SALT & STORM Cover Reveal! (Plus insights to how the artwork came to be)

Today I (Erin) have a writing friend and agency sibling joining us on the blog. Kendall Kulper has stopped by Pub Crawl before to guest blog, and today she’s here to share the absolutely stunning cover for her forthcoming YA debut, Salt & Storm.

Because I know you’ll likely scroll down anyway, let’s get to the goods first…







GORGEOUS, right? And the official synopsis sounds as awesome as the cover looks:

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whale men safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother, the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic, stole Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape from her mother before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roes’ power.

When Avery awakens from a dream foretelling her own murder, she realizes time is running short—for her and for the people of her island, who, without the Roes, will lose their ships and the only life they know.

With the help of Tane, a tattooed harpoon boy from the Pacific Islands, Avery plots her escape from her mother and unravels the mysteries of her mother’s and grandmother’s pasts. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected—one she might not be able to make.

As many of you know, the steps between initial comp and final cover are often many. To give us a little more insight on how Salt & Storm‘s cover came to be, here’s author Kendall Kulper:

Kendall KulperI’ve always been a cover nerd, checking out design websites for the year’s best covers and fake-redesigning covers for my favorite books. But I’d heard from countless authors that when it came to covers, it was out of your hands, so I didn’t get my hopes up too much that I would have any say in my cover (but I wasn’t too worried, since luckily, my publisher, Little, Brown, has an amazing catalog of covers).

So color me surprised when I got an email from my editor asking if I had any cover preferences.


DO I?!?!

I sent her back a terrifyingly long email containing some of my favorite do’s (like hand-lettering) and don’ts (pretty girl in a pretty dress). But one of the things that really helped both of us get on the same page was the tumblr I’d started waaaay back when I was drafting Salt & Storm, when I began collecting the songs, images, paintings, and drawings that captured the feel of Salt & Storm‘s world.


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I created the tumblr, The Old Whaling Island, mostly to keep track of some of the images I was finding. Since SALT & STORM is a historical fantasy set at the end of the golden age of whaling, a lot of the information I found about how people dressed, where they lived, and the kinds of objects they used came from photographs.


1 | 2 | 3 }

These photos were so helpful in my figuring out how the world of SALT & STORM functioned and in nailing down certain character quirks. The photo below, of a young girl from the 1850s, captures the way I think about my main character, Avery: a strong, confident, and straightforward young woman.

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Having a picture like this to show my editor was an easy way for me to argue that a cover of a girl in a pretty dress walking down a beach and looking sad (although it can be beautiful for the right book) would just not work for SALT & STORM. Avery’s the kind of character who hates pretty dresses and it’s her darkest moments that make her the most determined.


1 | 2 | 3 }

When I started pulling images from the tumblr to share with my editor, I went to the ones that captured the feeling—more than the literal look—of Salt & Storm. These were the pictures that jumped out at me and inspired me and reflected the energy and mood of the story.

A few months after emailing these pictures, my editor showed me some of the cover comps they’d come up with, and I was stunned at how beautifully they were able to channel the kind of dark, subtle look I’d had in my head.

But, the designer said, they wanted something more, something that would add a human element, something that would stand out and look iconic.

We talked about designing a magical charm, since a huge part of the story concerns the island witches crafting good luck charms for sailors, but I kept going back to the image of rope.


1 | 2 | 3 }

Rope is hugely important in SALT & STORM. It’s used in one of the first spells Avery learns, which is one of the reader’s very first introductions to the kind of magic her family creates. It’s also important to the island’s sailors, since ropes and riggings are, essentially, the veins of a ship. And it evokes ties, connections, and bonds, especially familial bonds, which Avery struggles with throughout the course of the story. Plus, it’s just plain pretty. With that in mind, I sent off some of my favorite images of ropes.

And when I finally saw the cover…I knew they had nailed it. The colors, (hand-lettered!!!) words fading in and out of the watery background, and that beautiful rope, beginning with a Celtic heart knot and ending frayed (but not broken). I love it, and I can’t imagine anything more perfect!

I (Erin) couldn’t agree more! A huge thanks to Kendall for giving us a peek at her cover’s design process, and for sharing some of the images that inspired the artwork. I’m so glad it was a collaborative effort between author and publisher, because I absolutely adore the final result.

Keeping in the whaling, ocean-centric theme, Kendall is offering up some Salt & Storm swag. Two winners will receive a handcrafted, wooden whale pen (shown at right).

To enter, just fill out the rafflecopter widget below and share your cover reactions in the comments! Giveaway is open US only, and we’ll announce the winners next week. In the meantime, perhaps you’d like to add SALT & STORM to your goodreads shelf.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


40 Responses to SALT & STORM Cover Reveal! (Plus insights to how the artwork came to be)

  1. Lauren J Jan 31 2014 at 7:57 am #

    Everything about that cover is incredible. I LOVE the blue with the weathered knot. Perfect for whalers and sea things. Also, I’ve been told this island is off the coast of New England, which excites me more, since that is where I live. I cannot wait to read this book!

    • Kendall Jan 31 2014 at 1:49 pm #

      Thanks so much! You’re right–the island in the book is set off the coast of Massachusetts. It’s a fictional island, but based loosely off Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. I hope you enjoy it!

  2. Patchi Jan 31 2014 at 8:21 am #

    The cover is very eye-catching, with the elaborate knot and the split. Congratulations!

  3. Elizabeth Fama Jan 31 2014 at 8:24 am #

    Wow, wow, wow, Kendall! It’s beautifully simple, but with high contrast and intriguing texture. I love the hidden narrative of why the rope is frayed/breaking. So subtle, engaging, and stark. And take note, designers everywhere: gender-neutral covers RULE! Congratulations!

    • Kendall Jan 31 2014 at 1:50 pm #

      Thanks Beth! I should have known you’d spot the gender-neutrality 😉

  4. Natalie Jan 31 2014 at 8:52 am #

    That cover is absolutely stunning. I can’t wait to read it! I really appreciate that pretty girl in a dress is a no-no 🙂

    • Kendall Jan 31 2014 at 1:51 pm #

      Haha–thanks! Although some of my favorite books do the fancy dress thing beautifully, I knew it just wasn’t right for Avery’s story, and I’m so thrilled LB took another route!

  5. Jen Jan 31 2014 at 9:31 am #

    The cover is really interesting. That blue stands out. I like the rope.

  6. Courtney Jan 31 2014 at 9:31 am #

    The cover is beautiful!

  7. Adriana Jan 31 2014 at 9:36 am #

    OMG that is SO PRETTY. Definitely eye catching. I think my favorite part is the fraying rope 😉 congratulations on your book!! Can’t wait to read it.

    • Kendall Jan 31 2014 at 1:56 pm #

      thanks so much! I can’t wait for you to read it!

  8. Amie Jan 31 2014 at 10:20 am #

    ooh the cover is beautiful. I like the knot, the rope and the split—-really unique to have them on the cover.

  9. Teri Harman Jan 31 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Great cover! I love the art and the story behind it. Every cover should have a story. Congrats, Kendall! Also, thanks, Erin for linking to my article on girl-in-dress covers. Have a fabulous weekend!

    • Kendall Jan 31 2014 at 1:57 pm #

      Thanks so much, and I agree–I love hearing about the behind-the-scenes stories of how covers came to be. Loved your article!

  10. Leigh Smith Jan 31 2014 at 11:29 am #

    This cover is GORGEOUS! I love everything about it. The color, the font, and the rope. Also, I must say this book sounds fab. I love the unique take on a witch story.

    • Kendall Jan 31 2014 at 1:58 pm #

      Thanks so much! I hope you read it and enjoy it!

  11. Andrea Jan 31 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Superb cover! (And title!) How sweet that you got to be such a big part of the process! That almost never happens, right? As a rock climber, I love knots. I spent about five minutes just staring at the celtic heart knot to see how to tie it. The book sounds incredible, and I just have to know what Avery’s sacrifice is, and how the knots on the cover relate to the book – especially the frayed-but-not-broken bit!

    • Kendall Jan 31 2014 at 1:59 pm #

      Thanks so much! You’re right–that kind of author involvement seems to be on the rarer side. How cool that you’re a rock climber! You must be great with ropes, too!

  12. Nita Jan 31 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Wow…will definitely look for the story. What I loved about this post is the idea of creating a photo gallery of inspiration for the piece you are working on. And the photo of the 1800s girl…she is fabulous! May I borrow that photo? She inspires me to write about her! I am a beginner writer, and I find that prompts are very helpful. Your post teaches me that prompts can also be visual. Thanks!

    ( in Canada so not entering the raffle)

    • Kendall Jan 31 2014 at 2:02 pm #

      Thank you! And yes, of course you’re welcome to use the photo! Tumblr is a fantastic resource for finding and sharing those kinds of things, and if you check out my Tumblr, The Old Whaling Island, you’ll see there’s more than just photos there. I’ve also collected songs, poems, quotes, sayings, cartoons, videos–all are great sources for inspiration!

      Sorry this giveaway isn’t open to you but hopefully there’ll be some international SALT & STORM giveaways in the future!

  13. Krispy Jan 31 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    I love this cover! It’s simple yet visceral, and it seems like it really fits the story, which sounds amazing. I am adding this book to my TBR right now.

    • Kendall Jan 31 2014 at 2:03 pm #

      Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy it!

  14. Kaniesha Jan 31 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    I loooooooooooooooooove the cover! It’s gorgeous! I’m going to have to say my favorite thing is the color – the blue is gorgeous. I love blue. But the text and rope heart? Are fantastic too.

    • Kendall Jan 31 2014 at 2:03 pm #

      Thank you, and I agree–that blue is great!

  15. Kimberly Bower Jan 31 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Love love love the cover!

  16. Peggy Eddleman Jan 31 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    That’s one of the most incredible and unique covers I’ve seen in a while. Love it!

  17. Vivien Jan 31 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    Congrats! I love the rope is ALMOST broken but not all the way.

    • Kendall Feb 1 2014 at 10:48 am #

      Thanks–I love that detail, too!

  18. Kaye Feb 1 2014 at 10:14 am #

    This is lovely! Congratulations, Kendall! I can’t wait to read, and I love your Tumblr idea. I was actually thinking of doing that for my current and future WIP, but I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out or if it was necessary.

    • Kendall Feb 1 2014 at 10:49 am #

      Thank you! I’d definitely recommend the tumblr. Even if nothing happens with it (I wasn’t planning on doing anything with mine, for example), it’s a really nice way to store and share the things that inspire you. Good luck!

  19. Alexa S. Feb 1 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    I simply adore how striking the title and the knot are together! It’s a simple cover, but it would certainly catch my eye if I caught it in a bookstore. The book sounds absolutely wonderful, and I can’t wait to read it!

  20. Meghan Jashinsky Feb 3 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    This is such a beautiful cover! Adding the book to my TBR list!

  21. Christina Feb 3 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    Wow! I was always interested in how a book’s cover is brainstormed, because it is incredibly important (I mean, everyone says “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but almost everyone does). And my favorite element is water, but earth matches my personality better.
    The premise of this book sounds incredible! Can’t wait!

  22. Gabrielle Carolina Feb 3 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    I think this cover is amazing, you can really see the way it came alive from your inspiration pictures and I cannot wait to crack the spine someday soon!

  23. Nadia @ Nadia Reads Feb 5 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    Congrats! I really like the colours!

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