The First Look of the Rough-Draft Book Cover, “BEFORE YOU GO”

And so it comes after all that waiting, the book cover. Via jpg these days, that’s how you get the first glimpse of it, clicking on a file attached to an email.

And it comes with caveats, apologies, explanations, assurances. The idea is not to get too literal (and they say this to writers, the most literal of all).

You wrote the book what seems a lifetime ago. Revised it, revised it again, and again, to the point where you’ve moved past it. You’ve gone from loving it to sick of it to almost forgetting what it’s about anyway. Curious, you might even read it again one day.

In the meantime, an art director, Rich Deas, reads the manuscript, searching for ideas, hoping images will come unbidden. It’s an opening-up process, where all possibilities are invited, explored, played with, ridiculed, winnowed down. Meetings are  taken, editors opine, directions are discussed and discarded. The sales folks has their say and everybody listens because, lest you forget, we’re all in the business of selling books. As the author, you’re out of the loop. A million miles away. It’s time for other people to do their jobs, time for their talents to shine.

You cross your fingers and hope.

All preamble: Today I received an electronic file for the cover of my first Young Adult novel, Before You Go, to be published in Spring, 2012. What you see here, please understand, is a rough version. My editor, (the fabulous) Liz Szabla, told me, more or less, ‘It’s too this, it’s too that, and possibly not enough of something else. The type isn’t final — we’re still thinking about the type — none of it is final — but don’t you love it? We all love it. Rich is still tweaking it. He wants to make changes, I’m not sure what. He’s tweaking right now. I can practically hear the tweaking going on across the hall. You know Rich. He sees it all in his head. Tell me what you think. Don’t you love it?”

Here it is, folks. The first glance at the art director’s first draft, the rough cover treatment for my new book.

Some days it really is fun to be an author. Yes, Liz, I do love it.

I wonder what the final will look like.


  1. Maria says:

    Wow just the cover has me already thinking about the book and predicting about the title as well. So many images come to mind especially sitting at a stop light. Any advanced copies going to be coming to your favorite OH school in Dublin? Just wondering 🙂

  2. Juliana says:

    So I guess I have to read it to figure out why the red light is in the middle? Or am I colorblind? Hmmm. This might be my first indication.

    Looks very mysterious. I must say, I’m curious. Which is a good thing, right?

  3. Lewis says:

    Love it. Rich knows what he’s doing, how to stop that customer in their tracks. Nice.

  4. jimmy says:

    Maria, we’ll stay in touch about Advance Reader’s Copies (ARCs). I’d love for you to read it and pass it along. Since this is my first YA, I’m guessing 12-up (mild language, some alcohol) I’ll be attempting to reach a whole new readership — or an old readership all grown up. Getting ARCs into the right hands will be important. Honestly, it’s a new world for me — new blogs, new reviewers — and I have no idea how the marketing will play out.

    That said: I really, really like this book. A lot. Proud of it. And I think it’s something entirely different from 95% of what’s out there on the YA shelves. This is realistic fiction, friendship and relationship stuff from a male perspective, cars and summer jobs and real loss.

    I have no idea what will happen with this book. But I have a great publisher and I’m hoping for the best.

  5. jimmy says:

    Juliana, the color is significantly off. It’s a yellow light. The book begins with a three-page scene involving a car accident with unnamed characters, then immediately rewinds about six weeks into the past before slowly catching up with the accident again 2/3 through the book. So there’s the opening scene, then the book is divided in two parts: Before, and After. The reader doesn’t know who will be in the car, or which character dies. Hopefully that creates some tension and promotes turning the page.

  6. Maria says:

    Sounds like an intriguing concept for YA and always on the lookout for books that would hook the boys. Also with the intro that you posted for Juliana I am curious about the characters as well as the writing in the flashback. Definitely a page turner which is a great hook.
    Very excited by the way when is suppose to be released? Possibly by February 2012?

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