I’m excited to welcome Nika Teran today for the cover reveal of her middle grade time travel novel, Sisters in Delft. Nika has chosen to take the path of independent publishing for her debut novel, which in turn means self-art directing her cover design.
When I ran into Nika at a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators event, I was fascinated by the process she undertook to make her cover and thought you might be too.
But first, let me pique your curiosity with the blurb of Sisters in Delft, which, of course, Nika also created.
“Antonia felt a pull, and that tingling in her bones she’d experienced before. She approached to read the letters on the golden-colored plate: Johannes Vermeer: The View of Delft.”
While on a visit to The Cloisters in New York City, Antonia and her little sister get pulled into a painting and land in the Dutch city of Delft in 1647. Will Antonia outwit two ancient spirits, keep her wayward sister safe, and find the way back home?
Sisters in Delft is about friendship, sisterhood, and mysterious worlds that lie just beyond our reach.
Now that you are wondering about Antonia and her sister and how they are going to outwit ancient spirits and get back home, let’s get back to the cover. I’m dying to be reminded how it came about. Nika had her story, but then what happened? Did she start the cover before the manuscript was finished? Did she already have her title? Did she have a color palate in mind? Did she enlist a freelance artist to help?
I have so many questions. So, let’s find out What Was on Nika’s…
First Step: I started working on the cover when my manuscript was finished (or so I thought); the only thing that wasn’t working was the title. That was around June 2021. Based on recommendations by my writer friends, I decided to go through the process of designing the first version with GetCovers, a service of book cover artists and graphic designers. If that doesn’t work, I thought, I’d look for a freelance designer. I was amazed by the work GetCovers did. I didn’t need to look further.
Next Step: The process, in principle, is very simple. The author submits a brief with information about the genre, the main characters, the book’s world. Based on that, the designers prepare a cover which is emailed to the author in a matter of days. If the author is happy with the result, that’s it!
My brief was very short, two or three sentences. I had no idea about how I wanted my cover to look like. I did, however, get many ideas after I received the first draft. When I shared them with the designers, they sent me a link to royalty-free images they use in the design. So I browsed through illustrations, vectors and photographs, looking for images that would capture what I had in mind.
There were three important elements I wanted to see on the cover. First, the setting, the seventeenth century Delft. It’s the city that inspired me to write the story – the city as portrayed in Johannes Vermeer’s 1660s painting The View of Delft. So I started by browsing images of houses from those times. Second, the characters: the sisters, Antonia and Erika, who land in this long-gone world by way of Erika’s magical colorful scarf, together with the museum cat. I settled on the silhouettes, since at the moment the girls emerge from the portal, represented by the colorful swirl, they are in between the worlds and not fully materialized yet. The third element was the portal, the swirl, in the colors of Erika’s scarf. When I had the images I liked, I sent them to the designers, and they put them together on the cover. Then there was the font and the color of the title and of the author’s name. We tried a few before deciding for the final ones.
Color Palate Wish List: I knew I had to stick with orange/reddish/brown tones, which is the color of the brick houses in Delft. The rest was flexible. I described the colors I wanted and the designer used them on objects, as per my requests. The colors could be changed freely, regardless of the color of the chosen stock images.
Final Step: A couple of months later, after many back-and-forths with the designers, I had a cover I absolutely loved, and I felt the book was very close to being ready for publication. But as it turned out, the manuscript was to go through additional rounds of revisions following more feedback from my critique group and from the developmental editor, a professional, freelance editor with whom I had worked on an earlier project. Another year passed before the manuscript was finalized, and that whole time, I had the cover ready. It actually inspired me as I was writing some of the new scenes! But sadly, that cover had to change, too…
Revision Requests: Oh, revisions were countless. As mentioned, I really loved the originally designed cover. But when I showed it to a history expert in Delft, he said, “Nice, but it doesn’t look very much like Delft…” Of course, my goal wasn’t to create a perfect, realistic portrait of the city, but it did have to look like Delft… So I had to let go of the original cover, which was very hard. Plus, I had to start the process all over again. But the designers at GetCovers were very patient. We changed the row of houses that now look more like the houses in the seventeenth century Delft. That took weeks. There were also smaller changes, like moving the cat around, adding the trees, adjusting the size, or the color, of this or that… But once the main elements were together and I was confident that it was as much as possible historically accurate, it was just a matter of persisting with the revisions until my vision was down on paper. As with writing, persistence was key. Also helpful were SCBWI workshops for illustrators which I’d been following for a while, covering different elements of design, like shape, color, space, texture etc. All in all, in spite of some frustrations, I had as much fun taking part in the cover-making process as writing the story!
Thank you, Nika, for telling us about your cover-making journey! I think I can speak for us all and say, we can’t wait to see how the Sisters in Delft cover turned out.
So, with no further ado…
Wow! It’s gorgeous! The orange and reddish brown tones really pop against the blue sky, and all of your different elements–from the swirl to the Delft houses to the silhouettes of the sisters–blend together beautifully. Thank you so much, Nika, for sharing your cover and design experience with us!
Sisters in Delft will be releasing on November 29, 2022 and can be preordered by clicking on the cover below:
To keep up to date with Nika Teran, you can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @NikaTeran1 or visit her at nikateran.com
If you would like to know more about me and my writing, please visit sandranickel.com.
I love time travel stories! Cool cover, Lita…great job! It’s soooo inviting that I’ve just pre-ordered it. Congratulations!
I agree, Donna! Nika created a cool cover that invites readers straight into her book!
Thank you, Donna! I hope you enjoy the story!
That cover is gorgeous, Nika! You did a great job working with well-chosen designers.
I love it too, Lyn! The whole process is more complicated than one might imagine, but Nika brought the elements together beautifully.
Thank you, Lyn! I think it worked out very well. I feel very lucky to have been able to participate in the creation of the cover.
Happy book birthday to Nika!
Thank you so much! It was a great and slightly overwhelming day 🙂