There’s something odd about the proverbial ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. The saying implies that book covers were once a byword for rubbish design, and consistently misrepresented the content or quality of the book inside. Or perhaps the saying dates from the days before design, and means don’t expect every story to be leathery and monochrome. I don’t know.
What I do know is that writers have difficult relationships with their covers. Partly this is because the covers are using a visual language in which the writer may not be literate – I may have written a paragraph about an important tree, but on the cover it’s just a tree. It is brown. What is a potential reader supposed to understand from that?
It’s also hard to know what to make of a new cover because publishers are always ‘thrilled’. This means they’re finished, they have something to show, but through decades of industry misuse everyone must be thrilled. Hope you like it as much as we do.
And as it happens I do indeed, very much, like the new cover for the American edition of Lazarus is Dead. I feel most mornings like this stick-man Lazarus, wondering if it’s safe to come out. There’s so much life out there, it would seem churlish not to take another step.