What do I have in common with Jane Yolen, Linda Sue Park, and Kathi Appelt?
Well, let’s see…
1. We’re all women.
2. We all write books for children. (Although one of us has only written one book for publication. Hint: It’s not Jane, Linda Sue, or Kathi.)
3. We’re all award-winners. (You may not know that I took second place in the Race to Reading contest in first grade, the proud recipient of a 6-pack of Playdough.)
4. And now here’s the biggie….(drum roll, please)…..Jane, Linda Sue, Kathi and I all have books graced by the same cover artist!
Last month, on the very day before my birthday, my editor emailed to say how delighted she was that they’d chosen a cover artist for my book, FLYING THE DRAGON. Her email included a link to the artist’s website.
I did not click on the link. Not at first, anyway. I called to my husband and kids, and we all gathered ‘round ye olde monitor.
I still didn’t click on the link.
What if I didn’t like the artist’s style? What if liked her style, but didn’t think it was a good fit for my book?
“Mommy?” said my 5-year-old. “Can I go back out and play?”
So before I lost my audience, I boldly moved the cursor over the link. And I clicked on this: http://kelmurphy.com/
Go ahead, click. I’ll wait…
I KNOW, RIGHT???? Kelly Murphy’s art is amazing! We all clapped and oohed and ahhed and I did a happy cover artist dance right then and there. It was the best pre-birthday present ever.
I clicked some more and saw Jane Yolen’s newest picture book:
then Kathi Appelt’s new picture book:
and Linda Sue Park’s SEE SAW GIRL:
I’ve heard of authors who hated their covers on first sight, authors who said the style was all wrong, authors who gnashed their teeth and cried and ingested large quantities of chocolate in consolation. When I clicked on Kelly’s website, I knew I would not be one of those authors (except for the large quantities of chocolate, which, mind you, can also be ingested in celebration). I knew I’d be thrilled with whatever Kelly created for the cover of my book.
That’s when I started to get nervous.
I’ve heard that some bookstores won’t carry a book if they don’t like its cover. That’s not the author’s fault.
Some reviewers slam cover art even if they like what’s written on the pages. That’s not the author’s fault.
I’ve seen kids eschew books with unappealing covers , leaving them unopened on library shelves. To remedy this, one librarian in our school system actually puts stickers on some books that say, “Bad cover. Good book.”
Again, not the author’s fault.
Whatever Kelly comes up with for my book, I know it will be eye-catching. I know it will tempt kids, parents, teachers and librarians to pick up the book and take a look.
And then, in tag-team fashion, it will be my turn. After Kelly’s art calls to a kid, it’ll then be up to me—to the words I wrote, and the story I created—to carry through and complete the connection. If a kid picks up my book, Kelly’s job is done. If the kid reads the first page then puts the book back on the shelf, thaaaaaaaaat’ll be my fault. If reviewers don’t like the book, they won’t be blaming it on the cover. They’ll blame it on me.
I know what you’re thinking: Cry me a river, Natalie.
And I hear you.
I love my editor and my publishing house. My book’s cover artist is fabulous. I don’t want to let any of them down, and I don’t want to let my readers (or potential readers) down. I just hope that my words will live up to the art that Kelly is creating for my book.
Please send any and all future consolation and/or celebratory chocolate to me in care of my agent, Erin Murphy. I know she will forward all chocolate to me. Unopened.