How to judge a YA book by its cover

Cover Image

Actually, I hope you won’t, but if you’re going to, you should check out this hilarious post from Forever Young Adult (what other site offers  a Sweet Valley High drinking game?).

Full disclosure: the title of my post is ripped off from FYA, too. Basically, I have no ideas of my own today. Except…

Except I really want everyone to love the cover of my book. I love it. Really. (Thank you, design folks at Carolrhoda Lab.) It’s definitely better than anything I would have come up with. The butterfly is there without being cheesy, and my husband (resident math nerd) assures me that the math on the front makes sense. After all the insanity with whitewashed covers, like what happened with Justine Larbalestier’s Liar, and again with Jaclyn Dolamore’s Magic Under Glass, I’m just grateful that the girl on the cover looks reasonably like my description of Marisa.

As the Jezebel and Reading In Color posts on whitewashing note (above), authors don’t actually have any say about their covers. Yeah, it’s a little scary.

Lucky for me, I have an editor (Andrew Karre) who is (a) reasonable, (b) smart, and (c) thinking about what a cover is for, as you can see in his recent post on the subject, where he says, among other things:

“I can’t quite articulate what bugs me about the state of covers and the web, but I think it boils down to a suspicion that we as publishers and passionate readers aren’t thinking about them correctly—or at least we’re failing to understand their role in the new marketplace fully.”

Commenting on a recent bookshelves of doom contest, the purpose of which is to “fix” covers that don’t match the tone of the books, Andrew points out that a die-hard fan of a book or series might not be the best judge of what should be on a cover. Why, you ask? Because from the publisher’s point of view, the cover is a tool for attracting new readers, not just keeping the old faithfuls happy.

(Ironically—and I promise this is no conspiracy to prove Andrew’s point—I was totally drawn to the cover of The Explosionist, one of the titles suggested for a cover redesign, and it’s from a genre I don’t typically read.)

Of course, all readers are new readers when it comes to my book, and I hope that the cover does draw them in. As in… must… buy… this… book… now…

We’ll see in March.


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