Jun 20 2012 1:00pm

Cover Reveal for New YA Novel The Nightmare Affair

Cover Reveal for The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for Mindee Arnett’s debut YA novel, The Nightmare Affair. Finding the right cover was quite an involved process, so we thought we’d share a little bit about how we reached the final product. It was a collaborate process between Mindee, her agent Suzie Townsend, and myself as editor—and of course, Seth Lerner, the art director for Tor Teen. We are all enthusiastic about the series, and were very focused on finding the right direction for this debut.

Seth had the brilliant idea of working with artist Kate Forrester, who specializes in laser cut paper illustrations. We went through several rounds to find the perfect cover, but each piece of art was amazing in its own right. She’s incredibly talented, and we were thrilled to work with her.

Now on to the covers, and our thought process for each!


First Round:

Cover Reveal for The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Whitney: Too Arthurian—the type treatment and phoenix are beautifully cut, but it just has more of a medieval tone than a contemporary paranormal adventure. On to the next!


Cover Reveal for The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Whitney: “Too dark.”

I absolutely love the type on this. Isn’t it just so beautiful and intricate? But this cover screams dark, angst-y read, which The Nightmare Affair is not. Again, on to the next!


Cover Reveal for The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Whitney: “Just right!”

We knew we could play around with color, so we were really looking at the design features, at this point. This cover incorporates several elements in the book…a graveyard, trees, and a phoenix. It’s intriguing, evocative, and fun. 

But it still seemed to be missing something.

Suzie: I love everything about this one, but also thought it was missing something—Dusty. As the main character of the novel, her voice and personality are really what sucked me into the story. I thought it would work a little better if we included her somehow in the cover.


Second Round:

Cover Reveal for The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Cover Reveal for The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Cover Reveal for The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Whitney: Ah, much better. Adding the silhouette of a girl to the cover makes it clearer that this is a YA novel, not an adult novel. But it’s a bit one-dimensional. This girl could be anywhere…in front of a gated neighborhood, in front of a school, in front of a park.  But she’s supposed to be in front of a graveyard—so we decided to do away with the gate entirely, and came up with this:


Third Round:

Cover Reveal for The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Whitney: I saw this and knew that this was “The One.” The graveyard gives the cover such depth, and the phoenix—an important element in the story—becomes a prominent figure. It’s sassy and fun, but also dark. Dusty is half-nightmare, after all.

Mindee: When I saw this I was completely floored by how intricate and beautiful it was, and how it captures the spirit of the book almost perfectly. It’s spooky and whimsical and super fun. My only concern upon seeing it was the girl appeared a little too young and also a little out of her time. There’s a definite Nancy Drew throwback feel here that I love, but I wanted to soften the “old-timey” feel just a little.


Final Cover:

Cover Reveal for The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Whitney: And here we are! The final cover. And what a gorgeous cover it is.

Mindee: Agreed! The change in the girl really reflects the sassiness of the main character. She looks modern but classy. It’s perfect!

And now that you’ve all seen the cover, here’s a quick description of The Nightmare Affair, for our curious readers:

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

Whitney Ross is an Associate Editor at Tor Books. She is proud to have edited The Nightmare Affair, due out in Winter 2013.

Mindee Arnett is the debut author of The Nightmare Affair. You can find her online at

Elsie Chapman
1. Elsie Chapman
OHHHH Mindee, it's FANTASTIC! So perfect for your book! I love how they used artwork, too! Huge congratulations!
Elsie Chapman
2. capillya
Loved seeing the evolution of the covers. My favorite is the dark one, too. Gorgeous type. But the final is fantastic as well, and I'm definitely looking forward to reading it. Tor just has a great rep for awesome covers. I'm VERY intrigued by the synopsis -- it's going on the TBR list, for sure!
Elsie Chapman
3. Lori M. Lee
I love it! It suits the book perfectly. Seeing the cover process is super cool too. Can't wait for this book to come out!
Elsie Chapman
4. tolladay
Out of curiosity, do you do a round of thumbnails/sketches before the first round of comps, or do you just give the artist their head and let them see what they discover?

The typography is lush and lovely. What a treat for the eyes. And the design itself is well done. Excellently rendered silouettes mixed with just the slightest amount of monochromatic photography.

Well done.
Elsie Chapman
5. roro @Roro Is Reading
love the process to the amazing cover

Elsie Chapman
6. anonymouse
hmmm - a bit 'Unspoken' like, no?
Elsie Chapman
7. Charlie Hills
As an amateur artist/designer, I quite enjoyed that journey. Thanks for sharing the cover development.
Elsie Chapman
8. Larissa Hardesty
Great cover!

And, I love how it says "Shoutline here, and here is a quote or something."

Nice to know that I'm not the only person who does stuff like that. LOL.
Elsie Chapman
9. Krista cubicleblindness
Wow! I don't know how you decide!
I like all of them
Michael M Jones
10. MichaelMJones
Looks fantastic. Can't wait to check it out when the time comes. I'll have to remember who to shake down for review copies.... muaha.
Elsie Chapman
11. Carrie80
That is a lovely cover and it's fascinating to see the development process. It's amazing how much difference the arm positioning makes to the feel of the sillouhette. I like the 3rd cover too (the first one with the gate, and the yellow writing), but it has a very different tone.

I'm glad you didn't stop at the girl opening the gate. Those ones were just too similar (coincidentally I'm sure) to the also stunning cover of Sarah Rees Brennan's upcoming book, Unspoken.
Elsie Chapman
12. Jessica @ Book Sake
Wow, I'm amazed at how many different versions there are before getting to the final product. Definitely well worth the time!
Elsie Chapman
13. Tara Sullivan
Wow! What a process! You really ended up with a fantastic fit! Kudos to the whole team for keeping at it.
Elsie Chapman
14. Caryn
That was fascinating! Thanks for sharing the process. I loved all the covers, but the last one looks like it's just perfect. Glad you found someone everyone was happy with.

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