You might have to do a double take when you look at this cover. This really is a young adult book, I promise.
If you had pulled Tanita S. Davis’ Mare’s War from a shelf at the library or a bookstore, I would never have guessed where it came from. Maybe from adult fiction? History? Memoir or biography, perhaps? But the teen section? It certainly would not have been my first guess.
Yet the paperback cover for Mare’s War absolutely belongs in the teen section. There’s the obvious notion that teen books are marketed toward teens, but who’s to say that teens don’t sometimes have an “adult” sense of taste in design? One of the first things I noted about the cover (and what definitely attracted me to it in the first place) was how bold it was. White background with dark contrasted skin? World War II helmet? And she’s putting on lipstick? What on earth is this story about?
I firmly believe that it’s questions like these that make cover design so important. Those initial questions start to form in your mind, which ignites your curiosity. I originally saw the paperback cover art for Mare’s War on a fellow blogger’s site, and immediately wanted to know more about the story. But there are small details about this cover that make me love it even more — matching the author’s name to the color of Mare’s helmet. The lowercase, unobtrusive type. The text doesn’t need to scream the story because the photography already does.
And would you believe that this cover went through very few iterations? I only know this because cover designer Kate Gartner was kind enough to let me harass her about it. And even more, tomorrow author Tanita S. Davis will be here to share a few of her thoughts — from the symbolic cover to her thoughts on the original illustrated paperback cover to her absolute favorite part of the cover, which may or may not come as a surprise. 😉