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As you’ve probably heard by now Liar is getting a new cover for its publication in October.1 First Bloomsbury considered going with the Australian jacket of Liar and specifically with the black and red version you can see here because that would be the easiest thing to do. The design already exists after all and the window to make the change was very narrow.
However, given the paucity of black faces on YA covers, and the intensity of the debate around the original Liar cover, Bloomsbury felt really strongly that a more representative approach was needed. Rather than using a stock photo, Bloomsbury went the whole hog and did a photo shoot. The gorgeous design is by Danielle Delaney (who’s also responsible for the fabulous paperback How To Ditch Your Fairy cover).
Here’s the result:
I am extremely happy to have a North American cover that is true to the book I wrote. I hope you like it as much as I do. I also hope we can prove (again) that it’s simply not true that a YA cover with a black face on the cover won’t sell. But let’s also put it to the test with books written by people of color. You don’t have to wait to grab your copy of Coe Booth’s Kendra2 or any of the many fabulous books recommended by Color Online etc.
Update: I have turned comments off because there has been an uptick in people attempting to comment merely to berate others.
Posted by Justine at 17:41, 6 August 2009 under Liar, Praising, State of the World | 167 Comments »
HOOOORAY!!! Talk about it on BlogTV … and it will happen!
August 6th, 2009 at 5:47 PM
Brittany Landgrebe Says:
O. M. G. Congratulations it looks AMAZING! The same sort of feel as the last one, but even more grabbing and intriguing. I’m so happy for you!
I was holding off on buying it until I saw what would happen. Can’t wait to hop on over to my local bookstore!
August 6th, 2009 at 5:50 PM
The cover is pretty. I think with all the cover controversy you demonstrate elegancy in your way to conduct your opinion as an author I admire you for that. Wish you the best.
August 6th, 2009 at 5:52 PM
Craig Gidney Says:
But…it’s so unsellable…and black people don’t read…/end sarcasm
August 6th, 2009 at 5:53 PM
Thank God that’s all sorted out! Can’t wait to pick up my copy.
It’s fabulous! Even better than the previous covers!!
August 6th, 2009 at 5:54 PM
Joey (in SF Bay Area) Says:
Fabulous! Again, congrats!
Sarah Rees Brennan Says:
I am pretty overcome by how smokin’ Micah is.
I am also totally thrilled, and looking forward to this cover on my shelves.
tobias s buckell Says:
As someone with dreadlocked peeps on the covers of my space operas, I can only say “I love this cover” and I’m glad that things worked out, but saddened that this process had to happen in the first place.
You’re teh awesome Justine!
August 6th, 2009 at 5:55 PM
Mary Danielson Says:
This is such great news! I’m so happy Bloomsbury had the courage to correct their error – and even happier that the new cover rocks so hard. Congratulations on the victory and the fantastic new look, Justine!
August 6th, 2009 at 5:57 PM
Horray! It’s a lovely cover, and proves that it’s never too late to right a wrong. Let’s hope this sets a new precedent for all who love books: what you publish, read, and write should be as diverse as the world you live in. And I think the responsibility of making sure that happens falls on both publishers and readers.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:00 PM
Amy @ My Friend Amy Says:
I absolutely LOVE that cover. Congrats!
August 6th, 2009 at 6:04 PM
Little Willow Says:
Thank you, Bloomsbury.
Good job, Justine.
Kane Lone Says:
Now, the main thing that your publisher has to do is to make sure that this book is put on the regular YA bookshelf and NOT just on the “Black Books” bookshelf in bookstores. That a whole other fight in of itself. Good luck. Oh yes, and CONGRATULATIONS on getting a proper cover done.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:06 PM
I’m so glad Bloomsbury listened to what people have been saying, and I love the new cover!
Greeeat!! ^.^ Me loves!
I can’t wait for the book to come out!
And I like how you tag it as “state of the world” cuz yes, I think it goes to show that we CAN make it better if we care.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:13 PM
Michael M Jones Says:
That’s quite eye-catching. I’d definitely pick that up for a closer look, even without your name to draw me in.
Now we need to give Bloomsbury a treat, to reward good behavior. Positive reinforcement. It works on dogs, why not publishers?
August 6th, 2009 at 6:14 PM
Congrats for holding your ground, Justine. Not quite “nappy” but I won’t split hairs. It’s a much more attractive cover than the first version. My daughters will love it.
I still think there’s a problem on the staff that would be resolved if the publisher put some color in the editorial and marketing department. They seem a bit “tone deaf” and it should have never gotten to this stage.
But for now, the point was heard and we’ve all learned we can martial forces if authors will have the courage to speak up as you have. Thank you for setting what I hope is a long term example for others to follow.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:22 PM
Brenda Ferber Says:
Fantastic! I’m so happy for you and for the readers and for Bloomsbury!
Fabulous new cover. I can hardly wait to read the book.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:26 PM
This is fabulous; it’s a beautiful, catchy cover that at least attempts to reflect what’s inside. I will point out that this girl is still very light skinned and status quo pretty, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction!
August 6th, 2009 at 6:34 PM
I’m so happy! I love this cover and I’m so glad Bloomsbury went all out. I can’t wait to read it, I’m buying it as soon as it hits the shelves (two copies, one for me, one to giveaway in a contest!)
Michelle Zink Says:
Gorgeous! And much more fitting.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:35 PM
Lauren McLaughlin Says:
What a victory. Well done, Justine. And so worth the fight. I’m impressed by Bloomsbury’s fast action on this. Bravo to all.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:36 PM
Greg van Eekhout Says:
Definitely a step in the right direction. Congrats, Justine.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:39 PM
Carol Burrell Says:
It’s gorgeous and so is the model. Stunning and eye-catching.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:47 PM
I love the new cover. So much better then the old one even though they really only changed the person I still love it.
Fantastic! I love it. You rock, J! And a big Yay! to Bloomsbury for being such a responsive publisher.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:48 PM
Amanda Coppedge Says:
Love it! So happy for you!
August 6th, 2009 at 6:55 PM
serafina zane Says:
This makes me very happy. It’s nice to see they changed their minds (and now I won’t have to figure out the shipping to order the Australian edition…) Plus, even without the much more important issues, I think this cover is aesthetically better than the other one. Even before I’d heard I thought the black-and-white was too washed-out and the girl’s expression so serious I couldn’t take her seriously…this girl looks much less weirdly pretentious, and I like the way she seems kind of like she’s challenging you… like maybe she’s lying, perhaps.
Wow, rambling. But the short version is that this makes me very happy.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:57 PM
Thank goodness. I am so pleased that this is the decision and that you chose to speak out about the issue. I work in an inner-ring suburban library where a lot of my teens complain about not seeing themselves on book covers. This is a step in the right direction. I can’t wait to purchase this cover for my library and for myself.
Thank you for fighting white-wash. Thank you from my teens.
August 6th, 2009 at 6:59 PM
Jen Sheffield Says:
That’s so awesome! I’m relieved and excited and impressed. Good job to everyone who advocated for the change. Hurray, hurray!!!
August 6th, 2009 at 7:05 PM
Arianna Skye Says:
Wow! Now that’s an awesome cover! Congrats! Glad enough people spoke up about it and you get a more accurate portrayal of Micah.
August 6th, 2009 at 7:06 PM
Lori S. Says:
Oh my gosh! Good on them for going the extra mile, and congratulations to you too!
August 6th, 2009 at 7:20 PM
Oh! I just read PW and caught up!
Wow. Well handled and nicely-done, everyone who had a hand in this.
August 6th, 2009 at 7:23 PM
Danette Vigilante Says:
Oh, my gosh! It’s beautiful. I’m so happy for you and the whole publishing industry!
August 6th, 2009 at 7:26 PM
coe booth Says:
Wow!!! This cover is truly beautiful, and so is the cover model. I LOVE IT!!!
I’m sooo happy for you, Justine!
BTW, thanks for all the KENDRA shout-outs. You’re sweet!
August 6th, 2009 at 7:32 PM
yes a step in the right direction even though she doesn’t have close-cropped tightly curled hair and would never be mistaken for a boy as your protagonist is. seems bloomsbury just couldn’t go all the way. still disappointing but better than before.
btw, the one upside of this whole fiasco is that it introduced me to your work. i’d never heard of you before but after reading about this on numerous blogs and twitters, i decided to check one of your books out from the library. so, if nothing else, this has definitely raised your profile among people who don’t usually read this genre.
August 6th, 2009 at 7:33 PM
I am so thrilled that the cover of Liar is now representative of your words. I seriously felt like jumping up and down with glee, but my silly left knee is kind of sore. Congratulations from the YA/kids section at UBookstore in Seattle.
August 6th, 2009 at 7:36 PM
kim reid Says:
This is a lovely cover, Justine. Thanks again for initiating this change. It’s powerful. Even though writing is the best job in the world, this business is frustrating at times. But you and Bloomsbury have me thinking all things are indeed possible.
August 6th, 2009 at 7:37 PM
R.J. Anderson Says:
I love this a million, billion, quadrillion times better than the old one. The full colour photo makes it pop in a way the first photo cover never did, and the hiding in the collar looks so much more natural than the weird hairy mouth thing. Absolute LOVE for this. And I think it’s your deserved reward for handling this whole situation with such class and integrity. Congratulations.
August 6th, 2009 at 7:41 PM
Great outcome! Race aside, the new cover is much more dynamic than the old.
August 6th, 2009 at 7:43 PM
There we go!
August 6th, 2009 at 7:45 PM
Jeff Reid Says:
Congratulations on fighting the good fight and winning! You have one a battle for many other authors as well, who will also congratulate you on this victory. Plus, we will be changing the image at Storycasting to reflect this new cover.
August 6th, 2009 at 7:53 PM
That’s gorgeous. Not only props to you for speaking out, but major props for saying “now go read books by POC.”
August 6th, 2009 at 8:05 PM
It’s so beautiful. I am very happy you can now look on your book with full on happiness. Thanks so much for speaking out and making this change possible. It means a lot. We will show how thanks by buying or selling mutliple copies.
August 6th, 2009 at 8:06 PM
Julie Polk Says:
AWESOME. Way to use grace, honesty, dignity, courage, and empathy as the badass weapons they can truly be.
August 6th, 2009 at 8:07 PM
It’s gorgeous! I’m so glad that they changed their mind and came out with a beautiful cover that is true to the book!
August 6th, 2009 at 8:11 PM
Justine, this makes me so happy and brings tears to my eyes at the same time. *squeals with delight and thanks you again or speaking up*
The part I don’t get? Why couldn’t this have been the cover to begin with? It’s beautiful! I’d totally snap it up! So publishers, if you’re reading these comments, please don’t assume no one wants to read about people of color, that no one finds images of us appealing. Because it’s just not true.
August 6th, 2009 at 8:13 PM
Avalon's Willow Says:
I’m not happy. This is NOT a victory. That’s a beautiful girl on the cover. But to paraphrase someone else’s quote. “All black women are not shades of honey.”
The cover STILL looks nothing like your protagonist. The cover STILL shows bias against black faces, in this case dark black faces, non light, non mixed black faces.
That is not an afro. That hair is not what comes to mind, at least for me, when I think naptural. That hair looks like mine and I’m multiracial and light skinned.
I’m glad your publisher is no longer being blatantly racist. But being subtly racist – it’s just another day ending in Y. I live in a country where people call my president ‘Tanned’. That girl is lighter than he is.
Breadcrumbs are still breadcrumbs even if what came before was being totally ignored.
I recognize individuals will say ‘But they spent money on a photoshoot!’ or ‘You people are NEVER grateful’. But this should not be about ‘gratitude’ this should be about doing what’s right. And having spent money to correct a wrong they did intentionally is not a free pass to a grudging half-way effort.
This is equal to Dev Patel being cast to play the role of an EAST ASIAN prince. This is ‘Shut up already’. This is -STILL GETTING IT WRONG.
August 6th, 2009 at 8:16 PM
Megan Crewe Says:
So glad that Bloomsbury came through for you! And what a gorgeous cover image that is! Can’t wait to have it sitting on my shelf.
Yay, I’m so glad- the cover looks gorgeous!! =D
August 6th, 2009 at 8:30 PM
Shara S. White Says:
I am SO THRILLED for you! Now when I read/review this book and discuss its cover, I’ll only be picking on the font!
August 6th, 2009 at 8:36 PM
I LOVE it, and I’m so glad they went and changed it – especially that they made their own photoshoot! The result is beautiful and I’m extremely happy that I won’t have to “hunt” and Australian copy but that I’ll be able to buy it here, with that pretty cover
August 6th, 2009 at 8:41 PM
This is wonderful! The fact that Bloomsbury did this makes me very happy, and I look forward to purchasing the book! Very striking cover, by the way. Love it!
August 6th, 2009 at 8:51 PM
The new cover is up at Storycasting.com – happy casting!
August 6th, 2009 at 8:54 PM
Heather Z. Says:
Oh, it’s gorgeous. I’m in love with it already. I’m so happy for you Justine.
August 6th, 2009 at 8:55 PM
I’m with Willow. I am sick of saying “at least”. At least she is now black? Jesus. So, I’m glad that they “at least” stopped punching me in the face. But this year has taxed my patience, my allowance, my “at least” justifications, to the limit. I will buy the book. cause it sounds good and its not your fault. But they are still slapping me in the face. Fuck that.
August 6th, 2009 at 8:58 PM
Karen Kincy Says:
Excellent! Your new cover is GORGEOUS, as others have said before me, and I’m so glad Bloomsbury saw the light.
August 6th, 2009 at 9:01 PM
You caught more flies with honey…good work persuading, rather than just berating.
August 6th, 2009 at 9:04 PM
Zahra Alley Says:
AMAZING COVER! I love Bloomsbury for doing this!
Major congrats, Justine, I’m sure this must be a huge thing for you!
August 6th, 2009 at 9:05 PM
Reading other comments… I do agree with the other complaints that the girl on the cover is still relatively light-skinned and model-pretty. I’m still happy Bloomsbury took a step in the right direction, but yes, I still think there are stereotypes about what is “beautiful” that need to be overcome. I have a feeling it would be even harder for them to change the cover to show a face that isn’t gorgeous… I wonder if a book has ever been marketed with an intentionally “unattractive” or “unconventional” face.
The new cover is absolutely beautiful!
August 6th, 2009 at 9:15 PM
Congratulations! That’s an awesome cover even without all the issues. Knowing it’s now accurate is even better. I’m so glad they chose to change it!
August 6th, 2009 at 9:24 PM
Katharine Beutner Says:
I usually lurk here but had to pop up to say: what a gorgeous new cover! I’m glad that Bloomsbury finally realized how important this is.
August 6th, 2009 at 9:45 PM
Hannah Hartsoe Says:
Hello! Well I wrote this story for fun, and I wanted you to read it… I’m twelve years old and I love to write! I just wondered what you thought since your a pro It would mean the world to me if you told me your opinion of my short story, and vote for it! If i get enough votes I might win a writing contest for the Chicken Soup Teen Ink contest! Thanks for taking you time and reading my story if you do
August 6th, 2009 at 9:47 PM
I hadn’t heard, but that’s awesome! I really like the new cover. Actually, I like it better than the first one even without knowing what the main character looks like.
August 6th, 2009 at 9:57 PM
Deirdre Saoirse Moen Says:
I’m glad Bloomsbury moved. I agree with some other people that they may not have moved far enough. What Karen Kincy @ 62 said. It’s prettier and closer, and gives me some hope that more authors are going to win these battles.
I’ll buy the book, which I probably would have completely missed before this discussion, and I intend to donate it to a local high school when I’m finished reading it.
August 6th, 2009 at 10:06 PM
Benjamin Solah Says:
This is such a huge win for us. I’m really happy to see this and it’s such a striking cover.
I think your blog post and the many of us that spread the word, blogged and tweeted about it ourselves made this happen. It shows kicking up a fuss makes a difference.
Yay! It’s beautiful. Congrats, and thanks for standing up and being awesome.
August 6th, 2009 at 10:07 PM
Yeah! Thanks for being willing to speak up.
August 6th, 2009 at 10:30 PM
Neesha Meminger Says:
Congratulations, Justine. I know this had to have been a tough time for you. I’m glad that it has ended with your publisher supporting your vision. I look forward to reading this book, and more of your work.
August 6th, 2009 at 10:31 PM
Jason Erik Lundberg Says:
Incredibly glad to see that Bloomsbury was actually willing to change the cover to something more appropriate, although it’s unfortunate that it took such an incredible level of online furore to get them to open their minds; they could have avoided the whole mess if they’d listened to you in the first place.
Anyway, YAY! That young woman on the cover is gorgeous, and I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t sell.
Has Bloomsbury begun sending out ARCs yet?
I am so thrilled bloomsbury listened to you and to critics/readers. I was shocked that they blatantly ignored the skin color of your main character. It has always been one of my worst fears that, should I ever be published, my Greek MC would end up blonde and blue-eyed on the cover. I always prayed these things didn’t happen anymore, and was very disappointed to hear otherwise.
I do agree with the commenter above–the model is very light-skinned (her hands are the same color as mine, and I am not black…), and absurdly pretty. But for now I will take what I can get. I hope this sparks some change.
Also, thank you for talking about this whole issue; I am ashamed to admit that I don’t have a single black face on my bookshelf. Even the books that I own with black main characters have plain text covers (Toni Morrison’s Beloved comes to mind).
Thank you Justine. You should be proud of yourself for making a difference.
August 6th, 2009 at 10:34 PM
i’m really happy they changed the cover! i even wrote an email to bloomsbury complaining about the original cover. i like this new cover – the green really makes the cover pop.
August 6th, 2009 at 10:50 PM
Rasco from RIF Says:
Congratulations, I am certain it has been a tough several weeks for you….I believe many good things can come from all the dialogue of the past days and I commit to continue that dialoge!
August 6th, 2009 at 10:59 PM
Julia Rios Says:
Oh! Yay! This is wonderful! I can’t wait to buy it!
August 6th, 2009 at 11:09 PM
Ooh, I love it! None of the (slightly odd) hair in the mouth thing, either. This is perfect, and lovely. Perfectly lovely.
August 6th, 2009 at 11:15 PM
Jackie Reeve Says:
I know in this particular case we’re talking about a publisher completely disregarding the race of a main character in their book cover design, and I think this is a great victory for you, Justine. But it’s not the first time I’ve seen a publisher (especially in YA lit) COMPLETELY disregard the content of the book when picking the cover, race or no race. It’s a disservice to the genre. I’m a multiracial woman with very light skin, and a librarian who teaches children. It’s hard to explain to kids why the cover of the book doesn’t look like what the book’s about. Sometimes we do judge a book by its cover.
This is a huge triumph because the author and the online community got Bloomsbury to fix it. But I do think it’s unfortunate that it took a racially sensitive situation like this one for them to look twice at a bad cover. If they spent more time marketing a book’s content and not just marketing what they think teens will buy, maybe we would see more diversity and they wouldn’t have this issue again. And teens would be given proper credit for being the smart and savvy readers they are.
August 6th, 2009 at 11:21 PM
Diana Peterfreund Says:
Just to clarify one small point, the character is the book *is* mixed race. she’s half black, half white. (More complicated than that, as it so often is, but suffice to say that one of her parents identifies as black, and one as white, and she identifies as half black and half white.)
You can spend all day nitpicking every little detail of the photograph, but I applaud that the model is the same race and gender and age as the protag, with similar hair and wearing something like what the protag ACTUALLY WEARS in the book. (yay for jogging sweatshirts!) A triumph in the world of book cover design, let me tell you.
August 6th, 2009 at 11:40 PM
Stunning cover. A worthy result for your bravery in speaking out.
August 6th, 2009 at 11:42 PM
I am so happy. Happy that you contested the cover and that the publisher conceded and created a new one. Keep the fans posted and we will do what we can. Since we are the buyers, our mouths and money can influence change.
August 6th, 2009 at 11:50 PM
Very nice cover — much improved!
Kudos to you for speaking out and to your publisher for listening!
August 7th, 2009 at 12:14 AM
Hurrah for squeaky wheels! Congrats, Justine–this cover is *beautiful.*
I’m also happy that as much of a pain as this has been for you, you’ve chosen to use it to highlight the larger issue of race and perception in publishing. It’s gotten everybody talking, that’s for sure!
August 7th, 2009 at 12:24 AM
Yay I love it! GORGEOUS!
August 7th, 2009 at 12:46 AM
@Diana Peterfreund: Ah, so the protagonist is of mixed race? The model on the cover does seem to reflect that image more accurately, though I don’t think you can really predict how a person of mixed race “should” look. My roommate is half-black, half-white, but people always guess she’s Jewish or Hispanic. She has similar hair to the cover model, anyway.
August 7th, 2009 at 1:08 AM
Amazing! I generally wait for paperbacks, but I’ll cough up the difference in support of the cover change.
August 7th, 2009 at 1:20 AM
I love it! Thank you, Bloomsbury, and thank you Justine for speaking out when the old cover wasn’t right.
August 7th, 2009 at 1:23 AM
August 7th, 2009 at 1:56 AM
Christine Fletcher Says:
Kudos, Justine, for speaking up, and kudos to Bloomsbury for listening and then going all out on this gorgeous new cover. This cover blows the old one out of the water!
Good things came out of this discussion, more than this one cover change. Personally, I’m glad to have discovered the blogs Reading in Color and Color Online, as well as authors I never knew of before. I hope the discussion remains ongoing between authors, readers, librarians, parents, bloggers and publishers, and I hope that because of it, change continues to happen on these issues.
August 7th, 2009 at 2:20 AM
Yes! The only saddening thing is that to those who saw the original cover, it’s kinda obvious what they’ve done.
No matter, you did it! Power to the people!
Love the book, by the way (Battle of the Sexes).
August 7th, 2009 at 2:24 AM
I cried when I first found out about the original US cover for Liar – because I am a woman of color who had been made to feel very small. I cried again when I saw the new cover – because it is beautiful. Because it is true to the book. Because it is the right cover. Because it is gorgeous. And because I am happy about the change. I can’t wait to see the book in Philippine bookstores! Congratulations, Justine!
August 7th, 2009 at 2:28 AM
Great news Justine – so nice to have a happy ending to the story. And now I can buy the US version I won’t have to badger my mum to fit this into her suitcase when she comes out from Australia, which means more room for other Aussie books and treats
August 7th, 2009 at 2:40 AM
tricia sullivan Says:
Congratulations on the new cover! I wish you could have had something like this in the first place and not had this epic battle in public. Having to call out your boss on racism can’t be fun.
But by having the battle in public you’ve shown how much, much farther publishing has to go before literature represents people of colour fairly. It would be great if publishers could lead the way, but if they have to be dragged kicking and screaming, then at least readers are starting to tug.
I’m grateful for the links you’ve put up here and the attention you’ve tried to draw to writers like Coe Booth.
I agree with Christine @18 when she says ‘I still think there’s a problem on the staff that would be resolved if the publisher put some color in the editorial and marketing department. They seem a bit “tone deaf” and it should have never gotten to this stage.’
That is a very good point.
August 7th, 2009 at 2:44 AM
Congratulations on your beautiful new cover. I love it!
August 7th, 2009 at 2:56 AM
I don’t think you can, either, but I was specifically responding to the poster who said that the photograph looked more mixed race than black. If that is this poster’s opinion, she ought to at least be informed that it is in keeping with the text.
August 7th, 2009 at 3:46 AM
It’s gorgeous!! Congratulations!
August 7th, 2009 at 8:22 AM
Electric Landlady Says:
August 7th, 2009 at 10:52 AM
Annalee Flower Horne Says:
This cover is beautiful. I might just buy two.
August 7th, 2009 at 11:24 AM
After reading all the controversy with the white-washing, seeing this makes me very, very happy. Congratulations!
August 7th, 2009 at 11:32 AM
Sarah Laurenson Says:
Awesome new cover. And a big thanks for the link to Color Online!
August 7th, 2009 at 12:16 PM
I’m giving this cover two thumbs up!
August 7th, 2009 at 12:22 PM
I am so, so happy that Bloomsbury decided to make this change, and recognize the fact that neither you nor your readers felt the original cover was remotely true to the book, or your intentions for it. The new cover is beautiful — even beyond the deeper implications of the change, I think it’s much more attractive than the first version — and I will now make certain to buy a copy of the US edition when it’s released, rather than purposely buying the Australian edition instead, as I had originally planned.
I’m also glad that this wasn’t just ignored or swept under the rug — if any good comes of something like this, it’s that it brings the continuing issues of racism and prejudice to the front of our minds, rather than letting us just pretend they’re not still huge issues. Thanks for the links to all the great blogs you posted recently. I’ll be following yours, and those ones, pretty closely from now on.
August 7th, 2009 at 2:42 PM
I’ve been following this whole thing and give mad props to Justine as to how she handled the entire thing. I even made a post on my blog addressing the people who said she was to blame and she should’ve been more vocal about it sooner (you don’t blindly attack your publisher, do ya?).
So, I’m happy the cover changed. Now, what I’m not understanding is why people are getting so worked up about how the model doesn’t look enough like Micah. So many photographic covers portray the character differently than how they are depicted in the text. If we want to take a stance about it in THIS cover, why not pull up a document with every misinterpreted character in the history of photographic covers?
I think the best thing to do here is to let that drop. Let’s not forget the much bigger battle already won.
Justine: I really appreciate your support. However, there’s an historical context for the reactions of some commenters to the cover. While I love the cover and am extremely happy with it, it’s true that the model is more conventionally pretty than Micah, that her hair is not nappy, and that she is a bit lighter skinned that Micah (as I mentioned in my previous post Alana Beard is who I have in mind). There’s a long history of lighter skinned women being held up by places like Hollywood and Madison Ave as more beautiful than other black women, which is simply not true, but happens over and over again.
August 7th, 2009 at 2:51 PM
Oh, and my above comment is inspired by one my best friend Amee left last night that disappeared today. She said basically the same thing (a misinterpreted character is nothing to get worked up about) and it’s not here anymore. I’m not sure if it was censored, and for what reason, but I thought it was harmless and completely inoffensive, which is why I’m reproducing it.
Justine: I did not censor Amee’s comment. I have no idea how that happened. Though I have had report of at least one other disappeared comment. My site has been getting more traffic and comments than ever before. I do suspect that might have something to do with it.
August 7th, 2009 at 2:53 PM
Glenn Yeffeth Says:
Very nice cover – congratulations!
August 7th, 2009 at 2:58 PM
I hear you and not to let Bloomsbury off the hook, this is still a victory. Change is rarely sweeping. Obama getting elected didn’t sweep us into a post-racial society but it was a step in the right direction. So, too, with this cover. We still have the reality that pretty sells.
We don’t need others to tell us dark is beautiful. Bloomsbury and all will eventually come around.
We affected change. We can do more. There is always more to do. Are you in this for the long-term because I am.
August 7th, 2009 at 5:31 PM
The Skin I am in by Sharon Flake has a dark, and in my opinion beautiful girl on the cover. She is unconventional and the exception to what is deemed beautiful. The protag does not like her complexion and others reject her, too. Over time, she comes into her own. She learns to embrace the skin she is. She was always beautiful to me and by the end of the book, I know many a dark-skinned girl considered that maybe they are beautiful, too.
I have one beautiful honey colored child and one gorgeous, rasin, sunkissed baby (She will not be pleased being called baby, but I’m her mother;I’m allowed). You can’t tell me my daughters aren’t beautiful.
August 7th, 2009 at 5:36 PM
Thanks for mentioning us. I owe thanks to Justine for directing you all to us and Ari’s blog. We are glad to have you.
Purple Hibiscus and When Kambia Elaine Flew In From Neptune (the original hardcover) have dark-skinned models. No Laughter Here has a young girl with braids but her face is covered. You can see she has dark skin though.
We have more work to do people like blogging brown and buying brown. Color up your blog. If you need suggestions come by. Door is open and I’ll grab you a coke. Sit a spell.
August 7th, 2009 at 5:43 PM
You are amazing! Just spent some time at your blog. Your carnival dwarfs our Diversity Roll Call: POC in Sci-Fi & Fantasy. lol Love it! I tried to comment on your blog but I couldn’t. Definitely linking to your blog.
I thought I had passion and energy. Thank Maude for the young. Please tell me you’re young.
Mad respect for what you do.
August 7th, 2009 at 6:01 PM
I am so happy that Justine will no longer get penalized for something she didn’t do and fought hard against. We don’t have to be “thrilled” with Bloomsbury for how they fixed something that shouldn’t have needed it in the first place, but we can be thrilled that Justine’s stance and people speaking out was heard. It’s going to have magnificent ripples, even if the pebble is small. I’m looking forward to buying the book.
August 7th, 2009 at 8:10 PM
Thank goodness – sanity prevails.
August 8th, 2009 at 12:20 AM
If you want to know why commenters will not let go of the light-skin preference, maybe you should spend some time talking to dark-skinned girls who are bombarded with messages that they are not pretty. Check out the documentary about black little girls still choosing white dolls and as Tanita wrote elsewhere, what we have with this cover fits that middle of road, ethnic-looking model with more Eurocentric features, which implies if not white, be bright.
Your response is one of the reasons why others don’t want to let it go. You don’t think our invisibility is a big deal. After all we got something. The larger issue isn’t about simply mirroring Micah. It’s about presenting true representations of who we are. Aren’t you sick of the size 0, flawless, blonde beauty? I am.
August 8th, 2009 at 12:21 AM
Pope Lizbet Says:
OMG THIS IS AWESOME AWESOME NEWS! YAY!
August 8th, 2009 at 12:48 AM
“YA bookshelf and NOT just on the “Black Books” bookshelf in bookstores. That a whole other fight in of itself.”
Yes, it is. ((sigh))
August 8th, 2009 at 12:58 AM
Baby Power Dyke Says:
I cannot wait to pick this up in October!
August 8th, 2009 at 1:01 AM
JT Banks Says:
I love this cover!!
When black authors gather, we still laugh about the
stats that came out in the 90s that claimed white readership
had dropped between 13-19% . At the same time, reports came
out the black readership rose over 20%. Nobody seemed to
be asking the question, “could those readers that we thought
were white were actually black and are now buying books
that are identified as black?” Like me, every other black woman
I know has more books than a county library–most of them by
and about white folks.
August 8th, 2009 at 4:02 AM
I’m there with you. Some women own shoes, I have books. I have had to sneak books in the house. My book obsession is the one topic that gets my fella grumbling. lol I have so many books, I had to go out and take one over.
I like a good book. I like my hearing my story, your story and our story. I can’t imagine limiting my reading habits when the world is gloriously diverse.
August 8th, 2009 at 9:59 AM
And because I haven’t had my morning coffee and I’m feeling philosophical:
“[V]ictory is often a thing deferred, and rarely at the summit of courage….What is at the summit of courage, I think is freedom. The freedom that come with the knowledge that no earthly power can break you; that an unbroken spirit is the only thing you can’t live without; that in the end it is courage of conviction that moves things, that makes all changes possible.”
August 8th, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Zetta Elliott Says:
I’m late in responding to these comments, and perhaps folks have already moved on, but I wanted to support the comments made about Bloomsbury’s choice of a light-skinned model. As Justine correctly points out, Hollywood and Madison Ave. have long shown a preference for women of color who approximate white standards of beauty; you may not know, however, that this “preference” extends much farther back to the time of slavery. Here in Brooklyn, white abolitionists used to hold “mock auctions” at Plymouth Church, yet ONLY very fair-skinned female slaves were granted their freedom in this way. White abolitionists, committed to ending slavery, could still only sympathize with enslaved women who looked “almost” white (this also operated in literature–Uncle Tom’s Cabin being a glaring example). During this same time, dark-skinned African Americans were commonly depicted as apes–and those references continue today, with the President and First Lady being represented or referred to as chimps. So please don’t dismiss the significance of colorism in today’s society; light-skin privilege (of which I am a beneficiary) is an extension of white supremacy. We need to call it out whenever we see it, and insist upon the human/humane depiction of dark-skinned people in visual culture. Bloomsbury pulled a fast one on us, and I’m about as grateful to them as I am to those white abolitionists who only bought the freedom of pretty, light-skinned slaves.
My novel, A Wish After Midnight, explores the stark reality of race relations in Civil War-era Brooklyn. If you’re a blogger and would like a review copy, AND you’re willing to have a serious conversation about these issues, let me know (zettaelliott at yahoo dot com).
August 8th, 2009 at 10:05 AM
Oh, YAY! Congrats, Justine! I’m so relieved that this had a happy ending, and I can now suggest it for Christmas shoppers in my bookstore without having to say “…but ignore the cover”.
I’m so glad for you, and for the book. I’m reading the ARC right now, btw, and I adore it so far!
August 8th, 2009 at 10:51 AM
Library Mark Says:
Excellent. This will make it a whole lot easier for me to promote at the library Yes very good news. Thanks.
August 8th, 2009 at 11:11 AM
Penelope Lolohea Says:
The cover is beautiful! Congrats!
August 8th, 2009 at 4:45 PM
Late, but needed. Thanks for the lesson/reminder that is critical to the debate.
August 8th, 2009 at 5:02 PM
Oh my goodness, GORGEOUS! I would buy this book in a second. (Then again, that’s a given…it’s by you.) I’m so glad that Bloomsbury sprang for the photoshoot – the new cover is radiantly beautiful *and* true to the book. This is fantastic.
August 8th, 2009 at 5:52 PM
I was very excited when I heard the news they were changing the cover. Then I clicked on the link to see the picture and went, “…oh.”
This is a major improvement, don’t get me wrong, but…that still is not what the protagonist looks like (short hair like a boy, what?), and this shows there is still a biased for light-skinned black women. They went with as light a Black woman as they could find who would still instantly code as “Black.” Black enough to be Black and exotic, but not TOO Black or Black enough to be threatening.
All Black women are not the same color as my milk tea and have cute little spiral curls. And I say this as a light-skinned Black woman with cute little spiral curls. This is better, but it is *still* a cop-out.
But I guess we have to take what victories we can get. At least now there is a Black woman on the cover, and that’s, well, something.
August 9th, 2009 at 12:56 AM
News flash to white marketing folks: We love Halle, but she is not our ideal, she’s yours.
May I make a suggestion of a talented black woman who is closer to what many of us had in mind? Try Dionne Farris’ cover on Wild Seed-Wild Flower and while you’re at it play the track “Human.” I wore that tape out back in the day. On the cover she could pass for a boy. Inside the jacket with that smile, you see beauty. Power of the spirit.
Is anyone else lovin’ India Ari’s “I am Not My Hair”
August 9th, 2009 at 3:03 AM
Well…they tried. Wait…no, they didn’t. Fair-skinned models need work, too. But using THIS model in THIS situation makes me wonder if the publisher isn’t flipping us the finger.
But I disagree about comparing her to Halle Berry. This woman is beautiful. Halle is just plain, and Hollywood swearing she’s the most beautiful woman alive isn’t going to change my mind.
August 9th, 2009 at 3:57 AM
I wasn’t comparing her to Halle. I am comparing her to what Halle represents, what the model represents and we agree on that.
August 9th, 2009 at 9:56 AM
Another latecomer to this discussion and while I won’t repeat what’s already been said, I can’t stress enough the importance of Zetta’s comments. The cover, while an improvement on the previous one, is evidence of America’s discomfort with people of darker hues (particularly women). I think its sad that we still have to have these conversations, but the only way to correct the behavior is by bringing it to light and having intelligent discourse.
August 9th, 2009 at 10:32 AM
Australian Online Bookshop Says:
This really is great news. Finally comon sense prevails. Congrats to all involved in lobbying the publishers to get this sorted.
August 10th, 2009 at 4:55 AM
Yay! I’m so so glad to hear of this. I had originally planned to order the Australian book (I’m in NZ so it’s slightly cheaper/easier for me to get), but I think it’s so good that Bloomsbury have done this that I have to get the new American one instead, now. If only to show that a black face on a cover won’t hurt anyone’s sales! They hired a really beautiful model for the photo shoot.
Glad to hear you finally got a positive resolution for the paperback, anyway!
And go Bloomsbury for being brave and putting a black face on a cover.
August 10th, 2009 at 6:21 AM
Joe M Says:
Awesome! I’m glad Bloomsbury did the right thing and spent the extra money on this, which will have been considerable.
August 10th, 2009 at 3:10 PM
That is gorgeous! I’ll post it on my blog and facebook pages as a follow up, Justine. It’s wonderful what word of mouth can do.
August 10th, 2009 at 3:20 PM
What’s been so wonderful about this discussion is that, unlike nearly every other internet discussion involving race, the letters are thoughtful and kind. Imagine, a picture of a black girl and no name calling and no discussions about the President. I knew there was a reason I liked readers.
August 10th, 2009 at 6:02 PM
It’s beautiful. Really, really beautiful. Heh — I never thought there’d be an actual response/solution! That’ll teach me to be cynical. Well done!
August 11th, 2009 at 3:14 PM
Now that is an awesome cover. I would pick that up!
August 11th, 2009 at 10:24 PM
Also late, but had to add my congrats.
It’s a beautiful cover, Justine.
I’m glad they listened, & wish you many sales.
August 12th, 2009 at 11:05 PM
Pearl North Says:
Justine, I’m so pleased to see this new, far more appropriate cover for the U.S. edition of LIAR. Sorry that it didn’t happen without intervention but at least it’s nice to know that an author’s voice can be heard. Congratulations on a beautiful cover and most especially on your astute handling of the situation.
August 13th, 2009 at 4:51 PM
August 13th, 2009 at 6:34 PM
Cynthia Moyer Says:
I love the new cover — she’s gorgeous!!! I am glad everything worked out the way it should!!!
August 14th, 2009 at 7:42 PM
Mel Francis Says:
This is a beautiful cover and I will buy multiple copies to support it. I loved the old cover but was so sad to learn it wasn’t reflective of the book content. This cover is amazing. Congrats!
August 14th, 2009 at 10:18 PM
Wonderful cover! Props to Bloomsbury for the photo shoot. This image captures the essence of the, shall we say, not-quite-right cover, while remaining true to the character. Lovely!!!
August 16th, 2009 at 9:57 PM
Tamara Heiner Says:
boy, she is just beautiful. I love it. I love the premise of your book and can hardly wait for it to come out!
August 18th, 2009 at 10:29 PM
I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who went, “YES! Oh. Okay.” I agree, she’s a beautiful model and it is leaps and bounds an improvement for the publisher to listen and attempt to make amends.
However, it’s the stigma of the “light-skinned black woman” who’s closer to white folks and thus more marketable than a darker skinned woman.
I don’t want to be “picky” I want to be real about everything our culture needs to learn still. :/
August 20th, 2009 at 4:47 AM
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