Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Blog to Watch - That Cover Girl

One of my longtime twitter friends is the delectable ShabbyGeek. After reading many of the YA blog community's suggestions over the past few years she's decided to establish her own blog.

And she's got a cool new take on the cover art that permeates YA publishing.

She intends for That Cover Girl to "...examine the outside of a novel’s heart, its cover. Let’s be honest, there are some beautiful pieces of inspiring art, and there are some horribly Photoshopped stock photos that make you want to barf. Ones that make you want to gasp and kiss the book’s publisher, and others that make you want to SHAKE YOUR FIST."

Have I got your attention yet?

I interviewed this lovely gal this week to get a better sense of what will be on offer at That Cover Girl.

You’ve been a twitter-player in the YA blogger scene sans blog for awhile. Why start one now?
After doing some digging and asking around, I found that there wasn't a blog dedicated just to YA covers. Sure, there are some that feature covers in all genres, but YA obviously has a niche of its own. Wasn't there a place for YA cover snobs like me to convene on the internet and collectively sigh and shake their fists? I couldn't find one. But I kept seeing posts pop up about covers -- weekly features, insightful special topics, and the like. Three blogs/series have inspired me to take part in starting up That Cover Girl: Pop Culture Junkie's "Lookalikes," Melissa Walker's "Cover Stories," and a particularly funny Forever Young Adult's "How to Judge a YA Book by Its Cover."

How did you come about the name?
My initial idea was to work "YA" somehow into the title. I'd seen it done so effortlessly with other blogs, but found myself floundering after awhile. Then I spent an exorbitant amount of time in a thesaurus, trying to come up with other clever titles. That Cover Girl just stuck. It's simple, it clues you into the blog, and lookie there, I'm a girl.

What will make your blog different from the standard YA blog offering?
I think focusing on the design elements of a novel's cover will provide a different perspective -- how I perceive a book's skin versus its heart. Just a few days ago, I brought up my seemingly-irrational distaste for Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay cover to a group of friends, and one of them confessed that she had never really considered covers before. Say what? This struck me as odd. I think what That Cover Girl may offer is a completely different point of view on how covers themselves have the ability to evoke an emotional response. Don't get me wrong, I'm still one to shout OMG IT'S SO PRETTY when I get excited about ogling shiny covers.

What covers have really made an impact on you of late?
Very recently, Courtney Summers revealed the cover for her third novel, Fall for Anything, which I loved. You can view my post on it here. A few covers where I felt an instant connection (woo! sparks!) include: Adam Rex's Fat Vampire, Suzanne Weyn's Empty, Scott Westerfield's Leviathan, and April Henry's Girl, Stolen just to name a few. Also, I had really anticipated Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds cover, and loved the original cover, which has since been shaded blue. I'm still faithful to the original red after having read it, and will be posting my thoughts shortly as well.

Are there any features you plan on offering?
I'm really hoping to score some interviews with designers and authors. I'd like to dig into the behind-the-scenes on why certain photography and typefaces were used. I'd love to gather author concept input, tidbits about the creative process, and compare covers by country at some point, too. I also plan on doing a before and after type of feature, where my thoughts about a book's cover might change after reading the novel.

What makes a good YA cover?
I hate to give such a vague answer, but it's all about the response a cover evokes. It's a good cover if it catches my attention long enough to make me want to pick up the book and know more. Several different factors play their own part in balancing what makes for a great cover. It has to be visually interesting. I want to be able to take one look at it and know where my eyes are supposed to look. It's quite annoying when there are so many design elements clamoring for your attention on a novel's cover that you're not sure what to think, feel, or where your eyes are even supposed to look.

That's not to say I don't have my own personal preferences, of course. I like simple. I like unique typefaces. I like...different. I'm not a fan of faces on covers. To date, there are only 3 covers that I didn't recoil from where full faces are involved: Ally Carter's Heist Society, Fall for Anything and Gayle Forman's If I Stay.

What do publishers need to move away from in terms of YA cover art?
Publishers, please refrain from modeling the angsty faces on your covers! Leave the imagination up to your readers. I know your intended demo might be 14-21 or thereabouts, but they can spot a silly-looking Molly McAngstface cover from 10 miles away, too. I know I'm not the only one who despises these covers. I'm also a twentysomething and I don't want to be embarrassed by walking around with a book that features two people making out on the cover, either. So please. Stoppit.

Well colour me intrigued ( really excited) to see what Shabby Geek will have on offer!

You can find the That Cover Girl blog by clicking on the link and on Twitter as ShabbyGeek.


fs1 said...

nice interview. and I like the idea for the new blog too. :) I guess I'll be a follower there too ;)

Robyn Bavati said...

I love the idea of a blog about book covers. The saying 'Don't judge a book by its cover' just doesn't hold true in the book industry. Covers 'position' books in the market, so that potential readers know what sort of book to expect. Sales reps take only the picture of the book and the blurb round to book shops long before the book is ready for publication, and buyers (into book shops) make their decision - to buy or not to buy - based on this. Poor covers have ruined potential bestsellers. Never underestimate the power of covers.

Michelle said...

I'm going to check her out. Sounds like a fun and intersting blog. Thanks for sharing.