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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cover Stories: You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz

YANH cover.jpg
"The cover for my first book, I Don't Want to Be Crazy (left), is made up entirely of the title. There's no image. I had a really hard time when I first saw it. It just wasn't what I imagined it would be. I always assumed it would be a photo of a girl. So, it took me awhile to get used to the type-only treatment. But I've grown to really like the cover--especially because if it's facing out on a shelf, you can't miss it! It's very unique.

"So, when I thought about what the cover might be for You Are Not Here, I was really hoping for a photograph. As I wrote, I envisioned a photo of a gravestone (maybe the title of the book would look like it'd been etched into the stone) with a really bright blue sky and deep/emerald grass. I didn't want the cover to look creepy or paranormal (although, that may have been hard to do if we used a cemetery image). You Are Not Here is love story (although, unrequited and impossible to maintain) so even though death is a central image, I still wanted the cover to be beautiful. Also, since You Are Not Here is set in the same neighborhood I grew up in, I had a very distinct images in my head of what everything looked like. I wrote a blog post about this.

"I mentioned my ideas to my editor and printed out some stock photos that I found. Although I am not sure if he actually asked for it. I hoped that they would take my idea, but wasn't holding my breath. By day, I am a children's book editor and when it comes to decisions like this, I have to remind myself that I am the WRITER in this situation, not the editor. And that means I don't always know what's best--because I am just too close to the work.

"When I saw my first cover, I LOVED IT! My editor planned to do a photo shoot, but the designer came across a great stock image. They did a rough mock-up of it and sent it to me [the image shows a girl lying in the grass, as Samantha's main character does in the cemetery]. But only a few weeks later, my editor saw the cover for Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. They were just too similar. So that cover got scrapped.

"When I saw the second cover, I was really bummed. It was good, but not great. The stock image they had chosen was nice enough [another girl-in-grass, but differently placed]--and I liked how most of the image was grass--but nothing about it stood out. It was also hard to tell what the girl in the photo was feeling. She looked peaceful. Like she was sleeping. And that didn't really fit with the book--Annaleah, the main character is terribly depressed. I spoke with my agent about my concerns (which he shared) and he spoke to my editor. Weeks later I got a new cover (the final)--which I LOVE! It's very striking. And I think it conveys the feel of the book well.

"As an editor it is SO hard not to make notes about nerdy things like leading (the amount space in-between the lines), fonts, colors, etc. I did send excessive notes, but they were mostly ignored. And that's ok. In the end, I had to realize that adding an extra space between lines (or other subtle things like that) would not make my book sell a single more copy.
"I really, truly love my final cover. I am so glad that the designer took another stab at it--and that she was able to think outside the box and get away from the cover needing to be of a girl or a cemetery.

"I think the cover relates to the story perfectly. It's a beautiful image, but also sad. I'd like to think that's how people will describe You Are Not Here.

Thank you, Samantha! I adore this cover, and I recently saw a cover that reminded me of it--the new cover of the Flowers in the Attic + Petals on the Wind combo book (right)... but I think Samantha's is much prettier!

What do you guys think?


Beth Kephart said...

I think this is a gorgeous cover.

Micol Ostow said...

LOVE this cover - it perfectly captures the tone of the book!

Micol Ostow said...

PS: I have been meaning to post about Sam's book party in my NYC host capacity for AGES now but the author liaison hat took over. Will be catching up shortly.

Little Willow said...

You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz is so wholly captivating that I lost track of time while reading it. I was in a lobby, waiting to audition. I was content, confident, and prepared for the audition, and I'd arrived quite early, so I read a good chunk of the book before I was called in to audition, then finished reading it afterwards!

(Note: I booked that movie. *grin*)

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