Cover Talk with Brandy Colbert

Today's guest for the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) is fellow Friday the Thirteener Brandy Colbert. Brandy has worked worked at a big-box hardware retailer, as a magazine editor for various consumer and trade magazines, and as a business editor for a boutique investment banking firm. She tap dances and is an avid fan of Degrassi, the Flintstones, Louis C.K., and Hello Kitty. Brandy is represented by Tina Wexler at ICM Partners. Her debut title, POINTE, will be available from Penguin, April 10th, 2014.


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

I did! A long time before the cover was conceptualized, my editor and I were casually discussing what we wanted it to look like. She mentioned bloody pointe shoes (“Can you imagine? A pair of pointe shoes, just sitting in a pool of blood!”), and that image sort of stuck in my mind all the months I was revising. 

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

I was never part of any official discussions, but about eight months after my book sold, my editor told me they’d started to talk about the cover in-house, and she asked for any photos I might have to give an idea of what I was thinking. I sent over a couple of ballet pictures I’d seen on Tumblr, as well as a photo of the gorgeous Misty Copeland in a tulle skirt on a fire escape, which I still very much think captures the tone of my book.

Did you have any input on your cover?

Besides the conversation and email I just mentioned, none. Once it was in the process of being designed, my editor asked if I wanted to see cover comps or if I preferred to wait until the cover had been approved by sales and marketing. I don’t like to get my hopes up and I trusted they knew what they were doing (have you seen Putnam’s covers? I knew I was in very, very good hands), so I told her I wanted to wait to see the approved version.

How was your cover revealed to you?

My editor—the amazing Ari Lewin—called one morning just before I was headed out to run some errands. I thought she was calling to tell me revision notes would be landing in my inbox, and it took me a minute to realize it was about the cover. I made a weird noise and babbled incoherently as I waited for my computer to boot up, then I opened the file and gasped. I squeaked out how much I loved it and we both got a little teary and I’m pretty sure I ceased to do anything else productive for the rest of the week. It was such a great moment in an otherwise totally normal day, and I’m so glad it was a surprise.

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

Yes! I revealed the cover, synopsis, and release date on YA Highway around the end of June, so just a little over a month ago.

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

I saw the cover at the end of April and revealed it two months later, so not too far in advance.

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

Well, I may have shared it with a few close friends and my immediate family, which made it a little easier to not splash the image all over the Internet. But it was hard. Total love at first sight and I wanted to share with anyone and everyone. 

What surprised you most about the process?

Honestly, I think I was most surprised at how chill I remained. I knew that as a debut author, I wouldn’t have much input, but I had friends who’d contributed ideas or suggestions through the evolution of their covers, and I started to wonder if I should have tried to get more involved. But ultimately, I 100% trusted my editor because she has great taste, and I knew she cared too much about my book to let it end up with a cover that was whitewashed or didn’t fit the story.

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

Try to relax and trust that your publisher will get it right. If you have experience in art or design, I’d definitely suggest letting your editor know. Otherwise, for me it was best to sit back and let them do their thing. And luckily, I ended up with a cover I adore that truly could not be any more perfect for my book. It’s even better than bloody pointe shoes!