The Making of a Book Cover: Behind the Cover Reveal of THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS

The Benefits of Being an OctopusFriends, I know you have met author Ann Braden in our last post, but I have to share with you my amazing interview with Ann about her cover reveal. What was particularly fun is that…well… basically I LOVE to talk to Ann anytime I get the chance and you are about to see why. She is not only a talented writer, but she is a thoughtful, observant, deep human. And I learn something from her every time we talk, like the importance of having a rock in your pocket to keep yourself calm. (No, really.)

This particular conversation with Ann is about what happened when her cover showed up. Not the flannel kind. The BOOK kind. As in, after all the many forms of anguish one experiences in getting published, it’s actually happening and you open an e-mail to look at your actual real live book cover.

Here we go. Enjoy! – Anna Crowley Redding

Anna: You and I first met out in Washington at a retreat. I’ll never forget it. Neither of us had book deals yet and I remember how you shared about managing that anxiety of working hard on writing and waiting for a break through. And here you are now, with your first book baby on the way.  How are you feeling these days?

ANN: Yes! That was soon after I had spent an entire month holding a satisfyingly-shaped rock in my hand because I was on pins and needles waiting to hear news about two books that had made their way to the top of the acquisitions process. That was a good rock. And for the record I think I finally heard the decision (of ‘not quite’) about a year later, so it was good I had that rock to help me settle in for the wait!

As to how I’m feeling right now, I’ve been loving every step of the process. I loved digging into revisions with my amazing editor, getting to copy edits, collaborating on this cover, and then most recently, getting to see it laid out like an actual book! There are even e-ARCs up on Edelweiss! That’s pretty darn real!

But I know that as you put your heart out into the world, it’s always best to have something sturdy to hold onto. For me that ideally means getting deep enough into the next manuscript that I’m able to stay sane while riding this roller coaster. Unfortunately, I’ve been pretty busy getting this book ready, and I’m only at the very beginning stages of the next one. It’s probably time to find that satisfyingly-shaped rock again.

Anna:  Your cover reveal was featured on Mr. Schu’s blog. I mean MR. SCHU!!!! He’s a rock star traveling librarian, a shout-it-out-from-the-mountain-tops book advocate, and all around kidlit hero. Please give us a taste of what it was like flying so close to the sun and having Mr. Schu reveal your book cover!

Ann: I’ve been a huge fan of Mr. Schu since I was on maternity leave from my middle school teaching position back in 2010 and had just discovered Twitter. His enthusiasm for books was (as you know) infectious and as I started down the path of writing MG books, I was propelled in part by the knowledge that out there in the world there were people like him who LOVED good books and introduced them to kids.

I have to admit that when Mr. Schu agreed to reveal my book cover I may have leaped around the house for a good long while.

Anna: I need to know about the first moment you saw your book cover with your name on it . . . as the author!

Ann: Oh my goodness. People had said that moment was amazing, and they weren’t kidding. I looked at it small. I looked at it big. I printed it out. I taped it to actual books. All while flailing around A LOT. Since then, my five-year-old daughter has started proclaiming: “THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS! BY ANN BRADEN!” at random moments.

Anna: THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS is such an important book for readers. And grabbing them with the cover, is an important part of getting the book into readers’ hands. I am such a fan of the design. How did that come together? And were you involved in the process?

Ann: I aually got to be super involved in the process. My editor pitched two concepts at the beginning, and I loved one so we went with that. We discussed things every step of the way, and it was such a great collaborative process – and I love love love the end result! I love how bold it is, and I love the way it captures the idea that there is so much going on below the surface of a person. Because isn’t that the truth?

Anna: Now teachers have a crazy good opportunity to win a full classroom set of THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS between now and your book birthday. Tell us about that!

Ann: Yes! I was a middle school teacher before I became a writer and I always thought about how this book could reach those kids feeling alone as they struggle to juggle just as much as the main character Zoey – and how this book could be used in classrooms to start really important and meaty conversations.

Here are the details for the giveaway:

Teachers and librarians have a chance to win a complete class set of books (32 copies!), octopus tattoos, and lesson plans. To enter visit: and click the link at top of the page. While you’re there you can download the brand new Educator’s Guide for THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS. It offers a wide range of discussion questions and activities designed to help kids think deeply about the power of assumptions, the realities of poverty, the ways we can bridge the divides in our society (like about guns, for example), and the importance of finding your own voice.

Anna: Lastly, for writers out there who are still waiting for that first sale, what advice do you have in keeping calm and focused while they are waiting to break-in?

Ann: This advice is said a lot, but that’s only because it’s so darn true: once you put something out into the world, take a break…read some good books, watch some mindless TV…and then get to work creating the next thing. And until then, find a good rock to hold.

Readers, was I right or what? Ann is a gem and I can’t wait to have her book in my hands!

Award winning journalist and author Anna Crowley Redding‘s own debut GOOGLE IT! comes out in August 2018.


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