About that cover

It’s been a rather ticklish week for me. Since the HarperCollins Children’s Books Fall 2011 catalog went out, I’ve gotten some seriously spirit-bolstering correspondence from YA book bloggers and readers (when you’ve spent years working on your first novel and now it’s sitting on the runway, painfully far back in the line for takeoff, even just “Hi, I want to read your book” can make your day). The fact that anyone has added “The Beginning of After” to their Goodreads “to-read” list, let alone hundreds, still feels a little unreal. But enough about me and my angst.

So much of the positive feedback thus far has been about the book’s cover, and I wanted to share some thoughts on that. Your book’s cover is one of the things you really don’t have control over as a debut author. Once upon a deluded time, I pictured myself and a designer huddled together over coffee in NYC, talking about my “vision” for the jacket image. (Pause for laughter.) Um duh, it’s not like that. And that’s fine, because I’ve never had a clear idea about what should first greet potential readers of TBOA. When my editor asked me, early in the process, whether there was anything I did or did not want on the cover, I couldn’t think of anything, aside from maybe a vampire and bare boobs. “I trust you guys to do what’s best for the book,” I told her, and I really did. The folks at HarperTeen definitely Know What They’re Doing.

Because look at what they came up with. I have to admit that at first, I wasn’t sure. It’s beautiful, of course. But is it special enough? It’s so simple, will it grab people’s attention? Then it dawned on me. Yes, it’s simple — but like in fiction writing, there is great power in simplicity. And different people will perceive this image different ways. It can be many things, anything, at once: This girl is sad, and reflective, and strong, and hopeful. She seems lost, yet found. All of that is evocative of Laurel’s story. I’m so grateful that the cover can accomplish this and capture the eyes and hearts of readers. I can only hope they like the inside as much as the outside.

I’m paying a lot more attention to YA book covers now, and still love this post about jacket trends from Publishers Weekly that ran last summer. Some people follow fashion; I track this stuff, and I’m sure many of you do too.