Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


by Stephanie Black

I got the cover for Methods of Madness today. Seeing a cover for the first time is one of those Big Moments on the path to the publication of new book. It’s thrilling, and a little scary. A lot of things in publishing involve the dual thrilling/scary thing—submitting a manuscript—“I did it! I finished and submitted my book! Maybe they’ll want to publish it!” alongside with “What if it isn’t good enough/marketable enough? What if they reject it?” Getting edits back—“The edits! Woohoo! We’re moving forward!” versus “Yikes! What will my editor say? What did I mess up?” And, of course, having a new book released—“I’m so excited!” goes hand in hand with “Will people like it? Will it sell well? What if it doesn’t? Aaarrgggghh!!!!”

I’m never any good at predicting what a cover will look like. The possibilities are too broad. I did fill out a form listing things like crucial scenes, any items that have particular significance in the story, and the appearance of main characters. But I never know what the designers will choose to represent the story, or even if it will spring from what I wrote on the form. Given the nature of my books, I probably would be safe in predicting that my covers will not include:

Pastel pink

Oh, wait. Actually balloons do play a role in Methods of Madness, but it’s not a cheery role.

Good covers are crucial. As authors, we work hard to write books that will hook readers, but we can’t hook them with our writing unless they’re willing to pick up the book in the first place—and the cover is the first thing they’re going to see when they walk into that bookstore. Interesting, isn’t it, that the first hook that we hope will snag a potential reader is one over which we as authors have little or no control? Publishers have professional designers who know how to create eye-catching covers, whereas an author might not be so savvy in that department. I know I’m not. I haven’t a clue how to design a good cover.

I’ve been pleased with the covers for my other books—in fact, reviewer Jennie Hansen called the cover of Fool Me Twice “one of the most compelling covers ever seen on an LDS novel.” Way to go, designers! I was confident I would like this cover too, but that didn't stop me from being a little nervous. What would it look like? When I got the e-mail containing the file of my new cover, I went and sat next to my fifteen-year-daughter and clutched her arm in an excited and nervous (and annoying) fashion. She appreciated this, I’m sure. Click. I opened the file. Here it comes . . .

And . . . I like it. I really like it. It’s intense. It’s creepy. It’s perfect for the story. I like the backliner as well—it’s very well done and a great hook for potential readers.

I’m not going to post the cover yet, because there are a couple of minor changes they’re going to make. This, my friends, is what is called a cliffhanger, of which I’ve been told Jeff Savage approves.


At 6/24/2009 4:37 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

But here is the question: Will you be able to find a dress to match this cover?
Ah...I just blew your mind. =]
Congrats on the new cover and I can't wait to see it!!!

At 6/24/2009 5:14 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Ha ha! I love it, LT. Hmm, let's see. I don't have anything quite that color, but maybe something appropriate will go on mega-sale . . .

At 6/24/2009 6:02 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Can't wait to see it!

At 6/24/2009 8:18 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

...I feel like there's some sort of saying about books and covers... ;)

FWIW, I don't care what's on the cover, more what's on the spine of the book. =) Planning to grab a couple of copies when it comes out!

P.S. I can spell Allison with the letters of my word verification.

At 6/24/2009 8:25 PM, Blogger J Scott Savage said...

You are learning grasshopper.

At 6/24/2009 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved your last book, and I guess I have no other choice but to wait until your next book comes out to read it. Unless...

Might you have a nice little drawing like dear J. Scott for a e-copy of the manuscript? Don't know if that would break any publisher's rules, but think about it.


At 6/25/2009 2:06 AM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

Congratulations on the cover! You must be so excited. I'm looking forward to seeing it, and reading the book, too.

At 6/25/2009 9:27 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Thanks, Melanie and Heather!

Jeff, you make me laugh.

Jon, I owe you a book. Email me your snail mail address, and I'll send you one when I get my copies. And don't forget to check the acknowledgments :)

Deb, thank you! Unfortunately, the only e-copy I have at the moment doesn't include final changes, so I wouldn't want to send it out--gotta get that final polish! But August is coming up fast! :) I'm thrilled that you're excited to read it!


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