There's something magical about seeing your book's cover for the first time. Suddenly, everything is real--your characters have faces, your words have been transformed into art, you didn't think any one image could sum up the entirety of your book so perfectly but THERE IT IS, RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.
I actually got to have this experience over a year and a half ago.
I wasn't even done with the first draft of COLLATERAL DAMAGE, but I was feeling a little stuck, and thought having some concept art might spark a little creativity.
So, I designed a cover.
Ta da! That's it, that's my book cover. Pre-orders open soon.
Well, sort of.
My abilities leave *ahem* something to be desired, so I quickly reached out to one of the best artists I knew of: @artoflore_, who was nice enough to let me ramble at her about a half-formed book about the background characters who live in cities protected by superheroes, and accepted my request for a commission.
And suddenly, things started to take shape.
Characters that had only existed in my head were now coming to life right in front of me. COLLATERAL DAMAGE takes place in a world infested (Meg's words, not mine) with comic book-style heroes, and I'd always dreamed of seeing the characters I'd created depicted in the same way as the comic books that inspired them. Even though this cover would be fake, just for me, I wanted it to feel real--something I could look at and use as a reminder to keep going until my book was real too.
See, Lore doesn't just hone her own creativity; she really takes the time to understand, respect, and lift up others'. She literally breathed life into Meg, Oliver, and Juniper in ways I never could have imagined, and it's because of her artwork that I got the final push I needed to finish the book. With a cynical girl holding an umbrella glaring out at me from my computer screen as a motivator, I wrote the final words of COLLATERAL DAMAGE.
Then, after months and months of querying, rejection, and disappointment, my book found a home: the amazing Parliament House Press--a house that had been on my radar for a while--acquired the publication rights to my debut YA novel.
"Over the moon" didn't even begin to cover it.
Before we even started talking about book covers, I already had it in my head that I wouldn't have much of a say. I thought I knew how publishing houses worked: the house gets to make creative decisions--the marketing associated with cover design is too crucial to a book's success to let an author have total control. I assumed Parliament would design something amazing, show it to me for approval, and that would be that. The cover I designed and Lore painted would just be for me.
But then, I asked Parliament if I could use the art as a graphic for my official book acquisition announcement.
And they loved it.
The thing I'd thought would never happen had actually happened: my publishing house wanted to use the artwork I'd come to inextricably associate with the rest of the book--the drawing that had been with me during my entire journey to publication--as the OFFICIAL COVER. I couldn't believe it.
My characters, the way I'd designed them, the way I'd always imagined them, and the way Lore had painstakingly brought them to life, were going to be real and in print.
This decision was reached months ago, and in the time since, there's been plenty of room for doubts and fears to set in. What if the formatting overwhelmed the artwork? What if the cover was too busy? What if it didn't translate well to print copies? Where would my name go? What font would we use? What if it looked cheap and gimmicky once words were floating over my characters' heads?
I shouldn't have worried.
When I say Shayne Leighton is a wizard, I mean it. Is that even the right word? She's an all-powerful sorceress, formatting goddess, creative queen, who, with ZERO (0) questions posed about what my dream cover would actually look like, delivered above and fricking beyond. I don't even know what I would have answered, if she'd asked. "Um...pretty? Cool font?" I might have said.
I know what I'd say now. I'd say that I want a vintage graphic novel-style cover that pays homage to old comic books while also feeling fresh and modern, with colors so sharp they'll cut through you. I want my characters to feel like they belong right alongside Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four (or maybe running around screaming behind them). I want something that'll make me stop dead in my tracks and sob when I open it in my email.
Because that's exactly what I got.
There's something magical about seeing your book's cover for the first time--and there's something even more magical about feeling like you're seeing it for the first time all over again after seeing it so many, many times before. I hope you're swooning over this as much as I am, and I REALLY hope it makes you even more desperate to jump into the story that's going to be inside it.
COLLATERAL DAMAGE (not a graphic novel), the story of a cynical background character living in a city protected by superheroes, will be available everywhere on June 25, 2019!