[My Writing Life] Got It Covered

Hi, guys–Happy New Year! It’s good to be back!

There was a piece recently in Publishers Weekly about the cover of Steam Train, Dream Train, the follow-up to Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. So much thought goes into figuring out book covers.

A Leaf Can Be . . . (Millbrook Picture Books)For my next book with Millbrook Press, Water Can Be…, my editor sent me two cover sketches that illustrator Violeta Dabija did. A committee would be meeting the following week to choose the cover. I liked both sketches, but I did have my fingers crossed for one of them–the one that didn’t get picked. Ah well…that’s the way it goes. At NCTE, I got to talk with a Lerner marketing person who had a say in the choice, and I liked hearing the criteria they talked about. They liked the whimsy of the one they chose, and also that there was more of a sense of a character. I could see that. I did think it was surprising that neither of the two covers that went to approval had a central, singular image, like the cover of Leaf Can Be… does. I love those two little foxes on the cover! Anyway, I can’t wait to see the actual cover and art for Water. It doesn’t come out for more than a year, so I’m still trying to be patient:>)

Leave a comment guessing what animal is going to be on the cover of Water Can Be…, and I’ll send one of my nonfiction books to the first person who guesses correctly!

76 Responses

    1. Nope, not on the cover. Good guess, though. There is an interior otter, and it’s one of my favorite sketches of the whole book. Moon, lake, otter…can’t wait to see it in color!

    1. Nope, not on the cover. Good guess, though. There is an interior otter, and it’s one of my favorite sketches of the whole book. Moon, lake, otter…can’t wait to see it in color!

  1. An elephant? I’m thinking of water can be a shower! I love A Leaf Can Be! Can’t wait to read Water Can Be.
    The cover for Steam Train, Dream Train is dreamy!

    1. Thanks, Penny, for your kind words. That would be a completely awesome cover. It is not the cover, but it would be spectacularly cute! And I adore that giraffe popping up through the train roof on Steam Train, Dream Train. Thanks for playing!

  2. An elephant? I’m thinking of water can be a shower! I love A Leaf Can Be! Can’t wait to read Water Can Be.
    The cover for Steam Train, Dream Train is dreamy!

    1. Thanks, Penny, for your kind words. That would be a completely awesome cover. It is not the cover, but it would be spectacularly cute! And I adore that giraffe popping up through the train roof on Steam Train, Dream Train. Thanks for playing!

    1. Good guess, Linda, but frog is the answer. It IS hard to wait a year. I sold this manuscript at the beginning of 2012, and it comes out spring 2014. Two years is average/quick for a picture book. It’s nice that the artist was already set–the illustrator hunt can add a VERY long time to the picture book publication process!

    1. Good guess, Linda, but frog is the answer. It IS hard to wait a year. I sold this manuscript at the beginning of 2012, and it comes out spring 2014. Two years is average/quick for a picture book. It’s nice that the artist was already set–the illustrator hunt can add a VERY long time to the picture book publication process!

    1. Oh, a cute raccoon washing its food in the river–that would be adorable. Man, you guys are killing me. I now want to see a million different covers with all of these animals!

    1. Oh, a cute raccoon washing its food in the river–that would be adorable. Man, you guys are killing me. I now want to see a million different covers with all of these animals!

  3. Hmm…I’ll guess perhaps a swan. Whatever the cover image, I’m so eager to hold WATER in my very own hands!

    1. Thanks, Cathy. A swan would be beautiful, wouldn’t it? That graceful white against those gorgeous colors Violeta does…Now I’m kinda wishing for swan…

  4. Hmm…I’ll guess perhaps a swan. Whatever the cover image, I’m so eager to hold WATER in my very own hands!

    1. Thanks, Cathy. A swan would be beautiful, wouldn’t it? That graceful white against those gorgeous colors Violeta does…Now I’m kinda wishing for swan…

  5. HA! My first thought? A swan, then a beaver or maybe an otter. Avoiding ducks! So will have to think again. I love Penny’s idea!!! So I will guess a frog. Happy day to all.

    1. You are RIGHT! There is an adorable otter in the book, but frogs take the cover! Check out my half.com store, pick a book, and then email me your choice, mailing address, and who you’d like it signed to (if you want it signed). Congrats! And thanks for playing!

      1. Ribbet!! So HAPPY TO HAVE WON. I am a penguin-lover and think swans look elegant. Could watch the otter’s swim at our zoo for hours. Love Penny’s elephant, too. How cute, a frog. Check out Mary Ann Hoberman’s “Frog” poem. A resounding kid-favorite. Thank you, Laura. I feel lucky!

        1. A teacher must correct. That would be *otters swim. How many times have I corrected that one????

          1. :>) I’ll look for Frog. Don’t know it offhand (that’s not the frog looking up from the bottom of the well, is it? )…

          2. Nope, not the bottom of a well. I don’t know that one. It’s more facts and lifestyle done in a nice “hoppy” way ie “Pollywiggle, Pollywog./ Tadpole, Bullfrog./ Leaps on long legs. /Jug-a-rum./ Jelly eggs.” Honest, kids LOVE this one.
            And a HOPPY Day to all non-winners. Love Jeanne’s dragonfly idea, too and a raccoon also came to mind, but then I saw that Renee guessed that one. LOVE your Tree Can Be cover and those cute foxes.

  6. HA! My first thought? A swan, then a beaver or maybe an otter. Avoiding ducks! So will have to think again. I love Penny’s idea!!! So I will guess a frog. Happy day to all.

    1. You are RIGHT! There is an adorable otter in the book, but frogs take the cover! Check out my half.com store, pick a book, and then email me your choice, mailing address, and who you’d like it signed to (if you want it signed). Congrats! And thanks for playing!

      1. Ribbet!! So HAPPY TO HAVE WON. I am a penguin-lover and think swans look elegant. Could watch the otter’s swim at our zoo for hours. Love Penny’s elephant, too. How cute, a frog. Check out Mary Ann Hoberman’s “Frog” poem. A resounding kid-favorite. Thank you, Laura. I feel lucky!

        1. A teacher must correct. That would be *otters swim. How many times have I corrected that one????

          1. :>) I’ll look for Frog. Don’t know it offhand (that’s not the frog looking up from the bottom of the well, is it? )…

          2. Nope, not the bottom of a well. I don’t know that one. It’s more facts and lifestyle done in a nice “hoppy” way ie “Pollywiggle, Pollywog./ Tadpole, Bullfrog./ Leaps on long legs. /Jug-a-rum./ Jelly eggs.” Honest, kids LOVE this one.
            And a HOPPY Day to all non-winners. Love Jeanne’s dragonfly idea, too and a raccoon also came to mind, but then I saw that Renee guessed that one. LOVE your Tree Can Be cover and those cute foxes.

    1. You are right! Janet guessed it first, but if you would like to go to my half.com store (see the link in my menu bar) and pick out a nonfiction book, I’ll send you one, too:>) Just let me know your book choice and mailing address (and who you’d like it signed to, if you want it signed).

    1. You are right! Janet guessed it first, but if you would like to go to my half.com store (see the link in my menu bar) and pick out a nonfiction book, I’ll send you one, too:>) Just let me know your book choice and mailing address (and who you’d like it signed to, if you want it signed).

  7. My first five guesses have all been listed, and I’m guessing your cover sports a mammal (since your marketing person mentioned a sense of character.) Maybe a muskrat?

  8. My first five guesses have all been listed, and I’m guessing your cover sports a mammal (since your marketing person mentioned a sense of character.) Maybe a muskrat?

  9. How about microscopic animals and plankton! Anyway, I really wanted to comment to say thanks for the insight into the making of a cover. I hear a lot of feedback from editors and illustrators and it’s so important to pass that information on. Publishers have to be picky because the market is tough and illustrators have to be in the know. So thanks, and can’t wait for your new book!

    1. You’re welcome, Joanne–glad you found it useful! Although I had my personal favorite for the cover, I definitely bow to the marketing department’s expertise. I know a great cover has really helped LEAF. Covers have to do so many things–attract a buyer (both in real life and in tiny thumbnail size online), accurately reflect the content of the picture book, connect with the kid…big shoes to fill!

  10. How about microscopic animals and plankton! Anyway, I really wanted to comment to say thanks for the insight into the making of a cover. I hear a lot of feedback from editors and illustrators and it’s so important to pass that information on. Publishers have to be picky because the market is tough and illustrators have to be in the know. So thanks, and can’t wait for your new book!

    1. You’re welcome, Joanne–glad you found it useful! Although I had my personal favorite for the cover, I definitely bow to the marketing department’s expertise. I know a great cover has really helped LEAF. Covers have to do so many things–attract a buyer (both in real life and in tiny thumbnail size online), accurately reflect the content of the picture book, connect with the kid…big shoes to fill!

    1. Love that! The sketch that didn’t get chosen was a beautiful ocean scene with all sorts of creatures…but no whale shark or (visible) krill.

    1. Love that! The sketch that didn’t get chosen was a beautiful ocean scene with all sorts of creatures…but no whale shark or (visible) krill.

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