The Bulgarian cover for Rhythm of War is the result of a contest. Despite how great Michael Whelan's covers are, would you ever consider such a contest for an American Stormlight Archive edition? If not Stormlight, maybe any other series?
It would be very hard for me to not have a Michael Whelan cover (you guys know me and Michael Whelan stuff) for Stormlight Archive.
For anything else, I could imagine that happening. Thing about it is that, in a market as big as the United States, it seems like it would be a tougher sell, both to the marketing market. And to an extent, it's a little bit... not "insulting," but imagine being an artist who's worked their whole life, and then we're like, "Yeah, we're gonna open this to a contest to people, instead." Just doesn't work the same way. So, I would be hard-pressed to imagine that happening in the States. There are so many fantastic illustrators earning their livings doing these covers, that asking people to submit free covers?
It works in Bulgaria because they have a very small print run. They are a small country. They do a thousand copies of a lot of the things. And they engage the fan community, and I think it's wonderful, and I think it's delightful what they did. And I was fully approving it. But it just doesn't feel like the right thing to do here. Where we have a huge budget, right? Like, that's the difference. In Bulgaria, they can't pay very much for a cover. I mean, they don't pay me very much for the books. That's okay. But here, we have an actual art budget. And that's what employs professional artists, a lot of them; that's where they earn a living.