We tell our kids not to judge a book by its cover, but we all do it. We are programmed to size up the situation around us, make a judgement, and proceed. Unfortunately, in that split second, we can only see through the lens we have at that moment.
In terms of literally judging books by their covers, I know when I walk into a bookstore and browse the tables for new offerings, often my attention goes to what I find pleasing, interesting, and aligned with what I perceive is my taste. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong. After I pick up the book I'm drawn to, I flip it open, and look deeper.
I think it's okay to have our snap judgments as long as we always look past them, question those judgements, and keep our minds open to whatever we may find inside.
When I saw the cover for my new book, The Night Diary, I couldn't have been happier. I love how it tells a story, but leaves room for more understanding. My favorite book covers often do. I remember when I was a child, after reading a book I loved, I would go back to the cover and stare at it. I liked to see how my new understanding of what was inside changed the way I looked at the cover. It was always different, every single time.
Hopefully when readers look at this cover, they'll be drawn in by the story it tells, curious about why the hands are there, why they're all a little different, why they're holding on, and why they're letting go. Maybe the reader will recognize some of the South Asian details on each wrist: Hindu Kalava/Mauli (the red thread), the Sikh kara (iron or steel bracelet), Sindhi ajrak (block printed fabric), the bangles, or the bare wrists signifying that the person might be Muslim.
The last hand on the bottom is my favorite. To me, it's my main character, Nisha, writing in her diary. There she is, right there on the cover! It's the window into the book for me, the final image that might catch a reader's eye before they dive in.
I'm so grateful to Kelley Brady, the cover artist and book designer, Dial's design team, and my editor, Namrata Tripathi. It means so much to an author when the people who work on your cover bring to life the essence of your story.
I like to think of the reader sitting quietly after they finish my book and looking at the cover again. Do they remember what they thought when they first looked at the cover, and how the meaning of it changed, and possibly how they were changed by looking inside? I hope the reader holds on to that experience--that process of judging, looking deeper, and seeing again.