Cover Talk with J.R. Johansson

I love talking to my fellow 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.

Today’s guest for the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) is my fellow Friday the Thirteener J.R. Johansson, author of INSOMNIA.


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

Not really. It was more of a feel that I wanted. I wanted it to look creepy, but still cool/compelling/interesting. I wanted something that would convey the feel of the book and draw people in at the same time. I think they did a great job with accomplishing that.

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

It was in July, so about 11 months before my pub date.

Did you have any input on your cover?

A little, but not much. On the first version, his face had much smoother skin and I asked for them to make him a little more masculine and rough. They did a great job with that.

How was your cover revealed to you?

Haha, my editor sent me an email with the subject line, “OK, brace yourself” I think the cover is a little shocking at first glance, so it was oddly appropriate.

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

No, my editor told me that once I had my final copy I could set up the reveal when/how I wanted. He doesn’t know yet that I can’t be trusted with that kind of freedom. ;-)

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

I just saw the first version of it near the end of October, so I guess almost eight and a half months.

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

Yes and no. It’s been fun to show family and close friends, but I kind of liked keeping it private for a bit. Now I’m really excited to have it out there for everyone to see. I love it and am happy to have it out there representing me and my book.

What surprised you most about the process?

How fast it went from the first version to the final product. I know it isn’t that way with every author/publisher, but for me it was super fast. The publisher had a meeting first. I guess they had a few different cover options to consider, but their vote was unanimous on this one so I never saw the others. Once they gave it to me, I gave some feedback, they made a couple of changes and got the final back to me less than a week later.

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

My advice is to realize that every cover has people who love it and people who hate it. Yours won’t be any different, so don’t expect it to be. It won’t (hopefully) be the last cover you have, so learn from the experience. The author doesn’t have a lot of control or power most of the time, so make sure your opinion is known, your voice is heard, and then sit back and try to enjoy the ride.