People Will Buy Anything With a Cat On It

MomentofEverything_cover_webLike many of the other Debs, my editor asked me way up front if I had any must-haves or must-not-haves for my cover. I know this trick. Well, it’s not really a trick of the intentional kind. It’s the “we’re being earnest about this, but in spite of everyone’s best efforts, it will end up being something you hate” kind of trick.

This is how I know this. I’d worked with artists and designers in high tech for over 20 years. They are amazing and creative people who come up with things you never even dreamed of. But I have learned how to work with them the hard way. I could say, “I’m wide open. I just don’t want any pink.” Seems like a lot of latitude, right? Only this is what happens. The designer starts to think, “OK, anything but pink. No problem. I hate pink. But you know a little pink wouldn’t be bad. She probably won’t mind a little pink. And you know, it’s not really even that pink. It’s more of a magenta. OK, she didn’t say no magenta. And it looks so awesome. Let’s add more.” This will go on until the entire thing that you asked for is pink.

This is not the designer’s fault. It’s normal to go down that mental path. If my family says, “anything but chicken”, it’ll be all I think about until I’m Googling recipes of chicken on top of chicken inside of a chicken. So instead of all the things I feared would be on the cover, I gave my editor links to websites and Facebook pages that posted pictures of beautiful people reading and of gorgeous libraries and bookstores. I told them that these were thing things that inspired me while I wrote the book, so maybe they would help inspire the cover.

Well, in the end, I don’t think that helped. I know they went through several rounds of covers that I never saw. My editor just didn’t feel like they were right so there wasn’t any point in showing me. Then I said, “What about the cat? People love cats.” Two weeks later, my cover showed up in my email. We were all in love.

IMG_4120The designer found the photo on Flickr. A photographer in Texas was walking by a bookstore at night and a cat popped its head up over the books and she took a quick photo and posted it on Flickr. My publisher bought the rights and the designer created the gorgeous composition for cover. I’m a huge font nerd, so I fell in love with the fonts she chose right away. And I love how the lettering is a little transparent against the backdrop of the books, as if the books are part of everything. I cried when I saw it because it was just so perfect. I also held my iPad up over the shower door so my husband could see it. I was so excited, I couldn’t wait for him to rinse off!

There was some back and forth because the bookstore cat in my novel is black and this one is white and grey but in the end, we relented on the inconsistency because the grey and white one looked so great online. You couldn’t see the black cat at all. Ya gotta think about these things. But in the end, I thought it was good luck that the cat on the cover looks like my own cat Scout. Don’t you think?

I love it when a reader tells me she bought the book because of the cover. Above all, the cover is a marketing device to entice readers into the world you created. And no cover could have done a better job than mine.



TINY PRETTY THINGS Cover Love: Think Pink, But Not Too Girlie!

Tiny Pretty Things

Way back in the beginning of our publishing journey with HarperTeen, before we’d turned in revisions or locked the title or done anything really, our lovely editor asked us for thoughts on the cover. Dhonielle and I were pretty stoked — we’d heard stories of author input being completely ignored, so this was a pleasant…
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Cover Love


I admit, I judge books by their covers all the time, and there’s a reason. Publishers hire many talented and thoughtful people who know exactly what they’re doing. They know all the visual cues readers respond to and look for when buying books. Fantasy novels usually have a strapping man or woman heavily armed, historical…
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News Flash: Buzz, Tours, and Book 2


Congratulations to Judi Burns, winner of FIRST FROST by bestselling guest author Sarah Addison Allen! Check back next Sunday for this week’s winner of WE CAN WORK IT OUT by guest author Elizabeth Eulberg …   From the 2015 Debs: Colleen Oakley is traveling home from the final leg of her tour in Chapel Hill and…
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Elizabeth Eulberg Revisits Her Debut + WE CAN WORK IT OUT Giveaway


I admit, I’m a HUGE fan of Elizabeth Eulberg. Not only does she write hilarious and delightful YA, she’s a cheese-loving, Green-and-Gold-in-her-veins, Friday Night Fish Fry fan. She may live in NYC, but she’ll always be a Wisconsinite at heart. I’ve read all her books and can’t wait to get my paws on her latest, WE…
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Finding A New Crit Partner Is Like Dating


Starting grad school four years ago, I thought I had the writerly thing down. After all, I worked in big New York media and then got a degree in screenwriting. But I was a total fiction newbie, and there plenty of things I learned the hard way. Like about workshopping. And trading pages. And even…
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