What happens when a book goes out of print? In the olden days, that was that. But nowadays you can reissue the book yourself via print-on-demand (POD) publishing. One of the pleasures of this route is to choose your own cover for the book.
For years I’d thought of reissuing my young adult novel Trouble’s Daughter: The Story of Susanna Hutchinson, Indian Captive. Part of my reluctance was due to the computer-related challenges. I also had to choose a new cover because I didn’t have the legal right to use the one made for the Delacorte and Dell Yearling editions of the book. It’s relatively easy to find stock images at little or no expense. But I wanted a professional book illustrator, though I didn’t have the kind of money to pay one.
So, the Trouble’s Daughter reissue remained on hold for a decade until recently when a small miracle occurred. One of the descendants of my true-life protagonist, Susanna Hutchinson Cole, came into my life and took a great interest in seeing the book return to print. Captain Robert K. T. Cole, Jr. (retired, U.S. Marines, and Purple Heart recipient) contacted me through my website to request more information about his ancestor Susanna, who married his fourteen-times great grandfather John Cole. The Captain was also researching Susanna’s more-famous mother, Puritan firebrand Anne Hutchinson. Our correspondence began. He wanted to purchase autographed copies of Trouble’s Daughter for his children and grandchildren. It was a pleasure to sell him the fifty remaindered hardcovers I’d been stashing in my attic. Almost unbelievably, the Captain sought to buy even more copies so we eventually got into the discussion of how that might be possible through a print-on-demand venue such as Amazon’s KDP Publishing.
It was my great joy and privilege to hire, with the Captain’s financial help, the talented artist Ronald Himler, to paint the new cover art for Trouble’s Daughter. Ron illustrated my book Redcoats and Petticoats twenty years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. I also engaged a professional art director (and artist), my friend Christy Hale, to work with him. You see the happy result here. The Captain now owns the original painting.
Ron read Trouble’s Daughter, came up with a few cover concepts and allowed me to pick the one I liked best. I’ll explain the artwork. Susanna, whose original clothes had been burned by her captors, wears a deerskin cloak. The clouds behind her reflect her inner emotional tension. As the clouds descend to her right, the sun breaks through behind the misty inlet on which a Lenape warrior, Wam-Pak, rows a dugout canoe with Susanna sitting in front. Separated from her family, who were murdered in a massacre, she does not know what the future has in store for her. The two women behind her, her mother in Puritan garb, and the wise woman, Som-kway, represent the most important influences in her psyche. The swans, one of Susanna’s totem animals, express her wish to be free of emotional conflict.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the new cover art. I’m also happy that after much effort the technical challenges of launching the new edition onto the Amazon KDP website have been overcome. Susanna, again, has the promise of new life.
Now comes the fun of ordering books. If you want your own copy, it’s available as a paperback as well as an e-book. A hardcover edition through Ingram is in the works.