A few weeks back, I gushed about my agent, so this week, I’m going off topic.
I just received a copy of my German cover from Rowohlt Verlag. Now several things hit me right off. First, the title: Das Madchen im Wald, which apparently means “The Girl in the Woods” (for all of my mastery of the German language, it could mean anything!). I do like it: simple, evocative of fairy tales. The picture on the cover is of a dark and frightening forest with a red trail (one would presume a trail of blood) going through it. And in the bottom left corner: Thriller (in English – maybe it’s one of those words that’s jumped the language barrier, like “e-mail”?). It’s a wonderfully eerie, spine-tingling cover. Love the font!
It really feels like a thriller cover. Which to me, is an interesting marketing choice. My book, in my mind at least, is clearly not a thriller. I don’t say this in a defensive way. I love thrillers. I’m very excited about all the debut thrillers coming out next year by the good folks over at Killer Year. I just think Promise Not To Tell (or The Girl in the Woods) is far too quiet to be considered a thriller. Yes, there are two murders. And cops. And a possible vengeful little girl ghost. And parts of it are pretty spooky. However, it is not a fast paced, action packed thrill ride with danger on every page. I’m a little nervous that thriller fans in Germany who buy the book based on the trail of blood might be disappointed.
This whole thing got me thinking not only about genres (and how my book doesn’t fit neatly into one), but about covers. My version — the North American, HarperCollins version — has been through three title changes and two cover art changes. In each new incarnation, it’s taken on a different personality.
I know I have been annoyed when, upon finishing a book, I realize the title and/or cover art had little to do with the actual story. It makes me feel… cheated. People close to me say I’m being petty and what matters is that the cover made me pick up the book to begin with, and if it was a good story, so what if it didn’t mesh with the cover? But, it’s kind of like going to the grocery store to buy macaroons and you open up the box and find shortbread. You may love shortbread, but if you were expecting macaroons, you’re going to be a little annoyed, right?
What do people think? If the shortbread is amazing, can we forgive the macaroon packaging?