Maybe you can't judge a book by its cover, but you can sure sell some that way. I've never had much to do with cover art--my last book, Muse of Fire, is on its second cover, which I rather prefer to the first one--so it took me a little by surprise when I was asked for my thoughts on it for Vale of Stars. Oh, I had images in my mind from the piece, no doubt--but which one to use as a cover?
Questions such as "should a cover represent the novel as a whole?" and "how close to the real action should a cover be?" and even "should a cover try not to reveal too much about the story?" came to mind. I admit, my first thoughts on cover were not particularly inspiring. A static shot of the colony ship hovering over the planet? The novel is about people, not spaceships, so having an unpopulated cover wasn't appealing.
One of the editors suggested the final scene as cover. I hadn't ever considered that--not because I didn't want to ruin the story, but simply because I never thought of the final scene as a capstone to the novel. I saw the novel more about a process and a journey, one which never ends, so I guess the "final scene" didn't feel like one to me.
The more I thought, though, the more I could see the final scene as one a potential reader might want to explore. "How does the story get to this picture?" was a question I could see a reader asking.
In the end, I believe the publisher is going to go with that scene. Part of me wants to be surprised, though, by what the artists comes up with. There is an excitement to seeing someone draw your words. I am curious to see how the artist interprets the story. I suppose this is how big-name authors must feel when they see a film being made from their work.
Be seeing you!