Michael Buckley: “Birth of a Book Cover” – Undertow Blog Tour Guest Post + Contest

Posted May 5, 2015 by Sara | Novel Novice 4 Comments

Today, we’re excited to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Undertow by Michael Buckley, in stores today. We’ve got a great guest post from Michael, plus your chance to win a copy of the book — so be sure to keep reading for more details!

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guest post
undertowBeing a man, I have never had a baby myself, but waiting to see a book cover has to be close to the feeling of childbirth. It’s hard to get comfortable, there’s a lot of heavy breathing and groaning, and when it’s all over you’re exhausted. If you’re lucky, the baby is cute and you fall instantly in love, but if not there’s not much you can do about it. You don’t get to pick your cover anymore than you get to pick what your baby looks like. The best you you can hope for is that both will have your best features.

Authors rarely get a say in the way their books look so you have to trust in the passions of a group of people you have never met, namely the art department. As stressful as that is, it’s for the best, because authors are lousy at picking their own artwork. Let me explain. Being a bit of a control freak it was hard for me to surrender to the process—after all, my book is a reflection of me and I’ve been working on it for months, maybe even years. No one knows the material better than I do. But that’s why I shouldn’t have a lot of control in the cover. I’m just too close to the work. Like most writers, I’m delighted by my words, so in love with my art, so enamored by my own genius that I just can’t be objective about how to sell it. And the cover is about selling. It can be beautiful. It can be art, but it’s commerce. The cover coos to the audience. It winks and smiles and begs you to pick it up (are you seeing how I’m using this baby analogy? I’m brilliant!)

Michael BuckleyFor Undertow, I fell in love with an image my wife found in the New York Times Magazine—a beautiful panoramic of people swimming in the ocean. It was dark and moody and mysterious and I thought it the perfect image for my book about mermaids moving onto the shores of Coney Island. It was so haunting that I used it as a screen saver and let it inspire my writing. I passed it on to my editor who loved it as well and much to my surprise went to the photographer and got a license to use it for the cover. I was elated. They printed ARCs of the book and I showed it to everyone. I was so proud of how it turned out. And then I got a call. The cover wasn’t working the way we wanted it to. One of the big retailers said it confused them, some teens who saw it thought it was a novel about summer love, it just wasn’t reading the way I wanted it to.

So, sadly, the decision was made to change it. I have to admit I kind of went off the deep end. I couldn’t imagine that anything new could be as amazing as the original art (I also, I admit, really loved how huge my name was on it). But my editor talked me off the ledge. The fact was, this control freak just had to sit on his hands and wait and trust and prepare for a new baby. A month or so later, it arrived—an equally haunting shot made with a photographic technique that uses a real image with illustrations drawn into it. The colors are rich and moody, the image is a burned out tent city in Coney Island with a crumbling Wonder Wheel in the background. It’s troubling, scary, and … perfect. It tells a reader what the book is about. It flirts with them. Hopefully, when it comes out on May 5th, it will convince a few people to adopt a copy. For me, creatively, lighting had struck twice, and still I have learned nothing that will help when we make the cover for the second book. That’s just as well. As a writer (or a parent) I just can’t be objective about my work (baby).

about the book

Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

Action, suspense, and romance whirlpool dangerously in this cinematic saga, a blend of District 9 and The Outsiders.

Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

about the author

New York Times bestselling author Michael Buckley was born in Akron, Ohio. He tried his hand as a stand-up comic and lead singer for a punk rock back before attending Ohio University. After graduating with honors he moved to New York City to be an intern on the Late Show with David Letterman which led to stints developing programming for Discovery Networks, MTV, MTV Animation and Klasky Csupo (producers of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats). Today he lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Alison, and their son Finn.

Twitter  | Goodreads


5 winners will receive a prize pack that contains an Undertow beach towel, beach bag, bookmark, a finished book. US Only.

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!


Week One:

Week Two:

Sara | Novel Novice

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4 responses to “Michael Buckley: “Birth of a Book Cover” – Undertow Blog Tour Guest Post + Contest

  1. I read this whole post and it was fantastic! But….before I read all the ups and downs with cover selection/creation, I was drawn in by “the cover”. That artwork is perfect and doing it’s job! Best of luck! I’m looking forward to this book.

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