Not everyone realizes it, but most of the time, the publisher has the final say on both a book’s title and on its cover art. When my first book, Nassau, was published, I found this out the hard way. Nassau is about blockade running between the south and the Bahamas during the Civil War, so I expected a rousing picture of a Civil War era sidewheeler cutting through the waves. This was well into the age of steam, and blockade runners were usually sleek sidewheelers that could outrun the sail assisted Union warships.
Instead, the cover showed what looked like a fully rigged clipper ship, a type that was seldom if ever used for blockade running. In the background was what looked like a science fiction city, or possibly a World’s Fair, complete with high rises, domes and towers. In addition, a closer inspection revealed a speed boat in the middle distance. All the picture needed was a few airplanes. On the back cover was the silhouette of a tall ship; no sidewheels; no smokestacks. In the 1860s, Nassau was a town of mostly one and two story wood buildings. Only the occasional church steeple got above two stories.
I contacted the publisher and made my concerns known. A week or so later, a revised cover appeared. The city of tomorrow had been replaced by a series of smudgy looking islands. The speedboat was gone, and the clipper ship now had a smokestack added amidships. Not the best solution, but not a screaming anacronism either. The silhouette on the back cover, however, now sported rows of oars on each side! Despairing of ever getting the silhouette right, I asked them to lose it, which they did. So here is the final cover. All things considered, it’s not bad. What do you think?