Friday, May 25, 2012

Before and After: Miss World by Randi Black Gets A New Cover

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to be part of the blog tour for Miss World by Randi Black. I really loved the book, and when Randi asked if I would be interested in doing a Before & After to showcase the book's new cover design, I was happy to say yes.

Today I'm going to share with you the Before and After for Miss World, what the book is about (just in case you missed my review earlier this year) and an interview with Randi where she was kind enough to take the time to share her adventures giving Miss World a new look.

Before and After:


My thoughts:
I love the color scheme for the new cover. The pink is shocking and eye popping -- it will stand out well against the majority of book retail sites, which tend to have cream or white backgrounds. The details -- the pose, setting, etc. -- fit what the book is about and definitely create a stronger mood. The new cover looks good and the contrast between title and name seems appropriate given the intensity of the story this book contains.

So, what's Miss World about?
It's 1993. Kimmy Ho's never really been happy (and thinks her life sucks). She's not really good at anything - or at least, that's what her mother says. But music makes her feel better, and gives her something to live for.

Then, she gets raped on the day Kurt Cobain's found dead. And her life begins to suck even more.

From his death comes her cross-dressing imaginary friend Joey, and her budding romance with Walter, the skinny kid from special-ed. Walter shows her love and the ability to feel pleasure again, but even he can't make everything better. Not when he also awakens a lust for violence and revenge that she never knew she had inside her.

An Interview with Randi Black: Designing the New Cover
Q: How did you come up with the original cover for Miss World? What was your goal with that?

Randi: I was working with an artist in New Zealand on the original cover for Miss World. Basically, I e-mailed her a copy of the manuscript and she took it from there. Sometime in 2010, I formed an artist's collective with some friends from SAIC and we held salons during the first Saturday of every month. There would be all sorts of local artists presenting their work, with a Q&A session afterward. My friend, who was the head of it, wanted to throw a release party for Miss World. But my artist in New Zealand fell ill close to the release date, so I went into Createspace and used one of their templates to design a cover. At the time, all I wanted was a tangible paperback to sell at the release party! It looked like a low-rent version of Valley of the Dolls, and I ended up replacing it with the other cover a couple months later.

Q: Why did you decide Miss World should get a new cover? What were you looking to change? 

Randi: You know, the old cover is nice. I love the L.A. cityscape. The model, who looks so haunted and vulnerable, is someone I've always been curious about. I’d wonder if she knew she was on the cover of my book and if she’s ever read it. When I asked about her, my cover artist wouldn't answer the question. LOL. That being said, I don't think the original cover was a true representation of the content, nor did it get the message across. It's also deceiving, in that way, as it might make someone think the book's less abrasive than it really is. I never intended for Miss World to be a YA novel, but it just kind of got classified as such and I decided to take advantage, because I'm evil like that. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to change everything about the cover.

Q: How did you go about designing the new cover? Have there been challenges? Was there a part of the design process that was really exciting for you?

Randi: Originally, the plan was to book a cheap motel room and have the cover model lie naked beneath a white sheet, with her face completely covered, with my boyfriend behind the camera. I wanted it to look like a crime scene photo. I ran that idea with Molly, a friend of mine who is a great graphic designer (she won the City of Los Angeles Design Award in 2001), and she suggested that the model lie on her back in gothic clothes with her eyes closed, her forearm over her forehead, and Nirvana records by her head. Then all of a sudden, I saw this image in my head and I was like, "Minor Threat!" I forwarded her the link to the image and we agreed that it would definitely work. And other friends of mine, who shared similar sentiments about the cover, agreed. (Click here to see what inspired Randi.)

One of the most exciting things about the design process was working with my boyfriend for the cover photo. We’ve been together for a long time so we work well together. The photo shoot took place on my back porch. Our original cover model flaked out, so I ended up taking her place. Why not? ;) I looked the part. It went by pretty fast, which was good since I was wearing black leather and torn fishnets in 90 degree weather. My boyfriend then converted the images to grayscale on Photoshop, then we e-mailed them to Molly and let her do her magic.

I enjoyed the design process so much that I want to take matters in my own hands again and be part of the cover design for Miss World’s sequel. Speaking of which, I already have some ideas…

Q: Are you planning to make the new cover available in eBook and paperback? If you know anything about the process here and would like to share it, feel free. 

Randi: I'm definitely making the new cover available in both eBook and paperback! I know eBooks are cheaper and faster to get, but print is alive and well, and there's this feeling of completion with a paperback (and yes, I love signing and personalizing books, along with adding cryptic messages and crude drawings). Now that I'm changing the cover to both, I've been playing around with other fonts and layouts just for the paperback, because you can't seem to do that for eBooks. eBooks also don't seem to recognize the Wingdings font, which what I used to make those little bombs that divided certain sections of the paperback. Now I'm also tempted to change chapter numbers into song titles. This is why I love self-publishing. It's great for someone as capricious as I am, because it gives me the opportunity to make changes when needed (after this one, though, it's about time that I leave it the way it is). Createspace won't let me change the paper color from white to cream, but that's not a big deal.

Q: Anything else you'd like to share with the readers of I Write, I Read, I Review? 

Randi: Dear readers: Which book covers out there have made you want to read a book without caring what it's about? (Mine is Darcey Steinke's "Suicide Blonde"). And how important is the cover when deciding whether or not you want to read a book?

Thanks for having me back, Kathy! I'm in the middle of editing Miss World's sequel right now, and look forward to sharing next year!

Kathy: Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your experience with us. For those who write, understand the design process is helpful. And for those who read, getting a glimpse into how a book cover comes together is fun. I wish you all the best with Miss World and with your next book. I know I can't wait to read it!

So, what do you think of the new cover for Miss World? And to highlight Randi's question: what covers have convinced you to read a book? How important is the cover to you? Feel free to leave a comment. We'd love to know what you think! 


  1. Great post! I really like the redesign! And that's so cool that the cover is her porch! >.< I definitely am a cover whore so a cover for me is pretty important. I won't NOT read a book if the cover is ugly, but those usually come with lots of recommendations whereas I may read a book with a great cover on a whim. Yep I'm shallow haha. But it's the book's 1st impression!


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