Can a Baby Sell a Book?

Christine Gross-Loh, PhD, had her first child in the US in 2000 and raised him here for five years. Then her family moved to Japan. Everything she knew about “the right thing to do” was turned upside down. She realized there were lots of ways to rear a thriving child. “Our experiences raising kids abroad were so different and eye-opening that I started wondering what parents everywhere believe ‘good parenting’ is and whether there’s something we can learn from their approaches too,” she says. Her new book is Parenting Without Borders, and Gross-Loh hopes the cover conveys a lot of her exploration in just one glance:

“I’m in awe of writers who come up with great titles for their works. I once heard a book editor declare that she acquires 99% of her books because they have a fantastic title.  She probably would have passed on mine. I had a lot of trouble deciding on a title for my book—in fact, my agent and I sent my book proposal out with a working title, which was immediately abandoned after the book was acquired by Lucia Watson at Avery.

“For months afterward as I researched and wrote the book, Lucia, myself, and a bunch of colleagues I desperately reached out to tried to come up with one title after another, but none were really inspiring.

“Then Lucia came up with a new title: Parenting Without Borders. I loved the catchy sound of it and got a lot of positive feedback. Several friends then asked what the cover would look like. ‘I think that if you have a globe somewhere on the cover, the combination of the design and title will really help people get what “parenting without borders” means,’ one friend remarked.

“It turns out the Avery team was on the same wavelength: they had already been working on a cover design revolving around the motif of a globe. The publishing team and Sara Wood came up with two designs, which were both so appealing that it was hard to choose between them: one was a drawing of a globe with some jigsaw puzzle pieces missing and scattered nearby. I liked how the puzzle was a nod to a phrase in the book about how figuring out how parents around the world raise their kids felt at first like being faced with a puzzle I could not solve.

“The second design, which you see here, was a photograph of a baby puzzling over a globe, with a neat, subtle dotted yellow line weaving back and forth across the cover. I loved this clean, fresh design immediately for many reasons. The yellow line echoed the literal and figurative journey I’d taken while investigating my book—not always a straight path, but heading steadily toward a destination nonetheless. In fact I think this is something most parents can relate to—parenting is so rarely straightforward, but that’s OK—meandering along and enjoying the ride is important too. And I feel having a baby on the cover sends out a very positive message: if we let ourselves be as open as an infant, utterly without stereotypes or preconceived notions, a whole world can be ours for the taking. That is the message of my book that I hope resonates the most with my readers: that parenting with an open mind and looking outside the cultural box will give us a global village’s worth of ideas and wisdom that can help us to raise all our children well.”