Cover It Up

Love this post at the Hub about why YA novels deserve better book covers. Unlike much of adult fiction, there are a lot of strange model shots–pictures of girls that crop off their heads, pictures of just girls’ faces, lots of bright colors and big fonts. That doesn’t mean these kinds of covers can’t match a particular story or style. But much of the time, they don’t fully reflect the depth of the story inside. And perhaps even more than adult readers, teens can appreciate a cool design aesthetic. (Check out the stuff that’s posted on Tumblr.) Just because YA readers are younger doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate awesome cover art.

Capillya Uptergrove looks at some covers that work well, such as Winter Town by Steve Emond, which keeps things spare and lovely, or Insurgent by Veronica Roth, which can appeal to readers of any gender. A few other recent covers I’ve lived are The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr, Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, and Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. These tend toward the more minimal, which is my taste, but I think they’re good examples of how to design a cover without relying on a model shot.

Just like YA content has been expanding over the last few decades, I think we’re going to see more covers that push boundaries over the next several years. Again, teens are already very design-savvy. Why shouldn’t YA get more covers that reflect that?

More Info on JK Rowling’s Next Novel

A little treat for Thursday: Little Brown just released the title, release date, and synopsis of JK Rowling’s upcoming novel. The Casual Vacancy will be released on September 27, 2012. The plot:

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

I’m very confident that Rowling can capture darkly comic struggles beneath English idyllic life. (Although my first thought was “I really hope it’s the book version of Hot Fuzz!”) Very excited to hear more about The Casual Vacancy in the months to come.

Fund a Summer of Theater

Myths. Monsters. Secrets. Serial Killers. If any of that sounds interesting to you, you should check out Sideshow Theatre Company’s Summer of Theater, in which they will produce two fantastic shows: The Gacy Play and Idomeneus. But it takes a lot to produce one show, let alone two. Enter the Sideshow Summer of Theater Kickstarter Campaign!

I can personally vouch for Sideshow’s awesomeness. They’ve been putting on compelling shows for the last five years and helping young artists find their voice in the Chicago area. By pledging, you’re helping a vibrant arts organization. Plus the literary manager is pretty cute.

And if you’re in the Chicago area (or planning to be) make sure to check out these shows once they’re up and running. Going to see indie theater makes you feel like one of the cool kids.

Who You Are and How You Got Here

I find two things deceptively hard to write: thank you notes and author bios. The bio should be easy, right? You know who you are and what your accomplishments are. It’s only a few sentences. But striking the right tone while still getting across the necessary information is a challenge.

Recently I stumbled across Jami Gold’s post about author bios and getting the right tone. She shares a lot of helpful/fun links on the topic, and her hilarious post makes me feel a lot less stressed about the whole process. Still, Jami has some suggestions for the basics:

If we look at author bios from a reader’s perspective, the “what to include” recipe is:

  • Start with an indication of type of writer (genre, tone, etc.)
  • Stir in something to sound relatable (habits, where live, pets, family, etc.)
  • Sprinkle with contact information for blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. (this also helps with being relatable)
  • Add humor and/or voice
  • Prepare in a way to show we can tell a story

Additional things we can include when applicable:

  • If we’re agented, mention our agent information.
  • If we’re debuting, mention our book and release date.
  • If we’re multi-published, mention some of our books.

My bio on this site is pretty generic, so I might use these suggestions to craft a more fun version and add that to the bio page. I also have a reading coming up in a few weeks–more on that later!–and need to come up with a version for the reading organizers to use. I’ll share my results on the blog.

Anyone else have good author bio tips or examples?

Which Tribute Are You?

My Hunger Games Tribute persona:

Name: Twill Goldenwood

Congratulations! You had the honor of being a District 12 tribute in the 69th Hunger Games!

You were killed by eating a poisoned apple.

Very Snow White! Get your Hunger Games name and history here.

In 1996, I Was Still a Middle-Grade Reader

Found on the free table at work:

Needless to say, there’s no information about establishing an author’s online presence. Also no references to Harry Potter. But they do have an interview with Chris Crutcher, who talks about why teens need to read about ‘hard’ subjects. Glad some things don’t change!

Links Galore

Thank goodness it’s a short week. To get things started right, here are some more fun links:

Blazing Trail(ers)

When I first heard the term “book trailer” I was wary. We’re not making movies; why do we need trailers? But when I got to see some real examples, I was impressed by how much they can bring to a book’s release and how creative they can be.

Of course, book trailers don’t just appear, and I’m sure most writers don’t know how to put one together. Fortunately, Hazel Mitchell has put together a fantastic step-by-step guide for putting together your very own book trailer. I think this might work best for picture books, which have a lot of lovely illustrations already, but lots of helpful advice even for novelists. Check it out and put together your very own book trailer today!