Erin Bowman On the Stunning Cover for Vengeance Road

I love talking to debut 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 Erin Bowman, author of the TAKEN series, and the upcoming VENGEANCE ROAD. When not writing, Erin can often be found hiking, geeking out over good typography, and obsessing over all things Harry Potter. She drinks a lot of coffee, buys far too many books, and is not terribly skilled at writing about herself in the third person.

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

Western movies and literature seem to have a very passionate but narrow audience, so while I knew I wanted the VENGEANCE ROAD cover to immediately feel like 1877 Arizona, I also wanted something fresh and relevant to today’s YA landscape. No author wants a cover so fitting of their genre that it scares off readers who are hesitant to pick up that kind of story.

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

We started discussing cover art in the fall of 2014. So maybe about a year before pub.

Did you have any input on your cover?

I had tons of input, and I am so, so grateful because this isn’t always the case in publishing. Early on, I was asked what I might like to see on the cover, which resulted in big email exchanges and a few shared pinterest boards between myself and my editor. Once the design team at HMH came up with some preliminary concepts, I was allowed to weigh in on those. I think I saw about ten different directions for the cover, but I loved a highly typographic one best, which included some western-y illustrations framing the title. I told my editor it was hands-down my favorite, and luckily they were feeling the same way internally.

After HMH hired an illustrator to finalize the artwork, I got to weigh in again. There were a few different color palette options to choose between (I again stated my favorite, and it again aligned with HMH’s top pick), and I also requested a couple minor tweaks to the pistols to make sure they were historically accurate and better matched the model my main character carries in the book.

How was your cover revealed to you?

Via email, and I might have dropped an F-bomb when I saw it. In a good way. Because SERIOUSLY. This is the most gorgeous cover I have ever seen and I still can’t believe its the face of my book.

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

Yup. I first shared the cover over on Publishing Crawl.

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

A few months, I think? Or maybe just a couple weeks…  I had a baby recently and the last four months have been a giant blur.

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

Yes. Soooo hard. I wanted to share it immediately, because SHINY.

What surprised you most about the process?

How unique my cover ended up being. I can honestly say that I don’t think there is a single cover like it on YA shelves right now.

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

Whether you are involved every step of the way or end up as more of a spectator in the process (I’ve been both, and have loved my covers in either instance), remember that your publisher is the expert. They know what the market looks like and what gets people to pick up a book. And ultimately, that’s what you want. You can’t get sales if no one picks the thing up!

I’ve found that being flexible, open-minded, and polite is the best route to take when approaching cover designs. (It’s also good publishing advise in general). If for some reason you don’t dig your cover, call/email your agent before you shoot off a massive list of change requests to your editor. Your agent can help you formulate a plan to address your concerns.