"Evolution" of a Book Cover

Bar patrons, what's wrong with this scenario?

The US versions:

The British version:


  1. The sad part: I'm just glad they didn't replace the protagonist with a white model.

    Because that shit happens ALL THE TIME.

    I like the second cover the best myself.

    1. You took all the words right out of my mouth.

    2. yeah I was totally expecting a white girl in a princess dress to be on the last cover.

    3. *dead* You were wrong for that.

  2. Oh, you mean the steady Negrasure of the book's protagonist from the cover? Gotta make the book marketable to the mainstream, y'know!

  3. Can I just point out that the 4th Cover is the British cover which, like most British SF and Fantasy covers, is non-representational. It's hard for me to tell from 6,000 km away but from what Here is my reconstruction of events as I have managed to reconstruct them - I may have some of the details wrong.

    My original US Editor, having established the basic cover design principle with the cover design committee (or whatever the fuck it's called), dispatched minions to find a model to play Peter Grant on the covers.

    Now I can't be certain as to the ethnicity of these minions but I suspect they were white and being white were paralysed by the fact that are precisely two, count them, two, positive stereotypes for young black (or mixed race) men.

    The SCARY BLACK MAN (Christopher Judge, Brook Avery et al) or MOTOR MOUTH COMIC RELIEF (starting with Stepin Fetchit and going downhill from there).

    I think we can agree that they went for SCARY BLACK MAN (it's even more obvious in the cover for Moon Over Soho) an entirely inappropriate choice for Peter Grant who is rangy, built like a medium distance runner (ie: President Obama which was why the fucking line was in there in the first place) and while he has his hair cut short he does not shave his head. He also has a neck which that model most definitely does not.

    And don't get me started on what he's wearing, or the carriage lamp, or the gun (which isn't even the right kind of gun if he was to carry a gun).

    The Editor didn't like the model either but the cover budget had been spent and so the fateful decision to silhouette the figure was taken at the last minute. I only found out about that when they sent me my author's copies.

    The covers were to me a deep personal and professional embarrassment which is why I've been sending out British copies to reviewers despite the expense. The books have also sold very badly in the US and I blame the covers a great deal for that.

    When I Del Rey mooted a change in cover I thought they might do the job properly but they chose to buy in the British covers instead. I can see their point, these covers have been very successful in the UK, but I still would have liked a good representation of Peter Grant doing something cool.

    1. You stopped by!!! Thanks for the info!

      What's the explanation behind the British cover, and why the two different titles?

    2. The book is published by two different publishers - Del Rey (Random House) in the US and Gollancz (Orion Books) in the UK. (Actually there are separate German and French publishers with their own covers as well).

      Gollancz went with the original title 'Rivers of London' and developed a cover in the normal way. I think it's a brilliant cover, by the way, especially the use of Stephan Walters art work (the strange map of London) as a unifying background.

      The majority of Gollancz books have non-representational covers eg:

      So the design was in line with practice.

      Del Rey didn't like the title Rivers of London, I think they were worried people would think it was a book about the actual Rivers of London. There was a lot of toing and froing and finally the editor settled on Midnight Riot.

      They went with the cover as detailed in my earlier reply.


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