Science fiction novelist Jane Lindskold is posting some thoughts on her history with book cover design.
I’m going to start with my first novel, Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls, cover art by Rowena… [it] depicts a blond young woman wearing jeans and a baggy harvest gold sweater. She is curled asleep amid stark rocks. She is cuddling a green stuffy toy that just might be a two-headed dragon. To the sides, wispy smoke forms of a dragon and an owl are shown. The lettering is white and very cursive. … The story is completely urban. No rocky landscapes. For another, the dragon is rubber and blue. For a third, the book deals with street gangs, hackers, and genetic experimentation.
She describes this as the cover that “I think may have seriously hurt my career“:
A couple weeks earlier, she posted a few thoughts on Why Fantasy and SF series are the girl everyone wants to date, but no one wants to take home to mother. Now, granted, she was referring to the critical reception of series sci-fi/fantasy vs stand-alone books, but I think her question should be expanded to the entire genre. Her post reminded of this quote from Nick Hornby in the Believer:
Even buying Iain M. Banks’s Excession was excruciating. Queuing up behind me at the cash desk was a very attractive young woman clutching some kind of groovy art magazine, and I felt obscurely compelled to tell her that the reason I was buying this purple book with a spacecraft on the cover was because of the Believer, and the Believer was every bit as groovy as her art magazine.
There’s the challenge, book publishers. Produce science fiction covers that won’t ruin Nick Hornby’s chances of getting laid.