Terry Goodkind—best known for The Sword of Truth series—has publicly apologized after posting scathing criticism of the cover art for his latest book, Shroud of Eternity. The author eventually laid the blame on his publisher, Tor Books, but the artist who created the cover says it’s not good enough.
Goodkind recently wrote a post on Facebook calling his latest fantasy novel, “a great book with a very bad cover. Laughably bad.” In the post, Goodkind invited his readers to share their thoughts about the cover in a poll (which currently has almost 14,000 responses), saying he’d pick 10 random commenters to receive a signed copy.
Part of the Sister of Darkness: The Nicci Chronicles series, the cover art Goodkind criticized shares a similar look to the series debut, Death’s Mistress—no surprise, as they both share the same artist, Bastien Lecouffe Deharme. He’s a notable artist known for his work on Magic: The Gathering, but he’s also created book covers for several publishing houses, including Tor Books, Random House, Del Rey, and Orbit Books. Deharme said he was shocked when he found out what Goodkind had said about his latest work.
“[A friend] sent me a message that I found in the morning when I woke up, telling me that Terry Goodkind was using bad words to describe my artwork,” Deharme told io9. “I am a very confident person. I have had a long career, long enough for me to be able to take that... but this behavior is just not acceptable. Not only for me, but for all the artists that could be in the same situation.”
“I can take that, it’s no problem,” he added. “[But] if this happened to me five years ago, I think this would have destroyed me.”
After Goodkind posted his criticism of Shroud of Eternity’s artwork, Deharme responded to the post, sharing his frustration at the author’s behavior and garnering the support of notable authors and artists like Chuck Wendig and Leesha Hannigan. Goodkind has since apologized on Facebook—though he purposefully kept up the original post and poll “for the sake of the contest.” In his post, he said he wasn’t upset at Deharme, but rather the publisher, Tor Books, who reportedly didn’t send him the artwork until right before it went to print:
I was sent the cover art shortly before publication. We all expressed our dissatisfaction with the character representation of the artwork and we protested the printing. We were overruled and the book went to print as-is. Sometimes that happens. It stings to see a publisher not always seem to care as much as we do... The intention of our contest was to instead encourage my publisher to devote more thoughtful consideration with the artwork they wrap around my books.
This does point to an existing issue between authors and publishers. There are times when cover art fails to meet the expectations of the author or the work itself and warrants correction. For example, Hugo-winning author Nnedi Okorafor asked her publisher to change the cover of her 2007 novel The Shadow Speaker after noticing the main character had been whitewashed. Of course, it’s hard to say what exactly happened between Goodkind and Tor Books during the production of Shroud of Eternity and whether Goodkind is being earnest or shifting blame. io9 reached out to both Tor and Goodkind for comment but have yet to hear back.
Deharme couldn’t comment on what transpired but did say he felt Goodkind is simply projecting onto another target. “I think he just said what he felt obligated to say,” he told us. “He directed the attention away from me and instead [said] that he had a problem with the publisher.”
Goodkind’s Facebook post included an apology to Deharme, but Deharme said the author has yet to reach out and discuss the matter in person. Even still, Deharme said he doesn’t forgive Goodkind and doesn’t plan on working for him again. He added that he was set to create the cover art for the third book in Sister of Darkness: The Nicci Chronicles, but will no longer be doing so.