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Creative Brief

What Would Philip Roth Do?


Front Cover Text

Title: What Would Philip Roth Do?
Subtitle: A Memoir About Banjos, Literature, Sex and Hebrew School
Author: Matthew Check

Book Genre



Paperback, eBook, Audio

Trim Size

5.5 X 8 inches


A memoir about a Jewish banjo player’s search for the perfect woman and his imagined conversations with Philip Roth along the way.

Example Book Covers

Example Book Cover Descriptions

Portnoy’s Complaint: The idea here is to give a nod to the old school Philip Roth novels
The Art of Memoir: The text and edginess
Jewish: striking, simple but not boring. The crossout makes it funny.
Pepperoni Jalapenos & LSD: looking for a similar edginess of this cover
Survivor: the retro look
Snuff: the retro look
Miss ex-yugoslavia: quirkiness

Wrong Direction Book Covers

Wrong Direction Book Cover Descriptions

Educated – boring, looks like clip art and a self-help book
The Storyteller – conservative, boring and basic
What My Bones Know – I don’t like the image, tone, or font. Also looks too busy.

General Likes & Overall Vision

1. Retro, maybe with a nod to Philip Roth novels from the 70s. One dominant color. Nothing conservative. I like the fonts that look like handwriting but this isn’t required. Titles that dominate the page. All that said, I want to lean heavily on the cover designer’s expertise and research into what is currently trending in memoir cover designs.

2. This memoir is mildly edgy and very funny. There are a lot of literary references but in a fun way. The story is about a Jewish banjo player in search of the perfect woman. Throughout the book are imagined conversations with his literary idol, Philip Roth. Text might be enough, however a potential image could be a banjo (either a photograph or illustrated).

3. The author has recurring phrases that I would love to make reference to on the cover if possible, perhaps as a series of handwritten lists. I’m open to suggestions as to how to get some or all of these words on the cover. They don’t necessarily have to be in list form. These words could be background art (perhaps with a check mark next to positive words and words with an x next to words the author doesn’t like). 


Things I once hated but am okay with now

  • Rim jobs
  • Jews for Jesus
  • V.D. aka Avoid-the-clap-Jimmy-Dugan
  • Tot Shabbat
  • Jelly-sounding plotz
  • Mustafa Ali of the Institut with no E
  • Ramallah in the spring
  • Bible & Bagels class every third Thursday in the Sarah and Bernard Livschitz Family Library


Things that Johanna likes (yukk!!)

  • Manu
  • Ramallah in the spring
  • Turkmenistan
  • Nazi smegma
  • Ebola babies
  • Kofi Annan (is she sleeping with him or not?)
  • Writing FB posts about how much she loves Palestine
  • Sophie’s androgynous zebra-striped boyfriend who talks about films


People my age my father compares me to (“disappointment”)

  • Jeff Stein – Wharton
  • Steve Stein – Emory
  • Henry Klein – lawyer, even if he is a public defender
  • All his friends’ kids who married a Jewish girl
  • Anyone married to a woman who isn’t British
  • The entire cast of Princess Bride

Dislikes & Things to Avoid

Conservative and boring covers
Covers with just a photograph or snapshot with a title
Anything wistful and nostalgic, wrong tone for this project

Stock Image Budget

At a Glance


$1,200 - $1,600


Traditional Publishing, Self-Publishing


3 weeks after start

Pub Date



Katya Fishman
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