• Shari Wallack

My book cover journey

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

the photo that inspired the final book cover
The photo that inspired the final book cover

Check out this photo! While I was driving in the car with Michele toward Sedona, she snapped this pic through the windshield. The scene spoke to me and I imagined myself back in the 70s, driving around the western US like my Uncle Norman had done when he was in his 20s. The photo sat in my cell phone for months, until I put it to good use.

Back to the cover story...As I was writing the book, I had a vision of what the cover should look like. I drew the ideas that were in my head. A challah in the middle and the book title words surrounding the bread. Simple. Clean. Easy. Later, I added in a backpack, walking sticks, and a cardinal. I reached out to Inessa Illes, my friend Gina's most artistic daughter. "Can you make this look professional?" I asked her. "Sure!" she replied. Inessa created the perfect cover/logo/image for this memoir. Once I inked the deal with Radius Book Group, I presented them with Inessa's drawing. They said they could improve upon it, sent it to their art team, and came back to me with their version of the book's cover.

GASP! No! This was not what I was envisioning at all. It looked like a gay revival baking club book. I hated it. I didn't know what to do. I reached out to David Quinn, who I refer to as my magical unicorn. "David, what do you think? Here is the cover I wanted. Here is the revision Radius gave me. HELP!"

"Oh no Shari! None of this is going to work. It's all wrong," he said. "Do this. Get a photo of something that shows a journey. A travel photo. Something that illustrates that the book is about a road trip. That is what you need!" he insisted.

"I have precisely what you are talking about," I told him. I texted him the photo that Michele took while we were entering Sedona.

"EXACTLY!" David said. "Give the van a bumper sticker, license plate and some pill bottles hitting the road. Give the bottles some action lines," he added.

With Inessa on a road trip, I couldn't ask her to start all over. I needed another illustrator. WAIT! How did I miss this? I called Lindsay, my daughter "by love not birth" who graduated with honors with an illustration degree from RISD. "Lindsay, I have a project for you. Can you get it done in a week?" I showed her the photo and gave her some pointers. I asked her to recreate the Sedona photo in a cartoon version. She was excited to start. I couldn't wait to see what she came up with. As you can see, she did a magnificent job.

Now Lindsay and I are working on logoed promotional items; apron, spatula, dishtowel, bread bag, stickers, wearables, and more. She is a superstar and has exceeded my expectations.

From upper left to lower right: original drawing, improved drawing, Inessa's fantastic cover (that I still love), and the Radius "improvement." I am so grateful to everyone who helped me along the way.

Thank you Lindsay Rosenthal for the cover the book needed. And thank you David Quinn for getting me to understand why. I love you both!

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