HELP! What Should My New Cover Look Like?!?

As smaller publishers are catching up with Big 5 illustrators in terms of style and quality, Big 5 YA covers have been differentiating themselves by shifting away from photomanipulation people on the cover and more toward high concept minimalism (think Hunger Games and Twilight). So if I want to follow in the trend of Big 5 covers, this is something I should consider.

With 18 Truths set to come out on January 28th (YESSS, I have an official release date *squeeee*), I wanted to keep the banding the same between its cover and that of the first book in the series, 18 Things. But to do that, there was no way I could lean more toward a minimalistic cover.

I emailed the powers that be at Curiosity Quills about this (my publisher), and asked them about some smoother graphics and a bolder color scheme  for 18 Things, because after a discussion with another author/blogger, we both thought it could do wonders for the cover.

If you’ve ever spent some time browsing covers in the Young Adult section at Barnes and Noble, you see what’s striking, and have probably discovered it doesn’t matter how good the book is; if the cover is exceptional, it will appeal to readers.
I didn’t know if the scene of the 18 Things cover was necessarily the problem of keeping it competing with other YA best sellers, and I thought asking my publisher to redo the whole thing was too bold to ask. But then CQ responded to my concerns with an offer to completely reimage the cover, and I enthusiastically accepted. From there, we can brand 18 Truths and later on, 18 Thoughts (the last book of the trilogy, which I plan to write the entire novel during November for NaNo, so say some prayers for my sanity please), in the same vein.
But now I’m left with the task of telling my publisher what I actually want for the new cover of 18 Things and well . . . I’d LOVE your ideas! Because artwork is not my strong suit! So please, please, please give me your thoughts (hopefully you’ve read 18 Things and know a little about it, lol). And hey, if we use your idea, I’ll thank you in the updated version, and you can be sure a free copy of my next novel is on its way 🙂
~Thanks, everyone!!!

15 comments on “HELP! What Should My New Cover Look Like?!?

  1. First, congrats on having a release date. Savour the moment – over and over again. My brother write’s young adult and had his cover designed by a professional. What I was most impressed by was that the artist clearly read the book and understood what it was about. The cover matches the atmosphere and theme of the book. You can check out his cover at I don’t know if this helps, but good luck to you.

  2. Congratulations on a release date for your next book!
    You’re fortunate to have so much input on your cover. I usually just spend fifteen minutes on the phone with my publisher’s illustrator. He asks questions about different scenes in the book, but I’ve never suggested an actual cover. What he produces is always a surprise. (So far all three have been awesome surprises!) I think what helps is what Kristina said above – the illustrator reads the book before contacting me.
    What object or symbolism is consistent in the series? Is there a unique theme or style that can be used in the text?
    Good luck!

  3. I agree with the others. My CP’s artists always read the book(s) first, and then discuss.
    Off the top of my head, (Lol! which by no means = good idea) I’d say a paper showing the last part of the list, a hand holding the pen and the pen dripping tears (or something???) or the paper, pen and hand inside a tear?. . .Okay, I need a tea 😉

    But congrats on that release date! YIPPEE!!!

  4. I would stick with the water and sailing theme you have in your current cover, and since sailing comes up later in the book in one of my favorite scenes (where Olga writes a letter to Conner and puts it in a bottle) maybe incorporate that? The theme of writing and sailing and searching for meaning could all be wrapped up together.
    As you can see, I love the idea of a high concept cover! 🙂

  5. Congrats! Well, my cover to Secondhand Shoes has failed me. I directed my cover artist totally wrong. So do what your gut tells you. The cover means a lot to the sale of your book.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  6. I was reading somewhere recently (for the life of me, I can’t remember where) about an author who found their cover designer by playing around on, a website where graphic designers show off their work. The author ending up finding Caroline Hadilaksono after stumbling across her vintage-y Visit Hogwarts tourism posters ( Clicking around over on might give you a few ideas of what you might be looking for. And congrats on your release date!!!

  7. WTG on the release date. !!!:D

    Cover art: Just a couple of practical things …. What the current cover suggests to me is a young woman who is somehow connected to a sailboat that gets struck by lightning, and nothing about the actual ’18 things’. So, somehow get that list into the artwork, and whatever you do make sure it still pops at thumbnail size … that’s about it for me.

    … but Check out Joel Friedlander’s The Book designer blog – specifically his regular post on cover art. I’ve learned so much about cover design that I wasn’t aware I was looking at, just by reading through his comments on the artwork that’s submitted … here’s the link, if you’re interested.

  8. Lots of great suggestions here, Jamie! What I did was browsed covers on Amazon, picking out my faves and saving the images. I sent them to my designer so she’d get an idea of what I liked, then gave her very specific images of what I wanted, along with the colors I envisioned.
    Are there any YA of similar genres that stick out to you and leave you staring? If so, they’re prolly the same ones others are staring at and want on their eReaders.
    I’ll email you more specifics. 🙂

  9. Hooray for the release date! 🙂 I haven’t read 18 Things yet, so I can’t give valid input on the cover… *ducks*

    Wait! It’s on my Kindle. I’ve just been busy. Forgive meeeeeeeee….

    I usually have my clients fill out a questionnaire that relates to the vibe they’re looking to achieve. They also have a chance to include an excerpt that best describes what they’re going for. Then, of course, many of them send inspiration images. Maybe you can find those types of things for your designer. 🙂

  10. Hey, your release date is my anniversary!

    As far as covers go, if you want to stand out, I say go for an artist who doesn’t usually work on covers. It’s never a good idea to play toward trends, because trends will fade. Just find something that really fits the ambiance of your book, has an intriguing color scheme, and plants a question in the viewers mind.

    Best of luck!

  11. A chance to ‘rebrand’ the series — what a great thing! And with your input — a suberb great thing. I’m not an artsy type, but I am an English teacher, so I love when a cover reveals symbols within the story.

  12. Congrats on the sequel date… woohoo. Covers are so hard, but I like Crystal’s idea about having to do with symbolism and especially 18 since it carries across on both books. Don’t follow trends as they outdate too quickly… set a new trend I say. Best of luck.

  13. Congratulations! I want to echo the opinion about the symbolism and the number 18. Carry it through all three covers, and any that may come after that. It will totally brand your stories.

    I’m on NaNo too, writing the second book in my current series. I’m yarnsome if you want to look me up. I’d love to be buddies!

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