Next up? WATCH ME.
In 2005, I sold my first novel, about a girl named Ally Cavanaugh who tries out for a reality TV show called In The House, which will broadcast her first semester at college. She figures she has no chance of getting cast, because she’s the most normal girl in the world, and everyone knows those shows only want people that are kind of wacky.
But to her surprise, she DOES get cast and (shocker) – ends up in a house full of crazies. She realizes later that she was chosen because she has a long distance boyfriend, and the producers are totally hoping that her relationship will fall apart. Add a hot new roommate named Drew who’s always there when she needs him, and the fact that her boyfriend can watch her every move on TV, and you have a recipe for tons of scandals.
Here is the original title and cover:
I loved this cover. It was my very first cover EVER, and I had been waiting and waiting to get a cover for one of my books ever since I’d started writing. Getting a cover is one of the first times your book actually seems “real” and I can still remember the moment when I opened that email from my editor.
The title, however, I wasn’t so sure about. Originally I had been calling this book IN THE HOUSE after the name of the show that Ally goes on. Everyone agreed it had to be changed, but when they suggested REALITY CHICK, I just didn’t know if I liked it. Something about the word “chick.” But I also realized that I’m a writer, not a marketer. And everyone at Simon Pulse loved it, and all my friends loved it, and eventually I ended up liking it, too.
The book came out in the summer of 2006, and did its time in stores. But with the success of TWO-WAY STREET, the amazing team at Simon Pulse decided that there should be a reissue.
This time, they thought we should make the cover not so reality-tv focused, and try to show that the book is a lot about Ally’s journey, her new friends and fun, and the fact that she’s sort of torn between two boys. They didn’t want focus so much on the reality TV show angle, or the college freshmen angle, since college YAs don’t usually do as well as those set in high school.
Therefore, the back cover copy got changed from this:
All-hour study fests . . . all-night parties . . .
Going away to college means total independence and freedom. Unless of course your freshman year is taped and televised for all the world to watch. On uncensored cable.
Sweet and normal Ally Cavanaugh is one of five freshpeople shacking up on In the House, a reality show filmed on her college campus. (As if school isn’t panic-inducing enough!) The cameras stalk her like paparazzi, but they also capture the fun that is new friends, old crushes, and learning to live on your own. Sure, the camera adds ten pounds, but with the freshman fifteen a given anyway, who cares? Ally’s got bigger issues — like how her long-distance bf can watch her loopy late-night “episode” with a certain housemate. . . .
Freshman year on film.
And like all good reality TV,
it’s impossible to turn off.
She thinks she has nothing to hide?
Ally has everything under control. She's about to move into a house full of strangers and have her life broadcast to the world, but as long as she still has her long-distance boyfriend, Corey, nothing can go wrong. Nothing, that is, until Ally starts spending time with her housemate Drew, the hot and sensitive guy who always seems to be around when she needs someone the most.
As suspicions and lies start pulling Ally and Corey apart, she's not sure if she can trust anyone, not even herself. Ally is about to learn the hard way that life is what happens when everyone is looking, and it doesn't always capture her good side....
We also went back and forth on titles (note: I am HORRIBLE with titles), and finally someone at S&S came up with WATCH ME, which I LOVED on lots of different levels. There’s the obvious – that people can watch her – but also it’s just really catchy and gives it a little sass, which I felt fit Ally’s personality and character arc through the book.
And here was the new cover:
I thought it was striking -- it was actually one of my favorite covers ever. I loved everything about it – the colors, the image, everything.
Then we heard from Barnes and Noble. They felt that the image didn’t really tell you what the book was about, and had dark overtones. The book is a fun, light story, so I definitely agreed with all of that. But I was also a little disappointed, because I loved this cover so much, that I was sure I wouldn’t be able to love a new cover even close to as much. (Kind of like kids.)
And then the incredible designer at S&S came up with this:
And this will be the cover!!!
I love it! I think it looks a lot more modern than the original, and it really gives you a sense that it’s a fun story about a girl finding her way instead of “omg, hi, this is a reality tv book.”
It will be out on July 6th, and I can't wait....
(Next up, Part Three which will focus on ONE NIGHT THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING, although that might take a couple more weeks, since there are still tweaks being made. So before that I will probably blog about how I took my niece to an arcade and she won some kind of impossible-to-get bonus on this one machine and then ran off to spend her tokens and left me to gather up the tickets that were pooling at my feet while people stared.)