How To Give Feedback On Your Cover With Nicole Maggi

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 for the CRAP is Nicole Maggi, author of The Twin Willows trilogy, The Forgetting and What They Don't Know.

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

I’m not really a visual person, so I really didn’t. I was at first thinking along the lines of a bold graphic design, but in discussions with my editor I found out that for trade paperback originals (which this book will be) photographic covers sell better. Who knew? These are the kinds of things that authors just don’t really know about. Once I learned that I was on board with having a photographic layout for the design.

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

The book was originally set to release in Summer 2018, and I was shown a preliminary cover at the end of September. But unfortunately that cover just wasn’t right for the book. Due to many factors (the cover being one of them) the book was pushed back to October 2nd, and we finalized the cover in March. So there was a pretty long period of five months where we worked on getting the cover just right – definitely longer than any other book cover experience I’ve had.

Did you have any input on your cover?

I did. My contract grants me “cover consultation” so my publisher was in no way obligated to listen to my input, but they did, and I’m very grateful to them. When the initial cover was revealed to me, I just had a gut feeling that it sent the wrong message about the book. Together with my agent we discussed with the publisher why it wasn’t right. They listened and came back some weeks later with a complete redesign. From there it was a matter of fine-tuning things like font, tagline placement, color…all the little things that you don’t really think about when you first look at a cover, but when it’s your cover, and you’ve been staring at it for weeks, you become obsessed with. Haha! My publisher took all of my input into account, and I’m very happy with what we landed on.


How was your cover revealed to you?

By my editor, via email. That’s how I’ve always seen my covers. I love that scene in that Sex & The City episode where Carrie actually has a meeting with her editor and publisher in their office and they show her a poster-board mock-up of her book cover. That never happens!

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

Yes, there was, though I set it up myself. I’ve done both, where the publisher sets it up and where I’ve set it up, and this time we decided to have me set it up with a Booktuber I know well, Caden Sage of A Thousand Books To Read. She revealed it on Instagram on April 7th.

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

Probably about a month. I received the final full cover layout for the Advanced Reader Copy of the book, and then once we had the reveal set up I was sent a high-res photo of the cover.

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

Not really…also I’d been showing a lot of people on my phone for weeks what it was going to look like so I guess I spoiled the surprise anyway, hahaha!

What surprised you most about the process?

Honestly, I think I was most surprised by how receptive my publisher was to my ideas. I’d heard a lot of horror stories about other authors with other publishers just being steamrolled over on their covers, and I was scared that would happen when I pushed back on the initial cover design. I’m very grateful to the Sourcebooks team for listening and taking into account my thoughts and ideas. I think the design team did a wonderful job capturing the tone of the book, and there are some details on the cover that I just love, like the pages falling out of Mellie’s journal, and the handwritten DON’T to reflect the journal-entry format of the book.

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

Keep calm and use your voice. If you don’t like your cover, speak up immediately, and get your agent involved right away. List real, concrete and reasonable reasons why it’s the wrong cover; just saying “I don’t like it” isn’t enough. Back up your argument, and do it strongly but diplomatically. And once it’s done, celebrate it! Your beautiful book has a cover! That’s a BIG step. Take a deep breath and enjoy it.