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What They Don't Tell You: Covers

Many years ago, at a converence far, far away, an agent told a group of writers not to worry about your cover because, more than likely, you won't have any say in it. And I accepted this as truth, giving little thought to what my cover would look like.

And then I got a book deal and I became VERY concerned with my cover. And VERY concerned that I wouldn't have any input into my cover. Would the art director read my book? Would my editor fight for a decent cover? What if I hated my cover... would I have to live with it?

Now, before I answer these questions, I want to stress that this blog post is based soully on my experiences with one publisher, one time. Like everything in the publishing universe, each author's experience is slightly different.

When I first started to my editor about my cover, she asked me to send her a mood board.

"What's a Mood Board?" I asked.

Basically, a mood board is a document of covers you like and elements that you think might be helpful for the designer. (Here are my examples)

And of course, I expected that the cover I saw would resemble those... except I threw a monkey into my explanation: Since the book is going to be a paranormal, I wanted to make sure that it stood out from all the other dark and gloomy covers with a bright, fresh take on the genre cover.

Here's how I described what I like and don't like. Please do not be offended by what I say... this is a personal opinion from the POV of the author in regards to It's A Wonderful Death.

Word to the wise: when you tell your art department what you like and then ask for something totally different, there's a good chance you're going to get something totally different.

Now, I can not sing the praises of my editor loud enough. She is responsive, incredibly open to my thoughts and onslaught of questions and the cover was no exception. I had a chance to see the concepts for my cover and give feedback. I also felt comfortable enough to show some of my middle school students the covers and get their thoughts... which, to my surprise, were not at all what I expected. I relayed their thoughts, suggestions and the like to my editor and they were well received.

Which is where this blog ends because I'm waiting to see what they come back with. But there's one more twist that people don't realize. Even if we come up with a cover that I love, my editor loves, my agent loves, we are still subject to the approval of the almighty Barnes and Noble.

Yes, that's correct. Even if the Heavens part and St. Peter himself bestows a blessing upon the cover, B&N can veto it. And then it's back to the drawing board. And that does happen. I know friends who have been in just such a situation.

So cross your fingers for me that the stars align and we are met with benevolent approval because I've got a secret: the reveal of the cover is scheduled for 1 month from today. Shhh! Remember, it's a secret!

The one (okay, one of many) thing(s) I've taken away from this process is your have to BE FEARLESS in what you want, but you also have to be open to what you get!

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