Cover Me

A usual bone of contention amongst authors is with their book covers.  The publisher’s vision is never that of the author’s and why don’t the publishers listen?  There are some great books out there with appalling jacket covers. 

The cover of my first book, Accidents Waiting To Happen, came out okay.  It was respectable, but no one saw the knockdown, drag out fight that I had with the publisher over what they proposed.  I won’t go into details, but I would have been embarrassed to see it on the shelves.  Our discussions got so heated that the publisher ignored my requests to see the final artwork, which left me to live on my nerves for a number of weeks while I waited to see if the publisher had listened to me.  To my relief, they had.

Things changed for my second book, Dragged Into Darkness.  I was with a different publisher and they listened to me.  I got the author’s dream ticket when it came to cover design.  They let me pick my artist and the artist liked my concept for the cover.  It was great to work with an artist.  I got to see him experiment with my idea and develop his own vision from that.  Needless to say, I was very happy with the end result.

Working Stiffs is around the corner now and I love the stylized cover Blue Cubicle came up with.  The best part was that I didn’t have a damn thing to do with it.  The publisher has a distinct concept for the cover and they pursued it, but the publisher had no intention of sharing it with me.  It was to be a surprise.  I should have been nervous, but I wasn’t, mainly because I trusted the publisher.  They’d been great to work with (and I’m not brownnosing here) and I believed in them.  And to my delight, the surprise was a good one.  I don’t think I could have envisioned anything better.

So my opinion is changing when it comes to cover design.  I don’t want to be involved too much and this change isn’t because of how Blue Cubicle treated me.  This has been a gradual change over the last year or so.  Not long after Dragged Into Darkness went into print, I changed my mind about the cover design used.  I had a different idea for the cover and it soured my opinion of the one printed.  Also, I know a couple of cover artists and after seeing some of the amazing work that they’ve created without the interference of the author, I’ve decided that it’s not my place to interfere.  Just because I wrote the novel doesn’t mean I’m the chief consultant on all things on the book.  If I were so damn great, I wouldn’t need editors to tell me where I’ve gone awry. 

The problem is that as a writer, you’re the creator and as such you want total control of your creation.  Well, aren’t we a jumped up little breed?  Don’t let it be said writers don’t have a God complex. 

Wanting to have total control is fine, but I think I’ll drive myself crazy if I keep that up.  So I’m of the mind that I should let people do their jobs.  I’ll do the writing, the publishers can do the publishing and the artists can do the arting.

So from now on, I’m not going to sweat it.  The book cover can be anything.  It’s not my department. 

What’s that?  You want to do what with the next book?  No.  Never.  Over my dead body!  Well, I’d like to see you try that.

Simon Wood

9 thoughts on “Cover Me

  1. JT Ellison

    Now that I have Bruce spinning through my head…Very interesting, Simon. I’ve often wondered about some cover art not matching the text within. Good to know how the process works.

  2. Sandra Ruttan

    There are some things I actually feel relieved about.

    The fact that contractually, the publisher has final say about the title, and the book cover are two of them.

    I could obsess forever. That said, I have designed a book cover to one of my novels and I’d really love to use it…

  3. Elaine

    Ah, the cover saga! I have to say I was lucky. The artist that did my first book was great. And then I got luckier – he did the next two – so the ‘mood’ was at least consistant. ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ is hogwash. It’s a major selling point, and if it’s off the mark, it can badly hurt sales.

  4. Jennifer Jordan

    Simon, WORKING STIFFS would be worth picking up with if the cover were fuschia/chartruese paisleys on a puce background (this is the most horrific thing I could think of visually). What a brilliant set of stories! I haven’t been this impressed since Scott Wolven’s CONTROLLED BURN. The Todd Collins stories in the back were funny as hell and twisted.

    Great work and I’m glad the cover is all you’d hoped.

    The difference between British and American covers has always been more than a bit interesting, as well. American – graphic, boldy colored/British – atmospheric and simple.

  5. Rob Gregory Browne

    My contracts say I have approval of the cover for both of my books (thank you Trident). Hopefully that’ll happen.

    I already gave them some ideas for A MEASURE OF DARKNESS, but don’t know if they’ll listen.

    My fingers are crossed.

    It’ll also be interesting to see the UK, German and Russian covers. I’m told the German covers can be quite strange.

    Somebody send me some artwork, dammit. I’m getting impatient. 🙂

  6. simon

    I don’t want to seem biased, but usually UK covers are a lot better than their US counterparts. Just compare Harlan Coben’s UK covers to his US ones.

  7. J.B. Thompson

    My former publisher allowed me a little input on my covers. On the first one they came up with something completely different than what I had envisioned, but it worked. The second one is pretty much completely my design – I was fortunate in that instance, but I’m not looking for that to happen again! Would love to get lucky like Rob and be contractually allowed approval – I’ll have to keep that in mind during negotiations …

    Thanks very much for the insight, Simon!

  8. Elaine

    I’m so happy to read Jennifer’s comments about Simon’s work! I’ve thought he was one of the best around for some time,and I’m glad to know a genuine pro feels the same. I can’t turn the lights out when I read Simon.


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