Kate Baer’s New Book (and 6 Alternate Covers)

What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer

Exciting news!!! We’ve long adored Kate Baer’s funny, moving poems about marriage, motherhood, friendship and being a woman, and her first book is now available for pre-order (Amazon, Books Are Magic). How gorgeous is the cover? I’m always interested in what cover ideas almost made the cut, so here are a few of the alternates…

Kate Baer

Says Kate:

“The process didn’t go how I expected it to go — I think I expected to not be picky, which sounds dumb. But I don’t go into a room and visualize how it could be better; instead, I go into a Pottery Barn and I’m like, I like that. So, I thought I’d get the cover and just love it right away.

“Harper Collins gave me this first one, and it felt pretty but forgettable. It was hard at first because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I lost sleep because I thought, someone worked hard on this and I don’t want to say I don’t like it. I had to channel some boss energy.”

Kate Baer

“Then they sent me the next one; I had asked for something bolder, and it was too far a swing in that direction.”

Kate Baer

“That’s when I started doodling covers myself. I had to think, what DO I want? If I don’t like these first two, then it’s on me. For a while, I thought, maybe we should have a picture of a woman, but then I thought, the title really speaks for itself.”

Kate Baer

“I thought this was such a cool image. I looked up the artist — Amy Ross. She does really beautiful work. I’d love for her to illustrate my next book!”

Kate Baer

“Then I was spitballing with friends. My friend Candis Jones and I had been talking about bad behavior of men, and five minutes later she sent me this and I just died. Sometimes you’re just in that mood.” (The background image is ‘Medusa’ by Luciano Garbati)

Kate Baer

“My other favorite was drawn by my friend Mo’s six-year-old daughter. I literally almost sent it to my editor. Everything about it, it’s just perfect. I’m going to have it framed.”

Kate Baer

“When Harper Collins sent me the final one — by designer Joanne O’Neill with a painting by Johan Johnsen — I immediately started crying. It was exactly what I’d pictured. They reached into my brain! It spoke to the tone of the poems and it was feminine without being weak, which I really liked. It was so beautiful.”

Huge congratulations to Kate on her fantastic book! Follow her on Instagram here, if you’d like. xoxo

P.S. The making of magazine covers, and U.S. book covers vs. U.K. book covers.

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  1. Christine says...

    This looks like the Three Women cover. Beautiful.

  2. Jess. says...

    Emily, the artist is Hayley Mitchell, and her prints (including this one) are available on One Kings Lane. And Etsy? xox

  3. Karli says...

    Can’t wait to read your beautiful poems, Kate x

  4. Cynthia says...

    Beautiful cover! I love looking at the difference between US and European covers too.

  5. What beautiful book covers! I agree, the one that they chose is feminine without being too soft – it’s perfect!
    Thank you for sharing :)
    xx
    Lily

  6. Emily says...

    It’s interesting to think how our individual interests guide us in certain directions when picking books, too! I’m actually much more drawn to the second illustration (the face), as well as the one done by the 6 year old. :)

    • Emily says...

      Actually, I would LOVE to own a print of the second illustration/painting (was that one done by Kate? I was a little confused on this point!). Any chance that the artwork will be sold?!

  7. Cecile says...

    This cover IS gorgeous…BUT it does REALLY look like the one of Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women cover. So not that original after all.

    • Mikaela says...

      I’m so confused by these comments, the only cover of Three Women I have seen is stark white with minimal black and red lettering. …if there’s another copy, I’d love to be able to add it to my collection.

  8. Vanessa says...

    Love Kate Baer, love this cover, love that I have a thing to look forward to!

  9. Kristina says...

    I love Kate’s poetry–it always feels so timely and sensitive. I just pre-ordered via Books Are Magic and receiving it in 6 mos will feel like the best surprise. Thank you!

  10. Caroline says...

    I also liked the second painting

  11. Lauren E. says...

    Wow, this is STUNNING. Love that Harper Collins included Kate in the process. A lot of times authors have no say at all!

  12. Alice says...

    I love this, I loved Robyn Hood, and I just know I will love reading this book.
    You made me happy today :)

  13. Erin says...

    Ah! It is so beautiful, just like Kate’s words are. I cannot wait for this to be delivered – ordered a few for friends too! Thank you for wrapping your poetry into a book for all of us, Kate!

  14. Nathalie says...

    Love the cover because it’s really similar to the wallpaper in my cozy, cozy bedroom. After a lot of initial resistance, my husband now loves it too (the wallpaper, he hasn’t seen the book. Yet.)

  15. Hilary says...

    Can’t wait for the release date!

    Kate, if you’re browsing these comments, I was such a big fan of your blog many years ago. It was so inspiring to hear from a woman who carved out her own time to read and become in the midst of mothering as the primary parent, that motherhood needn’t be such a greedy institution. And lo and behold, boom, you’re publishing a book! I’m just beyond thrilled for you

    CoJ team, would you consider featuring Kate for a beauty uniform or week of outfits? I believe we’d all stand prouder and kinder after benefiting from her wisdom and disclosure of where to find those overalls :-)

  16. Jordan says...

    What a fun post to share about the book cover process! I can imagine it would be a wild decision.

    I’m wondering though about the connection between feminine and “weak”. Towards the end of the post the author described the cover as “feminine without being weak”. What makes being feminine weak? And in my mind the opposite of feminine is masculine. Is masculine then the only way to be strong?

  17. Roxanne says...

    I would like to know where Kate gets those overalls she’s always wearing! I know this isn’t the topic right now…

    • Hi Roxanne! Thank you so much for asking! I actually just recorded an entire podcast about these overalls with Caroline Moss for “Gee Thanks, Just Bought It.” Just search “Gihuo Women’s Casual Baggy Wide Leg Loose Overalls” on Amazon. I know this sounds like something you google when you’ve given up, but I promise you will never want to wear anything else. Make sure to size up! xo

    • Lindsay says...

      Yes! They are linen overalls from Amazon – I think it was at her suggestion that I bought some last summer and LIVED in them. Search on Amazon and you’ll find lots of good options!

    • Brooke says...

      I recall her saying they were from Amazon. I think if you scroll through her Instagram you’ll find them.

  18. Jess says...

    I will dutifully read all interviews and listen to all podcasts by Kate because she is just real and life giving. You guys are a good match! Please let us know if there will be an event to go to. Something to look forward to.

  19. Mindy says...

    I would love to know if you know who is designing your cover while the process is happening! Like do you talk back and forth or is it a surprise like in TV shows (Okay, just Carrie Bradshaw)

    • Hi Mindy! It is a surprise! It’s nice to “meet” the designer after and say thank you! This final cover is by Joanne O’Neill for Harper Collins. The art is by Johan Johnsen, entitled Still Life with a Bouquet of Flowers. Thank you for asking!

    • Tracey says...

      Chiming in as a book designer here. It depends. For small publishers the process is generally very collaborative and the author tends to get a lot of say in it, which is good and bad. But for large publishers sometimes the process is done without the author and they get what they’re given! Meeep!

  20. Jael says...

    LOVE IT. I ordered four copies so I have a few for gifts and I am so glad to have this to look forward to this fall. Kate, you are a fucking gem and I adore you.

  21. CS says...

    Love the actual cover of the book. Strong, feminine, beautiful.

    • Anna says...

      I’m a it confused – for me, the first and the final iteration look quite similar? Also, the final version seems pretty similar to Lisa Taddeo’s “Three Women” that got so much buzz last year…

  22. Emily says...

    I can’t WAIT for the international release of Kate’s book, and that cover is perfect!! Love everything she does xx

  23. Karen says...

    Love her poetry. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Jody (Aspiring Writer!) says...

    I would love to know when in the process you choose the cover. Is the book finished first? Or do you work on cover even before it’s finished? Thank you!!!

    • Wesley says...

      As a book editor in a previous life we usually worked on the cover at the end of the design process. Now—I worked in cookbooks and design books, but usually we needed the final photos to come in before we worked on the cover. However, we were discussing what might work all along. I imagine fiction would be similar. You need the book to be (mostly) finished so the cover sets the right tone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t discuss ideas or have something in mind from the beginning.

    • Liz says...

      As a book editor, the answer to your question probably depends on the workflow of the particular publishing entity.

      At my firm, we often need to begin designing covers before the manuscript is finished. We’ve seen a detailed proposal and preliminary chapters, but the author may still be rewriting.

    • Hi Jody! WKOW was mostly finished when it went to the art department to get a cover. A few more pieces have been added since then, but most of the manuscript was there! Thanks for asking. xo

  25. liz says...

    love all of these covers!! damn, seems so hard to pick one

  26. Amelia says...

    I love the poems you posted of hers and plan to pre-order her book! But given how hard hit independent bookstores are by the pandemic, would you consider adding a link to Indiebound so folks have the option to shop local?

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780063008427

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes! We have our local bookstore linked to as well if anyone needs a specific rec! Xo

  27. Sarah says...

    What a great post! Super interesting and I love her poems <3

  28. jean goddard says...

    At first I thought this was a “pick the cover post” before I read the text. I picked your eventual cover right away because It so beautiful and in some way reassuring and warm. I can’t wait to read your poems.

  29. Caroline M. says...

    Oh! I really liked reading about this process. Like something I wasn’t supposed to see (but am actually allowed to!). This openness is reflected in Kate’s poetry too. Thanks for the inside look. We should talk more about the BTS of things!

  30. Katerra says...

    I really enjoyed seeing all of the covers. Congrats!

  31. Lauren says...

    As a designer, this whole post/process made me lol. Classic “I’ll know it when I see it” approach.

  32. Jenna says...

    Also the perfect book to display! Can’t wait for this. I also have never really read poems until I discovered Kate, and I can’t get enough of her work! She is literal genius.

  33. Rita says...

    This cover is bananas good and I can’t wait to read the book. I hope you interview Kate in NYC when things turn around. I will come!!!!

  34. Caroline Donofrio says...

    A gorgeous cover for a gorgeous writer. Cannot wait to hold this book! x

  35. Perfect post for National Poetry Month! <3

  36. Carolyn says...

    I’m SO EXCITED for this poet and this book!!! And I’m taking any kind of joy I can find right now.

  37. Leah says...

    The cover you picked is my favorite, and the 6-year-old one is my second favorite. I’m so excited to dig into this book, and I’m going to pre-order from Books are Magic now, along with Emma Straub’s upcoming All Adults Here.

    Once live events are a thing again, Joanna, I hope you’ll interview them both!

  38. Lucy Stills says...

    Obsessed with the cover and this is something I’ve ALWAYS wanted to know about but didn’t know who/how to ask! What a great article idea. Just sent it to my entire book club!

  39. Gemma says...

    I ABSOLUTELY love this cover. And I love Kate. Cannot wait to read this.
    Gxxx

  40. Agnès says...

    The 6 year old portrait is SO great; the face!
    Love that post, it is fascinating.

    THANK YOU so much, CoJ, for your work, right now. I think of you guys, I hope you’re alright Joanna, the whole team and your NY readers, and I like you all, and I’m sending lots of thoughts. These are difficult times and we need honest writers like you, and just like Mark Darcy with Bridget Jones, I love you just the way you are ;-) from France (I’m tired, so maybe it doesn’t make sense, a thank you was probably enough!!).

    • Leah says...

      I totally agree; you guys are doing a great job. xoxo

  41. Ruth says...

    I am SO SO SO excited for her book. I am not really a poetry person but ever since I discovered Kate, I am completely obsessed with the real, emotive and thoughtful words she creates. Can’t wait for this!!!

  42. LP says...

    To me this looks a little too much like Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing for comfort. I suppose they’re both marketed towards an urban dwelling, educated, Millennial population that’s reckoning with its values and is immersed in the same zeitgeist, intellectually and aesthetically. (See: the recent post on The Cut, “Will the Millennial Aesthetic Ever End?”)

    • Taylor says...

      Agree!! Also very similar to the Three Women paperback cover.

  43. Julie says...

    LOVE the idea of the article, and if you can’t have the drawing by your friend’s six year old, then the final is PERFECT.

  44. Ellie says...

    Ooh, I really liked reading about this process. Thanks for this. That final cover choice is gorgeous.

  45. Allyson says...

    This is fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing, Kate. Got my preorder in.

  46. Abbey Nova says...

    I adore that cover and Kate and you! Going to preorder now!

  47. Julie says...

    LOL at the medusa one. Maybe for the next print?

    • Gene Attell Fischer says...

      Haha, that one seems so different than the rest!

    • Emma says...

      I would buy that book without even knowing what was inside based on the Medusa cover! Too good.

    • Meredith says...

      I agree with Emma! I would have bought the Medusa one with zero consideration for contents because wow! And now I need a miniature of the sculpture or a print for my office. . .

    • sara says...

      omg Meredith, that sweatshirt! You are a saint for finding it

  48. N. Rogers says...

    The final cover choice would make for an awesome puzzle! May have to Google it and see if one already exists!

  49. amy weber says...

    This look behind the scenes was very interesting to see!

  50. Hugh Janus says...

    I really like the flowers. Beautiful in this time of our lives.