Today we are pleased to share this guest post from Librarian and Diversity Coordinator Laura Reiko Simeon on the power of book covers.
Now that we’ve revealed the cover for the amazing Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid (coming in May!), let’s talk about the cover design process. As with Ink and Ashes last year by Valynne Maetani, Perfect Liars is a YA mystery title. How do you give a book that mysterious air you need? How do you tell readers, “This book is for YOU!”?
The challenge in all YA book design is to create a cover that looks like it belongs in the YA section, but doesn’t look too much like the rest of the YA section. And to do that, you need a good designer. We found that designer in Liz Casal, who’s also designed covers for Little, Brown and Soho Press. Looking at her portfolio, we knew she was just the designer for the job. Continue reading
We’re so excited for the upcoming release of Rebellion, the final title in the Tankborn trilogy, which comes out this May! Here’s what to expect:
In the wake of a devastating bomb blast, severely injured Kayla has been brought to the headquarters of the organization that planted the bomb—and many others like it in GEN food warehouses and homes. Her biological mother tells her that Devak is dead and that Kayla must join her in the terrorist group, which is ramping up for something big. Now Kayla must pretend that she embraces this new role in an underground compound full of paranoia as she plots a way to escape and save her friends.
Meanwhile, Devak has emerged from his healing in a gen-tank, only to be told that Kayla is dead and his family has fallen from grace. Can he overcome his grief at the loss of his power to see the clues that point to Kayla being alive?
As Kayla and Devak overcome the multiple obstacles between them while trying to free GENs without further bloodshed, the Tankborn trilogy rushes to a thrilling conclusion!
In this post, Tu Books Publisher Stacy Whitman shares the process of creating the cover:
As we discussed in the cover reveal post about Awakening (book 2 in the Tankborn trilogy), we showcased two different characters on the covers of book 1 and book 2. Originally, I thought perhaps we should showcase Devak, Kayla’s love interest and the major trueborn character, on book 3.
We’re thrilled about the upcoming release of our new YA fantasy Killer of Enemies! In this post, Tu Books Editorial Director Stacy Whitman discusses how she and designer Isaac Stewart came up with the final cover concept:
I’m so excited to finally reveal the cover of Joseph Bruchac’s latest speculative fiction book for teens, Killer of Enemies, which comes out in September. The book is post-apocalyptic Apache steampunk (well, steampunk-adjacent), about a monster-hunting teen who has some pretty awesome powers. It’s an action-packed read about which people are saying things like:
“Killer of Enemies is a wild teen adventure-fantasy that starts fast, gets faster, and never touches the brakes. A mind-bending fantasy that smashes across genre lines to tell a story about survival, courage, and lots of monsters. Joseph Bruchac brings serious game. Highly recommended!”—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Fire & Ash and Extinction Machine
For the Killer of Enemies cover, I wanted to be sure we saw how awesome (and kind of terrifying) Lozen’s world was, and I wanted to be able to see her face. We needed a model who looked Native American (and as Apache as possible—though Lozen’s ancestry is a little mixed), and we wanted an action shot. Finding a stock photo that did everything we needed it to would be like finding a needle in a haystack.
Instead, I reached out to a friend of mine, Joleen Begay. Joleen is Navajo, and she has family and friends in the Native communities of Arizona and Utah. Since my designer, Isaac Stewart, was located in Utah as well, I wondered if she knew anyone who might have a teen daughter who fit the description of Lozen. Perhaps we’d be able to do a photo shoot.
We’re so excited about the upcoming release of our new YA historical fantasy Hammer of Witches! In this post, Tu Books Editorial Director Stacy Whitman discusses how she and the designer came up with the final cover:
Historical fantasy can be tough to market. You have to show that, despite being steeped in research and history, this is an exciting, awesome book. It should look different from all the contemporary books out there, but not old-fashioned. Because of the fantasy element, a photographic cover just couldn’t do this book justice, but for YA, illustration can be tough because you don’t want the illustration to make the book look like it’s for a younger audience. We needed an illustrator whose art had a more mature look, whose sensibility tended more toward something you’d see in the adult market than the middle grade market—and we found that illustrator in Andrew Mar.Because the cover is illustrated, there’s a lot more leeway in terms of what we can pick to show. So we get to see an important moment in the story: a character moment where the main character, Baltasar, meets one of his primary companions throughout the book, Jinni (who is a half-genie). We know there’s magic happening–she’s floating, after all!–and we get to see how the author envisioned these characters rather than having to find a model whose looks fit the character or a stock photo that’s not quite right. We can also see that this is a historical setting from the view out the window, the characters’ clothing, and the items on the table. We even get some nice detailing in Jinni’s dress, and I love the expression on her face compared to Baltasar’s!
We’re getting close to the release of Awakening, the upcoming sequel to the YA science fiction dystopia Tankborn from our Tu Books imprint! Awakening continues the story of Kayla and Mishalla, two teen GENs (genetically engineered nonhumans) fighting for freedom and equality:
Last week, we were lucky to get some help revealing the cover of Awakening from some great book blogs:
This week, Tu Books Publisher Stacy Whitman shares the process of creating the cover:
For a long time we’ve been talking about our upcoming anthology, Diverse Energies, and I am thrilled to be able to share the cover with all of you at last!
Diverse Energies is a YA anthology of dystopian stories with a focus on diversity, and features stories by several award-winning speculative fiction writers including Ursula K. Le Guin, Paolo Bacigalupi, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, and Greg van Eekhout. So, without further ado:
Like dating, designing the right cover for a book can be a long, arduous process. Sometimes a cover gives off the wrong impression. Sometimes it’s too showy, sometimes it’s too dull. Sometimes a cover says all the right things, but lacks sincerity.
But sometimes, you find The One. And you just know.
That was the case with the cover of Summer of the Mariposas, coming this fall from our Tu Books imprint. Summer of the Mariposas, by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, is a YA retelling of The Odyssey set in Mexico. It follows Odilia and her sisters on their quest to return a dead man to his family (you can read an excerpt of the book here).
In the first part of our guest blog, Tu Books Editorial Director Stacy Whitman and designer Isaac Stewart discussed how they came up with the cover concept for the novel Vodník. In part II, they share covers they considered and explain how they came up with the final design.
Isaac: By the time we chose a direction for the cover, I had created something like twenty-two thumbnails. I’ll admit, I went a little overboard, but I really wanted to give Vodnik the attention it deserved. And honestly, it was hard work finding the desired balance between ominous and whimsical.
COVER 1: THE HORROR
Isaac: This cover has a lot going for it, despite my getting the color of the vodník’s arm wrong. Initially, I wanted to have a hand thrust up out of the water, a crushed teacup in its grasp. As I searched for images that matched, I found this one and decided it played off the ominous feeling I was hoping for. I tried the whole fire and water dichotomy with the colors of the title and byline, and was hoping that the text itself would carry the Eastern Block feel. The large, in-your-face title was a precursor to what we wound up using on the final cover.
The biggest problem with this cover was it looked like a horror novel, almost completely ignoring the fantasy and whimsy that are also big parts of the story. To tell the truth, it didn’t even look like a YA book.
Stacy: Yeah, this one just wasn’t working for me. It looked too horror-y, and didn’t have the right sensibility that I was going for. Which brought us to…
Isaac: Before brainstorming ideas for a book design, I usually get a few pieces of key information from the editor:
1. What age-range and demographic do we want the book to target?
2. What would the editor like the cover to convey?
3. What has the author said they would like to see on the cover?
Here’s how Stacy answered:
1. The book’s design should appeal to both female and male tweens and teens, but should specifically target the male teen.
2. Stacy wanted a cover that felt ominous, fantastical, with a dash of whimsy.
3. Bryce [Moore, the author] specifically mentioned that he found covers with bold shapes and colors both beautiful and striking. But if we decided to go for a more photographic cover, he wanted to see the vodník statue or Trenčín castle.