A Book Cover Even a Boomer Can Love

Boomer Book Covers Speak Volumes

As one who advises marketers on imagery that will appeal to Baby Boomers, my book covers are doubly important to me. I’ve always argued for what I believe will make an authentic connection, but I don’t always win.

But this time, I got exactly what I wanted—and I didn’t have to fight for it. The only instruction I gave the publisher was this: I wanted a cover that reflected the edginess of the men and women who are most likely to be the readers of my book.“Fierce with Age: Chasing God and Squirrels in Brooklyn” relates the ups and downs of the tumultuous year I spent recently in New York facing, busting and ultimately triumphing over the stereotypes of aging. Along the way, I nurtured a love-starved friend through a doomed affair with a younger man, wrestled with the meaning of an exploding fish and regained my passion for life at the side of my squirrel-crazed dog, Lucky. I wanted a cover that could be edgy, funny and deep simultaneously. But how to attain this?  In my opinion, and to my relief, the publisher got it right. Rather than analyze it pixel by pixel, here are some of the principles they applied.

Boomer Marketing Messaging Principles

1. Forget about pastels and sunsets. We may aspire to serenity, but we are anything but fading away into the sunset. This book cover, like us, is more closely related to graffiti than to faded versions of ourselves. This cover says: “We’re here. Deal with it.”

2. A lot of the action takes place in a city park, so the bench functions as both representation and metaphor. To get at the subliminal, symbolic message, note what’s not on the bench: any of us. We are turning the stereotype of old folks sitting on the sidelines of life upside down.

3. Talking about symbols, how about that squirrel? Squirrels are as edgy as they come, particularly Brooklyn squirrels. And without giving too much of the story away, let me say one thing. All I wanted throughout the course of this memoir was to regain meaning in my life. Faced with many of the challenges, losses and disruptions associated with growing older, I spent a fair amount of time struggling against my own uncharacteristic resignation. It was observing my beloved dog Lucky, and her irrepressible belief that despite all the evidence she would one day catch a squirrel, that breathed life back into my spirit.

4. In my tradition, God is never portrayed. We are not even allowed to speak the name of God out loud. God is perceived as too mysterious, too awesome: too far beyond the understanding of mere mortals. While we can aspire to Godliness, as the mystics teach, we spend most of our lives in real time shivering in dread and awe before the unknown. I like that the cover hints of mystery, like the empty chair at the Passover table set for the Prophet Elijah to come.

And where am I? Like the subtitle says: Chasing God and Squirrels in Brooklyn.