Judging a book by its cover?

Ever wonder what goes into a book cover? Confession: Before I had my own books, I don’t think I gave it a second thought. I’ve since learned that a LOT happens, so I figured it might be interesting to give a little peak behind the covers of Being Dianne. (Err… obviously there are words behind the covers. Ja, it’s a mom joke. Sorry, not sorry). Here’s my experience of the process of the three elements that make up the Being Dianne cover: the overall design by Russel Stark of publicide, the shouts by Theodora Lee, Lorraine Sithole and Vanessa Raphaely, and the blurb. All pulled together by my ever-patient, and always lovely, publisher Carolyn Meads of Kwela Books.  

The overall design

Carolyn opened the discussion about the cover once the manuscript editing process was done. Did I have any ideas? Anything I particularly liked? Colours? We talked and talked and somehow Carolyn transformed a mix of emails and whatsapps into a brief to Russel Stark. Incidentally, he also did the covers for all the other Being books, so I owe him a MASSIVE thanks. Like magic, a month or so later a PDF of the Being Dianne cover arrived in my inbox from Carolyn. I wasn’t the first to see it. At Kwela the cover would already have been assessed and reviewed and approved by everyone, including the all-important sales and marketing teams. Luckily, I’ve never found out what happens if an author hates the cover. With previous covers there have been some tweaks that I wanted and Carolyn has always made these changes. In Dianne’s case the cover felt just right. Purple and pink are Pride colours. The two houses standing side by side representing the homes of Dianne and Alan. The five figures representing Dianne, Kari, Shelley, Lily and Shireen in front of the houses (I detailed their outfits, can you tell who is who?!) Even the book spine is perfect with the two little houses. I think the cover matches the style of the other Being books, and I think it will call out from any bookstore shelf (am biased, but still.) Thank you Carolyn and Russel and Kwela!

Being Dianne – spine

The shouts

Getting ‘shouts’ are totally nerve-wracking for me. I feel that it’s such a big thing, asking someone Very Important to read what you’ve written and, if they like it, to really put themselves out there and say something nice about it on the cover for the world to see. Very Important people can and do say No. Again, thankfully this is not something that I had to do myself, but I did have input into who I wanted Carolyn to ask. I was * BEYOND HAPPY * when I saw that Theodora Lee, Vanessa Raphaely and Lorraine Sithole had read and liked Being Dianne. I admire these women and I kept wanting to email Carolyn to ask if she’d heard back from them. Outside of Mike Nicol and Claire Strombeck (both were part of Masterclass 2020 where I wrote Being Dianne), and the Kwela publishing and editing team, no one else had read Being Dianne. I’m weird like that. I don’t show my manuscripts to anyone, even my husband only sees what I write once it’s published. So, in a sense these three women were my first readers. I was so relieved and happy when they liked Dianne and did me the privilege of putting their words and names to the cover.

In case you missed it (I know it’s on the cover, indulge me, these are Very Important Women!), this is what they had to say:

‘Honest, funny and extremely relevant. Theodora Lee

 ‘A remarkably topical journey of Dianne walking into her second life, peppered with humour and infused with truth’ Lorraine Sithole

‘A delicious and satisfying catch-up with much-loved characters, who feel as real as your own friends. Thought-provoking AND fun’ Vanessa Raphaely.

The blurb

Being Dianne – back cover

Carolyn wrote the blurb using the synopsis I’d originally sent to her when I first sent her the manuscript. Together we tweaked it until we were happy, but Carolyn really did a great job. It’s actually a super hard thing to do – to write something that tells enough of the story that someone will want to read more, but without telling too much and ruining it all. Let me know what you think?

Okay, so proud parent boast of the day done! One day I will stop putting all my new baby photos under your nose but official pub day is still a week away so what can I say … except Brace Yourselves!



PS Writing this made me so nostalgic about the covers of Being Kari, Being Lily and Being Shelley and how they represent each story. I might write about them another time if you’re interested. Also true what they say, it is hard to pick a favourite child / cover.  

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