Due next February from HarperCollins, Delirium launches a trilogy by Lauren Oliver, whose bestselling debut novel, Before I Fall, was published last March. There’s been quite a bit of pre-pub hubbub surrounding this dystopian novel set in an alternative present world—both in-house and on the Internet. As excitement about Delirium (with an announced 250,000-copy first printing) and its two sequels built, the publisher replaced the cover of the original ARC with a newly designed jacket that lifts off to reveal a photo of a young woman’s face on the case. Oliver has been busy talking up Delirium on various online venues, and recently ran a contest on her blog, encouraging fans to suggest titles for the second and third novels in the trilogy. The winning titles are announced for the first time below.
But first, a look at the making of Delirium’s new cover. In time for last spring’s BEA, the publisher created a photographic cover for the ARC of this novel, which centers on Lena, a teen living in a society in which love is a disease considered so dangerous that it’s been declared illegal. “The dystopian category was new to us at the time, so after producing that first cover, we decided, along with the author, to revisit it and try new approaches,” explains designer Erin Fitzsimmons. “The word we kept hearing was ‘iconic.’ We also knew that we were designing the first cover in a trilogy, and that finding a strong design for the series was critical. Everyone here loves this book so dearly that we exhausted all options to find that iconic look.”
A new photo shoot was scheduled in hopes of finding what the designer calls “the perfect image.” Art director Hilary Zarycky and photographer Gustavo Marx made what Fitzsimmons describes as “the brilliant call” to shoot outside, and chose Orchard Beach in the Bronx as the location, in order to replicate the novel’s coastal Maine setting. “The original ARC cover called for heavy, moody clouds, and on the day of the shoot, we were blessed with those exact clouds,” she recalls. “We were doubly lucky to have a gorgeous cover model, who toughed it out on an abnormally cold and rainy day. We have incredible shots where she has real tears and goosebumps from the cold.”
Developed entirely in-house, the final cover design was, Fitzsimmons says, “the result of a fun and collaborative effort between Hilary and me. We worked extensively with our production team to finalize the best combination of elements for printing.” The designer reflects that it is “the sum of all the elements” that makes the jacket work so effectively. These include “the shimmery blue contrasting with the warm image of the girl, the bold and intricate lettering, the mystery of the other world beneath the letters, and the suspense of removing the jacket to see the Lena’s face. The cover draws you in and holds your attention, just as the novel does from beginning to end.”
Thrilled with the final cover design, Oliver says that it is “a look that is easily extended over a period of three years, to encompass the other novels in the trilogy and brand the series—but it’s also very interesting and striking on its own. As the cover design evolved, we became increasingly obsessed with the cool word ‘delirium,’ which encapsulates the theme of the book. We definitely wanted to highlight that.”
On the topic of titles, Oliver says that the impetus for her contest was, “quite honestly, that I’m terrible at titling. And in the past year or so since I’ve had my blog, I’ve come to realize that there are some incredibly smart, creative people out there in the blogosphere, and I wanted to get their opinions. I was, in effect, outsourcing.”
Her strategy worked. After announcing the contest on her blog, the author received 70 responses within a day, and in the end 114 people weighed in—many with lengthy lists of suggestions (one blogger offered 50 options). Since there were duplicate submissions for the selected titles, the individual who first cited the title was declared the winner. Each winner will receive signed ARCs of Before I Fall and Delirium, an autographed copy of Mostly Good Girls (a debut novel by Oliver’s friend Leila Sales, released this month by Simon Pulse), and a Delirium tote bag.
Now, at long last, here are the winning titles for the second and third novels in Oliver’s Delirium trilogy: Pandemonium (submitted by Lynsey Newton of the U.K.) and Requiem (submitted by a blogger Oliver can at this point only identify as Sabina from Slovenia). Congratulations!
Delirium by Lauren Oliver. HarperCollins, $17.99 (448p) Feb. ISBN 978-0-06-172682-8