Discover more from Burnt Toast by Virginia Sole-Smith
FAT TALK: We Have a Cover!
And you should preorder it.
So last week I talked about the amorphous torture of revising a book, where you never feel quite done or satisfied. But this week, I get to talk about one of the MOST FUN PARTS of book writing, because…it’s cover reveal time!
Here she is.
This beauty was designed by theBookDesigners and art directed by Christopher Sergio, VP Group Creative Director of Henry Holt & Co. I feel so lucky to be working with such talented people. Covers are so hard to get right because they have to do so many things — look great on a bookstore table! Look great in an Amazon thumbnail! Look great on Instagram! Make the author happy (we are the worst)! Convey the message of the book in a way that telegraphs to a whole variety of readers that yes this is the one, this book is for you!
But covers are also so much fun to figure out, and so satisfying because you do reach a definite end point in the design process. Sometimes that end point is just because everyone is exhausted and the production deadline is looming. But sometimes — and very much this time — it’s because you look at a design and JUST KNOW. They got it so very right.
Having an official cover means it’s also time for me to start telling you to preorder the book. Fat Talk comes out on April 25, 2023, so we have some time. And yes, I’m going to remind you to preorder a lot, like probably every week in some small way between now and then. But you can just go right ahead and preorder your signed copy now from my independent bookstore, Split Rock Books. You can also order it from your independent bookstore, or from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Target, or Kobo or anywhere you like to buy books. And here’s a fancy button that takes you to all those links at once!
Preorders, as I’m sure you’ve heard other authors explain, are hugely, hugely important to the success of a book. Let’s talk about why:1
Publishers use preorders to decide how much to invest in a book in terms of its marketing and publicity.
This directly corresponds to the amount of media buzz a book generates (think NPR interviews, TV appearances, and prestigious book reviews—all of which contribute in their own way to preorders and, of course, sales once the book is out).
Retailers use preorders (and that related media buzz) to gauge how many copies of the book to stock in stores, and whether or not to display the book prominently in the window, on the new arrivals table, etc. Amazon and other online retailers use preorders to decide how hard to push a book on their homepage or new release lists. All of this also drives future sales, because people who see the book while book shopping, are much more likely to buy it than people who cannot see it.
And: It’s pretty rare to make a bestseller list without strong preorders. That’s because preorders all count towards your first week of sales—and that’s when most authors make a list.
Authors (especially women authors) often feel like we have to give some caveat in the preorder conversation about how we don’t really care about sales, we just want the book to find readers, or we’re only telling you this because the publisher made us and sorry, sorry, promotion is so gross.
Not me. I really care about sales.
Not because I’ll make so much money off those sales. (That would be nice, but you have to sell truly huge numbers of books for that to happen.) But my first book, for a whole variety of reasons I’ll be unpacking in therapy till I’m 90, did not sell particularly well. This is okay. People are sort of forgiving of a first book not quite finding its market. But my ability to continue getting paid to write books hinges quite a bit on how well this second book does. Book sales also have an indirect impact on other components of writerly income like speaking gigs and freelance assignments. These aren’t my full-time jobs (this newsletter is!) but I learned a long time ago that diversified income streams are key to financial stability and success as a writer. Also: I love writing books. I want to write more.
But there’s a bigger reason that I care about sales for Fat Talk. And that is: We will not make real progress on dismantling diet culture and anti-fat bias until this conversation reaches a broader audience. And until (this part is depressing but true) corporations are convinced that consumers won’t pay for fatphobia and will, in fact, pay for something better.
I can’t emphasize enough that this isn’t about my ego. I want you to buy all the books about dismantling anti-fat bias. Preorder Aubrey Gordon (She has a new one out in January!). Buy Gianluca Russo. Buy Caleb Luna. Buy Joy Renee Arlene Cox, PhD. Buy Da’Shaun L. Harrison. Buy Sofie Hagen. Buy Amanda Martinez Beck. Buy Ragen Chastain. Buy Marilyn Wann.
There are so many more. And there are so many more fat authors who haven’t gotten their book deal yet because publishers are not convinced there’s a strong market for books by and about fat people.
None of these books—not even Aubrey’s first book, which I am just assuming you read but if not, for the love of God, buy that too!—made a major bestseller list. That’s because we haven’t gotten fat politics and fat justice into the mainstream yet. It’s still normal to think of a child’s weight as something parents should manipulate and worry about. It’s normal to think “fat” is the worst case scenario for your child or yourself. It’s normal to have a fraught relationship with food and exercise and how you feed your kids. It’s normal to assume that fat people should lose weight before they can access healthcare, or equal pay, or clothing that fits. Except, none of that is normal or okay. And one book isn’t going to fix everything. But a book can start conversations. It can give people tools. It can make space for more voices, and more conversations.
Fat Talk is a book for parents about how to name and navigate anti-fat bias when it shows up at our dinner table, at the pediatrician’s office, in our kids’ classrooms, and everywhere else in our family life. I think it’s also a book for teachers, coaches, pediatricians and anyone else who works with kids. And a book for anyone who needs to reparent themselves around food and body stuff.
Fat Talk is also, very much, the book that Burnt Toast built. I’ve been researching and writing it almost the entire time I’ve also been writing this newsletter, and we have been building this community. So I’m asking our community to support the book because all of you helped make it. And because we have the numbers here to make the book do what it needs to do.
So please preorder if you’re able. If that’s not within reach, you can still help so much by asking your local library to preorder it, and then placing it on hold if they do. Over the next six-ish months, I’ll periodically tell you other ways you can support the book. Burnt Toast subscribers will also get behind-the-scenes updates about the publishing process. (Coming up! An interview with Holt’s Christopher Sergio on how we landed on this particular cover.)
I promise that Burnt Toast will not become overly saturated with book launch talk. (Okay except probably book launch WEEK, when come on, what else do you think I’ll be doing.) I’m putting all of the book-related newsletters in their own category, both so you can easily find book info when you go to the newsletter’s homepage and so you can opt out of these emails and still get the rest of Burnt Toast if it’s just like, enough already. But hey, before you do that, why don’t you preorder it first.
Must Read: Smriti Mundhra for Elle on brown girls and eating disorders. Because of lines like this: “Eating disorder behavior is so closely tied with whiteness and wealth, that for many—including many women of color—the depictions of it can be unintentionally aspirational.” (Also now very curious to watch her Disney+ docuseries “Growing Up.”)
What We’re Wearing Right Now: ICYMI, this past Friday’s Thread about what we’re wearing to straddle the wild temperature shifts and body changes of early fall is so so so good. I’m still going through it and taking notes. And I wanted to add one super helpful resource: This fall wardrobe planner from Dacy Gillespie, who is just my favorite for thinking practically and also joyfully about clothes. I’m doing her inspiration gathering step now and am surprised-but-not to learn I want to live in striped tops, cardigans, leggings and clogs.