Today's guest for the CRAP is Gwen Kacz, writer, artist, game designer, part-time mad scientist (retired). Her debut novel, AMONG THE RED STARS, releases October 3rd from HarperTeen.
Not totally amateurish, but it clearly needs work. It's too low-contrast, and it's obvious that I'm working with preexisting artwork that wasn't designed to fit the space. Also, artwork that looked great on my DeviantArt account was not necessarily cover quality. Later on I made a second one.
This one is nice and clean, but it doesn't communicate the basic information that this is a YA book about girls. No one would be able to tell what this book is about or who it's for based on this cover. Clearly I needed a professional designer.
How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house?
About a year in advance, I think.
Did you have any input on your cover?
I was amazed at how much input I got! The designer actually emailed me to ask for photos of the planes and uniforms, so not only does it look amazing, it's all historically accurate, too.
One of my requests was that if Valka was on the cover, she should be facing forward. A lot of YA covers feature girls looking back over their shoulders, a pose that looks vulnerable and powerless. I wanted Valka to look like she was in control. I love the assertive pose she has on my cover!
How was your cover revealed to you?
I just got it in an email. There was some back and forth with tweaks, but the final cover is still very close to the original draft.
Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art?
Yeah, I did a cover reveal on YA Books Central and it went great!
How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like?
It was a process, but I think we'd gotten the final draft nailed down about a month ahead.
Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release?
Of course! The cover reveal is really your first big book news after the deal announcement, so it's a very exciting moment. It was hard to be patient!
What surprised you most about the process?
I was completely surprised that they went with an illustrated cover. I love illustrated covers, but you really only see them in middle grade these days; YA usually goes for photo covers instead. So I didn't even ask for an illustrated cover. I was thrilled when that was what I got!
Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety?
Remember that everyone involved wants to give your book the most amazing cover possible!