The Makings of a Cover

I’m so excited to announce that DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING has a cover. Here it is!


Artist Credit: Jen Wang; Design Credit: Liz Dresner

I thought it would be fun to talk about how the cover came to be, and I received permission from the good folks over at Feiwel and Friends to share some earlier versions.

I had no idea how long and complicated the process of creating and choosing a cover was until it was happening to my book. So many people have a say on the cover, such as the sales and marketing teams, design team, the publisher, etc. Surprisingly, the author is actually not one of the people who has a say on the cover. We may be asked for an initial idea of what styles we like or on our opinion between two different options. But the general direction the cover goes in? Not something we’re a part of, which makes sense if you think about it. Writers write. We’re not usually illustrators or design specialists, and we’re not as aware of the cover market as the professionals.

I’m so thankful for how hard the Feiwel and Friends team worked on this cover. It was an especially long process for my cover in particular, I’m told.

At first, they tried a cover more realistic with a photograph of a girl dressed as a pirate on a ship. Think of something reminiscent of Robin LaFevers’ GRAVE MERCY, but with pirates instead of assassins.

Grave Mercy

I believe it was decided that cover didn’t quite stand apart from other books on the shelves, (which isn’t to say LaFevers’ books don’t stand apart, just that they came first) which I’m sure is usually the reason why original covers are discarded. After this, they decided to try a title heavy cover. Something decorative. Like EVER THE HUNTED. I’m told all the attempts at this kind of cover (and I believe there were around twelve different mock ups) also weren’t working. (By the way, I love Erin’s cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?)

ever the hunted

After that, the team wanted to try an illustrated cover. There’s an illustrated trend happening with adult covers, and the team wanted to try fitting DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING in with those. (Such as the covers of UPROOTED or A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC.)

Uprooted_cover_pictureA Darker Shade of Magic

While these are decidedly dark, the team really wanted a light cover, something that would hopefully stand out among all the dark, grittier covers in YA (don’t get me wrong, though, I love dark and gritty covers). Now this whole process happened without me seeing a single cover option. There’s little point in showing the author anything when it could be shot down by the people in sales or marketing or design. So the very first time I saw a cover for my book was when these two images showed up in my inbox (there was a little confusion on whether or not “the” was in the title, but we got that fixed right away):


I was entirely surprised. I hadn’t pictured anything like this at all, and when I learned just how much work F&F had already put into the covers, I was blown away. It’s amazing to know that other people have worked so hard on your book. I expressed my preference for the blue color scheme rather than the purple and yellow. I also preferred the corset to the pirate coat.

F&F also wanted to try a more muted look so the illustration wouldn’t look too cutesy or lean toward middle grade. DotPK is an upper YA, and it’s an action adventure/fantasy/romance with pirates. Not exactly a cutesy book. So they altered it to this:


I loved the new color scheme, and the picture above is what got put on the ARCs (advance reader copies). The colors looked even better when they were printed, and it was incredible getting to hold an actual book in my hand.


Even so, the cover wasn’t final. They wanted to make some more changes. Yesterday, I was shown two new covers, the one below and another that looked exactly the same except without the blood. (If you look closely, you can see more texture was added. Particularly to the sword and Alosa’s pants.)


I like the addition of blood on the map in the background. This is, after all, a pirate book, and swashbuckling is a must. So this is the cover we went with!

I’m sure the journey is different for every author, but there’s a slight look into the makings of a cover. I’d love to hear thoughts and questions below!



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Sarah K - The YA Book Traveler

I’m super excited about this book and plan on requesting! I’m glad you clarified that it IS upper YA because even though I love the cover, it does look MG to me. The added changes are very nice though. I can’t wait to read this book and how fun to hold the book in your hands! Yay!

7 years ago

Yay, it looks so nice! When I looked at it, I thought pirates, adventure, and action! I have to agree, it does like a little like MG, though the new addition of blood should help in giving the cover some more maturity, if that makes sense. The cover looks super unique – haven’t seen many YAs of this type! Can’t wait! 🙂

7 years ago
Reply to  Tricia

An upper YA fantasy about pirates sounds so exciting! Maybe DOTPK will start a new trend of these light covers in YA fantasy. 🙂 Also, I really like the color scheme and outfit you chose. The other one seems to lean towards MG for me, and this one just goes better with the overall cover. Congrats on your cover reveal!


[…] The author herself revealed the cover on her blog + discussed the process of creating the cover + how it changed from the final version, which you can read Here! […]

Kristin L Gray
7 years ago

The added texture and blood splatters really make it pop! I’m so looking forward to reading Alosa’s daring story! Great post, Tricia.

Rebecca Denton
7 years ago

Nice cover! One of the 2017 debuts I absolutely can’t wait for.

Barbara Hales
Barbara Hales
7 years ago

Counting the days till it release! Letting all of my family know so they can jump on board. Love the color, I think the blood adds the right touch. Not too much it is just right.


[…] Tricia Levenseller has revealed the very Swanky cover for her young adult novel, DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING, which will be published by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan on February 21st, 2017. To see the reveal, click on the cover. […]


[…] Tricia Levenseller‘s Daughter of the Pirate King cover was revealed on her site…just LOOK. AT. IT. […]


[…] design team is going to try and age it up even more (see my last post on how the cover came to be here). So while it’s always sad to have to wait longer for a book, I think the wait will be worth it. […]