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Posts Tagged ‘covers’

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.
 
tandem cvr comp1a
tandem cvr comp1b
tandem cvr comp1c

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.

tandem cvr comp2a
tandem cvr comp2b
tandem cvr comp2c

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.

tandem cvr comp2d
 

This is when we felt like we had hit it.

 
tandem cvr comp3

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

 
tandem cvr quote

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.

What’s up with you? Nothin’. What’s up with you?

Posted on February 28th, 2012 by annakjarzab

Does anyone love The Sweetest Thing as much as I do? Apparently not, because I tried to YouTube the “Nothin’. What’s up with you?” scene and I couldn’t find it. Which, honestly, makes me sad. Such an under-appreciated gem of a film. But I digress. (Can you digress if you haven’t started making your real point yet? I digress again.)

Anyway, hello there, faithful blog readers! I.e., Shannel, my darling college friend who dropped a comment on my last post just this morning saying that she missed my long, ridiculous ramblings on this here blog thing. What’s a blog, you say? It’s like Tumblr, but with less Hunger Games fan art. Well, you knew that, or you wouldn’t be here, I guess. THE POINT IS, some stuff has happened in these last few months, and I’d like to tell you about it. In great detail. With pictures to illustrate. Aren’t you excited?!?!

I guess the first piece of big news (which shows you how little I write in this blog nowadays, because this has been up on my Tumblr for months) is that The Opposite of Hallelujah has, in the order in which I received them:

  • A cover
  • A synopsis
  • A pub date/pre-order link(s)

The Cover:

So, without further ado, here it is!


I don’t have a lot to say about this cover except that I think it’s really beautiful. I’ve heard a lot about authors struggling with their publishers to get covers they feel represent their work, but I’ve honestly never had that experience with Delacorte. They sent me the All Unquiet Things cover and I loved it, had no changes. They sent me this cover, and I loved it to. There were two versions, one with my name in lower case and the title in upper, which I also saw, but my editor and I both preferred the version above. (And, actually, they sent me a THIRD cover that was completely different, although my editor explained it was only for my reference, since she didn’t like it and didn’t want to use it. It was pretty, but I didn’t feel strongly about it. Maybe someday I’ll get to show it to you!) So, my cover experience has been pretty boring; I write the books, they make the covers, I love the covers, they use them, we’re done! Sorry it wasn’t a more exciting story, but it’s a lovely cover, so we all win.

The Synopsis (jacket flap copy):

Caro Mitchell considers herself an only child–and she likes it that way. After all, her much older sister, Hannah, left home eight years ago, and Caro barely remembers her. So when Caro’s parents drop the bombshell news that Hannah is returning to live with them, Caro feels as if an interloper is crashing her family. To her, Hannah’s a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away. Caro can’t understand why her parents cut Hannah so much slack, and why they’re not pushing for answers.

Unable to understand Hannah, Caro resorts to telling lies about her mysterious reappearance. But when those lies alienate her new boyfriend, friends, and put her on the outs with her parents, Caro seeks solace from an unexpected source. And as she unearths a clue from Hannah’s past–one that could save Hannah from the dark secret that possesses her–Caro begins to see her sister in a whole new light.

Pub date/Pre-order link:

Yay! Wasn’t that synopsis intriguing? So The Opposite of Hallelujah comes out on October 9, 2012, according to Amazon. You can pre-order the book at Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or from your local bookseller via Indiebound.org.

I don’t have galleys* yet, but I’ll probably be getting them soon, although I’ll most likely get, you know, two of them. If I happen to get more, I’ll do a giveaway, promise! I’ll also let you know if the title ends up on NetGalley, if you’re of the sort who frequents NetGalley.

Other than that, I’ve just been working like a maniac at my day job and writing like a maniac at night and on weekends. I’m hoping to finish a new draft of my work in progress (Tandem, which I sold in a two-book deal to Delacorte last May or June or something) by late April. This will be the fifth draft. It is, by turns, incredibly fun and incredibly difficult to write, and it’s really teaching me the value of discipline, hard work, and perseverance. Ah, novels; making authors cray since the 15th century.

*Advanced copies of a book that are available in limited quantities for booksellers, media types, etc. about 6-8 months before on-sale.

The dead girl on the cover

Posted on May 13th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Recently, I was talking to an editor (not my editor), and she was telling me that she was using the cover of All Unquiet Things as a comp title for the art form for one of her upcoming books. She was saying that the cover of AUT is the perfect direction for this title also, and, not having read it yet but knowing a little bit about it, that makes sense to me. But she was also saying that now, a year post-AUT and post-Before I Fall, you can’t really do the “dead girl laying sideways on the grass” thing anymore. It’s just too common, probably because the “dead girl” trope in YA lit is also common. It’s something I hear people complaining about a lot on blogs, actually, sometimes in reviews of AUT. “Oh, another dead girl book, how original.” Setting aside the fact that nothing is really original anymore, and hasn’t been since the ancient Greeks, and we’re all telling the same five stories over and over again anyway, it’s true. You do see a lot of dead girl (and, I would argue, dead boy) books in YA lit. (You see them a lot in adult lit, too, but let’s focus.) And there’s a reason for that.

People die in high school.

All of the time.

Recently I was having dinner with three of my friends, and one of them (my roommate) mentioned that a friend of a friend had recently died. My roommate’s birthday was several months ago, and she’d bought a pretty, blank notebook and brought it with her to the party for her friends to write notes in, since it was her 30th and she wanted a tangible reminder of that night. This friend of a friend had come to the party and wrote in the notebook and a few days ago she’d been going through the notebook looking for a gift card she remembered leaving in there and came across the friend of a friend’s note. This reminded me of going through my junior high school yearbook in which there is a note from my friend Rebecca, who died about a week after she wrote it, right before finals week. I was moving to California, and she wrote, “Don’t forget me!” I haven’t looked at the yearbook in a long time.

The conversation segued on to the (slightly morbid) topic of people we knew who died in high school, and everyone had a story to tell. Some had several. I couldn’t help thinking of my aunt, whose best friend died from illness when she was fifteen, or my brother, whose baseball teammate had died in a car accident when he was fifteen. One of my friends knew several girls in high school who lost their lives to violence. As common a trope as it is in YA, it’s actually more common in life. If you’ve listened to the exclusive interview on the All Unquiet Things audio book, I think (I recorded that a loooong time ago) I mentioned that about a year before AUT was published (way after I’d written the thing) I was doing some Googling around and found out that a murder not unlike Carly’s had happened in one of the very towns I mention in the novel. It was, of course, entirely coincidental and completely heartbreaking. But this stuff happens, every day in fact, which is why we write about it. That was very clearly driven home to me at dinner with my friends.

And the thing about teenage death is that, while it is never, ever easy to lose someone who is close to you, or even to tangentially experience the death of someone in your peer group, everything is heightened in high school. It all seems more immediate and intense and of-the-moment, because you’re so young and you’re so promising and you’re so alive. Not to quote myself, but allow me to quote myself:

“Murdered.” It was a ludicrous word; it didn’t make any sense when used to describe Carly. How could Carly be dead? She was so alive.

Poetry, I know. But anyway. That stuff sticks with you long after you’ve graduated, when your life is nothing like what it was in high school, when your life is not anything like you even imagined it might be in high school. When other memories have faded, or you feel like all those events happened to someone else whose memories were implanted in your head (this is how I feel all the time about my high school years, for no particular reason), you still remember your deepest losses and brushes with death. And they still come up, years later, over glasses of chilled wine on the patio of a tiny bar in Hell’s Kitchen.

I guess I don’t have a very clear point to close out this post, which is probably pretty frustrating to everyone who managed to read through to the end (but! if you did! you can use the comment tool now! so you can comment! if you want! no pressure!!!), but I’m just saying…death is not a cliche. Or maybe it is, maybe it’s the biggest cliche there is, but that doesn’t make it less scary or less mysterious and it certainly doesn’t make people less inclined to talk about it.

I think people who follow the publishing industry find “dead girl/boy books” exhausting because they (the people, not the books) are jaded; there are so many books, and they all get lumped into categories because that’s the easiest way to process them. And I’m not saying I’m not jaded. I’m totally, 100% jaded! But I also know that All Unquiet Things and, say, Thirteen Reasons Why and Before I Fall and If I Stay (to use some random examples that I can speak to because I’ve read them) are completely different books. They all happen to have a dead girl in them (or, in the case of If I Stay and Before I Fall, girls who are neither dead or alive but in some sort of ‘tween state which eventually resolves itself), but other than that they’re not at all alike. The writing styles are totally different–my voice and Jay Asher’s voice and Gayle Forman’s voice and Lauren Oliver’s voice are all distinct–the characters are different, the plots are different, etc. I think saying, oh, just another dead girl book, is a disservice to all of those stories, because they’re so much bigger than that. And furthermore, I think teens like them (no joke: Thirteen Reasons Why, Before I Fall, If I Stay–all HUGE bestsellers) because their themes are so relevant to the lives they’re living.

I, for one, am looking forward to more “dead girl” books, because I actually haven’t figured out how I feel about my own approaching death, or that of my loved ones (because obvs we all die eventually). Reading books and engaging with the ideas they contain is how I process my own fears and dreams and feelings. The work is not yet done. By anyone! I’m not just talking about YA fiction here. I just finished A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Pulitzer prize winner, current ladyfic lightning rod) which was ALL ABOUT death! (At least, I think it was. I’m not sure I totally plugged into Goon Squad and therefore may have slid over some of its Very Important I’m Sure themes.) There was even a dead girl (actually, he was a boy, but same diff in this context). Now I’m reading One Day and I’m pretty sure that one’s going to be all about death, too. All books are about death (talk about a cliche). Now I’m just spiraling away from my central point. End of post.

Cover story

Posted on March 4th, 2010 by annakjarzab

You guys know Melissa Walker, right? Author of the Violet series (Violet on the Runway, Violet in Private, Violet by Design) and Lovestruck Summer? Of course you do, duh, no offense. So because you follow Melissa on Twitter and read her blog incessantly, you’re familiar with her Cover Stories feature. I love that feature. Whenever I’m scrolling through my Google Reader, I immediately stop to read it. Anyway, Melissa was kind enough to host me on her blog this week, talking about AUT’s cover, which we all know is the best cover to ever grace the face of this earth. I know I’m biased, but even when I attempt to be objective, I still feel that way. Anyway! I’ll shut up now and let you head over to Melissa’s blog to read all about it.

Forget it, Jake, it’s Fake Cover Town

Posted on July 28th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Covers.

First of all, just in case you missed it, I posted some thoughtsicles about the recent flurry of discussion around the cover of Justine Larbalestier‘s brilliant new novel, Liar, on The A Team yesterday. Speaking of The A Team, I’m going to see Joanna tonight! Many nachos and martinis will be consumed, I assure you.

Second of all, 100 Scope Notes has started a little meme called Create Your Debut YA Cover, where you follow a bunch of steps, including generating a fake name, a fake title, and a fake stock photo. It’s pretty fun, and if you thought the REAL cover of my REAL debut YA novel was creepy, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Presenting Judy J. Clark’s debut novel, Crow:

3765430367_cfdb9f1bcf

Sorry you guys. I had to post it, those are the rules. I realize it’s terrifying. Sleep with the light on.

STOP: COVER TIME

Posted on March 9th, 2009 by annakjarzab

What? I am not leaving all the MC Hammer allusions for Josh Berk to just scoop up in put in his blog I mean really now.

So, anyway, last night I finished my revisions for All Unquiet Things. If everything goes as planned, this should be my last round of revisions before copy edits. I sent them off to my editor and my agent, and I’m left here, twiddling my thumbs, eating cheese, and wondering what to post now.

OH I GUESS I’LL POST MY COVER BECAUSE I FINALLY GOT PERMISSION TO DO SO. Pardon the shouting, this is very exciting for me.

Behold:

allunquietjkt

I think it’s amazing. When we talked about it months ago, the words “sophisticated” and “arresting” were bandied about, and I think it hits both of those right on the mark. “Beautiful”, “elegant”, and “creepy” are some more things that have been said, but I haven’t heard a peep of dissent about it. Everybody, from my editor to the RH sales department to Joanna to me to my mother, really loves it.

What do YOU think?