One question I get asked whenever I give a talk about writing is how much control I have over the cover art so I figured I’d put my answer in full here. This is one of those things that varies considerably from publisher to publisher, and from book to book. I’ve spoken to authors who’ve had no say, or almost no say, in cover designs for some books. I’ve met authors who’ve hated the covers they were presented with. I’ve been lucky. For all of my books, I’ve been given a lot of input and I’ve been delighted with most of them.
I was astonished when Child of the Hive was published how much input I was given. The publisher sent me about a dozen different designs for the potential cover – and I hated them all. I don’t want to imply that they were bad designs, but they were bad for the book. The designer who’d created them hadn’t actually read the book, he’d just been given the text to go on the back cover and a couple of paragraphs of description. The end result was some designs that would have been great on someone else’s book (there was a creepy one with a child coming out of mist that would have been great for a ghost story) but that were completely wrong for mine.
We had a few emails back and forth and then I was put on a phone call with the designer and I talked about what I liked and didn’t like about the different designs, what the disconnects with the book were, and so on. He went off and came back with a different design, which I liked a lot more. I asked for a couple of minor tweaks and then was given a cover design I was thrilled with.
When Shadows of Tomorrow was published, the publisher gave me a form to fill out with my ideas for the cover. I suggested a figure silhouetted against a portal holding a sword. They sent me a couple of drafts and, once again, I wasn’t happy with either of them. The covers showed what looked like someone standing at the edge of the sea, which didn’t fit at all, but I did like the font on one of them. The designer went away and came back with the final cover.
When Shadows of Tomorrow came out, I really liked the cover. In person, it’s really dramatic. I’ve come to the conclusion though that it doesn’t work as well as a thumbnail on Amazon. It doesn’t look as interesting as other covers. So when it came to Between Yesterdays, I wanted to go with the same general idea but with more happening visually. The design they sent me was pretty good, but I wasn’t sure about the image they’d chosen for Abby. For one thing, in the book, Abby has quite dark colouring, which isn’t obvious in this image. For another, this young woman looks dressed for a party rather than a battle.
I went back to the publisher and asked for a different Abby for the cover, and was thrilled with the final cover design they offered me.
The same sort of thing happened with the Codename Omega books. I gave ideas, they sent designs, I asked for changes. The Codename Omega books are self-published so I was given a lot of say in the design because I was effectively hiring the designers to work to my specifications. I wasn’t surprised that I was the one calling the shots with those covers, but I was surprised how much control I had with the others, especially having heard stories from some other authors about how little say they were given. I guess I’ve been lucky so far when it comes to covers.