Judge a Book By Its Cover — Sometimes, a guest post by Pintip Dunn
“Never judge a book by a cover,” the old saying goes. After all, a book and its cover are two separate works of art. They’re usually created by two different individuals. A beautiful cover doesn’t necessarily mean a beautiful story and vice versa. And yet, since I’ve been in the publishing industry, I’ve noticed a few curious phenomena:
1) Readers will gladly admit that they’ve bought books based on the cover alone;
2) Authors routinely receive the advice to change their covers if their books aren’t selling;
3) When I’m complimented on my own book covers, I beam and exclaim, “Thank you so much!” — even though I had little to no say in their actual design.
What accounts for these events?
First, I don’t think it’s fair to claim that covers are wholly independent from the stories inside. After all, if the designer did their job properly, then they would’ve been inspired by the manuscript itself. Even if the details aren’t exact — I’ve been known to change my story to match the cover! — the designer should’ve tried to capture the feel and vibe of the novel.
Moreover, covers are the ambassadors of books, a quick and easy visual representation that tells readers in an instant what to expect. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then one of my book covers is worth…70k to 90k words. I seek, within those words, to create an experience for my reader, to whisk them away to another world, to bottle up emotion and preserve it. And yet, I don’t have thousands of words to convince a reader to give my book a try. My only tools are the cover and a brief synopsis.
Finally, every once in a while, a cover comes along that transcends all of the above, that creates meaning in and of itself.
I’ve had some beautiful, knock-out book covers over the years. I’ve heard, on more than one occasion, that I’ve been blessed by the cover gods. And yet, none of them have touched me in the same way as the cover of DATING MAKES PERFECT.
I am a first-generation Thai American who grew up in a tiny town in southeast Kansas. While I visited my family in Thailand every summer, I spent the rest of the year in Midwest America, where I hardly saw anyone who looked like me — in books, on the television, or in person. Rightly or wrongly, from my own insecurity as well as my peers’ micro- and outright aggressions, I came to believe that I was “other.” And because I was “other,” I was therefore ugly.
At the same time, I’ve known ever since I was six years old that I wanted to be an author. Because of my childhood experiences, however, I fully believed that in order for me to achieve my dream, I would have to write books about white characters.
Fortunately, I was wrong. The strides the publishing industry has made over the last few years have been tremendous. To be sure, a lot more needs to be done, but even a few years ago, there was immense pushback about having an Asian girl on a book cover.
The twelve-year-old me never dreamed that I could one day have a book cover like this, and it would’ve meant everything for young Pintip to have seen this gorgeous cover centering a gorgeous Thai girl.
Maybe I wouldn’t have felt like such an alien in my own skin. Maybe I wouldn’t have gone through my childhood feeling like I didn’t belong — could never belong. Maybe it wouldn’t have taken until well after college for me to feel attractive.
Or maybe, I would’ve just owned a book with a beautiful cover. But when that sixth-grade boy sneered in my face, laughed at my “squinty” eyes, and asked how anyone could be so ugly, at least I could’ve gone home and hugged this book close to my heart. At least this cover would’ve given me hope that life would one day be different, be better.
This story is for the teenage me — and for every other teenager who feels like they don’t belong. I wish I could go back in time and tell twelve-year-old Pintip, “Your story matters, too. Your existence has value. Your difference is something to be celebrated and embraced.”
I can’t, and so this book – and its cover – is the next best thing.
So, yeah. Maybe it’s okay to judge a book by its cover — at least some of the time.
Purchase a copy of DATING MAKES PERFECT at my local indie bookstore, ONE MORE PAGE!
Meet Pintip Dunn
A first-generation Thai American, Pintip Dunn grew up in a tiny town in Kansas. She went on to graduate from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and to receive her J.D. at Yale Law School.
Pintip is a two-time RITA® award winner and a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and a Kirkus Best Book of the Year.
She’s obsessed with penguins, and her childhood dream was to marry someone whose last name is “Gwynn” — so that her name could be “Pin Gwynn.” Alas, she got stuck with Dunn instead, but her husband and three children are worth the sacrifice.
They all visit Thailand yearly in order to stay connected with her family.
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About Dating Makes Perfect
The Tech sisters don’t date in high school. Not because they’re not asked. Not because they’re not interested. Not even because no one can pronounce their long, Thai last name—hence the shortened, awkward moniker. But simply because they’re not allowed.
In a move that other Asian American girls know all too well, six months after the older Tech twins got to college, their parents asked, “Why aren’t you engaged yet?” The sisters retaliated by vowing that they won’t marry for ten (maybe even twenty!) years, not until they’ve had lots of the dating practice that they didn’t get in high school.
In a shocking war on the status quo, her parents now insist that their youngest daughter, Orrawin (aka “Winnie”), must practice fake dating in high school. Under their watchful eyes, of course—and organized based on their favorite rom-coms. ’Cause that won’t end in disaster.
The first candidate? The son of their longtime friends, Mat Songsomboon—arrogant, infuriating, and way too good-looking. Winnie’s known him since they were toddlers throwing sticky rice balls at each other. And her parents love him.
If only he weren’t her sworn enemy.
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 08/18/2020
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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