Ellen Kushner’s Contest: An End to Bad YA Covers?

There’s been a lot of talk in the galactic spheres recently about book covers. Maureen Johnson‘s been tweeting about what people think of the new cover design for the paperback version of The Name of the Star, which has a totally different vibe from the hardcover, and the blog PitchDark featured a round up of all the international covers of The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, and how each one pitches the story in an entirely different light. Only yesterday, my sister and I, were talking about a book that I’d started and am loving, that she had admittedly written off because of an  overly modelesque female with dead eyes, on the cover.

It’s odd to realize that authors usually have absolutely zero say in what the cover of their book looks like, and while I’m aware of this fact, it’s still hard not to judge a book by its cover. So I was inspired to see Ellen Kushner’s contest, which was open to anyone to redesign and illustrate a new cover for The Privilege of the Sword. The result, by an artist named Taline, was a beautifully rendered piece that the author raved about:

We were stunned by this amazing full-jacket design, including front & back cover and side flaps. Not only is it gorgeous art & design, but, well –  it’s as if the artist has gone inside my brain and pulled out images from there!

This contest was just for fun, and to help spread the word about the new audiobook from Neil Gaiman Presents – but I have to say that, from now on, I’ll dream of a world in which this was the real cover. Thank you, Taline.

Wouldn’t it be great if writers could not only have more say in the designs of their book covers, but could make it more of a collaborative experience? Until then, I’ll have to remind myself to take a second look at the synopsis before I pass on a book that’s the victim of mistaken identity and unfortunate marketing.


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