Miriam Spitzer Franklin: Make A Mood Board For Your Cover

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 for the CRAP is Miriam Spitzer Franklin, author of the MG debut EXTRAORDINARY, which releases May 5th from SkyPony Press. Besides reading children’s literature and writing, Miriam loves to teach. She’s taught kindergarteners up to eighth graders in public and private schools. Her favorite subject to teach? You guessed it– reading and writing!

Last spring, Pansy chickened out on going to spring break camp, even though she’d promised her best friend, Anna, she’d go. It was just like when they went to get their hair cut for Locks of Love; only one of them walked out with a new hairstyle, and it wasn’t Pansy. But Pansy never got the chance to make it up to Anna. While at camp, Anna contracted meningitis and a dangerously high fever, and she hasn’t been the same since. Now all Pansy wants is her best friend back—not the silent girl in the wheelchair who has to go to a special school and who can’t do all the things Pansy used to chicken out of doing. So when Pansy discovers that Anna is getting a surgery that might cure her, Pansy realizes this is her chance—she’ll become the friend she always should have been. She’ll become the best friend Anna’s ever had—even if it means taking risks, trying new things (like those scary roller skates), and running herself ragged in the process.

Pansy’s chasing extraordinary, hoping she reaches it in time for her friend’s triumphant return. But what lies at the end of Pansy’s journey might not be exactly what she had expected—or wanted.

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

I knew that I wanted my cover to portray the story in an optimistic way. Because my book deals with some heavy subject matter (Pansy’s best friend suffers a traumatic brain injury), I needed to make sure the cover didn’t appear sad or depressing.

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

My editor asked me to start thinking about ideas for the cover in May 2014, a year before the book came out.

Did you have any input on your cover?

My editor suggested that I put together a mood board — examples of MG covers that I liked and the overall feeling I wanted to convey.

How was your cover revealed to you?

Actually, my editor asked me for an author photo for the catalog because she said they weren’t satisfied with the designs and they had asked the illustrator to rework the design. I was glad that they weren’t accepting a cover they weren’t satisfied with but disappointed that the catalog was going out without my cover! A few days later, my husband was searching the internet and found my cover! I e-mailed my editor to tell her I loved it and hoped it was the final design! Apparently they reworked the illustration in time for it to go out in the official catalog, so it all worked out the way it was supposed to.

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

I did not have an official cover reveal date, but I found out about it in late October, around 5 months before the book’s release.

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

I didn’t have to keep it to myself since it was already out on the internet! Though I did check with my editor to see if it was okay if I shared.

What surprised you most about the process?

I was most surprised at the way the illustrator came up with the perfect cover for my book. I’m assuming he didn’t actually read the book, but the Best Friend necklaces worked perfectly to capture the theme of Extraordinary.

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

If your editor doesn’t ask for input, you should let him/her know what you would like to see in a cover. Because authors may not have a final say in the cover design (mine was finalized before anyone showed it to me), you’ll feel a lot better if you have the discussion upfront. Offering up a mood board to your editor is a good way to show what types of covers you’d like to see. In the end, you have to trust your publishing house and hope they will put out the type of cover that best represents your book, as mine did!