Posts Tagged ‘glimmerglass’
In the spirit of Frankfurt and the Book Fair this week, here’s a curious tale of translation for covers. When the German translation of Birthmarked popped up on Goodreads, I was delighted to see the cover was a striking and mysterious image of two vivid profiles over a dark background. I went right to an online translator to find that the new title “die stadt der verschwundenen kinder” meant roughly “The City of the Missing/Vanished Children,” and I was like “Oooh, that’s cool.” It all fit my novel in a whole new way.
Imagine my surprise when a Facebook friend pointed out that she knew the cover already: it belonged to Glimmerglass by Jenna Black. Sure enough, they were the same except for mine was a mirror image of the other.
I asked my agent to check on the situation, and the upshot is that my German publisher, Heyne, liked the Glimmerglass cover so much that it bought the exclusive rights to the art and the design to use in Germany. It’s legal, if not commonly done, and since it would have been far more economical for Heyne to do a cover in-house, the purchase of expensive rights shows the publisher’s commitment to the book. The translation of Glimmerglass will have a different cover in Germany, incidentally.
It was kind of an odd feeling, at first, having a second-hand cover, though I’m used to it now. I couldn’t help wondering if people would secretly snarl and think I stole something, when in fact the rights were fairly bought. I sometimes fear that Germans might pick up my book, hoping it’s Jenna Black’s, only to be disappointed that it’s not. Sometimes I wonder why a pale, distinctly Caucasian, beautiful, blue-eyed girl is on the cover when Gaia is of mixed heritage, unremarkable in terms of beauty, and brown-eyed. Then I think of the ideas of genetic merit in the book, and the history Germany has with a scary society that valued certain people over others, and I think it’s actually a pretty gutsy cover. In the end, I’m grateful my German publisher is so deeply invested in my book, from the inside translation to the outside cover.
Life is strange. So is publishing.