Cover Dreams

As many of you know, Pigs finally has a cover.


I love it.

The book is out in galleys now (bound, uncorrected proofs that publishers send to reviewers and bookstores before the actual book is printed). I haven’t seen the galleys in real life yet, but a friend sent a picture of one that she came across at Book Expo this past week, and it looks beautiful, even from far away.


(That orange strip across the cover lets readers know that it's an uncorrected proof, not the final, real thing).

This post is really just a short post of appreciation for the work Red Hen put into the cover, and to say a little about what it means to me that this book, this collection of 69,816 words, of 253 manuscript pages, is now bound together and sealed with an image that speaks to what’s inside and makes it feel whole.


I’ve always loved book covers. In recent years I’ve become fascinated with the process by which some designers approach creating them. I look forward annual roundups of "best" covers, and I comb Lit Hub, often, for new posts about the process designers take to get at the cover for a book that is ultimately chosen. It drives me crazy when I read a book I love, but the book has a cover that doesn’t match the material inside.


Anyway, once I finished the first draft of Pigs, I started thinking about what a cover for it might look like. The first draft felt still nascent, still figuring out what the book was going to be, and it felt like, if I could find the right image for it, I would know and be able to write a draft that I could consider final. If I were to tell you that I wrote seventeen drafts, you might get a sense of how desperately I wanted to find that perfect image.


I pinned images to Pinterest that I thought somehow spoke to what was inside.


I pinned images of hands in water with what looked like fingers missing.


I pinned images of butchered pigs.


I pinned images of swimming pigs.



I pinned paint swatches in color palettes that reminded me of the world inside the novel.


A few years later, a friend made a placeholder image that I could use for my website. I loved this image, and it was very hard for me to let it go.


But then, suddenly, the years of waiting for the image fell away and there it was: in my email box from Red Hen, so perfect—nothing I’d ever imagined on my own, and yet exactly what the book was wanting. And it’s funny: the colors are nothing like I’d ever dreamed of. The pigs are shaggier than I'd pictured the pigs in the novel. But it feels just right, like the cover is telling me something about the book that I’d never even noticed.


Pigs will be out in bookstores on October 1st (though it's available for pre-sale now). It’s a pretty visual book—I have a theory that writing is actually a visual medium. Who knows how readers will respond to it (the anxiety related to this will likely be the subject of another post). Nothing would make me happier than to have readers send me the images that they come up with when they imagine a cover, too.

I'd love to hear on my Facebook page what book covers you have especially loved.