How important are the efforts of an author in regards to what they want on their bookcovers? How much 'imput' does an author have who is published by a major publisher?

In '81 when DAW published my Banners of the Sa'yen, I had no imput whatsoever. Fortunately they chose a 'legend' in the Fantasy sci-fi artworld to do the cover. And it was fabulous!

I am not being published these days by a major house. So i am deeply involved in the artwork. But whether big, or small, or self-published, I think an author should be involved intimately in the art.

What do you think?

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Comment by I. J. Parker on February 12, 2009 at 8:25am
Oh, my God, John M., I never expected that. I'm incredibly pleased you like it -- the book, I mean. I'm immediately going to get one of yours. :)

B.R., you don't make deals with your publisher unless your sales knock their socks off. There are days when I dream about what I'll do when that happens. It's not about the money. It's about power.
Comment by John McFetridge on February 12, 2009 at 4:31am
The Penguin trade paperback of Islands of Exiles is on my desk right now and it's a very good cover. The illustration is very good (I have no idea if it's from the right time, but it's a guy thrusting a sword, so the movement is good) and the two blag flag-like things with the title and your name on them reflect the light. Very eye catching.

I also like the map, cast of characters of place names in the front.

Oh yeah, the book's good, too.
Comment by B.R.Stateham on February 12, 2009 at 4:27am
I.J--Have you ever considered the idea of making some kind of deal with your publisher where you get to select and work with an artist of your choice?
Comment by I. J. Parker on February 12, 2009 at 4:21am
I now get some very eye-catching covers done by a graphic artist. I'm mostly pleased with them. But I had nothing to do with the choice of the artist. Neither do I have much say-so. Once, when I told the artist what the book was about (I don't think he reads them. He's Brazilian) and suggested some likely scenes, I got a rude reprimand from my then-editor, reminding me that the publisher pays for the cover art and that it's therefore none of my business. Keep in mind that I write historical mysteries set in a culture few people are familiar with -- which means that all the various publishers generally stick 18th century woodcut images in very inappropriate dress on my books.
Comment by B.R.Stateham on February 12, 2009 at 3:33am

That's my opinion as well---especially the last line.
Comment by J. F. Juzwik on February 12, 2009 at 3:31am
My first novel was published as an ebook, and I had no input whatsoever regarding the cover art. The editor sent me a draft and 'told' me that would be the cover. Of course, the contract had no clause in it about author approval in any regard, so it wasn't like I was mislead. The only thing was, I assumed (and we know what happens when we do that) that the cover would at least vaguely reflect the content. Of course, it didn't - not in the least.

My cover would be perfect for a horror themed tale, but unfortunately for the cover, my story has nothing to do with the supernatural. If one looks at it and is turned off by horror-type stuff, they wouldn't look any further into it. The cover is the first impression, and for me, what I see either makes me want to pick it up and read the inside cover or just keep on walking by to look for something else.

Since the author knows the heart of the story - is the heart of the story - I believe it is very important for the author to be involved from the very beginning of the publishing process, especially in the design of the cover art. The cover either draws or repels. It really is as simple as that.
Comment by Pepper Smith on February 12, 2009 at 3:28am
Being published by small presses, I do have the duty of coming up with ideas for the cover art, and get to work with the artist, giving my input in the process. I am an artist myself, but I don't know that I'd want to actually do my own cover art.
Comment by John McFetridge on February 12, 2009 at 3:26am
I have very little visual talent and prefer to leave it to people who really know what they're doing. So far, both the Canadian and American covers to my books have been far, far better than anything I could have ever come up with.

I guess if the publishers had shown me something I really hated we would have talked about it.

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