Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Works Blogfest

LTUE's annual contest is taking it to the next level in 2014: it's going to publish the winners in the newly-created Sibyl's Scriptorium! To celebrate and to get everyone writing and drawing their submissions in time to have them polished up for the submission deadline, we're having a blogfest!

Because one of the three LTUE contests is for illustrators, I'm blogging about what draws me to a great SFF illustration.

Now, I'm not an illustrator, and my stick figures tend to look more like ants than people, but even I can appreciate the covers of Brandon Sanderson's newest epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archives.

The Way of Kings came out in 2010 and I immediately loved the cover art.

The thing that's so great about this is that, in one picture, you get a sense of adventure, heroism, war, and that the landscape and the weather will be very important in the book. I'm sure someone with a better knowledge of illustration could tell you why it works so well, but, for me, I can't ever concentrate long enough on one spot to really take it in. My eyes want to keep wandering from the swirling clouds to the flag, soldier, spear, landscape, lightning, and back up to the clouds. The intriguing figure on the distant peak is shrouded in mystery, but not quite as fascinating as the rest.

Words of Radiance

The cover for the second book, Words of Radiance, was released at the end of July and it is just as awesome. Do yourself a favor and read the article by artist Michael Whalen, on This cover shows something interesting happening in the skies which will excite anyone waiting eagerly for the book to come out, but the most interesting elements are the characters. Kaladin, of course, is on the front cover, holding his spear and looking poised for action. Then, ominously, we have Szeth in the background on his pile o'bodies, looking very threateningly at Kaladin. If you've read Way of Kings, this scene can't help but excite the same feelings we experienced when we put the first book down: terror, pity, giddy glee at the thought of the coming battle, and a sense that something much, much bigger than either of these two is going to crash down on them both.

Do you judge books by their covers? Do you think that's fair or just to be expected?

Also see my blog post about what I like in a short story on the brand-spanking new Sibyl's Scriptorium blog.


  1. *shivers* I loved WoK and can't wait for this new book. Interesting that Kaladin is on the front since Brandon said this next book is really Shallan's story.

  2. Everyone judges books by their covers. With the advent of the e-book, covers are more important than ever. Prior to this, you had slightly more to base a book on than the cover. The book had heft to it. It was a big book, or a small book. You read the cover blurb, the reviews on the back, etc.

    Now, all you see is the cover art. If the cover art isn't appealing, you are less likely to select it to read the cover blurb, you have no idea how long it is, what it's about, if it was reviewed, or anything else. If you don't know the author and the art is bad, the book doesn't sell.

    I've read fantastic books by indie authors who are absolute nobody's in the industry. They can't seem to sell their books regardless of the quality. Everyone of them have substandard, boring, unappealing cover art.

    1. So true--the cover art is one of the main selling points, these days.