Have I shown you this cover yet?
Is it not stunning? So ORANGE it is. SO orange. I immediately want one of those Outshine Tangerine Carrot ice lollys, as the Scots call them. I want to roll around in that sizzling hue. I love, love, love the vibrant colors. *happy sigh*
This final cover is the result of a lengthy negotiation between my understanding of the book’s characters, and the designers’ understanding of the job before them. I’ve been asked not to share design “dud” rejected for the official cover – and really, it wasn’t a dud, per se, it just wasn’t right for this book – but the original concept introduced to me was a broad lawn on which two girls lay – separated by a lot of space. Unfortunately, they were separated from the reader as well – we looked down on them from far, far away, and to me, they looked tired, or hung over, or …something passive. This was brought back to me cropped in various ways, lightened, darkened — but it was variations on a theme, and for me, it didn’t work no matter how we angled our gaze. For one thing, there was a glut of books a few years ago that looked like lawn-care manuals with all of that grass. For another, a quick check through internet images will net romantic YA novels like STEALING PARKER by Miranda Kennally and the paperback of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by that one guy — both with people lying on lawns. And there are more. MANY more. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong a lawn, one of the characters in the novel is not a product of suburbia, and would probably never be found just lying down on nature — not public nature, anyway. You don’t know where that’s been. We take so much for granted, culturally, and we can be quite tone-deaf sometimes about projecting our perceptions. So, it was a “no” from me, over and over.
It is hard enough differentiating a book from the herd; it’s easier when your book doesn’t look like another book that just came out. Hopefully I didn’t frustrate too many people as I quietly lobbied for a whole new design. And asked my agent to help me lobby for a new design – and we got one! And it just pops with that brilliant color.
The designs you see accompanying this book are MY design duds. Now, I don’t always do as much public PR stuff as I *cough* should with regard to books (still vainly hoping that merely writing them is enough) but as soon as I knew I’d have a book out in February (a discovery brought home to me by the ARCs arriving two months ago – previously I understood there was an Autumn release date, not early-early Spring) I started checking into costs and considerations on creating swag for giveaways.
Aside: There is a wildly misunderstood notions by those outside the industry and some authors who are independently published or published through a small press, that only THEY have to worry with doing their own PR. Haha, no, I am published by one of the BIGGEST of the “Big Six” (which is now Big 5, since two morphed into one RandomPenguin) and this is still something I need to do, and it is my money that goes into it. (While we’re on the topic, did you read that the Author’s Guild reported most writers earn below the poverty line? Unless your name is Joanne and you wrote about wizards whilst living in Scotland, you’re usually not rich. Thanks to Tech Boy, I worry a bit less about this, but…) It’s a choice we all make, how much of our advance we plow back into PR stuff, how helpful and fun it is for readers, etc. Wise writers have advised it’s a better use of time/funds than social media.
A rummage through Google brought a few helpful ideas to the fore, beginning with Sherri D. Ficklin’s tips on price and practicality, on through the magical Joyce Wan, and into the wilds of Etsy, a dangerous place to go with your wallet. I found quite a bit of fodder for swag, but the most helpful thing has been the niecelet currently living here rent-free being a newly minted graphic designer with an MFA in Advertising and Art Direction from Academy of Art University. I advise EVERYONE to find one of these if they can, trés helpful. (Oh, don’t look like that. I’m not using her, I’m a client. And, I’m going to pay her. Eventually.) We did a lot of brainstorming through the summer on what we could come up with, and… I said “No” to her a number of times, and felt increasingly embarrassed about it. However, as she reminded me repeatedly, at the end of the day, nobody is going to love my book project more than me, so I sat down and did some actual designing myself. Niecelet made it look like it wasn’t done by chimpanzees using broken crayons on a laptop screen, and the upshot is that bags and magnets containing my design should be arriving next month.
I feel professional! And excited! And a little horrified by how expensive it is to get things printed on bags! Never mind, though – it’s a great way to connect with librarians and bookstore owners, and some lucky person in a few months will get a finished copy of the book with a bag or a magnet or — heck, maybe both. Stay tuned, ALL SHALL BE REVEALED…