Authors Love Their Cover Art (Sometimes)

This post has been in the works for a while. I hadn’t intended to post it now, but with Justine Larbalestier’s new post about the US cover of Liar, I’m going ahead with it.
When I see a new book with an awful cover, I always wonder how the author feels. A bad cover seems like a death knell for what might be a good book. (I don’t know if it means these titles have not succeeded, but none of the books I called the Duds of 2007 have been scheduled for paperback…)
But you never see the author out there complaining, right? A number of comments on a post at Editorial Anonymous asked why the author wasn’t speaking out – “I’m somewhat surprised that the author isn’t the least bit bothered.”
Picture this: You have a new book. You tried to influence the cover choice, but you only have so much influence. A catch-22, to be sure. You hate the cover but you want people to buy/read your book. You’re not going to jinx that are you?
The only thing you can do is this? Larbalestier says “It was designed by Danielle Delaney the genius responsible for the paperback cover of How To Ditch Your Fairy. Have I mentioned that’s my fave cover I’ve ever had?” Do you notice that she said THAT (referring to How To Ditch Your Fairy) was her favorite cover? She never says she loves this cover.
Originally, I planned to title this post “Authors LOVE Their Covers.” But I was always looking for one who didn’t…
Never found one really… Did Dakota Lane do this: Imaginary Gothic Lolita covers because she didn’t like her cover??? Her imaginary covers are not at all like what came out on the published book.

But here are a gallery of authors announcing cover art they love:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (October 2009) – “In celebration of my birthday…”

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster 2008 )
“In much happier news, I can share the cover of my fall book with you!!” – She doesn’t really comment, but she’s happy to share…

The Good Neighbors by Holly Black (Graphix 2008 )
“Hey, look what I found on Amazon! I am correcting the pages right now, so it probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to me, but still! It’s real!… My fingers itch to show you some interior art, because Ted is so fabulous, but I am forced to wait.”

The Unnameables by Emily Booraem (Harcourt 2008 )
“Here’s the gorgeous cover for The Unnameables, designed by Linda Lockowitz. I think Photoshop is involved, but I don’t know where the elements came from. Anyway, it’s very cool, and fits the book beautifully.”

The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner (Shadow Mountain 2008 )
“The artist’s name is Bryan Beus. He has officially joined the Dashner Dude’s Top Twenty Most Favored People List, bumping Abe Lincoln to Number 21. Also, major kudos go out to Richard Erickson and his incredible team at Shadow Mountain.”

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen 2008 )
“Tor Books’s brilliant Art Director Irene Gallo worked with designer Peter Lutjen to create the cover for the book — the best one I’ve had to date.” My comment: Too bad they didn’t use this one! I like it better than the one with the photo on it…

Gotcha! by Shelley Hrdlitschka (Orca 2008 )
“Seeing the cover art for my books is always such a thrill. The book suddenly becomes real. Until now it was just a story, a stack of manuscript pages, but now I can see that it really is going to become a book. And I especially like this cover. It is perfect. I have no input into what goes onto the covers of my book, so it’s always a relief when I like them.”

How to Ditch your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier (Bloomsbury September 2008 )
“You know what the most fabulous part of it is? (Other than the quote from Libba Bray2 ) My name is as big as the title. My name is bigger than it’s ever been! Oh, happy day!”

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass (Little Brown October 2008 )
“A sneak peek of the cover for my next book, Every Soul a Star. It’s not coming out until September but I really love the cover and couldn’t wait to share it.”

The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford (Viking 2009)
“Why do I love it so?  Let me count the ways…”

10 Responses to “Authors Love Their Cover Art (Sometimes)”

  1. I met Lynne Reid Banks once, author of The Indian in the Cupboard and others. She was signing her books and went off on a tangent about the covers. She hated most of them, particularly the historical fiction because of the blatant inaccuracies. It was actually kind of fun to hear her go off like that.

  2. Thanks for noticing that no where in that first post about the US cover do I ever say that I like the cover. I was very careful about that. Thanks!

  3. Sabrina Says:

    you know i just read Justine’s first blog about the US cover and no where in that post does she say she likes it yes but she also doesn’t seem concerned with the fact that the girl on the cover is in no way representative of Micah. I mean why didn’t she pick up on that and maybe say something (via blog) from the very beginning. In that post shes saying how glad she is that its on the cover of the catalogue and how she hopes the cover helps the book sell. All her outrage now seems kinda like shes jumping on some sort of band wagon, no?

    • Would you? If it was your book and you didn’t get a cover choice you felt good about it, would you go around dissing the cover?
      No. You can’t do that. Maybe it’s not the professional thing to do. But also it’s not the smart thing to do – at the outset anyway. I think Justine did it just the way I would have…

  4. I don’t understand your comment about Little Brother: “Too bad they didn’t use this one! I like it better than the one with the photo on it…” Isn’t that the cover they used?

    • Ah this is what happens when you rush a post you were saving… I can’t even remember what I was referring to – and didn’t proofread it well enough to notice the mistake. If I figure it out, I’ll fix that!

  5. Sabrina: You just don’t. Covers go through sales and marketing- the people who will be selling your book to booksellers, libraries, and of course, to the reading public. You can’t tell somebody they’re stupid, their judgment is bad, and you are disgusted with them and then expect them to go out and do the best they possibly can do to champion your book.

    It sucks, but authors don’t have a whole lot of power over what happens to their books once it leaves our hands and goes into copyedits. We are stuck with the covers on our books unless somebody else hates them- and it is still our book, our words inside that *we* still need to champion. Usually, somebody else is “The buyer at Barnes & Noble.” or “Every print reviewer in the world.” Publishers aren’t terribly interested in authors’ feelings on their covers (or their titles.) That’s marketing, not production.

  6. I know an author who *hated* the cover art for her first book. She did complain to her publisher, and they at least changed the art so that it was not inaccurate to the story, which it originally had been. It’s still not a very appealing cover, though it’s far better than those Duds. Fortunately the book won a great award, so it’s selling okay. But as well as it could have…?

    Anyway, she’s always seemed to me to be pretty quiet about not liking the cover art. She’ll talk about it to people she knows, but doesn’t take it any further. I’ve always assumed she didn’t want anyone to see her as bad-mouthing her publisher.

    However, her second book came out recently, and she *has* been vocal in talking about how much she LOVES the cover art for it. So I think maybe we can often read between the lines.

  7. Authors who love their covers are quick to tell you so and give the cover artist credit.
    Four I can think of off of the top of my head
    Tanita Davis – Mare’s War
    Lisa Mantchev – Eyes Like Stars
    James Kennedy – Order of the Odd Fish
    James Preller – Bystander
    check out Preller’s post about the cover

  8. This author LOVED her cover.

    “My cover!!!! Yayyy!!! SO pretty!! The dress is Gaultier!!! I would sleep with this picture under my pillow. If I had a color printer. My laser printer just won’t capture the full magic of those luscious warm colors…”

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