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readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cover Stories: Unraveling by Michelle Baldini & Lynn Biederman

A posting from my blog's Cover Stories series, for readergirlz!

41bwdiHH8DL._SL500_AA240_.jpg Lynn Biederman is my facebook friend, and I fell so in love with her profile pic/book cover, that I had to ask her for a Cover Story. Little did I know there was drama, a teen survey, and saggy boobage involved. Exciting! Here's Lynn:

"I thought about the cover of Unraveling 24/7 as my co-author and I were finishing edits. I'm very visually oriented, and everything in my eclectically cluttered house "speaks to me." So, it was only natural for potential covers to appear nightly, like fashions coming down a runway. (Hello, Violet!) But cover ideas halted when, last minute, we decided to change the title from The Deal on the DL, which stood for The Deal on the Down Low, to Unraveling. The generally accepted meaning of "down low," a situation kept quiet and private, suddenly had an alternate usage according to Wikipedia and a NY Times article released the day our edits were due -- 'down low' also refers to men discreetly having sex with each other. No judgments at all, but not exactly matching the content of our book!

Despite a new title, we still wanted a cover that related to a pivotal part of the story—The Deal. Fifteen-year-old Amanda, frizzy-haired, and frazzled by a toxic relationship with her mother, whom she calls The Captain, thinks a solution to her problems has arrived when Rick, a popular senior, offers her a deal on the down low. The Deal is a date to the big Homecoming Dance in exchange for her promise to sleep with him. Amanda gets caught up in a whirlwind of analyzing friendships, virginity, and family as she weighs The Deal, all of which leads to her unraveling. We offered our ideas for the cover--Amanda in a prom-type dress with a thread coming out of the hem, as if pulling the gown apart, and spelling out Unraveling, our new title, in loopy string-like letters. Our editor, Stephanie Lane, liked the idea and passed it along to the powers that be. Soon after we received cover #1.

UnravelingComp_Final.jpg So, what did we think when we first saw this cover? We freaked. We screamed. We thought about torching the project and moving to Alaska (pre-Palin!). But we're not dramatic, so we called our editor, who listened to our objections which included that the female pictured looked nothing like a 15 year old. In fact, we thought she appeared older than us--"even our boobies are perkier" my co-author and I told Stephanie. We agreed, however, to take a few days to let the cover sink in and see if our opinions changed.

During this brief totally-sweating it period, I looked at covers in bookstores and online, took note of trends, and developed a quick cover survey for girls 14-16, which I arranged to have handed out in a local high school. (Survey asked about fonts, colors, fave covers, etc.) Michelle lived in Ohio at this point, so she also gave out the survey and we compared NY teens and Ohio teens for more information. Then, we took our new wish list to Stephanie. We told her we wanted a photographic cover, set against white background, with a young teen matching the description of Amanda, and we wanted to see her face, not have a headless image. And we sent pictures of prom dresses and asked that it be lavender like the one Amanda wears in the story. We also talked colors and fonts for title (teens said font matters!) and Stephanie graciously took our comments to the art department.

41bwdiHH8DL._SS500_.jpg When we saw Take Two, we again freaked and screamed but this time out of total joy. What emerged is our beautiful, glorious cover. Our editor and everyone at RH loves, LOVES the cover. We get so many awesome comments about it and it completely matches the mood and tone of the story and captures Amanda, our main character, right down to her wild frizzy hair. We are so grateful to our editor and Kenny Holcomb, the art director. They both cared deeply about two never-been-published authors' opinions. How great is that?!"

It's so great! I love that Lynn and Michelle got their voices heard--and the cover is 1000x improved because of it, and the willingness of their editorial team to rework things. How gorgeous is that final cover? I love her hair, her dress, her gaze. Yay. Happy story.

What do you guys think?

1 comment:

Polo.Pony said...

Thats an awesome cover story! I love it! And the final cover, adorable!!!! I will for sure have to read this book! And..my favorite colors purple so...