An Open Letter To The 20-Year-Old Faceless Girl On My Book Cover

As ever, Tara Sparling talks a lot of sense. The answer to the problem: take control of your own covers. Which you can only do by taking control of your own publishing. When I wrote Sharon Wright: Butterfly, I fell in love with Sharon. As I’ve said elsewhere, that would be a stupid thing to do, because Sharon woos the way a female mantis might — knowing that, when she’s done with him, the male may have to die. Scratting through pics of all sorts of women, I came on one that precisely embodied all the cunning, deceiving amorality I had put into this character — and that’s the pic that appears on the front of the book. God knows what a regular publisher’s marketing people would have done with the book — but I’m quite sure they wouldn’t have captured the true essence of Sharon.

Tara Sparling writes

Open Letter To The 20-Year-Old Faceless Girl On My Book Cover

I know it isn’t technically your fault. You didn’t ask to be there.

One day you’re just a working model standing on a beach, a clifftop, a bridge, or under a lamppost; the next, you’re blazing across bookshelves and bookshop windows, the cover girl of a bestseller.

I know you were just thinking to earn a few quid, getting your photograph taken whilst preserving your anonymity (because your job is to never face the camera, and girl, are you GOOD at that). You didn’t ask to be the Faceless Representative Of All Femininity. And yet, here you are.

Or rather there you are, your twenty-year-old legs firmly planted on the soil of whichever dreamy landscape was photoshopped around you. There you are, your twenty-year-old arms lithe and long, clutching that old-fashioned handbag, quaintly addressed letter, or hand of a small child. There you are, facing away from me, your slim and trim twenty-year-old body…

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