"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.
"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
"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.
"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.