"I had a lot of ideas for my novel’s cover. Mostly, I imagined a boy and girl, some sort of lightning, and the book’s title squared off to show that it was a handbook, like a Mead composition book. There’s also a painting mentioned in the book. The painting is of a beach littered with dead fish, the water struck by lightning, but it didn’t really fit with the novel’s overall theme so my editor and I both knew that would be a no-go.

"I figured my best bet was to leave all cover ideas to the professionals. I write books and they sell them. Then, the first two covers arrived wrapped around other books -- so I’d get a sense of the jackets. I did NOT like either one, and I was supposed to choose which one I liked best. I didn’t know what to do. I ended up choosing the one I disliked least, but I also wrote a lengthy email to the folks at my publishing house telling them first, 'thank you,' because I knew they’d worked hard and I knew they wanted me to be happy. I also indicated that I trusted their opinions, but that the jacket they’d designed would not make me want to pick up my book. It wasn’t a good fit -- in my opinion. They were going for iconic and I wanted human.


DRAFT COVER_blue.jpg"Still, I appreciated that they’d asked for my input. It was important to them that I liked the cover, especially to my editor. Well, lo and behold, within a few days we had a new cover -- a beautiful cover of a red-headed girl, the character of Becca, her hair electrified. I loved it! It was so much better than the first two. And humorously enough, they’d wrapped this cover around a copy of Larry the Cable Guy’s

book GIT-R-DONE. 

"Fast forward to the first week in January, 2010: I get an email from my editor saying, 'The cover has changed.' Now mind you, all the advance galleys had been mailed out and had the electrified girl cover. If you Googled my book, you saw the electrified girl cover at in most spots, and on my website. I couldn’t believe they were changing it when the novel was due out in just three months. I was afraid to look at the new cover.
"The good folks at Shaye Areheart Books never fail me. Knock on wood. I now have the ultimate cover. It completely captures the quirky tone of the novel with electricity traveling around the two main characters whose stories are alternately told throughout the novel. The colors, orange, green and yellow, POP. It’s what I initially imagined. It hints at Buckley’s (one of the main characters) self-published 'THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS' and it shows too that the novel is about making connections.

REDHEADlightningstrike1st.jpg"An aside: Not-so-long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a writer doubting that my novel would ever see the light of day so I made my own book, with tiny printed pages and everything. Attached to my miniature book was a long string, like a placeholder. Whenever anyone asked, 'What’s this supposed to be?' I joked, 'The rope I’m going to hang myself with since I’m never going to be published.'
"Like every other writer, I had my share of rejection. I think it just goes to show: Never give up."  
Thanks, Michele! I love seeing so many versions of possible covers, and though I get the iconography of the first, and I think the redhead cover is crazy-fun, I really like the final cover the best.

What do you guys think?



Melissa Walker is the author of four Young Adult novels, including the Violet trilogy and Lovestruck Summer. She is co-creator of the popular teen newsletter I Heart Daily, and her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com.

by on ‎04-20-2010 01:02 PM

Like Michele, I also have pictures in my head of my own stories.  From start to finish, the author who has a good imagination, of being able to translate words into pictures, is the one to make the final decision. 


I wouldn't be able to  make a real choice on these covers, if I didn't know the full story.  If the title says:  The Handbook For Lightning Strike Survivors....you wonder if it's a novel, or an actual handbook....unless the cover gives you what is in-between the pages.  The cover has to say it all, in any case.  Of course, on the cover it says:  A novel....but the first thing the prospective reader is going to see is...the cover art, and the title.  Or, in the case of established writers...their name is in bold print, larger than the title.


The colors, orange and green, positioned on this cover, is electrifying, in itself.   These colors, like red and green, are meant to pop... tonality is important, too.....Who ever chose these colors knew what they were doing.  And it sounds like the two characters, positioned on the page, is the story.  Good choice, from what I see.

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