Lord of Castle Black is up at Amazon

pddb at demesne.com pddb at demesne.com
Thu May 15 13:12:35 PDT 2003

On Thu, May 15, 2003 at 02:27:52PM -0400, BLACKSTOCK, ROB wrote:

> This brings up a good point: how does the process of developing cover
> art for a new book come about?

It depends on the publisher, the artist, and the author.

My first three novels are being reprinted this fall, and the
amount of input I got into the cover art was phenomenal compared
to the amount I got when they were originally published (that
latter amount being, none at all).  I got to quibble about the
period of the sword on the first cover, to ask that they put
a cardinal (bird, not cleric) somewhere on each cover, and to
suggest landscapes they might use.  They changed their minds
about the overall plan about four times, and the cover of the
third book, which there wasn't time to show me, or maybe they
wouldn't because I quibbled so much, is not accurate, though
it's very beautiful and recognizable from the book.

> Does the artist actually read the book?  Is the artist only given a 2
> paragraph summary of the story and characters?

Depends.  Tom Canty read all of my novel TAM LIN before doing the
cover, and I think he read all the Fairy Tale Line novels before
doing the covers.  But I don't know if he reads every book he
> For years I've wondered why book covers have so little to do with the
> stories they illustrate... Especially in fantasy fiction.
> Does anyone know?

The book cover is not an illustration.  It's a marketing device.
It's not even being marketed primarily to readers; it has to get
past other buyers to even land on a bookstore shelf.  There are a
lot more considerations than whether it's accurate.

So, at least, distraught authors are told by their editors.  I
see no reason to disbelieve them.


Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet           (pddb at demesne.com)
"I will open my heart to a blank page
   and interview the witnesses."  John M. Ford, "Shared World"