Cover Story: Why I Don’t Believe in Soulmates


I’m a huge fan of cover art. I love a gorgeous book cover, and I’ve always known it takes enormous skill to create an image that speaks to the content and vibe of a novel without being too literal or too abstract.

I was beyond thrilled when I got my book deal with Emily Bestler Books and especially excited to see what the brilliant Simon and Schuster art designers would come up with for a cover. I love so many Atria covers, from the blood-stained cover of YOU (by Caroline Kepnes) to the lovely illustration for A MAN CALLED OVE (by Fredrik Backman). Both, in my mind, capture the essence of the books they contain.

So is there one cover-soulmate, one perfect match, for each and every book? I don’t think so. From my experience, I would argue that for each book, there are many wonderful, possible covers. Publishers have much to consider and a heap of experience on which they base their decisions. So I would argue: Be flexible! Keep an open mind, and don’t get too fixated on one particular vision.

Here’s the cover for SMALL ADMISSIONS:


Surprise! If you’ve seen my cover, you know this isn’t really it. But this is, in fact, the original cover they designed. I love it! I love the color they chose and the silhouettes of kids. I adore the scripty font. I think this image fits the book beautifully. But what I found out is that it’s not only about what fits or what we all like. I was told that the sales team wanted to see what else the artists might come up with.

So SMALL ADMISSIONS went back to the design team, and TA-DA! Here’s my cover:


Right, this isn’t actually it either. But I like this cover, too. It’s bright, lively, and eye-catching. It speaks to the school’y nature of the book, and I can imagine it on a bookstore shelf, grabbing lots of attention. But the team felt there might still be another option we hadn’t considered, and they decided to try again.

And finally they came up with this:


It’s not that the first two covers were wrong or didn’t work. It was that the publishing team felt the third design was one the right one, or the best fit, as we say in the admissions world. I happen to love all three covers, but I have to agree that in the case of SMALL ADMISSIONS, three times was the charm. I am so grateful to the people at Atria/Emily Bestler Books (Albert Tang and Lynn Buckley) for creating such a beautiful cover. And when I saw it, I admit, it was love at first sight.

Author: Amy Poeppel

Amy Poeppel grew up in Dallas, Texas and left the south to attend Wellesley College. Since then, she has worked as an actor, a high school English teacher, and most recently as the Assistant Director of Admissions at a school in New York City. Her three fabulous boys are all off in Boston attending school, and she and her husband now split their time between New York and Frankfurt, Germany. A theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS was workshopped at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into her first novel.

2 Replies to “Cover Story: Why I Don’t Believe in Soulmates”

  1. Wow, so cool to see all of these! I only had two and they were wildly different than each other. I love the first one a lot but I think the final cover is much more compelling in the end. The middle one is fun though!

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