Day 57. 110,835 words.
This amusing little Internet explosion (which I am hereby dubbing a “storm in an e-cup”) 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.
 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.
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:
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:
A few thoughts on this amusing and cringe-inducing moment in my beloved artform:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.