Cover Stories: Unbreak My Heart

Writing my own Cover Story is always odd. But here goes. I sent Caroline, my editor at Bloomsbury, a bunch of inspiration images for this cover (a couple are below). You know, girl, sailboat, sun, water... okay, so I was kind of vague.


When they came back to me, it was with this first draft (right). And it DID capture the girl, sailboat, big sky stuff. But the boat? It wasn't right. So here's how I responded:

Thanks so much for sending along this design! I do like the echoing heart from SINNERS and the general feeling of being out on the water, glimmering sun, and mood of the girl. I have a couple of things I'd like to mention though:

1. That boat is a Catamaran, totally different from what Clem's family is on. I think because the boat is such a big part of the story, it matters. 

2. The pink feels a little like it veers over the cheese line. Maybe it's the pink with the heart, maybe it's the pink and purple of my name... it just feels a bit like it's trying too hard somehow to shout "Love Story!" Maybe there's a way to get a similar tone in there with a natural element, like a sunset?

And Bloomsbury was great, really took my concerns to heart. Everyone really loved the girl (myself included) so at first they tried to adjust the boat so it would look more like Clem's... but that just made it look less like a real boat. So they went in a totally different direction (left). I liked this image, though I had reservations. Here's how I responded:

My initial thoughts are: Cute. Feel like I've seen similar images before, but that's probably okay. Would like it to look more like a big river/lake and less swampy but I assume that can be done. Like the green dress and the sunlight--would love the sunlight to always be a part of my covers because I LOVED the lens flare on SMALL TOWN SINNERS, which was subtle but awesome, and there's one here too. Part of me misses the boat, but if it's included I do think it has to be the right sailboat, so maybe this is a better direction. 

And then they found another boat photo that everyone liked, and they sent me this:

I loved it instantly. The sail, the wind, the sun, the water... the girl. It felt so much like Clem! My agent raised the issue that the girl looked a little young, and Caroline said they could play with ways to age her up a little bit. Actually, here's what Caroline said exactly (so interesting!): I spoke with the designer and he is going to try making her chin and forehead a bit more prominent—basically elongating her face so it’s not quite so cute in a young way.  We’re going to try elongating her body a little as well.  I also suggested adding some wispy hair in front of her cheek.  I think when all of this is combined, she’ll look closer to 15/16.  Fingers crossed! 

I even got used to the heart (and started kind of loving it and hoping that all of my covers would have hearts from now on!).

Then the internal discussions at Bloomsbury kept coming back to everyone really liking the pink of that very first design. They missed it. I have to admit, I didn't. I really adored the green-blue-on-blue. I'm into blue. But I liked this cover and was willing to go with the colors that everyone thought would make the book most pick-up-able. And so here's where we landed:

I keep staring at it. I'm glad the pink is lightened a bit, and I like the contrast with the blue water. I really like it--it makes me so happy. It's out May 22, 2012. I hope you like it! (And that you'll like the inside parts too, of course!)

Happy New Year, you guys!