Debut Author Jasmine Warga Talks About The Cover For MY HEART & OTHER BLACK HOLES

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 Jasmine Warga, whose debut MY HEART & OTHER BLACK HOLES will be coming from Balzer & Bray on February 10, 2015.

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner. 

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

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

I had no set idea of what I wanted it to look like exactly. I actually felt stressed out for the cover designer because I thought it might be a challenge to graphically capture and represent the story since its dark, but hopefully not unrelentingly so since it has bursts of humor and romance. I was interested (and admittedly nervous!) to see how they’d capture that tension between intense subject matter and irreverent narrative voice.

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

I saw the first possible comp cover design back in February. That design ended up getting pulled though. 

Did you have any input on your cover?

Yes, but I actually loved everything they showed me so my feedback mostly consisted of lots of exclamation points and squeals. Truly, I couldn’t be more impressed and thankful to the design team at B+B/Harper.

How was your cover revealed to you?

My lovely editor Alessandra Balzer emailed it to me.

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

Yes! My friend Kristan Hoffman and the WE HEART YA blog hosted the cover reveal on June 19th. The art director shared a bit of the process behind designing the cover and we shared the jacket flap summary, an excerpt, Nova Ren Suma’s blurb, and gave away an ARC.

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

Only about a week or so because my cover had gone through many changes and we were working to have a version ready for the catalog.

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

Not really since I didn’t have to wait more than two weeks, which didn’t seem too bad. But the more I think about it, I guess the truthful answer is yes since I was so excited to share it with everyone!

What surprised you most about the process?

How much time and care goes into designing every cover and how many people are involved in the process. I think the publisher really wants you to be happy and to give you the best possible cover they can for your book. It was totally evident that the people working on my cover had read the book and I think they did an amazing job graphically representing the tone and feel of the story. It was also interesting to me how much they zeroed in on finding a way to showcase the title and based a large part of the design around that.

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

This is related to what I said above—trust that your publisher and design team want you to be happy with your cover. I was lucky enough that I really liked everything they showed me, but I trust that if I hadn’t, we would’ve worked together to come up with something everyone felt good about. It’s definitely a team effort. If I could do it over again, I would spend less time worrying and stressing about it, and more time enjoying how exciting it is to be seeing a cover.

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