Ever wonder how the cover for Beautiful came to be? Melissa Walker asked me, so I told her for Unabashedly Bookish, The Barnes & Noble Community Blog. I’m reposting here because I thought you might find it interesting:
Amy Reed’s Beautiful has a really arresting cover. The lipstick, the bracelets, the tousled mix of innocence and debauchery on the girl’s face — it all adds up to an intriguing package. (Read teen reader Sarah’s review of the book.)
“I didn’t really have a cover idea, but I definitely had a visual aesthetic in my mind that helped me with the mood. I often visualized a dreary, rainy, dense, gray Pacific Northwest landscape of Seattle with the Olympic mountains in the background. It’s interesting to me that this picture was in my head the whole time, but the cover ended up being completely the opposite–white and bright and very clean.
“Not only am I an author, I also work in publishing on the other side of things, and we would never ask an author for their input before the art dept started working. Authors, bless their hearts, often have a lot of ideas about cover design, but they are not trained designers and often don’t realize that the cover is primarily a marketing tool with a very specific audience in mind. Getting an author’s input too early almost always muddies up the process. That being said, my editor did ask for my input after several model casting calls failed to find ‘the one,’ and I did tell her how I pictured Cassie. That’s about all the input I gave.
“When I saw the cover, I was absolutely blown away. Seriously, I thought the lipstick treatment of the title was genius, and the model was perfect. They showed me a few different versions, and I remember one of them was the full body photo of the model that ended up on the back cover (below). I can’t remember all of the versions because I think I was really just in shock that somebody at a major publisher in New York was designing a cover for my book. I think they could have shown me anything and I would have been happy.
“There were a lot of different versions of the cover at the beginning. The title was always in red lipstick, but it was lowercase cursive at first. One version actually had the title written backwards, which my editor and I thought was awesome, but the sales and marketing folks didn’t think it was a good idea (and they were right). One of the last versions was pretty much the same as the final, except it had these pastel color splotches all over it. I remember feeling that something wasn’t quite right about that version, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Luckily somebody at Simon Pulse figured it out and they took the color splotches out. The last addition was the quote from the wonderful Ellen Hopkins; that came in after the cover was designed, but luckily there was enough time to get it on there before the book was printed.
“I remember when my editor told me they were having a casting call and photo shoot for the model, I was just blown away. I couldn’t believe it. Like I said before, I work in publishing too, and we never have actual photo shoots for our covers. I always thought that’s just what they did for the bestsellers. My editor would give me updates on their progress and I was like, Really? for my little book? They went through at least 17 models before they found ‘the one.’ Anica sent me some ‘before’ pictures she took at the photo shoot with her phone, and I have to admit I was a little worried. The girl looked so young and innocent. She had braces! But the transition of hair and makeup and wardrobe to the actual photo shoot was amazing. You can see how hard she’s trying to look sophisticated and tough, but how beneath it all she’s still a kid. She perfectly captures the look of a girl growing up too fast.”
Thanks, Amy! I agree–and I love the stark white background too. It makes the lipstick title pop.
What do you guys think of this cover?
Melissa Walker is the author of four Young Adult novels, including the Violet trilogy and Lovestruck Summer. She is co-creator of the popular teen newsletter I Heart Daily, and her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com.