The Success of Steve Stone and Stephen King
Despite common wisdom, you really should judge a book by its cover. The final cover for a book is the end result of artistic collaborations that often stretch over the course of years. They’re designed to catch your attention and be a fair representation of what’s inside the book, giving a taste of the story inside those pages. You’re expected to judge a book by its cover and the artists who create them know that. They made those covers for you. “What I do as a cover artist is a distilling process,” explains Steve Stone, no stranger to book covers himself. “You have to boil this down to a single note, or a single tone.” About 10 years ago, Steve got the call to work on a few Stephen King novel covers, but as time has gone he’s become a go-to for the author and his publishers to deliver those stories to the masses, perhaps most notably the celebrated Dark Tower series. Most recently, Steve completed the cover for ‘The Wind Through the Keyhole,” to some notable acclaim.
King described the success of Steven’s latest cover as “rare” but this rare, succesful pairing is no mistake. “There’s always a dark underbelly to what I do,” Steven explains. “There’s a melancholy, and I think probably that speaks to those books because they’re quite dark… Maybe there’s something of the dark psyche that are in the illustrations that connects with what King wanted to see for these. But obviously, ultimately, that’s a question for Stephen King, isn’t it?” Whatever it is that keeps the King camp coming back to Steven, he’s happy to continue providing them with more and more covers, making his own contribution to the expansive King library of work.
For lesser known authors, book covers require a complex balance of setting expectations for readers, while trying to move paper; the publisher needs help selling a lot of books. But for Stephen King that isn’t necessarily a required consideration. “Ultimately what sells a book cover with Stephen King’s name on it is the name itself, so what I’m trying to do distill that world,” explains Steven. King’s name recognition means that the final word on the books’ covers can be about creating something amazing rather than worrying about sales figures. It gives both King and Steven the freedom to go in a direction that is both artistically satisfying and honest to the readers. “It was just an absolute pleasure to work on these,” Steven says. “They are phenomenal books.”