So you can read part one here: https://itspronouncedrankin.com/2017/11/20/the-progression-of-a-book-cover-part-one/ (or just scroll down).
We’re talking book covers this week, and I’m specifically walking back through all the titles/covers we had for what eventually became Nyxia. The cover on part one was for the title The Black Hole of Broken Things. I talked a little about the positives and negatives of that cover, and about the importance each internal team plays at a publishing house (sales, marketing, school/library). So that cover got thrown out and I started another round of coming up with titles. I sent a list over to my editor, and kind of didn’t think anything would hit.
To my surprise, she landed on the phrase Iron Sharpens Iron. This phrase pops up in the early going of the story. Marcus Defoe alludes to it as Babel’s “method” for how they want to train the contestants. They believe in a sharpening process. Iron against iron to make the blades sharper. Emmett reflects on this idea, too. He concludes that at the end of the competition he’ll likely be “harder and sharper and more dangerous than I could have ever imagined.” For those who aren’t familiar, it’s also a pretty direct shout to a verse in Proverbs that says, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I’m not sure how aware of that my teams were at Penguin Random House, but I grew up with that verse all but inscribed on my bed frame. I was genuinely surprised (and thrilled) by the idea of it being the title of my first book.
Here’s the cover that came out of it:
So here’s the thing… This cover rocks. I mean, good gracious, it is lovely. My agent and I were both kind of blown away by it on first sight. Combined with how much I liked the title, it felt like sort of a home run. I was very convinced this is what my book would look like on the shelves of every book store. Here’s what we liked:
- Once more, the colors. But unlike the first one, these aren’t so absurdly explosive. Really it’s that translucent, ethereal nature that drew me in. I love how the “softness” of the color juxtaposes with the “sharpness” of the stone and the blockiness of the letters. It’s a great effect.
- The “floating debris” is meant to be nyxia. Really great job of centering an image from the book in a way that makes sense.
- The 3-D nature of it is really cool. My agent even remarked that she thought this was a very “new idea” in terms of covers. We agreed it was doing something we had not quite seen in the YA industry, and that’s always (sometimes) a good thing.
- I actually loved how the font kind of folds into the landscape. I also loved how “The Nyxia Triad” snuck into the “I” on the second IRON.
What didn’t we like about it? Nothing. I had no suggested changes for this cover.
So why isn’t this the book and cover and title that landed in your inbox? Why didn’t you read Iron Sharpens Iron by Scott Reintgen instead of Nyxia by Scott Reintgen?
Remember, each section of your publishing team matters. Marketing is going to figure out all these great ways to pitch the book to the public. Sales is going to be figuring out the best avenues and places for the book to be sold. School and library are doing their very best to gain traction with librarians and teachers and students.
In this instance, one of those teams was a big no. They just did not really get the title. What did it even mean? What was the point of it? What did it say about the overall story? After a pretty long debate, it was clear that this team just wouldn’t be as on board with the project if this was the title and the cover. And you know what you really, really want when you’re publishing your debut novel? You want every single person in-house to be on board, and excited to throw your book in every direction imaginable.
So we axed this one. I did receive one other cover as we were in discussions. They were playing around with concepts and figuring things out and I received this in my inbox just before finding out we were making another change:
I think you see where this one is heading, don’t you?! We have that backdrop splash making its very first appearance. Some of the leftovers from the last cover are there, too. I’ll admit that I really, really hated this one when I first saw it. I just felt like the font was so massive coming out of that much more elegant splash of nyxia, and it looked cluttered and sloppy and just meh. It was the only time in the whole process that I sent back a strong no. I did love the little roses and flowers wrapping around some of the font, but thankfully… this is not where the story of my cover ends.
Stay tuned for round 3. I’ll discuss the final cover, and why every team was so satisfied with our final iteration. Cheers!