Monday 1 February 2010

, , ,

Lindsey Leavitt Guest Post: Pink Power!

Lindsey Leavitt, YA debut of Princess for Hire, has kindly written a guest post for us all! And after the guest post, Lindsey is going to take part in a discussion regarding pink covers! But now, over to Lindsey

Pink Power!

by Lindsey Leavitt

lindsey leavittAs some readers know (but many don't), authors have very little say in cover design. Usually, an author doesn't even know it's being created until an email pops up into the inbox with an attached image. You can imagine how nerve-wracking it is clicking that file open. What if I hate it? What if everyone else hates it? What if it's so good that everyone likes the cover but hates my words?

Early on, I had casual conversations with both my UK and US editor asking if I had any thoughts about cover design. I said the only thing I really could picture was colors. I wanted a lime green cover to match one of my character's hair color. And more important, I DIDN'T want pink.

Their reaction was probably yours. Um... you know this book IS about princesses, right? Pink communicates that this book is fun and girly. Pink is eye-catching. Pink is a given.

princess for hire US coverBut I had a rocky relationship with the color pink. It scared me. Growing up a total tomboy, I was worried that wearing pink meant I was trying to be someone I wasn't. Really pretty girls with bouncy curls wore pink, not Plain Jane me. I even remember the day I wore my friend's pink sweater to school when I was fourteen. EVERYONE had a comment. It was another two years until I wore pink again. Plus, there is a stigma in publishing about "pink books" that somehow something fun and frothy is of less value than other literature. I didn't want people skipping over mine because it seemed to... pink for them.

My US editor called me before she sent me my cover file so she could hear my reaction when I saw it. I clicked it open and paused. "Wow."

"I know!" she gushed. "Isn't it glamorous?"

"It's... wow. It's pink."

"Do you love it?”

"It's beautiful. It's.. it's really pink, isn't it?"

princess for hire UK coverIt took a few days for the Pink Shock to wear down. I printed off my cover and hung it on the wall. I talked to it as I wrote. We became close friends. And somehow, over time, I fell in love with it. I began to see how empowering the color was. Pink is bold and bright and beautiful. It does what my main character sets out to do--makes an impact. Most importantly, it screams girl! and hey, that's my target audience (although boys, if you read, you’ll discover girly secrets! Promise!).The reason my book is purchased could very well be BECAUSE of the pink.

A few months later, I got an email from my UK editor with PRINCESS FOR HIRE COVER in the subject line. I held my breath and clicked it open. My reaction?

"Wow. It's PINK!"

Thank you Lindsey for such a great guest post! Aren't her covers gorgeous? Princess for Hire is released in the UK today, and can be bought on Amazon UK, and it will be released in the US on 16th March, and can be preordered on Amazon US. Visit Lindsey Leavitt's website.

And now for the discussion! Are pink covers a good thing or not? It's something I worry about a little, because of the impression pink covers could possibly give - that the book is light and fluffy, when that may not be the case - and the possibility of them dissuading guys from read them. It seems ok for girls to read guys' books, but the other way round it's not so cool, it seems. It's sad.

When I mentioned this to Lindsey, she said "The reason I got thinking about this [guest post] was because of the book HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT by Natalie Standifer. Have you seen the US cover? It's pink, but the story could appeal to boys and the cover, in my opinion, doesn't exactly do it justice. I recommend it to people and say 'Ignore the pink'. But, as I pointed out, I believe pink has it's place and my book is perfect for pink."

What are your thoughts on pink covers? Remember, Lindsey will be popping over to discuss this with you :)


  1. Generally, I wouldn't be too fond of a pink cover because I'm not too fond of pink, in and of itself. That said, I think this really fits the title. I think it looks and sounds brilliant, and the cover will certainly attract attention from other girls! :)

  2. I'm really excited to read Princess for Hire. I'm just glad I knew about before I saw the cover or I may not have taken any notice. They are very pink!

  3. Melissa - I'm kind of similar; I don't mind pink, but I'm not a huge fan. But I love the covers! Yep, the covers would probably attract girls, but, generally speaking, do you think they'll do the opposite for boys?

    Sophie - What bothers you about them being pink? Why would you not read a book if you saw a pink cover before you knew about the book? Is it just that you don't like the cover, or is it it something to do with the idea of the age range it's aimed for, or the type of book it will be? Or something else entirely?

  4. Great post, Lindsey! And great discussion, Jo! I can't wait to read Princess For Hire.

    I suppose it's a complete accident that the colour pink ended up meaning "girly" in some cultures. Pink covers do seem to brand books "for girls", which seems to mean "for girls ONLY - boys KEEP CLEAR OR BE LAUGHED AT". And isn't it odd that there's no "boys ONLY" colour? I think the roots of this one run very deep in society...

    Has anyone seen the cover of Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse? I wonder whether boys would pick that book up?

    Sorry this comment is really rushed - I'll try to come back later with better thought-out thoughts!

  5. That's a great point, Luisa. There are no hard and fast "boys only" colours. Oooh, I so want to read Pretty Bad Things (click link to see the cover, for anyone who doesn't know of it). It's pink, but doesn't the image make a bit of a difference too - the gun, the car, the money? I think boys may be more inclinded to read PBT rather than some other pink covered books.

  6. Love this post!!!! And I am one of the lucky ones who has actually read Lindsey's adorable book!!! This is one that will definitely be around a while!

    Way to go Lindsey!

    Great interview guys. Thanks!

  7. Fab discussion. I totally agree but somehow of the best books I have ever read, have a pink cover, and I can't wait tor read this one! :)

  8. Katie - Thank you, I'm gla you liked the guest post :) I can't wait to read it myself! What do you think of the pink covers, and pink covers in general?

    Iffath - Cheers! Oh, that's interesting, that some of the best books you've read have had pink covers. What sort of books have they been?

  9. Personally, I wouldn't pick up the book because usually I assume pink= fluffy= unsatisfying read ><

    It would make reluctant readers or younger tween readers pick it up, I think. My sister used to only read books that looked "feminine" when she was a kid, and her reading diet included the mary-kate and ashley series... so it might prompt kids to pick up better stuff, though.

  10. Not that it's bad, because we all do it, but then, in your case, pink covered books are judged by their covers - when it could be that the content is something brilliant. And I can understand that completely. But it's not great is it.

    But I do take your other point too; pink covers can appeal to certain readers as well. There seems to be a line.

  11. Thanks for the the thoughts, all! I'm glad someone pointed out they probably wouldn't read this because of the pink. Like I said, a pink cover communicates something of the content. This book is not Tolstoy. It's light and fun. Could it still be brilliant? Sure. But you also can guess this isn't a dark paranormal. Certain color schemes are used to convey tone.

  12. Thanks for stopping by Lindsey, I really appreciate it! That's a great point, about certain colour schemes being used to convey tone. I have to say, before blogging, pink covers would have been avoided by me; light and fun I can handle, but pink covers also say to me girlie and very young - when I know by reading certain pink covered books (e.g. Girl, Aloud), that's not necessarily the case. I do worry about this image. How many people are missing out on great books because of similar misconceptions, based on just a colour? We humans have issues.

    Thanks for the guest post, as well, Lindsey! It was a great read!

  13. Jo, thanks for raising this, I enjoyed the post by Lindsey and the comments. I had much the same reaction as Lindsey when I saw my cover: "Wow, it's very, um, PINK!" I know quite a few readers have been surprised that the content of my book is not as 'cute' or, dare I say 'beach-read' (*gasp*) as the cover implies, but this is what booksellers and publishers think will sell - and I guess it's tried and tested, but non-pink covers do very well too in the teen girl market - I mean they're not ALL pink, are they? So why do some get the pink treatment and others get another equally appealing colour? I know it's not a science but I wish I could find some scientific evidence to show that books don't sell because they're pink, in fact often they sell despite being pink, and would do just as well if they were purple or blue etc etc etc. But then maybe I should look at why I'm afraid of being branded a PINK author. And to complicate things further, what about the TYPE of pink? Mine is a hot, slap-you-in-the-eye kind of pink, so what message does that give compared to the baby pink? *mind-boggles*

  14. I just really hate pink. I makes me feel kinda sick! I do think that it looks middle grade as well, but knowing about the story, it's not going to stop me reading it!

  15. Emily - Thank you for stopping by! Wow, you bring up some interesting points! Trying to forget what the book is actually about, and just going by the blurb, I'd say your pink is a bit of a glitzy-glam story pink - so not necessarily light and fluffy, but maybe a little of a popular queen bees type book. I hope that makes sense. That's just my view of the pink, though. Hmm, about the evidence... I wonder if there is someway we could find out if pink covered novels sell better or not. I shall have a think. Thanks again, Emily!

    Sophie - Ahh, I'm kind of like that about orange, haha! The UK cover does look a little young, something else that worries me sometimes, but that's for another topic.

  16. I suppose there are teen series where just one or two of the books in the series are pink. Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson series is an example, and also Liz Rettig's Kelly Ann books. I wonder whether the colour of the book makes any difference to sales in these cases?

    By the way, I did think that Princess for Hire was intended for the younger end of the teen girl market. Lindsey, please correct me if I'm wrong!

  17. I didn't think about series. Hmm. Maybe I'll ask a few publicists if they can answer some questions about pink covers. It's an interesting topic.

    Ohh, righty! Well, if that's the case, then the UK cover for Princess for Hire is fine! It's cute, and I'm so looking forward to reading it! Thanks for commenting again, Luisa!

  18. Pink is my absolute favourite colour, so on that level I say the more pink books the better. I actually make a point of expressing my love for the colour pink, because I get irked that when people equate pink with girly it's usually with the implication that 'girly' is a frivolous, flaky or superifical kind of quality. Grrr. So, it's great to hear Linsey describing it as empowering. It is!

    Recently I heard saw Stephen Fry talking on tv about how in Victorian times boy babies were dressed in pink and girls in blue, because blue was considered suitably demure and pink was considered strong and flamboyant. So even though some people have issues with the colour pink today, I think it's progress. Flamboyant beats demure any day!

    Re: Pretty Bad Things, I thought there was a choice of pink or grey cover?

  19. I saw that episode of QI too! I thought it was fairly strange.

    And I wasn't so much getting at the colour pink itself, but more at what pink is considered to symbolise, if you like, when it's on a cover; what it say about a book. I really can't see a boy reading a pink covered book, and I think it's a shame. But then there's the question, even if the books had another coloured cover, would they be the type of story a guy would want to read? Oh, I do find this gender issue annoying! Lol.

    When it comes to Pretty Bad Things, I've only ever seen the pink cover, I never knew there ever was a grey cover, so I don't know. If anyone else knows about that, please let us know! :)

  20. Hi guys!
    To answer the previous question, yes, this is intended for younger end of teen market--10+
    I don't know how the pink impacts sales but that's something I might ask my agent. She once said to me that "pink publishing" is doing well, which I assume means chick lit. Interesting that it has that label

  21. I was volunteering at S&S UK again today, and so I picked Kat's brain about how publishers in general, not S&S specifically, view the pink cover. She said that publishers can be in meetings for hours and hours discussing what would look good for the book, but ultimately, they're more likely to go with the comercial option, go with what sells. Whether the book is considered "light and fluffy" or not as a whole, as there is a market for "light and fluffy", if there is an aspect of that in the book, even if there are other themes/issues, publishers may decide to market it with a pink cover to interest the "light and fluffy" fans. I hope that makes sense to everyone?