I think I know the answer to this, and my guess is "No", but I don't have a definitive reason what that guess is.

When you see on the cover of a book, not from a newspaper or reviewer, but from another author, something like:

"Gene Wolfe is so good he leaves me speechless."

- Ursula Leguin

Did she get paid for this, did she write this somewhere in a public forum, or was it just a verbal quote taken down.

This is a question about novels in general, but applies to SF & Fantasy as well.

  • 3
    I doubt the answer will be specific to SF/fantasy, so you're likely to get a better answer on writers.stackexchange.com.
    – Tony Meyer
    Feb 20, 2011 at 9:30
  • i got an answer from an authoritative source, a publisher at SF publishing house TOR. This is commonplace in SF/F books, though it also of course occurs outside of SF/F. There is an accepted answer so please don't close.
    – benstraw
    Feb 21, 2011 at 21:24

2 Answers 2


As Mike Scott says above, publishers and editors solicit favorable quotes from popular authors of work broadly similar to the book at hand. But that's not where all those quotes on book covers come from. Some are simply quotes from things authors have said in other public venues, like in the course of a review.

For instance, there's a quote from Stephen King lauding the science fiction writer Robert Charles Wilson; I've put it on the cover of several of Wilson's books. It's actually from an installment of King's column in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, where he was listing some of his favorite things in various categories; Wilson is his favorite SF writer, and he explained why. We never asked King's permission to quote from him, and he's never objected--our one-line quotation doesn't misrepresent King's opinion and presumably he's happy to stand by it.

  • thanks, your real world example provided the proof for Mike Scott's answer, he was in 12 hours earlier though so I accepted his answer.
    – benstraw
    Feb 21, 2011 at 2:00

Publishers send advance reading copies of books to other authors asking for their quotes. They're generally happy to provide favourable quotes, having benefitted from this practice themselves. No money changes hands.

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