Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CRAP! A New Interview Series (& Giveaway!) Ushered in by A.G. Howard

I love talking to debut authors. Our experiences are so similar, yet so very different, that every one of us has a new story to share. Everyone says that the moment you get your cover it really hits you - you're an author. The cover is your story - and you - packaged for the world. So the process of the cover reveal can be slightly panic inducing. Does it fit your story? Is it what you hoped? Will it sell? With this in mind I put together the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) Interview.

Here today to usher in the new interview on Writer, Writer is my fellow debut author A.G. Howard. She's a great gal that I knew back when we were just anonymous screennames bouncing off the same agent entries over on QueryTracker, so I'm thrilled to be sharing the astounding cover for her book SPLINTERED, available from Amulet in January, 2013.

BBC: Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like? 

AGH: I did. I’m very visual and I actually like to “construct” my own book covers for fun sometimes. I always assumed it would be a dark gothic-type cover with Alyssa as the centerpiece and some sort of symbolic details woven in, like maybe the broken toys and the bloody roses. Here’s the mockup I made:

Granted, I was WAY off in the color scheme. But once I saw what they had done, I was thrilled. Choosing vivid colors lent a whimsical feel which is so important, so the reader goes in knowing to expect some strange silliness along with the creepiness. The model is beautiful, but also looks very innocent, like my MC. I also loved the fact that Alyssa’s face is partially covered by her hair (speaking of her hair, the model’s is exactly how I pictured it!!!).  One thing both our covers had in common was the actual vision: Alyssa front and center, and plenty of subtle details woven in (the bugs and flowers who talk to her, the snaky vines, the key around her neck, and her wild and haggard expression, because believe me, she goes through some crazy stuff…heh).

BBC: How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house? 

AGH: November, so about three months after I signed.

BBC: Did you have any input on your cover? 

AGH: Yes. My agent arranged a “Meaningful Consultation” clause in my contract, which meant I got to watch the entire evolution and actually had back and forths w/my editor along the way. But honestly, their ideas were so amazing, I hardly had anything to say. Although there was a lot of swooning going on. LOL

BBC: How was your cover revealed to you? 

AGH: Since I was involved throughout the process, it was a gradual evolution. My editor would send me mockups along the way to view and comment on.

BBC: Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art? 

AGH: There was a little bit of confusion there, because I’d told my editor I wanted to do a reveal, so they needed to let me know before it hit the online catalogue and went live. Then I was googling myself one weekend, and there it was, up in the catalogue. I emailed my editor LIKE FAST and she wasn’t even aware they’d already posted it. It had only been up that one day. Evidently, designing and editing are kind of worlds apart even though they’re both in-house. She did some checking around for me (this was on a Saturday, mind, so she really went out of her way there) and got the okay for my reveal. I had been in contact with a very delightful gal named Tami, who runs the lovely Krazy Book Lady blog. I appreciate her so much because she was so flexible and pushed aside everything so I could post it first thing Monday morning before anyone else got wind of it on the catalogue. I spent all day Sunday making my book cover reveal trailer, and then it all went off without a hitch. Whew!

BBC: How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like? 

AGH: The day I contacted my editor that the cover was in the catalogue, I actually had to make sure that was the final version because there had still been a little back and forth going on between the designer and the artist. So, two days before the reveal, unless you count watching the evolution.

BBC: Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release? 

AGH: Well, I have select group of online pals (my critters/beta readers) that got to watch every step of the progression w/me. That helped me reign in my excitement until I could share w/the world.

BBC: What surprised you most about the process? 

AGH: I didn’t realize it took both a designer and an artist (two separate entities) to make up the cover. I always assumed it was the same person doing both. But instead, the in-house designer looks for a freelance artist who has the qualities in their artwork that would best capture the book’s feel. Really, it’s pretty amazing how many people actually had a hand in it along the way. The model, the artist, the designer, my editor, the publicist. LOTS of involvement in-house and out of house.

BBC: Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety? 

AGH: Have your agent get a Meaningful Consult clause in your contract. It really does help if you get to have a little input, if for no other reason than you get to see the progression of the cover, and fall in love with it along the way!

Thank you so much for helping me introduce a new interview series here today, Anita. To sweeten the deal, Anita is offering a swag-pack giveaway of a SPLINTERED bookmark, button, and signed bookplate! Comment on the blog below and Anita will pick a winner using random.org. The giveaway will run through Sunday May 27 at 12 AM.

Good luck!


April Tucholke said...

AGH, your cover is so hot.

Angela V. Cook said...

@Mindy--I'm so excited about this new CRAP interview series. And choosing Anita for your first one is a great way to start things off ;o)

@Anita--I still get goosebumps when I see your cover--I absolutely adore it :o) Can't wait until it's in my hands!

Anna said...

That cover is amazing! Sold.

Bethany Crandell said...

SHIT, CRAP...you've got it all, BBC. No wonder I keep coming back.

As one who has been fortunate enough to read this amazing book, I can tell you this cover perfectly represents the action, adventure, creepiness and beauty that lies inside. We should all be so lucky to have a cover like this!

Mindy McGinnis said...

April - Tell me. I have a serious case of Cover Envy.

Angela - I'm glad you like it. I needed something new and Anita's drop-dead cover planted a seed.

Anna - YES! Sold to the lady with no avatar! :)

Bethany - Yes, yes. Like I said, if I had *real* guts I'd have a @#$@# interview. And now I have READER ENVY!!

Elizabeth said...

If this cover doesn't draw a reader in, nothing will. It. Is. Amazing! And I can't wait to read the book. *squee*

molly.frenzel said...

I can not wait for Splintered to come out. I've always been a huge Alice fan and love twisted fairytale re-tellings.


Cherie Larkins said...

WOOT! And that cover is to die for! SO BEAUTIFUL...sigh.

The Lost Lola said...

Wow, I love the creepy feel of your mock-up cover! The two definitely have different tones, but they both exude disorientation, which I think may be a good portion of the story (it is Wonderland after all!). Very interesting interview, I'll be sure to keep that Meaningful Clause in mind!

Bookluvr Mindy said...

What??? Another blogger/writer that's name is Mindy? Is your name ONLY Mindy or is it short for something? My name is only Mindy.

OK...about the Q&A! I love that I get to know some about AG Howard because I'm impatiently waiting to get my hands on Splintered!

You did an awesome job at constructing that book cover. It's awesome that you had input in your cover because I know not a lot of authors do.

States of Decay said...

I love the cover. Great interview ^_^

Mindy McGinnis said...

Elizabeth - definitely! Anita SCORED with cover art.

Molly - I'm eagerly awaiting it myself, as a reader AND a YA librarian.

Cherie - Right? I'm torn between being happy for my buddy and lusting after someone else's cover.

Lola - "disorientation" - definitely, you nailed it!

Mindy - Oh I am ONLY Mindy! No Melinda's here, my friend!!

States - Thanks!! There'll be more CRAPs in the future :)

Jessica said...

Wow, I'd never heard of the Meaningful Consult clause...that's a really good tip. Too many writers end up feeling like their covers don't match their books. GREAT interview. :)

ramblinbess said...

I love that cover, and it's cool how close it is to your vision for it. I'm glad this was good news--I was worried something bad had happened. (Oh, writers, always trying to hook you.)

Carina Olsen said...

Oh, I love this interview :D And I cannot wait to read this book. <3 it seems so so so good :D And the cover is so gorgeous. <3 :) Thank you for this giveaway, as well :D
Love, Carina

Moirae(thefates) book reviews said...

I love this cover, every time I look at it I see something new. I love the bugs crawling on her and my favorite is the vine that is wrapped around a strand of her hair.

Joie said...

The cover is AMAZING! It would definitely stop me in my tracks at a book store!

J.R. Johansson said...

Love this cover, Anita! :) It's so whimsical, gorgeous, and somehow creepy at the same time. Very cool! :)

Marizabeth said...

I am seriously getting way excited for the novels slated for 2013 publication! This cover is incredible... whimsical and slightly off-kilter. I know how that is a difficult mix to achieve (I occasionally photograph publicity shots for local theatrical productions; one image has to tell an intricate story). This team did a phenomenal job! Cannot wait to get my grubby little hands on a copy of this novel when it comes out!

Kathryn Elliott said...

Awww, Anita - you get to be BBC's first CRAP! A true honor! *giggle giggle* Said it before, say it again - LOVE the cover!

Cassie Mae said...

I totally didn't know it took more than one person to do covers either. Yours is absolutely stunning btw!

Anita Grace Howard said...

April~ Thank you, and great to see you over here! Can't WAIT to see what kind of cover you get. I swoon just thinking about it. Heh

Angela~ Thanks girlie! Can't wait till it's on my porch in a box. HA

Anna~ Thank you, mysterious poster. ;)

Bethany~ Awww. You da best. Thank pal.

Elizabeth~ Nice to see you,and thanks for your words of awesome!

Molly~ Always nice to meet a fellow Alice fan! And have I told you your avatar is gorgeous?

Cherie~ Hi sparkly pants. Thank you!

Lola~ Glad to help w/the clause info, and yes, they did an amazing job capturing that uneasy feeling, didn't they? Thanks for stopping by!

Mindy~ Hey, I know you. :) Thanks for the compliment. My lame attempt at capturing the story really pales to their amazing rendition though. You just can't beat those vivid colors and that look in the girl's eye. *shudder*

States~ Thanks!

Rambliness~ Ah, so my blog post got you over here, huh? LOL. Yes, we writers always have a trick or two up our sleeve. Thanks for your concern, though. You're awesome!

Carina~ Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you like the book as much as I loved writing it!

Moirae~ That's one of my fave things, too, because those vines play a HUGE role in the story. :) Thanks for the compliments!

Joie~ Thank you! I love hearing that. :)

Jenn~ Hey, thanks! So glad you stopped by. Aren't you just biting at the bit to see what they come up w/for yours? I know it will be fantastic. Flux does excellent covers.

Marizabeth~ Thank you! Yeah, there are some books coming out in 2013 that I'm itching to get my paws on, too. Mindy's is one.

Kathryn~ Haha. Yes, not only has she had me SHIT, but she's had me CRAP here,too. I feel so priveleged! And thank you, lovely.

Cassie~ Thank you! And yes, the whole cover experience was very exciting!

Mindy~ Thank you again for having me over. YOU ROCK the interviews, girl.

Jennifer said...

The cover is beautiful! I was surprised too, to hear that covers are done by two different people. I always figured it was one graphic artist.

Mindy - thanks for the interview series. This is the first one I've read since I just found the blog recently, and it's nice to get the bonus of having a new book release to look forward to!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Jessica - Yep! That sounds like a good ace up your sleeve, right?

Bess - he he... well, at least Anita took the CRAP and not the SHIT :)

Carina - Definitely! I want wallpaper (like a room, not on my desktop) of this cover.

Moirae - Agreed, it's the right mix of magical and slightly creepy!!

Joie - I know, even though I love Anita's original idea for her cover, this green will POP on the shelves.

JR - You nailed it. Subtle creepy... like that guy in study hall.

Marizabeth - To sum up many ideas in one image is indeed a task, and yes, this team did a phenomenal job.

Kathryn - Yeah, she's my first CRAP. Not the first bit of non-cap crap I've been involved in though!

Cassie - It's a fascinating process, isn't it? That's why I started this new interview series, we know so little about what goes on behind that magic curtain.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Jennifer - absolutely! There are more CRAP's planned for the future, so stay tuned!

Anita Grace Howard said...

Thanks Jennifer! I can't WAIT to see other people's CRAPs. Heh.

Jessica Nelson said...

Awesome interview! I'm so excited to see this book on shelves!!

Blook Girl said...

I adore the cover for Splintered and the synopsis just leaves me begging for MORE! I discovered this gem a few weeks ago and immediately featured it on a blog as a book that I desperately desire :-)

Anita is an amazing lady and I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us! :-)

Thank you for the opportunity to win!

Vicki said...

Absolutely love the cover; so looking forward to this book :)

Anonymous said...

Anita ♥

Can't wait to read the book, that cover is pure lush:)

alicia marie said...

great interview! also, best cover! and i can't wait to read this : )

Anita Grace Howard said...

Jessie~ Thanks pal. And you know all the climbing that poor book has had to do to get there, so you can appreciate it more than most. Heh

Katie~ Aw, you're so nice! Thank you! May the random.org gods be with you. LOL

Vicki~ Thanks! :)

Anne~ Hey there stranger! So nice to see you over here. And thanks about the cover. I'm crushing on it, too!

Alicia~ Yay! I can't wait for you to get to read it. Thank you!

Mindy McGinnis said...

A HUGE thanks to Anita for coming to the blog to help usher in the first CRAP... may there be many more CRAPs to come :)

Melissa said...

I so love this cover! (And this author, and this blog.) Can't wait to read this book. :)

Mindy McGinnis said...

Melissa - well, we ALL love you right back :)

Katherine Ernst said...

Still love that cover. Congrats!

Catherine Stine said...

Anita, I like the cover design you did too! But I really like the green and red pop on the cover you ended up with. Honestly, it's one of the best covers I've seen recently--I'm a color freak, love it, the brighter, the better.
Catherine Stine’s Idea City

Mindy McGinnis said...

Agreed Catherine - that green is going to leap off the shelves and into shopping carts!

the barbie queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Soumi@Pages From My Thoughts said...

The Interview is so awesome and fun. I absolutely enjoyed reading it. Cover of Splintered is one of the best I have ever seen. It represents the story perfectly giving the effect of wonderland with all greenery and butterflies.
Anita, I loved the cover you designed, it gave the book those creepy Gothic effect we all love to see.

Melodie Wright said...

I love LOVE this cover.
Also love how Anita's initials spell out 'AGH'. I read the interview as question - "AGH!" - anwer. The perpetual surprise entertained me. ;)

Anita Grace Howard said...

Melissa~ Aw, thank you! We think you're pretty great, too. Hee.

Katherine~ Hiya! And thanks. :)

Cathering~ Wow, thank you. :) But yeah, they really captured the whimsy/creepy with the colors vs the details.

Soumi~ Mindy is the queen of interviews! Thanks so much for the compliments on my "goth" cover. :)

Melodie~ LOL. So funny you would say that. I feel that way everytime I do QT interviews on my blog. My initials look like: AUGH! Heehee