Like 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.
The 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.