The Story Behind the Cover

Untitled-4THIS is the cover for THE NIGHT WE SAID YES! Isn’t it wonderful? Doesn’t it scream “I AM THE BEST BOOK EVER?!” (Okay, maybe not, but I’m kind of proud of it.) As I mentioned on my cover reveal yesterday, I’m extremely happy with the direction HarperTeen decided to go. Yes, the romance is central, but so is the friendship. To me, friendships are relationships, and, especially in high school, best friends are just as important as boyfriends/girlfriends. I try to show that in my book.

But here’s the fun part of creating this beautiful cover: when my editor asked if I had any thoughts on the image, prior to design, I pleaded for one thing – for it not to be a kissing cover.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some LOVELY kissing covers out there, and, yes, my book totally has kissing in it. But if you were to see a cover with two people kissing, and then were to read my title…what would you think?

EXACTLY.

Apparently HarperTeen had the same idea, and already said no to that type of cover. It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing you’re on the same page with your publisher. It’s also hilarious, to me, thinking that they were discussing that.

After, I was asked if I wanted just Matt and Ella on the cover, or if I preferred all four of the characters. I asked for four, but left it to them, because they know best. They know what image will work. But, as it happens, they went with four, believing in the friendship plot. (The message of friendship is also woven into the official description, too, which I adore.) And I cried with happiness at the final image.

So what you see here today is the final product, and what will grace bookstore and library shelves June 16th of next year.

HarperTeen designers, I love you.

(Don’t forget to enter to win a signed advanced copy of TNWSY! Go here!)

Books Before They’re Books

Inspired by fellow 2015 debut, Adam Silvera, here’s a look at where my books are pieced together.

photoI have a journal for each of my manuscripts. I bring them around and jot down notes/ideas/scenes as they come to me. The full book isn’t written in them (i’m a much faster typer), but they have a ton of details I like to go back and look at.

On the left is, obviously, the one for TNWSY. My friend Katie got it for me because it’s circus themed. Before it tragically lost its cover, it said “reach for the sky, be adventurous,” which is kind of fitting for writing your first novel.

The middle one is for my second contracted book with HarperCollins (more on that later, but yes, I have a second book set to be published-!!!!-it’s also a YA contemporary, and this one takes place in Tallahassee because I clearly only like to write about places I’ve lived in). My friend Sarah got it for me. It’s blue and thick and hasn’t lost its cover…yet.

The one on the right is for something I’m currently working on. My friend Michelle got it for me, and the story is fun and sweet like her.

I used a journal I bought myself once, and the manuscript fell apart. So i’ve decided to only use ones given to me, because then I associate the person with the book. And I wouldn’t want to let my friends down, right?

So those are my books. And it’s weird thinking that inside them lies actual books that one day will see the light of day. (And the inside of a library!)

Editing Process: Step Four

Since my book is coming out in a little over 10 months (it seems so far away, and yet so close…), I’m starting to actually DO things for promotion. Such as…create a Facebook page! Make little promotional cards to hand out at events (more on that later)! Talk about the book some more! I guess it’s starting to actually exist, and that’s both exciting and terrifying.

Editorial wise, copyedits came in. I was a bit nervous about these, as i’ve heard horror stories where copyeditors made writers change everything. Thankfully, my copyeditor was fantastic. She had little suggestions here or there, asked for my approval on anything she changed, and really mostly changed things to suit Harper’s style guide. (Shout out to my copyeditor – you’re the best!)

Now i’m working on the dedication and acknowledgements. It’s funny – I’ve imaged what i’d write since the book sold, and now when I can actually put words on paper, i’m drawing a blank. I want to thank everyone. Can I do that? Just…thank you to the world? (Okay, I should probably be more specific.)

TNWSY aside, I had my first public reading! I read for the book launch of FORGET HOW YOU FOUND US last week and it was so much fun. It was a great introductory event for me, because there was only so much pressure. There were four other writers reading, I only contributed one chapter, I did not represent the entire book. I loved meeting/hanging out with the other authors, and just being part of the entire experience. It was such a privilege to be able to contribute to the book, and even more so to read my chapter.

So one reading under my belt. A few more to go?

It’s All In The Details

There’s a minor character in TNWSY that works at a mini-golf course. He hands people their clubs and oftentimes has to fish discarded balls out of the small lake by hole #9. He has to wear khaki shorts and a green polo shirt everyday, and he sweats through both in the Florida heat. He doesn’t like the job much, but it’s a job.

None of that is in the book.

It’s weird knowing that much about a minor character, right? I brainstormed a scene that included all of that, but never wrote it. It just didn’t fit in the end. So the character’s back story (and related scene) never came to fruition. Readers of the book won’t know about it. And yet, I know about it.

There are so many extra details that go into book that might never be read. Be it scenes never written or moments edited it out, there are always these little bits hanging around the writer’s mind and, possibly. computer. And I have so many of them!

Sometimes I forget what was cut, and just assume a certain part is still in the story because I know it so well. I assume everyone will know a main character’s favorite song because I know his favorite song.

Maybe i’ll reveal some of these things once the book is out – i’d like to, really, because otherwise they’re small details lost.

Or maybe I won’t and I’ll let readers decide where said character works in order to pay for dates with his girlfriend. Who knows. Books belong to their readers, right?