Interlude: How Not To Treat Your Cover Artist

Day 57. 110,835 words.

This amusing little Internet explosion (which I am hereby dubbing a “storm in an e-cup”[1]) occurred over the weekend and I had a bit to say about it on Facebook, but figured I might as well share it here too.

[1] Not to be confused with a debate about breast size, which could arguably be called the same thing. I am apparently not the first person to make this hilarious pun, as both “storm in an E cup” and “storm in a D cup” are both already well publicised things. Oh well. That’s the Internet for you.

Author of *trails off into mumbles* Terry Goodkind doesn’t like the cover of his new book, which is called *more mumbles* … oh, the name is there on the cover. Shroud of whatever. Anyway, if that Facebook link doesn’t work for you, here’s the Bleedingcool version, and the Mashable version.

I’ll also throw the main Facebook threads on here, since I just figured out how to do scrolling screencaps on my phone.

IMG_20180225_104755

Zoomed:

IMG_20180225_105431

This was followed by Goodkind’s inevitable and bizarre backpedal. I copy it here in full, and with the immediate set of comments, because it’s worth taking note of the comments Goodkind responds to, and what he says (although you can only see the opening lines of each). Check it out for a great example of barefaced ally-stroking and damage control:

IMG_20180225_110001

I mean, anyone would think Terry Goodkind doesn’t know how to words good or something. How could he have so critically failed to express his opinion?

And then there’s the even more hilarious blowback, which is that the cover is apparently actually pretty good:

IMG_20180226_093606

A few thoughts on this amusing and cringe-inducing moment in my beloved artform:

  1. This cover doesn’t look bad to me. My archetype for bad book covers, of course, was the late Darrell Sweet, and while he did get some stick for his mystery pictures, it was mostly affectionate and revolved around his failure to capture characters more familiar to us obsessive nerds than our own mamas. Okay, there were a few aspersions cast on his artistic ability as well, but human proportions matter, damn it. Either way, Lecouffe-Deharme’s cover seems fine.
  2. What I sort of assumed happened here was that the artist was told exactly what to show on the cover and was given little to no artistic leeway. The result didn’t satisfy the author, but since it was what he asked for he couldn’t actually change it, so he resorted to a temper tantrum. On further research, I found that it was worse than that (but slightly better for Goodkind): The publishers were the sole point of contact, taking the book from Goodkind and ordering the artwork from Lecouffe-Deharme. The two artists never met, never spoke, never worked together on this cover. So Goodkind, displeased with the cover, could take a shit on his publishers (LOL) or on the poor artist. Or, you know, just not take a shit. He chose … poorly.
  3. Having gone through this process on a dozen books now, I can’t even imagine having this kind of disregard for a cover artist’s work – especially if it wasn’t the artist’s fault. It’s easy for me to dismiss this as a traditional publishing problem, because that’s what it is. When the whole thing is run by a giant corporation with an eye to the bottom line, there’s no room for artistry. This is simply an inconceivable problem for independent authors and their cover artists – and should be an inconceivable problem for all authors.
  4. My cover artist is a bodybuilder. He could break me in half like Bane breaking Batman if I attempted to make an online poll about his covers. Not only that, but my readers would rightly slap me and remind me that I’m lucky to have such a talented colleague to bring my books to life. I like to think my books are pretty good, and I still agree that the covers are one of the best aspects of my publications.
  5. Goodkind comes across as a giant arrogant turd and with any luck this will bite him on the arse since his attempted apology turned out to be a scramble for excuses that resulted in him pushing his publishers under the same bus he’d just pushed Lecouffe-Deharme. Hopefully with both publishing house and cover artist on the road, the bus will swerve to take out the increasingly-irrelevant author instead.

 

Here, for reference and with all due respect from a younger and nowhere near as commercially successful author, is what Goodkind probably should have written:


As an author signed to a big publishing house, I am by necessity bound to their practices and business model. And that’s fine. They get my stories out there to the people who want to read them, and they do an excellent job.

Sometimes, though, there are victims along the way.

Today, that victim is my talented and hard-working cover artist, Bastien. As a result of our respective contracts, unfortunately Bastien and I never had a chance to collaborate or even talk about the cover he was commissioned to make for my latest book. The result, while a beautiful artwork in its own right, is faithful to the publishers’ instructions rather than my own vision or the spirit of the story.

As an author, selfishly, this upsets me but it in no way reflects on the cover artist’s skill. The very fact that he managed to create a work of this quality speaks to his ability. But when you live with these characters, as a writer or a reader, for as long as we have … it’s unfortunate. I hope in the future we can both be given more artistic control, but business is business.

Please join me in encouraging this artist and encouraging our mutual employers to find a better way of maximising our skills.


Just a suggestion.

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39 Responses to Interlude: How Not To Treat Your Cover Artist

  1. aaronthepatriot says:

    This is full of so much win I can’t even encapsulate it all. As a secret Goodkind…well not fan, certainly not lover, but…enjoyer? Hey we all have our guilty pleasures, and his latest offerings were awful, so at least I’m seeing the light now….[1]

    [1] Bad writing, terrible plot, characters being stupid and not realizing basic things[2], sort of thing

    [2] But you know he really loves them and thinks deeply about them and shit. Yeah. Really shows.

    Anyway as…whatever that is…I join the chorus of calling complete bullshit on him. And yeah, that cover art is fucking AMAZING, can I just say? No disrespect to other cover artists who can break people in half and stuff. This sort of contest shouldn’t have ever crossed his addled mind!

    Your alternate approach, at the end of your blog, would have been great if he really felt he had to do anything public at all. Alternatively, he could have just, you know, yelled at his publisher? Reached out to the artist independent of the process? Anything more mature? I dunno. This isn’t my field and I don’t know how all the options work.

    But you know, Goodkind is a hack and apparently a shitty person, so he chose otherwise.

    I’m going to pretend your suggestion is what happened.

    Wait, no I’m not. Why would I do that? Stupid Goodkind. Your name is fucking Good. Kind. Can you fucking TRY to live up to it FFS?

    • stchucky says:

      I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Goodkind. He’s one of the Other Terrys who isn’t Terry Pratchett.

      I did, however, find out quite a lot about him over the weekend. Particularly that his earlier books were pretty great, but he’s declined sharply in quality and popularity in recent years, he’s not selling or moving off bookstore shelves, and he’s apparently on thin ice with his publishers – even before this happened.

      Also, he is apparently a big Ayn Rand worshipper (RED FLAG, RED FLAG) and that ideology has been growing ever more strident and blatant in his works. Which probably goes a long way towards explaining their alleged glued-to-bookstore-shelves condition: It’s all that Rand fanboy spooge.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        LOL well, nothing would surprise me at this point, but again I think you have it right. I don’t know how many more books there were after the latest one I heard in my car, and can’t be bothered to check, but the Ayn Rand stuff wasn’t too prominent. I think, maybe, a hint of it. So things must have gotten worse.

        But you know, bad writing is a much bigger sin than a bad ideology IN your writing. So I was already out.

        Again, LOL. Doesn’t he have enough money anyway? Can’t feel too bad for him.

      • ohilya says:

        His books are rank and file bad.

        They are sub-standard knock-offs of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, from whom he clearly borrowed concepts.

        His books to not merit an audience. They do not merit purchasing.

        His dismissal of his fellow colleagues in the genre, and his selective tendency towards deleting, in a public social media sphere, the comments of his critics, to say nothing of the dismissive attitudes towards his publisher, fans, critics, and passive readers alike, makes him beneath notice.

        He doesn’t fall into the category of “so bad it’s good”. That is a space reserved for better writers. No. TG has managed to build a special, fecal-smeared house of his own. A house that smells so bad as to not feel inviting to even the most nasally tolerant of would-be fans.

      • dreameling says:

        His dismissal of his fellow colleagues in the genre, and his selective tendency towards deleting, in a public social media sphere, the comments of his critics, to say nothing of the dismissive attitudes towards his publisher, fans, critics, and passive readers alike, makes him beneath notice.

        This.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Oh, Ilya, Somehow I knew you’d dig into this one XD

        I’m going to agree with Hatboy here, as his experience mirrors my own. But, I wasn’t aware of all the other vile shit you are saying TG has been up to. So if I had…. Well, no, I’d still think those first few books were ok.

      • dreameling says:

        Also, he is apparently a big Ayn Rand worshipper (RED FLAG, RED FLAG) and that ideology has been growing ever more strident and blatant in his works. Which probably goes a long way towards explaining their alleged glued-to-bookstore-shelves condition: It’s all that Rand fanboy spooge.

        Yeah, the Rand influence has actually been there since his first book, Wizard’s First Rule. Which, for the record, I really liked when I first read it way, way back. It wasn’t until book 5, Soul of the Fire, that I fully registered the Randian Objectivism shit and quit the series. Not that that was the only problem for me with his books.

        Goodkind seemed to be a turd of a person back then, close to 20 years ago, and he clearly seems to be one still.

  2. aaronthepatriot says:

    * correction, agreeing with dreameling, not Hatboy. My bad. Bit of a dumpster fire at work here, didn’t pay enough attention to whose comment it was on the blog.

    Hey dreameling. Cheers!

    • dreameling says:

      *sigh* [The sigh was put here because dreameling apparently put his hand-waving emoji in pointy brackets and WordPress helpfully deleted it, making an empty comment that I then helpfully removed, leaving a sigh in response to Aaron’s comment that could very easily be misconstrued so here I am. Ed]

      [ insert hand-waving emoji ]

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Hey I caught it the moment I posted. *SIGH*

      • stchucky says:

        And I corrected the capital-D to a small d most likely before dreameling even noticed it! His sigh was because of his own comment fuck-up (see editorial comment).

        #helping

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Yeah looks like we’re still crossing wires. I noticed I capitalized it the first time, even before posting, but that sort of BS issue was beneath my concern.

        I sigh all the time IRL, by the way. Nothing serious should be read into it.

      • stchucky says:

        And the sigh was actually because of the pointy bracket thing. See.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        #sighgate

      • stchucky says:

        Baaahahahaha, you got there quite literally twenty seconds ahead of my offering, #pointygate

      • stchucky says:

        See, this is why I generally don’t moderate. I really did have the best intentions this time though.

      • dreameling says:

        Indeed. In the WordPress mobile app, I got an empty post when WordPress helpfully removed my “insert hand-waving emoji” placed inside arrow brackets. I then re-posted with square brackets. The “sigh” was for “Goddammit, WordPress. Well, here we go again, then. Let’s hope it works this time.”

    • dreameling says:

      Btw., I don’t at all mind derailing a TG discussion with sighs.

  3. ohilya says:

    Normally, where TG is concerned, I don’t bother anymore.

    But there is a line one doesn’t cross unless one is intentionally expecting derision, mockery, abuse, etc.

    In this instance: openly mocking the weaker party (the cover artist) whose power parity is not on an equal scale to that of the artist.

    That is not a socially deft move. And one that needs to be called out for the purposes of reminding the author of the position of luxury they are in and the importance of social decency to ensure a long and (more or less) consistent career.

    • aaronthepatriot says:

      Yup, totally agree, ilya. In case this expression hasn’t been used yet, I’ll restate this was a dick move by TG. And it generated a dumpster fire, but I already described work today as that.

      • ohilya says:

        His sales figures have been on a decline for quite some time, and as such, my hope is that his publisher decides it’s easier to dismiss him than to keep him.

        I’ve done my bit on that part, as I am so utterly tired as people who look and sound like like me using their cultural privilege to continue building out a career they may not necessarily deserve at the expense of better writers.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        “His sales figures have been on a decline for quite some time, and as such, my hope is that his publisher decides it’s easier to dismiss him than to keep him.

        I’ve done my bit on that part, as I am so utterly tired as people who look and sound like like me using their cultural privilege to continue building out a career they may not necessarily deserve at the expense of better writers.”

        Agreed! I’d much rather read the most mediocre book from Hatboy, just for example, than any TG book I’ve not yet read. Purely hypothetical. I have absolutely no book in mind when I write the regrettable phrase “mediocre book from Hatboy”! >.>

      • stchucky says:

        [eye finger fork watching you gesture just pretend pointy brackets]

        *SSSIIIIIGGHH*

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        SSSIIIIIGGHH

        Sighs Signifying Something I–…–Hatboy Hell

        Sorry I gave up partway through. And don’t I know it, your like of my comment can’t have posted more than 60 seconds after my comment XD

      • stchucky says:

        WordPress is now even more closely linked to my phone for some reason so unless I’m driving or sleeping (or both…?), I can generally respond in real time.

        So if it’s more than a minute, you can begin madly speculating why!

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        “So if it’s more than a minute, you can begin madly speculating why!”

        Way ahead of you there!

        My guess was taking a sheeeeeee-it!

      • stchucky says:

        But you know that’s not going to impede me in any way.

    • aaronthepatriot says:

      Ok that settles it. Terry Goodkind is a piece of shit who doesn’t know when to stop digging. And enjoys passive aggressive comments whilst being a piece of shit. Great job rendering that hackneyed look?

      TG, do you REALLY want to start throwing around the word “hackneyed”? That’s not going to work out for you.

      • stchucky says:

        Ohhhh, damn son, that was well said. Taking your word for it of course, not having read (as far as I remember) any of his books … but thatst a hard reentry burn right there.

      • ohilya says:

        It just doesn’t stop with this guy. I don’t know why. Maybe he’s getting old and feeling like he has to maintain some sort of legacy. Or some sort of … something that he will pass on to … someone. I don’t know.

      • stchucky says:

        I’ll be the first to admit that authors are arrogant cusses. I can’t think of a one of us who doesn’t have a God complex.

        Goodkind’s intellect and rhetoric belongs to Randian times, and might have been pretty sharp back in the day. He’s clearly still very popular.

        But he seems to have chosen a very poor hill to die on, and dramatically overestimated his eloquence and ability to write his way out of a hole.

        I almost sympathise, but it’s more like an empathic cringe of shared shame as I see a reflection of my own arrogance and inability to admit I’ve said or done something stupid, hurtful or wrong.

    • dreameling says:

      Speaking of sexism or something like it…

      I write stories centered around strong female characters. I objected to the sexist cover my publisher commissioned for this book

      One of the reasons I stopped reading Goodkind is that his stories often read like women-only torture porn, where especially the main female protagonist habitually gets almost raped or sodomized or [anything sexually degrading]. It was like every second chapter [1] there was a wrong penis (i.e., not the main male protagonist’s penis) trying to get in. (She did eventually get beaten to a bloody pulp by an angry group of men, because they didn’t like how strong she was or something. Not sure if she ever got raped.) The female supporting cast, on the other hand, got plenty of raping and other sexual abuse. I just got tired of it.

      Now, an author can, of course, write whatever the fuck they want, and they can build and rationalize their story worlds in whatever way they judge right. But sexism charges from a guy whose stories treat men and women in distinctly different and uneven ways, with the women usually getting the short end of the stick [2], is a bit much.

      [1] I’m exaggerating. But that’s how it feels in retrospect.

      [2] No pun intended!

      • stchucky says:

        Not having read any (and now certainly not intending to), this was interesting and valuable to learn. Hmm, kinda folds into a discussion Aaron and I are having in e-mail about authors who write a lot of rapey shit.

        Thank goodness my published works are sexless and sterile! Okay, a few women get mutilated, but so do a few men! Also by far the people I kill and dismember most of are mentally handicapped.

        Wait-

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        “One of the reasons I stopped reading Goodkind…”

        THIS

        And she saved herself from being raped by releasing her special power (carried successfully only by women) into a man so that he would protect her from the other rapey men.

        I could list some more such situations to back up dreameling but is that really needed at this point?

        I guess his publisher wanted all that sexist treatment in his books. And oh by the way, an entire…class? sect? of women in his story DO wear super hot blood-red leather with high heels like that, and carry leather whips….

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