Cover Anxiety (and some talk of penises)

I am weeks away from seeing the cover of my book for the first time. (Probably weeks. I’m discovering publishing operates on deadlines that are less actual DEADlines and more like genteel suggestions. In newspapers, a world I know much better, a deadline is just that. The press will run with or without your story, and tomorrow the news will no longer be new.) Being weeks away, I’m experiencing something like an author’s third trimester.

It’s a mix of excitement – “the cover is going to be so beautiful!” – and terror – “please don’t let my baby be deformed.”

It’s not that you don’t trust your publisher. You do. I do. But just like happens to mothers-to-be, complete strangers feel the need to share horror stories with the author-to-be. My personal favorite so far is the author whose cover featured a rocket ship. A pink rocket ship. A pink rocket ship that was not so much phallic as it looked exactly like a penis, and bookstores refused to display it because they considered it obscene. The book, of course, was not about penises at all. (Or at least not more so than anything in our culture is about penises.)

At this point so late in literary gestation, I’m no longer strong enough to bear these. I’m clamping my hands down over my ears, putting on my rose-colored glasses and saying to myself, “My cover is going to be the most beautiful cover that has ever been.” Over and over again.

And it will be.

I will it to be so.