What’s in a Cover?

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently (especially during school visits) is some iteration of  “Did you have any say in designing your cover?”

The answer (thankfully) is always, “No.”  I’m not design-oriented, nor do I have a strong head for the market and what might be visually appealing to the target audience, so I happily await that thrilling e-mail with Cover! in the subject line.

MANOR OF SECRETS was no exception.  When this landed in my inbox, I was thrilled.


The model looks like a cross between Lady Mary and Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey.  Her dress is stunning, the jewelry gorgeous and the manor stairs and window behind her historically and visually evocative.

And a little sinister.

Do you see it?

My reply to my editor was I love it!, to which she responded, “Don’t worry, we’ll edit out the creepy face in the window.”

Now you see it, right?

A few weeks later, I got to see the full spread, complete with amazing cover copy and that color!  I love the blue (even more now that I’ve discovered that a blue Sharpie is exactly the same color, and makes a pretty autograph).


I especially love that Charlotte is pictured close up, and thoughtful (probably imagining some grand adventure).  Janie is in the distance, as if she’s trying to be unobtrusive, as a good servant should.  But of course, a downstairs maid would never be caught on the main staircase… And if you know anything about historical costume, you’ll realize that Janie’s wearing what is typically an upstairs maid’s costume (the black is a giveaway), but we’re willing to presume that things are different at The Manor.

What I love most about this cover is that it illustrates one of the themes I try to get across within the pages of the book itself.  Unfortunately, I’m not tech-competent enough to enlarge the photograph for you to get a good look at these two girls (you’ll just have to find a copy of the book!) If you look closely, you’ll see that they are the same model.  To me, this just reinforces the idea situation and costume are all external and underneath it all, we’re all basically the same.

Image 4

photograph by Keely Parrack

About Katherine Longshore

Katherine Longshore is the author of GILT (Viking/Penguin May 2012), a story of friendship and betrayal set in the court of Henry VIII, and TARNISH (June 2013), the story of a young Anne Boleyn. You can learn more about her www.katherinelongshore.com

2 thoughts on “What’s in a Cover?

  1. Wow! Did your designers plan using the same model thematically, or do you think they were just saving some money? 😉 (Seriously, though, how clever!)

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