Linguist, lexicographer, radio host, public speaker

Tale of Two Covers

It looks like my book has finally been released. Amazon has it for sale, anyway, and promises delivery in 24 hours rather than in two or three weeks (which is what it says when a book is pending but not yet released).

One of the many tasks required to put a book together is designing the cover. This is usually a task in which the author has little or no role. I was fortunate that the editors at McGraw-Hill did give me a bit of input.

However, for the past couple of weeks, due to foul-ups beyond my control, the wrong cover has been on display at Amazon. The correct cover looks like this:

It’s not bad, as such things go. Al pointed out to me that it would be better if the fellow’s arm was raised and he’s right. It would be like he was serenading the dictionary. I wasn’t able to make that change but I did have them change one thing. Here’s a detail from the first version of the current cover.

Rockstar has a microphone in his pocket.

I’m pretty happy with the cover as it is. However, the wrong cover that was up on Amazon looks like this:

It’s hideously ugly and clichéd. Using the headwords as design elements is a lazy artist’s trick. I can show you 15 books with covers like that and they all suck, but they keep appearing because they take ten minutes to design.

And that starburst! For fuck’s sake, there are Quark extensions that will do beautiful starbursts instead of that wretched mess that looks like the toupee Calvin will wear when he and Hobbes get old.

Also, the subhead is weird. It seems like that verb just shouldn’t be conjugated that way, like it should be “the slang, jargon, and lingo that is….” Yet, there are three mass nouns there, all using the verb “to be” together, so it also seems like it should be “are.” But “the lingo that are” sounds wrong. It’s clearly one of those “rewrite it until the issue disappears” situations, which is what they did for the new cover (although one version had the word “hecka” as an adjective when it is by far and away more common as an adverb).

author avatar
Grant Barrett