I had to laugh when I saw the suggested topic for this week, as my cover for Maid of Secrets has had two lives: first as a romantic historical novel cover, and then as its current cover, the intriguing view of Meg as she contemplates who else she might divest of their sewn-on baubles (with her handy knife).
Cover No. 1: The Clinch
1. The costumes! This cover was the result of a photo shoot for which Simon & Schuster designer extraordinaire, Laurent Linn, actually borrowed period accurate costumes from the Lincoln Center in New York. The scene depicted is a formal dance–the first time the two spies meet in person.
2. The romance! Maid of Secrets features an unconventional romance between two spies–one English, the other Spanish. Half the time that Meg and Rafe are having a conversation with each other (or dancing, or even kissing. . .) they’re also in the midst of stealing things from each other. I think the cover shows this give-and-take wonderfully.
3. The Maid of Honor badge! So much win.
However, it was not to be. The cover tested as not teen-centric (which, okay, is true) and slightly difficult to read. And thus we come to the second cover of Maid of Secrets . . . which, bear in mind, had to be created using the same photos that were previously taken for the first cover treatment.
Cover No. 2: The Thief
Cover No. 2 has a much more modern flare, with a heroine looking like she definitely knows something she’s not ready to share. And she has a knife.
What I love about this cover:
1. That face! Meg is not a classically beautiful girl, but she definitely is striking. I think the cover captures this completely. I would love to know who the model is, because she has gotten Meg’s attitude correct. NOTE: Not everyone who has seen this cover has loved it, since Meg does look a little daunting. But this is a girl who’s been pressed into service of the Crown under threat of seeing her entire beloved acting troupe disgraced and possibly killed. So these are intense times for her!
2. The title! This new, more modern treatment of the title is much more readable and striking, and it will be EMBOSSED. Which will make it pop even more.
3. That knife! With its ethereal gleam, the knife takes prominent position in this cover treatment, and it should. Meg is a heroine who cuts to the quick.
A note on that dagger.
Laurent Linn not only designs book covers, he has designed theater costumes as well. So that knife that you see in this cover? Yeah. He made it. Because he’s that kind of awesome.
Something you don’t see with these covers is the stellar spine and back treatments: trust me when I tell you, it’s a book worth flipping over and peaking inside!
I never realized how much went into the designing of a book cover, though I’ve been in marketing and communications for years. It’s been a wonderful experience, and here’s hoping the final product will be one that will inspire readers to pick up the book!
Since we’re on the subject of covers, a question for you: How much do covers sway you to pick up a book? Do you judge a book by its cover?
Jennifer McGowan’s Maid of Secrets debuts May 7, 2013, from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. She is currently at work on book 2 in the series, Maid of Deception.
You can visit her online at http://www.jennifermcgowan.com, or via Twitter at @Jenn_McGowan