When I was 7, I wrote a “book” called “It Can’t Be” about my elementary school classmates, and I printed off copies of my “manuscript” at Kinko’s and wrapped them in plastic report covers. When I was 15, I wrote another “book” — a compilation of fictional stories that parodied high school gossip into adult situations. (Been on this sarcasm/satire kick for a minute, son!) The cover to “It Can’t Be” was the title and my full name in large text, probably the equivalent of 14-point font, which was the largest that Canon typewriter could make. The cover to the high school one was made with clip art. I always did the best I could with the resources I had, at any age!
I knew for my first, grown-up, real, actual, 30-and-paying-bills, sent-to-a-printing-press, Amazon-and-Barnes-and-Noble-linked book, it had to be special. Because it’s a book about Detroit, I wanted it to be something that is beloved among Detroiters yet still recognizable to people outside Detroit. And what’s the one thing Detroiters and Michiganders miss when they move away, or the one thing tourists can’t get enough of? Vernors, of course.
You kind of have to think like a marketing person here, because people actually do judge books by their covers. I wanted something that I knew would stand out. Something I knew would make you do a double take. The Ambassador Bridge is lovely, but from afar, it looks like a bridge. We all know what the Detroit skyline looks like. And I didn’t want to go with something too obscure to non-Detroiters, like a Pewabic tile theme or something like a pair of gators.
I knew it had to be something I loved. I pitched the idea to Anne Trubek, my editor and publisher at Belt, and Haley Stone, our illustrator. Haley nailed it. I was sitting in my cube at work when the first mock-ups came, and it took everything in me not to run around the office screaming. This, I think, sets the tone for the message I want to convey about Detroit. Please judge this book by the cover.
We’re getting closer and closer to the release date and I’ll be sharing more here on my site (and hopefully other sites too?) as we go along. In the meantime, you can pre-order “Jackass” here.