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Publishing

All around the Internet today

Posted on April 29th, 2014 by annakjarzab

Just dropping by for a quick post. I don’t talk too much online about what I do for a living (besides write), but I’m actually the Digital and Social Marketing Manager at Penguin Young Readers Group, where I’ve worked for about five years or so. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a pretty great job; it’s hard and I work long (sometimes strange) hours, but I feel very rewarded by the work I do on titles ranging from The Fault In Our Stars and books by Gayle Forman and Sarah Dessen to Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series and everything in between! Anyway, if you want to know a little more about the day-to-day of my job, head on over to Pub Crawl where I was interviewed today by Alex Bracken (author of the phenomenal Darkest Minds series). I’m happy to answer questions, so pop into the comments over there and ask away if you want!

Relatedly, my friends at Penguin USA just relaunched the Penguin.com site and it looks fantastic! They asked certain staff members for book recommendations and because there’s nothing I love more than gushing about books that I love, I took the bait and gave them a (very) short list of my in-house faves. Obviously there are a million zillion Penguin (and non-Penguin) books that I love, but I was told I could only pick a handful, which was hard for me but I ultimately succeeded. Check them out!

An interview with the Tandem cover designer!

Posted on September 30th, 2013 by annakjarzab

tandem cvr quoteI don’t know about you guys, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the cover for Tandem, my third YA novel that comes out next Tuesday (!!!!). If you haven’t seen the interiors of the book, they are also super beautiful. I’m totally fascinated by the process of creating packages for books–it’s a lengthy, and often much-debated process that people outside the industry don’t always get a glimpse into. So I asked Sarah Pierson, the designer of both the cover and the interior design of Tandem, a few questions about this mysterious but very, very important part of making a book.

You are a book designer at Random House–does this mean you design all aspects of the book: cover and interiors? Do you work on all imprints and age groups, or do you focus on YA/novels?
I currently work on all aspects; jacket, interior, and the hardbound case cover. I work on middle grade and YA for the Knopf and Delacorte imprints. I also do paperbacks for the Ember and Yearling paperback imprints.

Once you have a title assigned to you, what steps do you take? Does the editor usually have very specific ideas of what they want, or do you read the book and come up with a proposal of what you’d like to do?

This process varies book to book! I read the most recent draft of the manuscript. It helps me come up with ideas, from big concepts and motifs to small details. Having a strong sense of themes and mood is important to be able to approach the design. After reading the manuscript, I’ll sit down with the editor and talk about how they envision the cover. They tell me what they want the cover to convey and they may ask for specific imagery. Then I start making cover comps based on a few different concepts, either my own ideas, the editors’ or something we arrived at together.
 
How did you become a book designer? Did you go to art school? What made you want to design books for a living?
I went to Drexel for graphic design and I worked at the library throughout college. I’m embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I’ve never been a huge fiction reader! But I loved working at the library because I love books…jackets, paper, ink, bindings, headbands…I love them. I spent way too much time shelving art, design and photography books, stopping to leaf through them. I came across unusual old engineering and science books, and popular fiction was always circulating. I studied everything from a design perspective. Junior year I got an internship at a super cool independent publisher called Quirk Books. A few months after graduating in 2005, I got a job in the picture books group at HarperCollins and have been designing books ever since.
 
What are some other books you designed, besides TANDEM?
Mister Max by Cynthia Voigt, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, The Selection by Kiera Cass, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Posses by Gretchen McNeil, Wildwood by Colin Meloy. Check out my website.
 
What was your thought process behind designing the TANDEM cover? Was your first idea much like the finished product, or did it go through a lot of revisions? How did you go about bringing together all of the visual elements (the girl, the bird, the colors, the amazing title treatment, etc.) into the beautiful cover we have now? 
I read TANDEM very closely. It was so good! The story felt intricate and intimate and epic at the same time. As I was reading, I made note of different things could work as imagery for the cover. I had several ideas at first, and one of those eventually became the final cover. I searched for and used stock photography to use to build the image, combining elements in photoshop in a similar manner from the beginning. After initial comps were promising, I was directed through rounds of revisions adjusting the composition and scale, typography, color, and different models and poses for Sasha.
 
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These are some of the comps from the first round. The basic concept and all the elements are here, but it took time to get to the end result.

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Trying out different girls, sizes of the girl, typefaces, colors, ways of blending the sparrow and girl. I had the basic composition and down. This is just a few of the variations.

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This is when we felt like we had hit it.

 
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Livened it up with some color. I tried several different background color variations at this stage.

 
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More color to Sasha’s face, more depth in the background, and some fine tuning. Series title is in place and quote at the top.

Knowing that TANDEM was the first book in a series, did that affect how you designed the cover? Did you design it with how you would create the covers for the other books in mind?

I kept in mind how I would change the various elements. I tried working on the second book along with the first once it was more developed to see how they would look together. The sort of soft glamourous starkness is what I hope will carry over through the series.
 
Okay, let’s talk about the interiors! What was your thought process behind how you did the interior design (which is really quite complex and thought out!)? Do you usually create such design-heavy interiors, or was this out of the ordinary? 
I do not usually design such complex interiors but with its 3 parts, different points of view, and day countdown TANDEM presented a unique chance to do something interesting. At first I was totally stumped about all this! I think I spent a whole week just getting my head around it. I chipped away at it starting with the parts (Earth/Aurora) and then more ideas came out of that. I eventually mapped out the whole structure because it was helpful for me to see it that way.
 
What is your favorite part of the TANDEM interiors (or the cover!)? 
I like the lines of little dots on the flaps, back jacket, under the page numbers…other places too. It’s a small detail but I think they’re elegant and have a little meaning. They represent ‘many worlds.’
 
Is there anything else you’d like to share about the TANDEM cover or interiors? Any designs that didn’t make the cut? 
A part of the interior design was inspired by a music video from 2011! I am pretty sure music videos have less cultural impact these days but I find them to be a really nice source of visual inspiration!

Thanks so much to Sarah for giving us a little insight into how a cover gets made! You should absolutely check out her website, which showcases many of the beautiful book covers she’s worked on in her career, including many I know you’ll recognize.

Publishing 101

Posted on March 24th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Are you guys reading the posts that Alex Bracken puts up explaining different parts of the publishing process? Sometimes I feel like I should talk about publishing more than I do, since I work in the industry and (you would think) have some insights (I have a whole Publishing tag I don’t even use!), but mainly I just think Alex does it much better than I can or would and I leave it to her. Plus I’m not totally sure I have any insights. Today she put up a post about launch that does a good job of draining the process of some of its mystery.

I have to admit, launch is one of my favorite parts of working in publishing, for a couple of reasons. First of all: I don’t have to do anything. I work in Marketing, and Marketing plays a much larger part in the publishing process than anybody really realizes, so even if I’m not attending or presenting at a meeting, I’m often pulling together last minute information or providing marketing bullets for various decks that my bosses have to present (all of the Marketing big wigs were off site at sales conference this week and even then I was still getting emails with questions–the work is never finished!). But when it comes to launch, I just get to sit back and relax and be presented to, which is pretty sweet.

Second of all, it’s like going to the movies and seeing the coming attractions. There was actually an editor who devoted the end of her presentation to telling us what we were going to see on future 2012 launches, which I loved. Even though I love my job most days and love the books I work on, after working on them for a year you start itching for new blood–What’s the cover of this sequel going to look like? Or what’s this awesome author’s new book going to be about? I basically stalk the place on the server where editorial puts all the launch manuscripts for weeks before launch to see what they’re going to post and come up with my totally OCD list of the order in which I’m going to read them. (However, true to form, I’ve only read one two launch manuscripts so far…my list includes like eight.) Plus I like to hear what Sales has to say–they’re always very vocal and full of opinions and the discussion is really interesting, at least if you’re a total publishing nerd like me. I always learn a lot at launch, or at least find out I have a lot of questions I didn’t know I needed answered. Like: what is a planogram? Account reps for mass market channels say it all the time and I’ve never found the right moment to pull one of them aside and ask what that is. Except I just Wiki’d it and now I don’t have to.

The part of the process where I become involved is Marketing brainstorming, which happens about a month post-launch. At my company all the Marketing folks have a series of meetings in which we all get together and come up with marketing plans for titles on the list. Even though this requires me to think, I love brainstorming. I really like my coworkers and it’s fun for all of us to talk about books, especially new books! I usually read a lot more manuscripts for brainstorming than for launch, mostly because I’ve had more time. Marketing plans go through a near-infinite series of refining stages–when they leave Marketing brainstorming, they’re just rough drafts–but it’s a great place to come up with crazy ideas, like sky writing or getting an Essie nail polish named after a character or pursuing a partnership with Capri Sun or whatever.

Neil Gaiman saves us all the trouble

Posted on February 8th, 2011 by annakjarzab

The other day, Alex and I were joking around online about making each other the executors of our literary estates if something were to (God forbid) happen to us, and then a few days later Alex sent me this link to Neil Gaiman’s blog post about “taking care of your posthumous intellectual property.” It includes a downloadable PDF of a will that you can edit with your specifications, and as Neil says, “if you’re an author, or even a weekend author with just a few short stories published, or one thin book you don’t think anyone read or would want to republish, fill it out. Sign it and date it in front of witnesses. Put it somewhere safe.”

So that’s what I’m doing. And if you’re a writer, you will do it, too. Just a lovely PSA for your Tuesday morning.

Telling you for the first time

Posted on January 6th, 2011 by annakjarzab

I don’t know why I haven’t posted about this before, probably because I’m losing all of my marbles starting with the ones that allow me to remember something without first writing it down, but anyway I was just reminded today that I’m doing an event in Brooklyn on January 28, 2011 (it’s 2011–isn’t that weird?) with Leila Sales (who wrote Mostly Good Girls and is also my coworker and is also hilarious) and Lauren Oliver (who wrote Before I Fall, which I’m sure you’ve never heard of, PSYCHE you’ve totally heard about it it’s very famous)! I’m really excited about it because:

  1. It’s my first New York City event!
  2. I get to do the event with Leila and Lauren. To be honest, I would go to this event even if I weren’t participating in it. I love Mostly Good Girls and Before I Fall and it should be a really, really good show.

Below are the details–if you come, you can see my cute new haircut in person! (This haircut is a real hit, I promise, I’ve received so many compliments.)

WORD – January 28, 2011 at 7:00 PM
http://www.wordbrooklyn.com/
126 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 383-0096

We will probably be talking about the experience of publishing your first novel, but more importantly we’ll be discussing the coincidence surrounding the fact that our titles all have three words in them. See you there! (J/k, that’s the least coincidence-y thing about Leila, Lauren and I. What are the most coincidence-y things? Come and maybe we’ll tell you!)

Housekeeping

Posted on March 30th, 2010 by annakjarzab

I know I haven’t been around much, but that’s because I have been writing! Which is really what I should be doing, right? Riiiiiight. Anyway, I just wanted to take care of a few housekeeping things:

  1. I have an event on Thursday, April 1 (that’s this Thursday), in Centerreach, NY (that’s on Long Island, near my favorite stop on the LIRR–Ronkonkama! Seriously, how fun is that to say?) at Best Bargain Books. It’s my first event, so I am both excited and nervous about it. I even had a stress dream about it last night, where I was inappropriately dressed and the entire staff of Teen Vogue (I would wonder about this, except I watched The September Issue last night) was there to watch me fall on my face. I also dreamed, because you care, that there was a made-for-TV movie based on AUT, and even though it was ostensibly based on the book it didn’t really, um, have anything to do with AUT. And Carly was blonde. So…what? But yes, Best Bargain Books on Thursday, April 1 at 7 PM. Be there or be…somewhere else, I guess. But if you’re there you’ll have more fun.
  2. Speaking of events, my April 17th event at Mysteries on Main Street in Jonestown, NY has been moved to the following weekend, April 24th. Visit the events page for more details.
  3. Courtney Summers, who is by far one of my favorite YA novelists and the author of the kick-ass Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are, was lovely enough to interview me over at her website–and she’s giving away a copy of AUT! Run, don’t walk.
  4. I have another event to put on the events page–I’ll be at Anderson’s in Naperville, IL on Friday, May 14th. Yay! Come visit me!
  5. I’ve created a Facebook fan page for All Unquiet Things, in case you wanted to shout your love for my book from the rafters (insofar as that’s a thing that is possible on the Internet). I’ve posted my growing library of photos taken by friends and fans in an album there–if you have anything to contribute, you should email me!

Also, I’ve been getting some fan mail recently, and I just want to say a blanket “Thank you” to all the people who’ve taken the time to write to me. I will write you back, I promise! I’m working on it piece by piece. But this is a preemptive thank you, because you guys are awesome.

The return

Posted on January 24th, 2010 by annakjarzab

Hi folks! Some of you might be wondering where on God’s green goodness I’ve been in the past few weeks, because it certainly hasn’t been at my desk, blogging. I assure you that there is a good reason for this: I haven’t had Internet in my apartment in over a month, because I moved, and our new apartment didn’t have a cable hookup so we had to have one installed, which is harder than one might imagine and anyway, long story short, the guy from Time Warner came today and after a snafu or two with the modem, we are in business!

So I’m back in black, as they say. As you might imagine, the last few weeks have been quite the whirlwind. First, All Unquiet Things was officially delivered to the world on January 12th. My lovely friends have been sending me pictures of it in bookstores. Let me share a few with you:

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My beautiful cousin Emma

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My beautiful sister Fish

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The thing that’s interesting about that last photo (if you can’t see it, it’s in the bottom left hand corner) is that I went to that store on a whim yesterday after buying tickets to see Up in the Air (more on that in a later post, probably). I was afraid it’d be sold out but I’m too cheap to pay the Fandango surcharge (and like I said, no Internet at the homestead until today). I had some time on my hands, so I went to the theater early, bought the tickets (it wasn’t sold out, but seeing Golden Globe/Oscar award-winning/nominated films in New York can be tricky sometimes on weekend nights and I wanted to be sure), and headed over to this store (which shall remain nameless! No favoritism here) just to check to see if they had AUT, because, you know, NEUROTIC WRITER TYPE.

Anyway, I couldn’t find it anywhere–not under J in the Teen section, not in the New for Teens section, nowhere. I was a little frustrated, because of the aforementioned capitalized phrase, and I asked a store associate for some assistance. She told me they had it: it was just in the New Fiction section. The New adult Fiction section. And there it is, posing as a book for adults. Crossover! What an exciting word. I hope adults (and not just adults who read YA) will pick AUT up and read it, just as I hope teens will. I think it’s a great book for both age groups, and they’re pretty fluid anyway.

Other things have happened, too. I had my bookseller/librarian dinner that Random House so very graciously arranged, which was wonderful. Then I had my birthday, which was also wonderful–I truly have the best friends in the world. On Saturday, those same amazing friends threw me a book party. I can’t even tell you how cool it was. I saw people I haven’t seen since college–since high school. And there were even some surprises–people I didn’t even know lived in New York came to wish me luck, and it was so great to see them.

My best friends took the book cover image and blew it up poster sized, then taped it to the wall for everybody to “blurb”. Some people wrote sweet things, some people wrote funny things, some people wrote mock-insulting things (my favorites, inspired by MD’s hilarious “blurbs” from a couple of months ago). I’m going to frame it and hang it on my wall over my dresser–I’ll take a picture when I do so you can see it in all its glory. Oh, and there was also this:

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When I got to the party and saw the poster, I was so blown away, but then Nikki said, “Oh you just wait. There’s another surprise.” I guessed pretty quickly it was a cake, and then was alarmed, because I know that picture cakes cost A FORTUNE, several hundred dollars at least. But oh no, no no. Nikki made one herself. And look at how magnificent it is. Better than anything Ace of Cakes could’ve churned out, that’s for damn sure. That’s a Vanessa Hudgens doll posing as dead Carly, if you were curious.

The next day, I headed off to ALA to attend the “It’s a First!” cocktail reception. I got to take the train, because ALA was in Boston. I’d never taken a train like that (I’ve taken the subway and, like Metra and New Jersey transit and stuff, but never Amtrak) and it was so great. Joanna said called it “romantic”, and that’s exactly what it was. It was sort of a gloomy day, so these photos don’t seem too cool, but when we rounded the bend somewhere in Queens and caught sight of Manhattan, my nose was glued to the window.

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There were four debut RH authors at the reception, so I wanted to read everybody’s books before I got there. I almost succeeded! A for effort. I’d read Jame Richards’ Three Rivers Rising (a novel in verse about the Jamestown Flood; Jame is one of my fellow Tenners) a while ago, and I finished Swati Avasthi’s Split on the train. Let me prove it to you:

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Okay, I realize that is just a picture and doesn’t prove that I finished it, but I did. It’s a great book about a teen boy running from an abusive household, and at some parts it was just so terribly sad and gruesome that I wanted to turn away, but I couldn’t, because it was so compelling. I liked how brutally honest it was about abuse and what it can do to the people affected by it, how it can change them and trap them and push them away and pull them back in. The relationships between Jace and his brother Christian were so true, I was very impressed by that. Also, Swati is just a doll; it turned out that she was reading AUT, too, at the same time. Coincidence!

This entry is getting so long, so I’m just going to give you a little rundown of what I did at ALA, with a few iPhone pics to illustrate, and then sign off till next time.

When I got to Boston, I took this picture:

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I took that on the walk from my hotel to the convention center, because I was in Boston for less than twenty-four hours and most of those were nighttime/early morning hours. My cabbie was horrified by this and made me promise to return someday. I assured him I would, because Boston’s been on my long-time to-visit list for a while and now that things have calmed a little maybe my friends and I will make a road trip out of it soon.

I went to the convention for a few hours and mostly hung around the RH and Penguin booths. Here are some pictures of that:

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Okay, yeah, I had to take a picture of my own book. SO SUE ME! Wait, don’t. All the ARCs, of my book and everyone else’s at every house, was yoinked on Friday, so I got next to nothing, but c’est la vie. Must not be greedy!

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Some Penguin-y books as well.

What did people do before iPhones? Oh, carry around actual cameras, you say? How boring.

Then I left the convention and went back to my hotel to ready myself for the reception and meet my editor. The reception was great, as events with librarians always are. I got to meet some awesome new people–librarians are so friendly and love to chat about books, and there’s nothing I’d rather chat about, honestly–and see some awesome people I already know, mostly RH people. My audio editor and producer were there, and it was great to see them. It was also really nice to spend so much quality time with my editor and publisher. I’m really lucky in that because I live in New York, I get many more opportunities to see and talk to my editor than writers who don’t live in New York do. It’s a great thing she’s such a smart, interesting person–I love talking books and publishing with her.

Because I was feeling sick, after dinner with my editor and publisher I went upstairs to sleep. Okay, I watched the Golden Globes, then I slept. I woke up very early in the morning to follow the ALA awards Twitter feed, then went back to sleep. Then I met my editor to get on the train and we went back to New York, where I collapsed from illness and fatigue.

One other interesting, writing relating thing happened at ALA, and I’m going to blog about it, but not now. Now is the time to put this post to bed so that I don’t break everyone’s Google Readers by making it any longer. I’m going to go program our DVR to tape 30 Rock now! Cheers all.

Come trailer way

Posted on December 18th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Geddit? “Come Sail Away”/”Come trailer way”? You get it.

Anyway! You might’ve already heard about this on Twitter, but my publicist sent me the finished All Unquiet Things book trailer and I wanted to share it with you.

I really like it. I think it’s so unique, and trust me when I say that, because I have seen a lot of book trailers. I think the concept is clever and well executed, and I’m very impressed with the outcome and all the work my publicist and the videographer did to bring AUT alive.

It was interesting, though, because watching the trailer brought to the surface this tiny insecurity that I thought I’d gotten over when I first started editing AUT back in the day. When I was just writing for the fun of it, I used to get really embarrassed when talking about what I was working on, because I didn’t think anyone was taking me seriously and I sounded like I was a four-year-old talking about the inner life of her imaginary friend.

Then when people actually started taking me seriously, it was so strange to me, and I thought I’d gotten over it, but apparently not. As cool as it is to see my story made into a trailer, it’s also a little uncomfortable, because in my heart of hearts AUT is still just a story I’m telling myself. So it’s like someone’s out there reading my mind instead of just, you know, reading my book or whatever.

So there’s your “writers are neurotic” anecdote of the day. Enjoy the trailer and let me know what you think! Props must go out to my publicist, RHCB, and the person who created the video (whoever you are) Christopher–thanks everyone!

Guess who has two thumbs, speaks limited French, and got featured on GalleyCat today?

Posted on October 9th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Okay, so I sort of decided a while back that I wasn’t going to post a lot about reviews and stuff like that, because I don’t want this blog to be all about the cool things that happen to me, since really it’s supposed to be about my struggles as an artist (barf) and also the dumb crap that happens to me. I don’t want this to turn into the sort of blog where when people read it all it is is “Reviews from people who love my book!” and “Foreign sales!” and whatever. I want it to be the place where you go for your daily (okay, weekly…OKAY BI-WEEKLY) dose of schadenfreude. I have a big enough ego as it is, no need to pump it up even more (although don’t worry, it’s Dubbs’ duty to take me down a peg, and she does a fine job at it).

Really, I just wanted to post about this so that I could use that blog post title.

charliebrowntreeBut today was a surprisingly exciting day in the world of My Book. Actually, this week was sort of exciting. I heard from my publicist, let’s call her MO, which was fun. She’s already hard at work giving AUT its best shot at success, which is comforting to know. She also sent me my author questionnaire. It was so hard to fill out, you guys. “Describe yourself” is not exactly the sort of open-ended question I enjoy. I filled it out like a weirdo; my answers were very “Wah wah”, very Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. It probably won’t be at all helpful to her. But those things are HARD. I also have hopelessly few contacts. Q: “Do you have any contacts in schools or libraries?” A: “Not really.” P.S. You like that picture? I feel like my blogs need more visuals. You’re welcome.

So anyway, that was exciting thing number one. Exciting things number two and three were completely unexpected and quite pleasant. First, I got a little mention in today’s Shelf Awareness. It was in the section about the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association trade show, and mentioned how a sales rep from Random House picked my book as her favorite (not of all time, I’m sure, but from my season). I really appreciate it! It’s great to know that the reps are on your side.

And then I found out towards the end of the day that GalleyCat chose me as their featured book today, which was really nice, also! The support is very flattering, although I’m starting to feel a little nervous about AUT going into the world, but I’m excited, too, so it all evens out in the end.

Next time we meet, I’m sure I’ll be whining about how the book I’m writing feels unpublishable or something equally annoying. Stay tuned!

Blurbage

Posted on June 9th, 2009 by annakjarzab

ARCs are used for a bunch of different things. Publicity sends them to reviewers; marketing gives them away in contests (and…other stuff, probably). Authors send them to their mothers and fathers, who show them off to relatives and coworkers regardless of the age of said author. Editors send them to other authors, bigger name authors who might just say something nice that they can put on the cover of the finished product.

My ARCs are coming sometime this week, which means my editor will be sending them out to other people, people way more established in the industry than I am, so they can read it and maybe blurb me. I just want you to know, if nobody likes or wants to blurb my book I HAVE IT COVERED. My friend Mary (alternately known in these parts as MD, Tha Dubbs, Her Royal Dubbsness, etc.), who has an unspecified job at an unspecified publisher and knows from blurbs, generously offered to provide a couple for the cover of All Unquiet Things if, for some reason, the whole blurbing thing goes horribly awry. If I’m extremely unlucky, one of these gems may end up on the AUT cover:

“She’s my friend, so take this with a grain of salt, but it was pretty good for a first try.”

or

“I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would.”

or

“On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a good, solid 6. That’s a D. And you know what they say: Ds get degrees. I would say maybe this earned an associate’s degree from Normandale Community College, where my Aunt Patty Jo got her nursing degree. I mean, it’s definitely not a Harvard D–that’s like a Normandale A++, which isn’t even allowed. But definitely would be accredited somewhere. Good work, AUT. You’re a plumber. ‘Read nights and weekends! At your own pace!’

I could keep going, but I won’t.”

OR (my favorite)

“Not terrible.”*

Vote for your favorite in the comments!

*You should know that Tha Dubbs didn’t actually say this about my book, but a different one altogether. If that author doesn’t want to use it, though, I’m all over it.**
**Also, she hasn’t actually read my book. She’s waiting for the ARC.