Yesterday I shared a bit of my cover love for Kiki Hamilton’s The Faerie Ring. It has always been fascinating to me to find out how a designer takes an author’s thousands of words and condenses them to one page of artwork to represent the pages within. As an author, I’d be biting my nails throughout the entire cover design process (mostly praying things like Oh please let there not be a Sad Girl in A Pretty Dress on the cover). For some authors, this process is a completely hands-off area. For others, they’re asked for input from the get-go.
Today’s post features an author’s firsthand account on what this whole process is like. A big thank you and welcome to Kiki for stopping by!
TCG: With this being your first published novel, how much anticipation did you have towards the design of your cover? Did you ever have any ideas about what you thought The Faerie Ring’s cover should look like? Did you provide any concept input to the Tor Teen/MacMillan team?
KH: I think seeing the cover for the first time was the event in my path to publication that I’ve been most looking forward to. I’ve always had this feeling that when I saw my cover, the whole process would suddenly be real.
I never had a specific cover design in mind, but Tor was gracious enough to ask for
my input and then included every single detail that I asked for, even down to the Celtic knot design in the birthmark on Tiki’s mark. I am thrilled with my cover and very grateful to art director, Seth Lerner, and my editor, Susan Chang, for the end result.
TCG: What was your very first reaction when you saw the final design?
KH: I loved my cover from the instant I laid eyes on it. And it’s one of those covers that has dimension – the more you look – the more things you see. Especially after you’ve read the story.
At the very beginning, over six months ago, I had provided several mockups of covers, along with examples of existing covers I liked and then provided specific details, that I thought were important if they were considering my input. In the interim, however, I didn’t see anything. I just waited with fingers crossed. And then one day it showed up in my inbox – in all its perfection!
TCG: I’m not a huge fan of faces on covers, but TFR’s cover handled the mystery of Tiki’s face by placing her in the shadows and putting a lot more emphasis on the, well, ring. My favorite part about this cover is the type treatment: its organic and floral accents and subtle shadow. It’s beautiful, but the choice of uppercase grabs your attention in a way that doesn’t make you feel like the title is screaming at you. What’s your favorite part about the cover?
KH: First off – thank you! There are so many parts of the cover that I love that I can’t pick just one. And I can tell you this – every inch of the cover has to do with the story of THE FAERIE RING, which is fantastic. I honestly couldn’t ask for more.
I guess what I love most is that the cover in its entirety conveys the story, but some parts in more subtle ways than others. I hope that readers find as they read, they’ll flip to the cover and look for the clues there. For instance – yes – the ring is the focal point – but that subtle glow, the orb that surrounds the ring? – is there because a fire burns in the ring’s depths.
I do think the font of the title is perfection. It melds all the elements together in an artful and mysterious way.
TCG: As an author, what do you think is the most important message that a cover should relay? Should a cover be succinct to the novel’s message? Allude to something? Or should it just catch someone’s attention, no matter what it looks like?
KH: I think the most enticing covers are those that are striking, that make you look more than once to try to understand the details hidden there – but I do think it’s important that the images and message conveyed on the cover tie back to the story. If they don’t – if it’s a cover just for shock value – then it’s almost like false advertising.
TCG: What are some of your favorite YA covers — and why?
KH: I thought the cover for Becca Fitzpatrick’s HUSH HUSH was iconic and eerily beautiful.
I loved the creepy feel of Garcia and Stohl’s BEAUTIFUL CREATURES with its reversed negative image. And I’ve always thought Melissa Marr’s frozen cover for WICKED LOVELY was just that: Wicked and lovely.
TCG: Are there any trends in YA cover art that you’ve seen lately that you’ve noticed and loved? Or, have you noticed an evolution in YA cover design in the past few years?
KH: Well, I think YA covers have become much more dynamic and eye-catching over the last few years. Which suits the fascinating and well-written stories that are captivating the YA market.
The Enchanted Inkpot has a recent post written by Malinda Lo, which groups recent covers by trends: Close-ups, who’s that girl?, where the boys are, magical beasts, iconic images and more. It’s fun to look at all of them side by side. Take a look here.
Thanks again for the interview, Kiki. I’m really looking forward to picking up and reading The Faerie Ring when it’s released in the fall (and flipping back to the cover as I read!).
Forgot one thing! Kiki’s mailing out signed bookmarks! (Woo! Bookmarks! With the COVER ART!) If you’d like to receive a bookmark from Kiki, drop her an email with your mailing address.