Debut SF Author Karen Akins Talks Cover Art For LOOP

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.

Today’s guest is Karen Akins is a self-professed geek whose debut YA sci-fi novel LOOP is coming out October 21, 2014 with St. Martin’s Press.

At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her. 

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future. 

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

I had some hazy ideas but nothing definite. It’s a story that could have taken several directions with the cover. They could have gone light and funny or more actiony and futuristic. I love where they landed. It’s romantic and swoony with a hint of sci-fi.

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

Hmm…I think we started talking about the cover around November…ish.

Did you have any input on your cover?

I did! If you look at the two O’s in LOOP, they form an infinity symbol, and that was actually my idea. 

The only change I asked for after they showed it to me was for them to chop off my main character Bree’s hair. 

Honestly, I loved it from the first moment I saw it, down to the texture of their tee shirts. (Okay, that’s a funny story. My editor has a lot of romance on her list, and the art department is used to her requesting steamier covers, so in the first version, Finn had no shirt on. She had to go back and say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Not that hot!” Some day, I’m going to track that version down.)

How was your cover revealed to you? 

I happened to be in New York the day that they delivered the cover art to my editor. She surprised me with it when I walked into her office. Needless to say, there was much squeeing.

Was there an official “cover reveal” date for your art?

Yes and no. Griffin Teen does a monthly cover reveal on their Facebook fan page.

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

Three months.

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

Do unicorns poop rainbows? (That’s a “heck yes!”)

What surprised you most about the process?

How fun it was to keep the secret! Yes, I can’t believe I just said that. But there really was this exciting energy that built up when I had to keep it on the down-low.

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

Talk to your agent. Talk to your editor. The clearer you are about your ideas and expectations, the less wrinkles you’ll have to iron out later on. I know it sounds cliché, but have fun with it!


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