Cover Talk with Natalie Whipple

Today's guest for the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) is Natalie Whipple, fellow Friday the Thirteener and author of TRANSPARENT. Natalie is sharing both her US (top) and UK (bottom) covers with us today, and you can see that they are vastly different from each other. She explains why in the interview.


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

Seeing as how my main character is invisible, I didn’t really have a clue how my publishers were going to handle that. Mostly I just wished them luck. Secretly, I hoped it wouldn’t look too much like The Invisible Man with the bandages and such. I figured either my covers would be horrendous or awesome—no middle ground. I lucked out on both, I think.

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


Hmm, I think I was first asked about input for around the late fall of 2011? So that was a year and a half before TRANSPARENT came out! Wow. Forgot how long ago that was. It took another few months to see the first comp, then a final. I had to wait maybe 4-6 months before I could share the cover with the public.

With my UK cover, I didn’t get any initial input. We sold to the UK in early 2012, and they sent me their plan of attack summer of 2012, I believe, and I got to share it a few months later.

And, interestingly enough, I didn’t get asked for input on HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW at all, either. I just got a lovely surprise email one day. But it was all good because the cover is absolutely stunning. I can’t wait to show it off!

I think it can be pretty common that covers don’t get talked about at all before they appear in your inbox.

Did you have any input on your cover?

Not really, in the sense of the general direction. But both my publishers were really good about listening to my input on the smaller details. The clothing colors on the UK edition, for instance, were changed several times until they settled on the right balance. The original US comp was much more red and teal, as opposed to orange. The background was pretty different as well. Both turned out great as they applied my little feedback to make it that much cooler.

How was your cover revealed to you?

Just through email, no real fanfare. That was exciting enough for me.

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

I was given a specific week that I was allowed to reveal my US cover, and of course I posted it on Monday because how could I wait any longer? Ha. It was the week before the catalog came out, so many of my imprint mates were revealing, too.

For my UK cover, it appeared on the Hot Key Books website before I knew it was available to reveal. I did a post after that to show it off more.

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

Oh, way too long, ha. I think it’s been 4-6 months for all of mine thus far, so sometimes a year before the book is out!

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

Um, YES. I will admit to sneaking it to a few friends and family members, because how can you not? It’s so exciting and if you can’t share it with the world you have to share it with at least a few people.

What surprised you most about the process?

That it went so smoothly. I’ve heard horror stories about authors and publishers not agreeing on the cover direction. Or booksellers saying they don’t like it, so the cover goes back for redesign. Maybe I’m just not picky, but it was probably the easiest process out of all the publishing things. Even my titles weren’t changed. Guess I got lucky.

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

I think it’s really important to remember that your cover is a marketing tool. Sometimes it may not be what you want, but it certainly fits the target audience. My UK cover is very different, obviously, from my US cover. That’s because the UK chose to play up the fun and comic aspect of my book, while the US chose to focus on some of the more intense, darker moments. Both aren’t entirely accurate to the book, but they highlight the part of the book my publishers think will grab their market best.