More Interesting YA Book Cover Stories

Monday, July 27, 2009

In a previous post you heard me talking about a book that even though it was about a young Black girl, the publisher decided to make her into a White girl (at least on the cover). I happened to stumble on this piece of news that while not quite the same - rings a little similar.

For Fly on the Wall, which also had a redesign recently, a number of covers were tried with a Chinese American girl on the cover. My publisher did not seem to have any fear of Gretchen's race putting off potential buyers (she is mixed race: caucasian/Jewish on one side, Chinese American on the other) -- but in the end, a face shot didn't convey the spirit of the book well, and they went another direction.

The girl on the new cover could be Gretchen, but she's really more a fantasy imagination of Gretchen as a superhero, rather than Gretchen herself. I love this new cover for FLY, but I do think it's possible to imagine the girl is completely caucasian if that's your default imagination setting. And that's a pity, because Asian American kids looking to find themselves in fiction won't easily find themselves here. They'll have to pick up the book and read the flap copy and infer G's race and cultural background from her name: Gretchen Kaufman Yee.
I wonder when people will start realizing that they can in fact put someone of color on the the front of a YA book and that it actually just might sell.

Who knows.

It might even do better than if they had someone who was White on the cover.