Cover Talk with Liz Coley


Todays guest for the CRAP (Cover Reveal Apprehension Phase) is fellow Katherine Tegen imprint author Liz Coley. Liz's debut PRETTY GIRL-13 is releasing in Slovakia and the Czech Republic today, and to celebrate that, Liz is going to share her experience as a debut author with foreign editions... including foreign covers!

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

At the risk of making myself look totally lame, yes, I did. I love to mockup covers for my WIP, at least I did until my agent told me I had crazy ideas about covers and asked me to take them off my “aspiring author” website. My preconceived notion, inspiration piece if you will, was my computer desktop background for a long, long time. With attribution to the London Science Museum and photographer Gaetan Lee, here it is:


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

Talking? What is this talking? Fourteen months before release (Jan 2012), I met my US editor in person in for the first time and she had the cover art, literally wet off the printer, to show me. “Do you love it?” she asked. After I questioned one aspect of the coloring, I realized that the correct response to this questions is: Yes. I love it. Totally and completely.

Actually, I did love the imagery, the reflective quality, the suggestion of a portal. It felt like the artist had read the book and captured the significant metaphors. The “bleeding cowboy” font took me by surprise, but I’ve received great feedback about it.

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

My publisher isn’t big on staged reveals, so I actually got the news that the cover was out in July 2012 from an Australian book blogger who had seen it on Amazon. So that was the reveal. 

What surprised you most about the process?

I was surprised and yet not surprised at how little input the author has in the process. Having self-published a novel, I knew how many design decisions are required to put a physical book together. In traditional publishing, these decisions are largely made for you or you enter the scene only to give the final blessing. I just trusted that the professionals in marketing have way more experience than I do and would make good choices on my behalf.

You’ve got international editions coming out. Tell us about your foreign covers.


One of the coolest aspects of international publication is seeing how different cultures interpret and represent your work in the cover art. Don’t expect ANY input here. Just love each cover for what it tries to say about your story to a different audience. My UK cover emphasizes the idea of the innocent girl preserved/hidden/locked in a safe (but kind of spooky) place. The French cover seems to suggest the innocence of thirteen before anything goes wrong. The Russian cover, the darkest and most haunting, shows a live model in bondage. While her coloring is unlike the protagonist’s, it totally doesn’t matter. The helpless, lost look in her eyes tells the story.

Today, I’m thrilled to reveal the Czech Republic and the Slovakian covers. These editions are releasing today. They’ve used the same art as the US edition, but how can you not love Liz Coleyová as a byline?

One more unexpected aspect to international publishing is that the title translation is completely up to the foreign publisher. I didn’t even know, until I received cover art, that in France, my novel goes by ANGIE 13 YEARS, DISAPPEARED, and in the Czech and Slovakian editions, the title is RETURN 

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

I’d suggest asking your editor explicitly what their roll-out philosophy is and let them know that you want to hold for a coordinated reveal if that’s your plan. Then relax and trust the people who’ve done this hundreds of times. Unless there is a huge disconnect between your vision and the artist’s or a factual error (historical inaccuracy, for example), the correct answer is: Yes, I love it. When can I show everyone?