Cover Talk with A.G. Howard

I love talking to authors. Our experiences are so similar, yet so very different, that every one of us has a new story to share. Everyone says that the moment you get your cover it really hits you - you're an author. The cover is your story - and you - packaged for the world. So the process of the cover reveal can be slightly panic inducing. Does it fit your story? Is it what you hoped? Will it sell? With this in mind I put together the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) Interview.

Here today to usher in the new interview on Writer, Writer is my fellow debut author A.G. Howard. She's a great gal that I knew back when we were just anonymous screennames bouncing off the same agent entries over on QueryTracker, so I'm thrilled to be sharing the astounding cover for her book SPLINTERED, available from Amulet in January, 2013.

Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like? 

I did. I’m very visual and I actually like to “construct” my own book covers for fun sometimes. I always assumed it would be a dark gothic-type cover with Alyssa as the centerpiece and some sort of symbolic details woven in, like maybe the broken toys and the bloody roses. Here’s the mockup I made:

Granted, I was WAY off in the color scheme. But once I saw what they had done, I was thrilled. Choosing vivid colors lent a whimsical feel which is so important, so the reader goes in knowing to expect some strange silliness along with the creepiness. The model is beautiful, but also looks very innocent, like my MC. I also loved the fact that Alyssa’s face is partially covered by her hair (speaking of her hair, the model’s is exactly how I pictured it!!!).  One thing both our covers had in common was the actual vision: Alyssa front and center, and plenty of subtle details woven in (the bugs and flowers who talk to her, the snaky vines, the key around her neck, and her wild and haggard expression, because believe me, she goes through some crazy stuff…heh).

How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house? 

November, so about three months after I signed.

Did you have any input on your cover? 

Yes. My agent arranged a “Meaningful Consultation” clause in my contract, which meant I got to watch the entire evolution and actually had back and forths w/my editor along the way. But honestly, their ideas were so amazing, I hardly had anything to say. Although there was a lot of swooning going on. LOL

How was your cover revealed to you? 

Since I was involved throughout the process, it was a gradual evolution. My editor would send me mockups along the way to view and comment on.

Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art? 

There was a little bit of confusion there, because I’d told my editor I wanted to do a reveal, so they needed to let me know before it hit the online catalogue and went live. Then I was googling myself one weekend, and there it was, up in the catalogue. I emailed my editor LIKE FAST and she wasn’t even aware they’d already posted it. It had only been up that one day. Evidently, designing and editing are kind of worlds apart even though they’re both in-house. She did some checking around for me (this was on a Saturday, mind, so she really went out of her way there) and got the okay for my reveal. I had been in contact with a very delightful gal named Tami, who runs the lovely Krazy Book Lady blog. I appreciate her so much because she was so flexible and pushed aside everything so I could post it first thing Monday morning before anyone else got wind of it on the catalogue. I spent all day Sunday making my book cover reveal trailer, and then it all went off without a hitch. Whew!

How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like? 

The day I contacted my editor that the cover was in the catalogue, I actually had to make sure that was the final version because there had still been a little back and forth going on between the designer and the artist. So, two days before the reveal, unless you count watching the evolution.

Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release? 

Well, I have select group of online pals (my critters/beta readers) that got to watch every step of the progression w/me. That helped me reign in my excitement until I could share w/the world.

What surprised you most about the process? 

I didn’t realize it took both a designer and an artist (two separate entities) to make up the cover. I always assumed it was the same person doing both. But instead, the in-house designer looks for a freelance artist who has the qualities in their artwork that would best capture the book’s feel. Really, it’s pretty amazing how many people actually had a hand in it along the way. The model, the artist, the designer, my editor, the publicist. LOTS of involvement in-house and out of house.

Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety? 

Have your agent get a Meaningful Consult clause in your contract. It really does help if you get to have a little input, if for no other reason than you get to see the progression of the cover, and fall in love with it along the way!