The manuscript is not all-im­por­tant

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Sketchbook -

Some of the il­lus­tra­tors we spoke to in­sist on read­ing the manuscript when­ever they can. How­ever, it’s not as im­por­tant as you might think. Of­ten cov­ers are com­mis­sioned be­fore the book’s been writ­ten. Rather than re­ly­ing on the manuscript, fo­cus on the notes in the com­mis­sion.

Good pub­lish­ers usu­ally have a process that goes on be­hind the scenes to help pro­duce the brief you re­ceive. “For each ti­tle I ask an edi­tor to fill out a cover con­cept memo,” says Irene Gallo, art direc­tor at Tor.

“I ask for plot, set­ting, char­ac­ter de­scrip­tions, com­par­i­son ti­tles and a spe­cific scene if they have one in mind. I’m look­ing for a start­ing place to begin think­ing about the book. I’ll use that to go back to the edi­tor and ask them ques­tions, make sug­ges­tions, and we hone it down. I’ll then send a highly re­vised ver­sion of that memo to the artists.”

Dave See­ley is one of the artists Tor com­mis­sions. He says: “Of­ten I get a script and an art direc­tor asks me to pitch some­thing af­ter I’ve read it. Some­times there’s no manuscript, and I’m work­ing from a para­graph syn­op­sis. Even when a manuscript is avail­able, some­times clients know ex­actly what they want right down to ex­pres­sions on char­ac­ters’ faces, celebri­ties the char­ac­ters re­sem­ble, and de­tails of cos­tumes and set­tings.

“There are times when th­ese con­straints can lead to a ‘yes’ more quickly, and don’t pre­clude an in­ter­est­ing ap­proach. And there are times when a ver­bal de­scrip­tion isn’t phys­i­cally pos­si­ble to ex­e­cute. The only way to suc­cess at that point is to show the au­thor some­thing they love, and all else is forgotten.”

Luke Sky­walker and the Sh adow of Min­dor

“Show them some­thing that they love, and all else is forgotten,” says Dave See­ley, on col­lab­o­rat­ing with au­thors.

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