A Tale of Two Covers… the Cover Story of Maid of Secrets

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

Maid of Secrets - Jennifer McGowanWhat I loved about this cover:

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

Maid of Secrets final

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?


MaidofSecretsJennifer 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


16 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Covers… the Cover Story of Maid of Secrets

  1. […] As some of you might know because early versions of my cover appeared on the Internet (and in several Waiting on Wednesday posts!), MAID OF SECRETS has had not one but two very different covers. Both of them are amazing in their own way, and I discuss why today at Corsets & Cutlasses! […]

  2. Sel says:

    Yikes, I didn’t know there was another cover for Maid of Secrets :O It still looks great, but really isn’t all that YA though! But I do love the current cover, the dagger really sets the mood ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I love BOTH of these covers! Though I have to say, the second one really pulls me in–I want to know what Meg’s thinking…

  4. Carol Riggs says:

    I definitely like the second cover better. The first one looks more like a typical romance cover–like any other romance novel. The face on the second one is intriguing, as is the knife. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yep, covers definitely sway me into buying books. Sometimes I end up loving the covers more than the books! A poorly executed cover can make the best story seem unappealing. Guess I’m just very visual!

  5. Jenn McGowan says:

    Thanks to everyone for commenting! I like the second one too, especially for setting the tone of the book. It captures Meg’s “Okay, just watch me get out of this problem now!” attitude, and is modern without losing the historical flare.

  6. I definitely use covers (and titles) as a preliminary prompt when browsing, and in the case of either of your covers, I’d pick them up (medieval/Tudor style dresses and daggers? Sure thing!) Love the look on the cover-girl’s face too. Makes me want to know what she’s thinking about!

  7. Christa says:

    I really like both of these covers. They both immediately draw your eye to them. I’m partial to the first one though because it looks like the most of the historical fiction novels I usually read. I’m a sucker for those gorgeous dresses

  8. catwinters says:

    Meg’s expression on the second cover is priceless. As much as I enjoy the first cover, I’m glad your publisher went with the second one. The fact that the designer MADE the dagger makes it all the more impressive! I’m looking forward to seeing the full package in May.

  9. Melanie says:

    I think the first cover makes it look more like a romance novel, although I have to say I like it better. I’ve never been much of a fan of faces on covers though, but it wouldn’t stop me from buying this! Can’t wait till it comes out!

  10. As an adult, both of these covers make me want to pick up the book! As I librarian I can see that the current cover will appeal way more to my students! Can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

  11. Jenn McGowan says:

    I’m absolutely someone who judges a book by its cover, at least as to whether or not I think it’s “my kind” of book. I love the lushness of Cover No. 1, but I agree that Cover No. 2 is more accessible. And yes, the knife in person is AMAZING. How anyone can make tinfoil and paste into something that cool is beyond me!

  12. I really like the first cover, it looks fun an exciting but I didn’t realize it was YA at first glance so I can see why they changed it.

  13. Super cool insight. I saw a talk with Greg Ferguson at Egmont and it’s amazing the process of getting to the perfect one. I like both covers! And can’t wait to read this book.

  14. This is so interesting, Jenn! I like both covers, but I do think the second one is more obviously YA. And I like the knife’s predominance. I can’t wait to read this!

  15. Jennifer McGowan says:

    Thanks again to you all for stopping by! I am still stunned that my debut is inching closer, but seeing the covers does make it seem more real! I am starting to think I should have my own ceremonial knife, though… just for a prop. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. KellyReilly says:

    Lots of Vampire and the old kind of stories Actresses are wearing corsets. That because these days it’s the trend but now also you can buy those.

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