Friday, August 21, 2009

When I was in NY on my honeymoon/familymoon, I had the chance to meet with my lovely editor at Ballantine, Lea. It was wonderful to be able to put a face to a name--she's just as sweet as she had seemed in her emails and phone calls (and she took us to an amazing lunch at a vegetarian restaurant called GOBO: Food for the Five Senses. I'm still drooling over the tea-smoked seitan and the cold honeydew soup!) She gave us a tour of the Random House building (which is designed to look like three books inside two book ends); the lobby is awe-inspiring, filled with floor to ceiling book shelves featuring first editions of books they've published, from Moby Dick and Tom Sawyer to more current award winners. It was humbling and exciting to feel myself as a small part of this grand tradition.

I had a chance to meet Lisa, the publicist I worked with for Self Storage, as well as a bunch of other people I've had contact with over the last couple of years, which was very cool. And I met Anna, the woman who will be designing the book cover for The Delta Girls; she was just finishing reading the novel, and I was so happy to hear how enthusiastic she is about it. She told me that had the book been named Pears, she might not have been able to use pears on the cover, since they like to go against expectation, but now that the title has changed, she can bring pears into the mix. She showed me that she had actually been looking at images of pears that day; she had a whole screen full of different pear pictures on her computer. She said she especially enjoyed working on food-related covers, which was wonderful to hear! Lea told me that Anna's her favorite designer there, and showed me a couple of the books they've worked on together. You can see them here. She said that she knows Anna will come up with the perfect cover for The Delta Girls, one that will capture the spirit of the book, even if the title doesn't. I can't wait to see it!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Look what I got in the mail--the first pass pages for My Life with the Lincolns! It's so cool to know what the book is going to look like on the inside. Supposedly the typeface is going to change a bit, but I love how the designer has used the Lincoln hat motif throughout the book. Yay!

I also have a potential title for what I still think of as Pears. I spoke with my editor at Ballantine today (who I'll get to meet in person next week--I can't wait!) and she said the copywriting team came up with The Delta Girls and the publisher is very excited about it. Now, this is completely different from anything that I would have come up with on my own. When I first heard it, something inside me withered a bit. I thought it sounded like a book about sorority sisters (when I brought this up with my editor, she said they hadn't considered that and she would talk to the team about it.) It doesn't have the juiciness, the poetry of the titles that you all so generously recommended (thanks again for all of your input!) In this economic climate, though, the publisher is looking for marketability, not poetry, and they think The Delta Girls will sell.

I certainly know how a title can hurt a book--even though I love The Book of Dead Birds as a title, many readers have told me that it was off putting, that they never would have picked up the book if they hadn't had to for a book club or a class, and I'm sure the title did limit its audience. Part of me cringes to think about my title being chosen by committee, being chosen with numbers, not language, in mind, but of course I'm grateful to be in this position and grateful that they want my book to reach as many people as possible.

I ended up writing a new scene that makes The Delta Girls work on a couple of levels (right now, it's just connected to the fact that most of the story takes place in the Sacramento Delta) and if my editor gives the okay to include the scene in the novel, it will definitely help me make peace with the title. The final decision has to be made by noon tomorrow (Eastern time)--I'll keep you posted. Thanks again for all of your help and support.