulted, and I gave notes, which pretty much came down to, "You got it right the last time. Stay the course." Oh, also, as the cover of Blood Oranges did this neat thing, looking north towards downtown Providence from the Point Street Bridge, I suggested that, for this cover, the view rotate about 180˚ south, towards the power plant, a great imposing Victorian/Gothic structure. The cover I was shown did feature the power plant, and I was pleased with that part of it. But, almost everything else that the cover of Blood Oranges does right, this cover manages to do wrong. Whereas the cover for Blood Oranges suggests, this cover blurts. For example, I never wanted the reader to see fully see Quinn's face, but there it was, front and center, staring through the fourth wall. You know, the werepire's class photo.
But, hey. Whatever. It's pulp fiction. I let that go. Instead, I asked that we please do something about the hideous purpleness. The whole joke about changing the title to Raisin' Hell was born. I also pointed out that the color of Quinn's eyes was wrong. And that I'd asked we do a strike-though on
2) On April 15th, I got the revised cover (behind the cut):
Okay, so the purple was gone, and this was a definite improvement. But the color scheme is awful. Red, yellow, blue, white, all at war with each other. Red and yellow, which always to me brings to mind ketchup and mustard (ew). Still, they changed the color of Quinn's eyes (though I never did understand why the hazel-green contacts instead of the vampire-black creepy). Add that to making the purple go away, and my editor said she'd ask that the colors be toned down, that the blue be dropped, that the strike-through would be more prominent, so I figured I could live with this. Even the fact that the bloody smear at the right corner of Quinn's mouth seems to float well in front the rest of her face. Pulp fiction, remember?
3) On May 8th, I received what I was told was, essentially, the final cover (behind the cut):
Well, the hideous red and yellow's still there. And they inexplicably took away the NYT quote I'd wanted (though the quote from blackholly is also cool). Nor do I know why "Award-Winning author of The Drowning Girl" was changed to "Award-Winning author of Blood Oranges." But...here's the kicker. Have a look at the power plant. It's no longer Providence's Manchester Street Power Plant:
Instead, it's the rather famous Battersea Power Station, which is not in Providence, Rhode Island, but the south bank of the Thames in South West London**. London, England:
That is, in fact, the very image the designer worked from (it was sent to me). Compare and contrast. Also, Pink Floyd fans may recognize Battersea from the cover of Animals (1977), what with Algie the flying pig and all:
Why the change? Why did we lose the one thing that was right about the cover? Here's why: The "artist" (*cough cough*) who did the cover didn't actually have the right to use the photograph of the Manchester Power Plant that he used. Then when the designer attempted to contact said photographer, said photographer had "vanished" and could not be contacted. This means that the designer Pengion (now PenguinRandomHouse or whatever) outsourced*** the job to turned in an image he didn't have the rights to turn in.
And marketing couldn't wait, because there was a deadline. And no one thought to contact ME, even though I have many photos of the place. You will note some very, very, very sloppy digital doctoring, lousy-ass photoshopping, that is supposed to make Battersea look more like Manchester.
So, there you have it, kittens. How a mediocre cover became a crappy cover. How an English power station was relocated to Rhode Island. How somewhat subtle and slightly artful...well, becomes this. Hopefully, I won't take too much shit for posting all this. It seemed somehow important that I do so. Anyway, you may now preorder the book a whopping six months before its release.
Laughing at the Inanity,
* Animals (Side 2, Track 1)
** The two power plants are, in fact, ~3,300 miles apart.
*** NYC publishers did away with almost all their in-house artists/designers years and years ago. Outsourcing is cheaper, and no one has to be paid a living wage, or get healthcare, or retirement benefits. Copyeditors were phased out before artists. Typesetters before that. Editors will be next.
POSTCRIPT! (3:34 p.m.): Ross E. Lockhart has created what must be the TRUE cover of the novel (behind the cut):