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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!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cover Stories: This is What I Want to Tell You by Heather Duffy-Stone

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Heather Duffy-Stone's This is What I Want to Tell You has a really arresting cover, which is why I invited her to my blog to tell her story earlier this year. And here she is for readergirlz:

"In imagining the cover of my book, the only thing I was sure of is that I did not want models represented as the characters. I told my editor I didn't mind a hand or a neck or an unidentifiable body part--I just want the reader to be able to imagine what the characters looks like... that was very important to me. I also liked the idea of tattoos being on the cover, as they figure sort of prominently in the text. At the early stages, too, the book was called Permanent Ink, so the idea of tattoos felt more connected to the title. My editor and I definitely had conversations about the cover but to be honest, I was sort of clueless. I knew Flux had amazing covers--that was actually part of what drew me to them. So I felt pretty confident standing back from the process...

"That said, when I first saw the cover I burst into tears. I was at work and I opened the PDF and I was in total shock. It was nothing like I had imagined... even though I'm not totally sure what I imagined. I thought it was incredibly violent. Then a student was in my office a few hours later and he saw the image and said 'Oh, is your book about a kidnapping?'

"I was horrified.

"So I called my editor and he was amazing. He talked to me about taking a few different versions of the cover to some teen focus groups. This one was the most popular by far, he said. Then he told me: 'A cover needs to do two things: it needs to give the reader some hint of what the book is about. And it needs to grab you.'

"I started to come around. This cover definitely grabbed.

"Then the more people saw it, the more I could step back from it. People were really struck and intrigued by the cover. Now, about six months after I first saw it, I am in love with it. It is actually very close to the original version. It is a stock photo but I like the story about writing the title. Apparently, at a staff meeting the designer asked everyone to write the title in his hand writing. I was hoping the handwriting on the actual cover belonged to Andrew, my editor, just because it would be so appropriate, because he was my guide through the whole process. But he said, apparently, his handwriting looked too much like it belonged to a serial killer. So I'm not sure whose handwriting it is in the end. But I like that it was a collaborative process--a stock photo and Flux handwriting and, though it is a model, I think there still leaves enough room for you to imagine what the characters look like. And hopefully want to read more..."

I have to say that this cover certainly drew me in, and it's interesting to hear that Heather was horrified at first. What do you guys think? Has this cover grabbed you?

5 comments:

ali said...

YES! I think it's an excellent cover. Truly.

Thanks readergrlz & Heather for sharing this--it's not often you get to read about the journey an author takes ... even the bumps in the road.

Little Willow said...

This is What I Want to Tell You is a great book. If I hadn't know the premise prior to getting the book, I may have thought, based on that cover, that it was about something more horrific but most likely would have just thought it was about silencing yourself, keeping secrets, which is ultimately what it is.

Michelle Zink said...

This was one of my favorite books of 2009. I recommend it everywhere I go, and I think the cover is PERFECT!

Georgia said...

I am a total cover person. I know I know... not supposed to judge a book by its cover... but I admit that its often a cover that first draws me to a book.

I actually really like this cover, it certainly grabs me. I am really interested to read the book now.

Donna Gambale said...

I don't get the kidnapping vibe because of the bright colors -- and I actually like the cover a lot!