Saturday, April 23, 2011

So Here's The Thing: Invincible Summer's Cover

When I first saw this book, I thought it was a summer kind of read. I've heard it's rather emotional. The cover doesn't make it appear that way at all!

Because of the cover I did think it was going to be a beachy read that I wouldn't be able to get into.

The cover of this book is entirely misleading.

Actually, I'm ashamed to say I think I DID judge this by it's cover. I've seen it around a bunch of times, wasn't really drawn in by the cover so just skipped over it. STUPID ME! This sounds like exactly my kind of read!

Cover and synopsis are pretty misleading. Don't judge this book based on the cover.

First off, this cover is weirdly my #1 favorite of 2011 so far!

The cover is so infuriatingly off. But honestly, I don't have a better idea....maybe a portrait of Albert Camus?

The current cover sucks. They should really let readers take votes on these things before they come out.

The synopsis is a little misleading. Sure there were girls and boys, love and lust, and a beach, but that wasn't what the book was about.

The cover and the reviews I've read of this book turned out to be 2 different things.

They really should change the cover. It doesn't fit the book whatsoever.

From all the reviews I've read, I just can't get over the fact that the cover kind of gives the wrong impression

Now I'm going to tell you that this whole blurb is totally inadequate and only the very last line really describes this book, in my opinion. Also, this is the worst cover ever for this book.

These are all quotes from reviews, positive and negative, and I could go on forever and ever. These are the ones I could find in five minutes.

All right, guys. I hear ya.

I did a post a while back where I responded to a lot of the "wow, your cover makes me want to go to the gym" comments I'd gotten, etc. (A quick summary of that post: you're hot, shut up, and that chick is photoshopped. I saw her when she had half the tits she has now.)

But this is kind of a different issue, yeah? Because this isn't really about what the cover looks like, but about what it says about the book.

It's a beautiful cover. I'll state that outright. It's a cover I'm proud to have on one of my books. It's doing its job and people are picking it up. I think the spine in particular is absolutely lovely. If you've seen IS in person, you'll know that the cover is made out of some kind of fantastic soft I don't even know that makes you want to put your head on it and go to sleep.

It's a beautiful cover.

But no, it's not the cover I would have chosen for this book.

So my 2012 book, Gone, Gone, Gone? It's a love story. It is so completely a love story. The WIP is a love story. I fucking love writing love stories.

Back in 2008, when I wrote IS, I did not know how to write a love story.

And I wasn't trying to.

This is a story about a family.

Some of the people up there ^ are responding to a little line at the end of the goodreads description that says "Not your typical beach read." That's not part of the real blurb. That's not on the back of the book.

That's something I went in and added myself a few weeks ago.

My publisher is amazing. Hands down. And they chose a cover and a blurb that would get people to pick it up. And I think it's working. I honestly could not be happier with how many people seem to be hearing about IS and picking it up. I saw a comment on an interview the other day where a girl said that the only reason IS was popular was because it had a chick in a bikini on it. Um guys. SHE SAID MY BOOK IS POPULAR.

This cover is doing its job. My publisher knows its shit, man. It's a beautiful cover, and I have so much support from the beautiful people in-house, and damn am I proud of my little book and INCREDIBLY thankful for the people who helped me make it and nourish it and get it out into the world. I really can't say that enough, and if you take one thing away from this post, let that be it.

But see, this cover is also pissing you guys off.

And that part sucks.

You all know this, but it's worth repeating: authors don't choose their covers. Authors don't write the blurb on the back of the book. And here's one you maybe don't hear as often: authors do not know what sells.

Yes, the love triangle aspect of IS's plot has been heavily pushed. It has been since the second my then-agent read it. The two brothers sleeping with the same girl? Of course it's weird. It's the hook because it's weird. It's not a hook I'd thought of. It wasn't a major part of the story, as far as I was concerned.

Once the book sold, I amped that up and made it a larger part of the plot. I made Noah have a real relationship with Melinda. I added more fights and conversations. These things absolutely strengthened the book as a whole.

It's not as if my book was ruined by this marketing, is what I'm trying to say.

The only part of that book I can control is what happens inside of it. And the truth is, the parts of that that I think are important would make really shitty book covers. Like the girl up there said, how do you design a book cover for a book about brothers and sign language and sex and Camus?

It's not easy.

But please. That don't judge a book by its cover thing? You have to understand something.

When you don't pick up a book because of its cover, you are not punishing the design team.

When you say, I would have picked up this book, but I hate the cover, so I won't, you are not punishing the design team.

When you refuse to read a review or take a second look at a book because of its cover, you are not punishing the design team.

You are punishing the author.

There are SO MANY reasons not to pick up my book. If that's the road you want to take, pick a good reason! Make it something that I did wrong. Make it about the ugly paragraph on page whatever or the fact that you hate books about big families or that you hate philosophy or that I peed on your front lawn or I said something mean to you on twitter or you don't like my nose. Make it something about ME. About something I did. Okay, maybe not the nose thing, then.

But guys. It's a book about a family. I will tell you a zillion times if I have to. It is a book about a boy and his family. It is a book about a boy and the siblings he is co-dependently creepy close to. There is sex in. There is more sign language than there is sex. This is not a book about a girl.

Not to mention, and here's the zinger:

I have made an executive decision.

If we're going by screen(page?)-time and character importance alone, that's Chase's goddamn sister (the only character in the book ever described as wearing, and I quote, "that green bikini," just sayin') on the cover and NOT the girl Chase and Noah are sleeping with.

And Claudia, the little sister, is the hero of the story. I will say that a million times too. Claudia is the hero of the story.

And in my mind, that's Claudia on the cover. That's my girl.

She deserves a cover.

And believing that makes me like my cover a hell of a lot more. Because it makes it darker and stranger and a fuckload more awkward and dirty sexy and God don't you want to put a towel on her and cover her up now? GOOD. Then read my book because you will like it. Seriously. Read this book if you want to cover up your little sister.

My point is: it's Claudia on the cover. That's my official statement. It's Claudia on the cover. And any time discussion of this cover ever comes up again, that's what I'm going to say.

And if you want to do me a favor, you will a. buy the book because bitch has to eat and b. TELL PEOPLE. You don't have to defend the cover. You don't have to like it. You don't have to offer a big explanation. But if you see a review dissing it, just leave a comment that says, "Hey, actually that's the sister on the cover."

And then walk away.

And that won't change the way a lot of people feel. But maybe, maybe it'll make a few say guhwhatthefuck? And that's why I write, really. It's especially why I write messed up shit like IS.

So. The chick on the cover. It's Claudia. And it is a beautiful cover beacause Claudia is goddamn beautiful.

It's not Melinda. It's not the girl they're sleeping with.

And really, this is all kind of appropriate, because it's Melinda's job to screw up everything.

So that's really all I have to say, so I'm going to leave you with a few things.

The first is Invincible Summer's trailer. Yeah, I just posted this. Have it again. And here's why.

1. I worked closely with Vania in developing this. I chose the images at the beginning. I also told her I wanted making out. Because making out sells, guys. That's the moral of this story. And maybe that sucks a little.

The more important reason is:

2. The voiceover? I wrote that. Just me. No input. Vania said do whatever you want, make it in Chase's voice. And I wrote that. It isn't an excerpt from the story.

And maybe it's a response to that girl, that girl that everyone assumes--and I'm not saying it's dumb to assume this, guys, it's only natural--is the girl on my cover, and therefore the girl everyone thinks is the focus of the story.

Maybe that's what the voice over is about. Maybe I'm talking about the girl who ruined it.

I don't know.

And I'll also give you links to two reviews, one positive and one negative, from two people who I think really captured what the book is about, whether or not they liked it.



I would absolutely love comments on this post, and I would also love if you would tweet the shit out of this or get it tattooed on you or otherwise let this be known to the entirety of the world. Make a song out of this post and then sing it. Put it on youtube. Add a bugle. Self-publish a book with only the words IT'S CLAUDIA ON THE COVER repeated over and over and over.

Whatever you do, be it tattoo or nothing, thank you for reading. This is all for you guys, you know?


Dawn Kurtagich said...

Well said. I think a lot of readers don't realize that the writer just, you know, writes the book.

Fuck it anyway, I love the cover.

Fiktshun said...

First off I loved this book. Anything family dysfunction is right up my alley.

I still haven't seen the cover in person but I'll bet it's more awesome than the cover above.

I totally agree that you definitely need something that will make readers want to pull it off the shelf and that cover will definitely do it. Whatever works to get the book into the readers hands for them to make their choice based on the story!

And I loved the trailer. Loved it!

The blurb on Goodreads did make me think something completely different, but I had seen your vid where you discuss the book so I wasn't surprised.

What I think is most important is that the title doesn't mislead. A totally awesome title and the sole reason why I chose to read the book.

And so good to know it's Claudia! Yay. Loved her.

Lynsey Newton said...

The cover is eyecatching so it's done its job at the end of the day. For people who wanted a beach read, did they not read the back and think "Oh, ok. This is not exactly what I had in mind." I never buy a book, regardless of how beautiful it looks, without reading the synopsis first because it's about what's on the inside that counts ;)

LOVE the trailer! Good job Vania!

Also, at the end of the day Hannah, it doesn't matter what people are saying specifically about the book, the fact is they're TALKING ABOUT IT period. Job done.

Frank said...

I loved the cover from the first time I saw it. It didn't make me want to read it or pass it over for something else; it made me want to find out what that book was about. And that's the point of covers.

I think that sometimes people put a little too much emphasis on wanting a cover to encapsulate every single thing that a book is about. Images are wonderful and can do a great many things, but I think that capturing everything about a book is an unnecessary demand of covers.

The only way I could see this being a problem would be if the reader cared a lot about not being seen as shallow and worried about being perceived as such while reading in public, but I don't think this was anyone's concern.

Also, maybe it's just me, but the main way I end up identifying something as a beach read is by the dimensions of the book itself. I'm probably really mistaken, but I always end up thinking that beach reads, mysteries, and romance novels all have similar measurements, being really wide but not that tall.

Also, yeah, I know I've said this already, but that trailer is awesome.

Lynossa (Deranged Book Lovers) said...

Well, at first I was reluctant to read it due to the cover. I thought it will be another-summer-chick-flick, until I read some reviews and I thought, let's give it a shot. I'm glad I did that.
But I must say if based solemnly on the cover and blurb, I might never pick this book because I'm not a fan of romance :)

Anonymous said...

I'm going to say this straight up. Covers, while they are responsible for my initial attraction, don't decide whether I pick up a book or not. I rarely go into bookstores and browse for titles because I just don't have the time for that. I do my research on the internet before I pick up a book. I look at reviews by bloggers that I trust and listen to recommendations before buying a book.

But it was different for IS. I heard about it last year, on your blog. In fact, I didn't even see the cover before I decided that I wanted to read IS. It was you Hannah. You made me want to read IS. I found your blog somehow and I read your posts and I decided, "Damn, this girl is fucken funny. She's realistic, honest, down to earth. And she's written a book? I'M READING THAT." When I saw the cover I thought it was hot and I was even more excited to read IS. After I read IS, I looked at the cover and realized that it fit with the summer aspect of the novel but I didn't really see the connection with the family aspect of the novel. So when I tell people not to judge IS by its cover, I'm actually telling them not to skip over the book because they think its just a mindless summer read. It's much, much more than that.

I'm sorry Hannah if our comments have offended you in any way. IS is one of my favourite 2011 releases and I think anyone who skips it because of the cover is missing out.

KatOwens: Insect Collector said...

Okay- now I'm totally dying to read it even more. I don't know the story yet, and maybe the cover doesn't match it. I get that. But the cover is compelling. It grabs attention. That's its job.

Loralie Hall said...

I love the cover. And the trailer. And you're right, if it's attracting attention, it's doing its job. Smart movies are promoted that way all the time. You know, the ones that don't have big explosions to draw in crowds. It makes sense a smart book would be subjected to the same fate.

But...your explanation makes sense and I will help you sing it from the digital rooftops ^_^

Erin said...

1. The trailer is awesome. I loved it when I first saw it and love it even more now after reading your explanations.

2. The cover is beautiful. The end.

3. I'm going to write "IT'S CLAUDIA ON THE COVER" on approximately 693 scraps of paper. I'm going to take said scraps of paper to every bookstore in the Metro-Detroit area. And I'm going to stick one scrap of paper in each and every copy of IS that I come across. (Then give IS to random bookstore customers and tell them to buy it.)


Erin @ Quitting My Day Job

Unknown said...

Love that it's Claudia on the cover. She deserves to be there.

I have to admit that when I first saw it (and the description) I thought "That's an awesome cover- Wait, the author of BREAK wrote a beach book? ...okay." When I started hearing the buzz surrounding it and especially when I saw your playlist with the excerpts, I was hooked. Family dysfunction + a deep sense of place? Yes please!

Hopefully the few people who might be turned off by the cover will take the time to flip through the first pages and realize what the book's about.

Great trailer too - I think the voiceover captures the feeling of the book, the sense of life spinning out of control.

Lindsay Smith said...

Everyone whose opinion I respect says IS is brutal and awesome and unreal and confrontational and uncomfortable.

Your cover is brutal and awesome and unreal and confrontational and uncomfortable.

I'd say it did its job. Can't wait for my copy to arrive.

Madigan Mirza said...

It sucks, but it's true. Yes, books get judged by their covers, and the author often doesn't have a say. The cover is a promise of what lies inside, and if your book isn't about a beachy summer romance, then the promise has been broken.

There are plenty of books out there that seduced me with their beautiful covers, only to disappoint when I started reading. There are plenty of books that I've tried my darndest to handsell and the cover was a no-go for the patron. I can tell you from personal experience, telling readers, "Please, please! Ignore the cover!" simply doesn't work.

Let's look at this another way. Rather than getting mad at readers who won't ignore a cover and buy and read an amazing book despite the cover, why not make waves to change the way things are currently structured?

Give authors the power to approve their own covers and make the design team's payment tied to the book sales, the same way the author's is. Don't expect readers to buy ugly looking books. There are books with bad covers that I love, that I won't buy, because I don't want to look at it in my home. Once in a very great while, there are books with bad covers that I really, really love, where I've thrown the dustjacket away and designed my own... but honestly, that is too much work to expect the average consumer to do.

Phoebe North said...

Hmm, I hope I don't offend by this either.

I hear what you're saying, but my frustration with your cover is more frustration with something I've seen marketing departments at publishers do generally, which is to go for whatever audience they think is biggest rather than to try and court the right audience for a book. The reason getting the right audience matters is that you can build a loyal audience that way--people willing to go to bat for your subsequent books. I never would have downloaded an ARC of Invincible Summer if I hadn't read your teasers--powerful shit in there, but despite how pretty your cover is (and it is), it's just not reflected.

A lot of this comes from being a genre reader, and watching publishers try to court "mainstream" audiences by hiding genre content, which seems to just frustrate readers who don't want to read genre but buy a book anyway, and makes it difficult for nerds like me to find the stuff they love. Though there's value in selling as many books as possible--you've got to eat, after all!--I do wish publishers would realize that the money of nerds--and people who like their YA hella dark--is as green as everyone else's.

Having found your book despite the cover, not because of it, you've hooked a dedicated reader. But I'm proooobably going to continue recommending it the same way I have been, which is pretty much, "GUYS, IT'S DARK! IT'S HELLA DARK AND TANGLED BEAUTY AND PAIN! DID YOU LOVE STAYING UP CRYING OVER BLUE VALENTINE? THEN YOU'LL LOVE THIS!"

Because, so far, this method seems to have grabbed you at least a few more readers who, like me, just like our hearts squeezed through vises. ;)

Phoebe North said...

I just said hella twice. Sorry. Haven't had coffee yet.

NeuroHormone said...

I saw this cover in the past but never paid attention to it (-because there is a girl in a bikini, duh). But now I'm intrigued. And I want to know more about your book. =)
I love the labels for your post by the way. =)

hannah moskowitz said...

Thanks so much guys. Honey, I didn't mean to imply that your reviews offended me! Oh man, they so don't. Trust me, I'm grateful for ANY conversation about IS. I'm frustrated the same way you guys are.

Phoebe, thanks for your thoughts. I can see the reasoning behind it too. IS has more broad appeal than something super dark like BREAK, so it made sense for my publisher to try something big to stretch beyond my existing fanbase. And I appreciate the hell out of them for that.

Phoebe North said...

Yeah, I understand what you're saying. I guess it seems to me like to reach an audience of readers like me (literary lovers of dark stuff, etc.), you might be left with word of mouth and your own marketing efforts like your trailer with IS. And that's not the end of the world, but I feel some frustration for you. Between that, and the reactions you're hearing from some readers, my suspicion is that your publishers and the marketers really missed the ball on IS for this audience. That's not to say they're terrible, that they have bad intentions, that your book won't do well in other ways. Just that they're human and fallible, too.

hannah moskowitz said...

I think this was definitely a learning experience for all parties. I mean, this is a weird book. I had some ideas for covers, but none of them were that great. And none of them were as eye-catching as this one.

It'll work out. People are picking it up nonetheless, and hey, book get repackaged all the time. Who knows.

Ellen said...

this... is only semi-related to this topic, but the first few times I saw this cover, it was miniaturized on your AW avatar, and I thought it was a Barbie doll on the cover... didn't realize until I saw a bigger picture of somewhere that it's actually a person <.<
anyway, my brain is weird >.>
but I've always thought it's a cool cover. it catches people's attention (whether in a good or a bad way, they do notice it), which I guess is all publishers really want from their covers anyway :)

Phoebe North said...

Can I just say that deep down, I hope it's released some day with a cover that's sort of a summer version of Her and Me and You? Lauren Strasnick's first cover similarly didn't work for me, but this one is perfect. I'd love to see IS with something still photographic, but appropriately atmospheric and gloomy. But that's just me. :)

hannah moskowitz said...

Her and Me and You is one of my favorite books and favorite covers (you know there's a blurb from Lauren on IS, yeah? eeee)

Kris n' Kels said...

First: the taglines at the bottom of the post should not be skipped over. I think I just fell in love with you.
Second: I wish I knew how to play the bugle for you.
Third: I think you're brilliant. I think the cover is brilliant.
Fourth: I'm glad I waited to watch the trailer till after I read this post, because it just deepened my understanding.
Fifth: I'm going to buy your book. 'Cause bitches gotta eat.

Keep your head up. You got a book published. You have a right to be proud.

<3 Kelsey Leigh

hannah moskowitz said...

I think YOU'RE brilliant.

Bitches do gotta eat.

Kris n' Kels said...

'Daw *blush* Good luck with everything.

Shell Flower said...

Alls I can say is that this totally got me jonesin' to read IS. Must go to bookstore...

Anonymous said...

Since I first saw it, the IS cover made me think of Bret Easton Ellis. Don't know why, but that can only be a good thing.

Lissa said...

I can honestly tell you that the cover has drawn me in from the start. Publishers, I've noticed, tend to do this little thing (think Mockingjay!) where they make the cover fluffy although it's deep inside. Some Girls Are by Courtney Sumers is PINK, for shits sake!
Loved this article BTW!

Anonymous said...

Hannah, you are the shit. And I mean that in the best non-stinky way possible. <3<3<3<3 So much love for this post.

Mia said...

First of all, that trailer rocked. It looked like a light beach romance and sounded like a tragedy. If I didn't already plan on reading Invincible Summer this trailer would make me download it immediately...actually, where is my Nook?

As for the cover issue, I think the cover is beautiful. However, if I happened upon Invincible Summer cold, with no prior knowledge of it or you, I probably wouldn't pick it up. Book covers are supposed to relect the content inside. To me, the IS cover says light beach romance, a genre I don't read a lot of.

I don't think readers are trying to punish anybody when they don't pick a book up because of its cover. I think they're using the cover to make assumptions about the content of the book, And if the cover is doing what it's supposed to do the reader should be able to make pretty accurate assumptions just by looking at it.

Of course, this is why I buy most of my books based on reviews and recommendations. Because, you should be able to judge a book by it's cover, but the world doesn't always work that way.

hannah moskowitz said...

Mia--You're right. The "punishing people" perspective isn't true for the average reader, and I should have thought of that. I was responding to comments I'd seen on other people's blogs on posts related to IS--"I would never pick up a book with this cover, no matter what it was about"...people do say stuff like that.

Robby said...

I adore you.

Jamie Blair said...

Hannah, I finished IS yesterday after having to take a break for a HOLIDAY and GUESTS. I really didn't want to put it down. This (very) morning while driving to work I thought about the cover and how Claudia is the one with the green bikini and I went - HOLY CRAP- that's CLAUDIA on the cover! So, I love this post. I love the book. I'll make everyone I know read it.

hannah moskowitz said...

You're amazing, Jamie, thank you so much.

Robby--it's mutual, babe.

Jynn said...

OH MY GOODNESS. Your "Yay" review. I know her, she's a friend of mine! I thought it was a glitch at first when I clicked the link. You might recognize a friend of both of ours, a certain Charlie who has been idolizing you. (He made a wallpaper out of various pictures of you. Don't worry, I can vouch for his non-weirdness. Mostly.) It was because of him I bought your book. And now, I am going to read it, even though it's like midnight and I should probably go to bed. Charlie actually told me I probably wouldn't like it, cause of the sex, so now I have to prove him wrong.

hannah moskowitz said...

Charlie is so freaking adorable. I'm SO hoping you like it, Jynn! And yeah, I was looking for a positive review I liked better, but...I couldn't find one. I really love that one.

Mariana S said...

I do think that the cover and the synopsis are very different from what I found in the book, but I loved it anyway. It was awesome but I´d like that the synopsis at least would be fair to such an amazing book, that´s all. What you say is very important, about judging books... we should think who are the ones that really lose when that happens and that´s us, because if there´s a talented author who happened to have a book with not such a nice cover it might not sell much books and maybe don´t write more, and we´ll be the ones missing the author´s style.
Well, IS was great, I loved Chase and of course, I loved Claudia!!!

-Mariana S

Lindsay said...

I think the cover is great.

Now I'm off to read my copy of IS that arrived in the mail yesterday :)

Jynn said...

I... have finished it. *dies* I blame you for my case of sleep deprivation. After my last comment, I stayed up a little longer, read about three chapters. Didn't pick up the book again til last night... and then read straight til 5:25 in the morning. I cried. I liked it. A lot. I'm trying to think of something else to say, but no words are coming. I can't think of something that seems fitting.

hannah moskowitz said...


Kate Oliver said...

The thing that gave me pause about the cover was not that it made it seem like a beach read, but that it consisted of a headless female body. Which concerned me.

But, as it turned out, this was one of the overarching themes of the book-- that Melinda is pretty much just a body to Chase and (to a slightly lesser extent) Noah. So in the end, it did sort of fit.

Though I do like the Claudia explanation, too :).

TG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cripple mode core said...

I read this and have only a small notion of what this book might be about.

I'm pretty sure that it's not the type of book I usually read.

I also can't tell if you originally hated the cover or were okay with it.

Your words make it sound like making lemon into lemonade. Needless... now I want to get this book because you are right I would want to put a towel or something over my sister.

More so, though, over my daughter.

This goes into my to read list. I'm kinda glad I stumbled over into this blog.