Cover Stories: Not Like You by Deborah Davis

Deborah Davis' Not Like You is the story of Kayla, a teenage girl who must decide whether taking care of herself means no longer taking care of her alcoholic mother. Sounds like a tough one for which to design a cover, no?I asked Deborah about the process: "I didn't have an image in mind for my cover except for picturing some of the warm red, orange, and brown tones of the northern New Mexico landscape. Kayla's story is an emotional one, so I wanted warm, lively colors. "Unfortunately, I was not asked for input. Authors rarely are! Both covers -- hardback and paperback -- were designed from stock photos. Davis.Not Like You hi-res.jpg"The first time I saw the hardback cover (left), my heart sank right through the floor. The image -- a road in a dry landscape with a prominent road sign displaying a beer bottle -- seemed cold to me, not at all like the raw, emotional tone of the book. On the other hand, when I saw the paperback cover (below), I thought, 'That's it! That captures Kayla's yearning and loneliness perfectly.' "My editor encouraged me to offer feedback and suggestions about the hardback cover, which she passed along to art and marketing. She had already protested vehemently against an earlier cover, which I didn't see, and she thought this new one was a great improvement. But she wanted me to be happy, and it was hard on her that I wasn't. notlikeyou.jpg"I believe my comments were considered, but both the art and marketing departments thought they'd created a powerful, compelling cover that would appeal to readers, so in the end they kept it the way it was. "In retrospect, I think the first cover was unique, and it certainly stood out among the plethora of young adult novel covers featuring body parts that are prevalent. I'm not sure, however, that it compelled book browsers to pick it up. On the other hand, I still love the paperback cover. Every time I look at it, my heart aches, because it so exactly reflects Kayla's feelings as she struggles with her feelings toward her unreliable mother, her questionable older boyfriend and, ultimately, herself." I agree with Deborah -- I much prefer the paperback cover. I love the dryness on the ground, the gray hopelessness of the cement blocks, but the mountains in the distance, which seem to symbolize some hope. Am I getting too deep here? You guys?