Cover Art – A Discussion (or something)

I’d be lying if I said that cover art didn’t effect how badly I wanted to read a book. Tor’s winter catalogue was just released and I’m starting to go through it now. I’m impressed by the cover art, so I’m deciding to show some of my favorites.

I’m finding myself rather fascinated by cover art recently. I usually don’t post it on my website (I figure better websites like A Dribble of Ink can do that for me). That being said, as technology changes, cover art does, too. I find myself liking more than I used to, and this often gets me excited. That’s how I roll.

My mother always said, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Well, I guess I do just that. (Sorry, mom.) So I’m writing this post to show you some cover art I saw in the Tor catalogue that has me all interested. It also might serve to wet your whistle for the upcoming reading year.

(Note: I figure that since these covers are also on Goodreads, they are fair game for me to post. If I’m wrong, all someone needs to do is shout at me and I’ll fix it by removing this post.)

Enjoy… or something.


Welcome to the City Unspoken, where Gods and Mortals come to die.

Contrary to popular wisdom, death is not the end, nor is it a passage to some transcendent afterlife. Those who die merely awake as themselves on one of a million worlds, where they are fated to live until they die again, and wake up somewhere new. All are born only once, but die many times . . . until they come at last to the City Unspoken, where the gateway to True Death can be found.

Wayfarers and pilgrims are drawn to the City, which is home to murderous aristocrats, disguised gods and goddesses, a sadistic faerie princess, immortal prostitutes and queens, a captive angel, gangs of feral Death Boys and Charnel Girls . . . and one very confused New Yorker.

Late of Manhattan, Cooper finds himself in a City that is not what it once was. The gateway to True Death is failing, so that the City is becoming overrun by the Dying, who clot its byzantine streets and alleys . . . and a spreading madness threatens to engulf the entire metaverse.

To be released on February 11, 2014


Lord Scott Oken, a prince of Albion, and Professor-Prince Mikel Mabruke live in a world where the sun never set on the Egyptian Empire. In the year 1877 of Our Lord Julius Caesar, Pharaoh Djoser-George governs a sprawling realm that spans Europe, Africa, and much of Asia. When the European terrorist Otto von Bismarck touches off an international conspiracy, Scott and Mik are charged with exposing the plot against the Empire.

Their adventure takes them from the sands of Memphis to a lush New World, home of the Incan Tawantinsuyu, a rival empire across the glittering Atlantic Ocean. Encompassing Quetzal airships, operas, blood sacrifice and high diplomacy, Three Princes is a richly imagined, cinematic vision of a modern Egyptian Empire.

To be released on February 4, 2014






The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues . . .

Attentive readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world’s premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career.

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the wartorn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grassdwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swampwyrms of the tropics.

The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell . . . where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.

To be published on March 4, 2014

Eric Albright is leading a normal life until a small red door appears under a train bridge near his home. Then a ghostly being wakes him in the dead of night, with a message from another world: You are Shadow. In Levaal, the world between worlds, the dragon-gods grow restless in their sky prisons, and the Great Spirits struggle to contain them. Vous, the worlds Friend and Lord, simmers in madness as he schemes to join the ranks of gods. He and the Arch Mage have almost won their final victory over the Free Cities. A dark age dawns. But Eric and his friend Case are now Pilgrims, called to Levaal for a battle more ancient than the petty squabbles of men. And they will learn why some doors should not be opened

To be published on March 18, 2014






Caeli-Amur: an ancient city perched on white cliffs overlooking the sea; a city ruled by three Houses, fighting internecine wars; a city which harbours ancient technology and hidden mysteries. But things are changing in Caeli-Amur. Ancient minotaurs arrive for the traditional Festival of the Sun. The slightly built New-Men bring their technology from their homeland. Wastelanders stream into the city hideously changed by the chemical streams to the north. Strikes break out in the factory district.

In a hideout beneath the city, a small group of seditionists debate ways to overthrow the Houses. How can they rouse the citizens of the city? Should they begin a campaign of terror? Is there a way to uncover the thaumaturgical knowledge that the Houses guard so jealously? As the Houses scramble to maintain their rule, it becomes clear that things will change forever in Caeli-Amur.

To be published on April 15, 2014



Desperate to find a case to justify the team’s existence, with budget cuts and a police strike on the horizon, Quill thinks he’s struck gold when a cabinet minister is murdered by an assailant who wasn’t seen getting in or out of his limo. A second murder, that of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, presents a crime scene with a message… identical to that left by the original Jack the Ripper.

The new Ripper seems to have changed the MO of the old completely: he’s only killing rich white men. The inquiry into just what this supernatural menace is takes Quill and his team into the corridors of power at Whitehall, to meetings with MI5, or ‘the funny people’ as the Met call them, and into the London occult underworld. They go undercover to a pub with a regular evening that caters to that clientele, and to an auction of objects of power at the Tate Modern.

Meanwhile, the Ripper keeps on killing and finally the pattern of those killings gives Quill’s team clues towards who’s really doing this…

To be published on April 15, 2014












To be published March, 2014



So, do any of these covers do it for you? Have I missed any good ones?

(P.S. If this post goes over well, I might flaunt the cover art I like more often.)


13 Responses

  • Telling us who the cover artists are might help 🙂

    I know Donato Ginacola does the Bear covers and those are awesome.

  • “(P.S. If this post goes over well, I might flaunt the cover art I like more often.)”

    Following in the footsteps of Aidan M. and Justin?

  • Yey pretties! Thanks for posting this since I didn’t know there was another Lady Trent book coming :D. Also, how do you find their winter catalogue? I’m always impressed by people who know these things >.>

    • You know, I’m on their reviewer list so when a catalogue comes out, I get an email letting me know and giving me instructions on how to access it.

  • I am a whore for cover art. there, I said it. i love me some pretty artwork. but my “pretty” might not jive with anyone else’s definition of “pretty”, so there’s that.

    Of what you posted above, the Elizabeth Bear is drop dead gorgeous. I want this artwork as a print on my wall. I just wish I’d enjoyed the first book in that series more. The cover art for the new Marie Brennan is lovely as well, and I happily admit to purchasing the first book in that series based on cover art alone, and loved it to pieces. An interesting dragony-y thing happening in the Will Elliott cover art too!

    I vote for flaunting more cover art!

    • I really am, too. I used to not get that excited about it, but the evolving technology allows for some really interesting cover art. In fact, today I’m getting a post ready for later that will discuss some “new” types of cover art. It’s interesting to me, but I always shy away from cover art discussions because so many other websites do them. Oh well. Screw it. I’ll join in….

      And yes, Elizabeth Bear’s cover art for this series is MIND BLOWING. Some of my favorite cover art EVER.

  • Angela

    What got my interest for that first book you posted wasn’t so much the cover art as the tagline, about a city where gods and mortals come to die. That got my attention and then I read the rest of the text and decidedthat yes I did want to find out what happens in this book.

    Assuming I can find it when it comes out and that I still remember that I wanted to read it when I do.

    • Sometimes tag lines just do it for me, too. A good tag line can sell a book. A bad one makes me read it in private, or never read it at all. It’s all marketing and I find it fascinating to see how it works or doesn’t work.

  • Nice to see that Tor are doing interesting things with their cover art – in the same way that they tend to print more interesting/off-the-wall scifi and fantasy. It’s a fact that the cover does affect the volume of sales – Mark Chadbourn has looked into such things and reckons a dragon on the cover always triples sales. The old ‘As read by Richard and Judy’ sticker on a book used to increase sales by 300%.
    As an author:
    1. I usually get asked what sort of thing I’d like on the cover, but my contract with the publisher makes it clear I have no control over the cover whatsoever. (Hence the ridiculous cover and title of my German edition!) Basically, the publisher is meant to know what the market wants better than the market. And then the publisher has its overall brand to think of – as per the Tor example above.
    2. The artist for my UK editions never reads my books. He just draws something that looks ‘about right’ to him based on a few sentences from the publisher.

    • I don’t know ANYTHING about what goes into cover art. It’s an aspect of publishing that I’m SO ignorant about, but I’d love to learn more. For example, I had no idea that authors had nearly no say in their cover art, until one author told me last year that “if you’re lucky, you might get to give your opinion.”

      So all that being said, how on earth do publishers/artists CHOOSE cover art? And is it incredibly frustrating when the cover art doesn’t line up with the author’s vision of their work?

      Thanks for your insight. I’m absolutely fascinated about cover art from an author’s perspective.

      • Well, it’s all about ‘brand’. Gollancz books, for example, all have to look like ‘Gollancz’ books. They have to stand out as distinct (hence, in the old days, all Gollancz books were yellow!). The Gollancz brand can sometimes sell the book on its own when the author is relatively unknown, you see. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, etc. Gollancz are the market leader for fantasy in the UK (clearly, they must have good taste and discernment if they publish me – LOL), and they ‘trade’ on this. Their brand is a hallmark for quality, etc. They guard their brand carefully. That’s why the author gets no say on their cover at all. Gollancz has an art dept that understands the brand intimately and safeguards it well. The brand is worth far more than any individual author (even me – hard to believe, I know, but they pay the piper, so they call the tune). An author given too much control of their own cover could damage the brand, you see. Having said all that, Gollancz now think the cover on ‘Empire of the Saviours’ might be wrong. If you’d like to post it on this site to get audience feedback, I’m happy to send it in… and I’d be grateful for the feedback, as would Gollancz!

  • I’m really looking forward to “The Tropic of Serpents.” I liked the first book, and the protagonist is definitely interesting enough for me to want to read more about her. March can’t come fast enough!

    “Three Princes” and “The Pilgrims” also look really good. I hope they’ll end up being available for request through NetGalley, because I want to read them and that’s about the only way I get review copies from giant publishers like Tor. :p

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.