Meg Kassel On The Cover Art Process

BlackBirdoftheGallowsI love talking to 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 WHAT is Meg Kassel, author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson’s School of Design, she’s always been creating stories, whether with visuals or words. She is the 2016 winner of the RWA Golden Heart® contest in YA and a 2018 RITA® Award finalist. Her YA Debut, Black Bird of the Gallows, is available now.

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

I did not! And this is remarkable because I come from an art/graphic design background. I think when you’re so close to a project—like the book you wrote—perspective can be compromised. In other words, all my professional training and experience flew out the window. I knew it should have something to do with crows, and it should look creepy. My five-year-old could probably have described the book in more articulate terms during that time.

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

We stared a few weeks after the contracts were signed with a form from my publisher. They asked for all sorts of info, like different lengths of bios, author photos, stuff like that, and a questionnaire about my cover.

Did you have any input on your cover?

Yes! But I didn’t offer much insight! I just wanted it to look good, and I was worried that if I started in on ,“I want this…I don’t want that…” that I could wind up limiting the designer from creating something amazing. This book endured a long and harrowing journey to publication (two publishers, two agents, several years of limbo), and I had a lot of jumbled thoughts about it by the time cover decisions came up.

Meg Kassel

How was your cover revealed to you?

My agent emailed it to me (she loved it).

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

Yes! Young Adult Books Central hosted a cover reveal eight months before release day.

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

I saw my cover about a month prior to the reveal.

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

Keep it to myself? Ha! I whipped out my phone and showed that thing to my family, close friends, hair dressers—pretty much anyone I wound up in conversation with. I didn’t post it online until the “reveal,” but I wasn’t shy about showing it off.

What surprised you most about the process?

I was surprised by how amazing my cover turned out. I remember staring it at and feeling a whole lot of emotions. Like I said, this book took a difficult route to publication. Seeing the cover made it all suddenly, very real. The designer, L.J. Anderson at Mayhem Cover Creations, brought the vibe of my book alive. I was very fortunate to get a gorgeous cover, and couldn’t have imagined a better one.

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

The biggest worry is that you’ll get a bad cover, right? Plenty of authors get covers they don’t love, and sometimes publishers are willing to make changes if an author has strong objections. If that happens to be you, take a deep breath and talk to your agent. But ultimately, traditionally published authors have limited input on their covers, so the best thing you can do is try to give yourself space from it and put your energy into the things you can control, like all those words that go between the covers.

2 thoughts on “Meg Kassel On The Cover Art Process

  1. Very in the thick of trying to figure out the best cover for my debut YA next summer. It’s proving to be a tough nut to crack, and I am having so many feels!

    1. Covers can be so emotional! Just focus on Meg’s point about keeping your mind on what you control – the words between.

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