Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why do you let them put those covers on your books?

Marion Zimmer Bradley repeatedly said "a cover is not an illustration; it's a marketing poster for the book." I find myself quoting that a lot recently, as long-time Darkover fans encounter the cover art for Stars of Darkover, which will be published this June, beginning a new series of Darkover anthologies. The most common complaint is that it looks like a gypsy girl gazing into a crystal ball, followed by "that's not what a matrix crystal looks like!" Both comments are perfectly true, and if the cover were intended to be an illustration, they would be valid complaints.

But the object of a book cover is to get a reader first to pick up and then to read the book. The cover is supposed to give someone who doesn't automatically buy every new Darkover book--someone who has never heard of Darkover and has no clue what it is--an idea of what the book is about. This particular book is an anthology of stories set on an alien planet where some people have paranormal abilities and can see and do things ordinary people can't. I think this cover does convey that message, which means it's doing its job. And I hope that it will encourage people who have never read anything set on Darkover to give the world a try.