Cover Talk with Shannon Messenger

 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.


Today's guest is my fellow Lucky13s and Friday the Thirteeners member Shannon Messenger, to talk about her awesome cover for LET THE SKY FALL, available from Simon Pulse in March, 2013.

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

Honestly? Not really. I had a much stronger sense of what I DIDN’T want it to look like than what I wanted, so mostly I sent a lot of silent, “please don’t let it have _____” wishes into the void and danced for joy when I saw the final cover.

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

Pretty early, actually. Even in my first round of edits there were notes in the margins of certain scenes marking them for possible cover ideas. And during The Great and Never-Ending Title Debate (LET THE SKY FALL was VERY hard to title) my editor gave me some information on what they were thinking for the cover to try and help inspire some title ideas.

Did you have any input on your cover?

Yes and no. My editor and I are (fortunately) very much on the same page, so mostly she told me what they were doing and I said brilliant things like, “Ooo, that’s going to be awesome!” I did get to see headshots of the models they’d selected for the photo shoot ahead of time, and offer some suggestions on how I’d preferred them to be styled (all of which were met with: yep, that’s what we’re planning!), but on the whole it was all the amazing team at S&S doing what they do best.

How was your cover revealed to you?

In an email from my editor where she gushed and gushed about how amazing it was for several paragraphs and I did my best to be a good author and read all of that despite the fact that all I really wanted to do was DOWNLOAD THE ATTACHMENT AND SEE IT.

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

Yes, though it was a bit of a rushed scramble. Within a couple of weeks of finalizing the art I found out that LET THE SKY FALL was going to be featured at a special S&S event the week of BEA and that ARCs would be given out. Which—while AWESOME—meant we needed to do the reveal before that event, and there wasn’t a lot of time to organize. So we settled on revealing May 30th, which gave me a couple of weeks to prepare, but was still before everyone would start traveling for BEA and be too distracted to be checking blogs.

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

Only about three weeks. Like I said, it was a bit of a last minute scramble.

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

YES! Keeping secrets is never easy for me. And since we were scrambling to prepare for that event, I kept getting exciting things I couldn’t share. Like, they sent me my ARCs, but I couldn’t post the obligatory Shannon-Hugging-Her-Book photo (what? It HAS to be done!) because the cover was still secret. Same with when the bookmarks I’d ordered came in, I *almost* forgot and posted a picture of them on Twitter. Thank goodness I remembered at the last minute and stopped.

What surprised you most about the process?

How MUCH I loved the final cover. It was SO MUCH BETTER than what my imagination had come up with.

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

Yes, two things. One: try not to panic until you actually SEE the cover, because nine times out of ten authors end up loving what their publisher sends them. And if you do happen to fall into the category of not liking your cover, trust your agent to help guide you through. There’s a lot that can still be done and I know many authors who started out with something that wasn’t right and ended up with something awesome!