Why Does Cover Art Change?



The original artwork for a book cover, however awesome it may be, is sometimes scrapped before the book hits stores. There are a number of reasons for this.



In the case of THE EMERALD TABLET, by our own P. J. Hoover. a time crunch required the publisher to come up with a temporary cover for the advance reader’s copy. The ARC cover was never meant to be permanent and so the original artwork was later swapped for a photographic cover before the book was sold in stores.

The cover for THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES (HarperCollins/Greenwillow), by Jody Feldman, was a bit trickier. The novel is about a boy who competes in a contest surrounding the Golly Toy & Game Company. The ARC featured an enchanting cover illustrated by John Rocco. Feldman says, “It depicted the most visually exciting scene in the book, a team competition set inside an overgrown warehouse crammed with random items. When people saw it, they most often commented how much it resembled, in tone, Harry Potter covers.”

Advance Reader's Copy

Advance Reader's Copy

In the end, the lovely cover had to be changed. Feldman: “There was a faction that felt my cover could be interpreted as carnival-like and didn’t capture the true excitement, action and flavor of the book. That faction was very persuasive. My editor called to explain the situation, but told me the choice was ultimately mine. While a new cover would push my release date back a month, it would also increase my opportunities for face-out exposure within bookstores. We all felt this was the smartest way to go.”

Feldman loved the “bright new colors and graphic feel” even though it was such a big change, and in the end she recognized how much the new cover would pop on bookshelves.”



It all changed again, though, with the paperback cover. “My publishing team felt we might have missed capturing the attention of some readers who would have been attracted to the fantasy feel of the original cover. (Even though The Gollywhopper Games is not a fantasy, it does have a fantastical element to it.)”

The paperback is almost a hybrid design (done by Brandon Dorman), with the bright colors of the hardback image but the whimsy of the original, ARC image. Feldman shows all three images to students during school visits. She says, “If recent student reaction is any indication, this new cover should work out just fine.”



For a whole lot more “Cover Stories” check out Melissa Walker’s blog, where you can find out how this stock photograph


became this cover for SEA CHANGE by Aimee Friedman.


To see the process for creating a book cover in detail, check out Mishaps and Adventures for the scoop on how this sketch


became this book cover for THE UNKNOWNS by Benedict Carey.

cheryliconParker Peevyhouse is curious about book covers

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Filed under Parker Peevyhouse

8 responses to “Why Does Cover Art Change?

  1. An interesting side effect of those “stock” photos is I’ve noticed some book covers look almost identical to others. I guess the publishers save money that way but dilutes the freshness, I think.

  2. “the choice was ultimately mine” for Jody?? Wow, I have NEVER heard that in reference to book covers and authors before. I’m not sure I’d want to feel quite that responsible, but I often wish I had a bit more say than I do (which is essentially zero).

    Cool post. Covers are great fun.

    • Jody Feldman

      While I was asked what I wanted to do, I have a feeling if I’d said to keep the original cover, a long discussion may have followed. I was happy, though, to defer to their opinion, especially because they have decades of combined experience, and this was my first novel.

  3. Way cool, Parker. I love seeing stock photos become covers. And like Tricia (above) said, it is amusing when covers look alike due to this.

  4. Parker Peevyhouse

    I was actually thinking of doing a post on YA book covers that use the same stock photos. There have been a lot recently.

  5. My cover for DEAD GIRL WALKING changed, too. The original continues to stay on Amazon (to my annoyance) but other sites have the improved cover. I suspect that pre-orders for DGW were lower due to the first cover going out in the catalog, and I just hope that improves with the August 1st release of DEAD GIRL IN LOVE — which has the best cover!

    Linda Joy Singleton, currently writing about magic and wands

  6. I loved the GollyWhopper Games. I liked the cover the HC but I don’t think it attracted customers. I put a blurb under the book and faced it out but didn’t get many takers. I think the ARC cover would have worked better. Even if young readers confused it will a carnival, it looks like fun and they may have picked it up. I am not feeling the QP cover, its a little too busy with color.

    • Jody Feldman

      It’s funny, Doret. I’ve heard your story. And I’ve heard the opposite, with some stores thinking the HC cover worked well. I’m just happy that at least some people have discovered it. And thanks for your kind words.

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