How a book gets a cover, the prequel

Over on the Lee & Low blog this week and next, the designer of Vodnik—Isaac Stewart*—and I are discussing the design process of the book. What you see over there is very similar to the process I have with most designers. The designer reads the book and provides some concepts based on the things I’ve said I’d like to see, and what I tell him or her takes into account the author’s suggestions as well.

What I didn’t get into over there is what I do before that process begins, to think about what *I* want. Sometimes I have a very clear idea of what I’d like to see on a cover, or the author has such good suggestions that I just tell the designer, “Let’s try something like that!” And when the designer comes back with concepts (which we’re going to cover next week), often what they come up with is so much better than I could have thought up on my own that it sparks ideas that meld into something entirely new (again, see what we’ll be talking about next week for more on that part of the process).

But when I don’t have a clear idea of what I want, I tend to do something similar to what I hear writers do as they brainstorm: stare into space and appear as if I’m not working. I also take trips to the bookstore and collect covers I find intriguing for one reason or another in a Pinterest board (which isn’t very big yet, as I’ve just started doing this). The books on the board may or may not end up being used as inspiration when I talk to a designer eventually, but just thinking about type, images, and what stands out to me on a shelf and how these covers interact with each other helps me to think about what I’d like to see when we apply those ideas to the particular book I’m working on.

Then I come back to the office and I start rifling through my own bookshelves.













I pull out a bunch of books whose covers are interesting (some interesting in better ways than others, but this is all part of my process, thinking about what’s popular, what stands out, what is overdone, what I still love after several years, etc.). Then I sit and stare at them some more.

And eventually I come up with a few covers that I think will help the designer if I say, “Here are some key concepts I’m looking for, and here are some covers that I think stand out.” Then the designer will usually come back with something that takes those thoughts into consideration yet still completely blows me away. And that’s the most interesting part of the process, so stay tuned for next week’s post on the Lee & Low blog.


*Fun fact: Isaac is also Aprilynne Pike’s brother-in-law.

Daily leeway

I really love my job. A lot. I’ve been really busy at it for the last month or so, working toward getting Fall books out the door and working on acquiring/editing the books I’ve acquired for the next couple seasons. But what about outside of work? I’ve been thinking lately that part of my life isn’t so interesting.

Today I was hanging out with a friend and he asked me—my memory is fuzzy, but I believe in the context of me talking about yet another TV show I’ve watched—just what do I do after work. Maybe it’s because I was feeling like I don’t have much of a life—I’m still looking for my niche here in this city in many ways—I was a little embarrassed to admit that if I don’t have somewhere to be, I just go home and veg, watching a lot of TV. The answer would have involved WoW if I remembered to play anymore. I’ve gotten out of the habit these last few months.

But I’ve been thinking about it and I don’t know that I have much to be embarrassed about. Here’s my day: Out the door to work at 8:30, or even earlier if I have trash to carry down with me on my way out.

An hour commute; at work by 9:30. Work all day, yadda yadda. I officially get off at 5:30, but I generally don’t leave right away unless I have somewhere to go in the early evening. I usually end up working till at least 6, if not 7, because I’ve just got so much to do. A week ago Friday, I was at work till 10 pm because I had a project I was trying to finish (and ended up having to finish it Monday because I made myself go home at 10 with just 2 or 3 things left to finish).

But on a normal night I might get home, after errands/taking a walk/ etc., at 9 or 10 pm most weeknights! And it really IS okay to watch a little TV at ten o’clock at night. Or eight or nine.

That’s only one kind of weekday evening. Other nights I might leave early from work to attend a book event of some sort—a signing or reading or something. I’ll still get home just as late, but at least I’ve been out real-life socializing in the meantime. Or hang out with friends feeling guilty about how much TV I watch (not what the friend said—just my own thoughts in relation to the conversation).

Weekends are more varied. Some weekends I might stay in and marathon Doctor Who. Some I might be out on a bike ride in the afternoon and watching a movie with friends or playing WoW in the evening (that’s the plan for this weekend, only the video games will be on one of my friend’s consoles, not a MMORPG). Some I might be gathering for Korean barbecue or a movie. I’d like to start getting out with my camera in the late afternoons to practice my photography (I’m getting rusty) but haven’t really done it enough yet. Then there are the weekends that are consumed with mundanities like errands at Target and laundry.

So perhaps my life isn’t so boring as I think it is (except for the errands at Target and laundry). It’s just that I am busy enough in the weekdays that I have to remember to allow myself leeway in the evenings. So if you see me tweeting about yet another TV show, now you know why I do it.