Cover Stories: Kiss It by Erin Downing

Kiss It.jpgErin Downing has written a bunch of fun romantic comedies, and now she's edging into a new space. KISS IT, which is out tomorrow, is a story about True Lust. Sign me up!Here's Erin to talk about how the Cover inspired the story. Crazy, love it. "The strange thing about KISS IT is that the book's cover image was in place long before a single page of the book had been written. I had just finished writing my third Simon Pulse Romantic Comedy (Drive Me Crazy, below right), and my editor, Anica, and I began talking about what I was going to write next. I was pretty dead-set on getting away from light, 'fluffy' romantic comedies and really wanted to write something totally different from my first few books. drivemecrazy.jpgAnica randomly told me there was this image that she and one of Simon Pulse's designers, Cara, had been in love with for a while--but they hadn't found the right book to use it on yet. She thought maybe I would be the writer who would know what to do with it. That seemed a little backward to me, but Anica has a good gut for this kind of thing, and I was really intrigued by what had them gushing about some random stock photo. "So she sent me the image (below, right)--two creepy white ceramic/porcelain (I don't even know) bunnies kissing on this sugary pink background. I remember Anica commenting about how funny she thought it would be to have this sweet image wrapped around a very not-sweet book. The image immediately cracked me up, and I sat down that night and wrote the prologue for what would eventually turn into KISS IT (the prologue content involves bunnies I definitely ran with the irony). Kiss It original.pngFrom that prologue my main character just jumped to life and I knew it was going to be a very in-your-face sort of book about female sexuality. How I got that from porcelain bunnies kissing, I don't know, but somehow it seems perfect. "While I was writing the rest of the book, my editor and designer were vetting the cover through sales and marketing. We were all a little worried that it might get nixed for a photo-real teen girl cover, since that was really what was selling in the genre. I will admit that part of me--the cautious part--hoped a little bit deep down that maybe sales would vote no on the bunny cover. It's scary publishing a book that looks so different from everything else in the market. You always want your book to sell, and would this weird cover doom KISS IT to failure? But the reality is, the book itself is pretty risky in its content, so when it did get a big thumbs-up from the powers-that-be at Simon Pulse, I knew everyone was on board with a risk and it helped me push the content inside the book even further. "When I eventually saw the first real design of the cover, the pink background was gone. They ultimately felt like the pink and the bunnies together made the book feel way *too* sweet, and the orange background edged it up a bit. Apparently, they'd tried a million different ways to design the cover, but the version they finally showed me is what we ended up going with--though I did ask them to make my name just a weensy bit bigger than it was in the first pass. I had also asked them to try making the heart more symmetrical on the cover (I'm kind of tidy, and crooked hearts sort of bug me), but they told me it would look even more like a little kid book then. They were totally had to be a little imperfect in order to keep it aged up and fit with the story. "I've been really happy with the cover since before I even started writing the book--a simple image inspired a story and a character I didn't know I had in me. My only concern is that I've seen some comments on blogs that people feel like KISS IT looks like a middle-grade book! That worries me, since the content inside is intended for readers 14 (or even 16) and up! Hopefully, the copy helps make it clear to readers that it's not a sweet little animal story or something!" Thanks, Erin! I actually think that at very first glance it looks young, but then immediately you can see it's a quirky-cool cover with those bunnies and the tagline. I think it's a unique cover that will stand out in a sea of real-girls. Any thoughts, guys? Does the cover look young to you, or unique, or awesome, or silly? Happy Monday!