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Among the Red Stars [resubmit]

Cover aged2

Cover aged2

[Original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

Quite a lot of little tweaks here, most for the better.  Here’s what I’d still have on the to-do list:

  1. Still more contrast to the artwork. Until I can clearly tell in the thumbnail that I’m looking at an airplane, the artwork’s not doing its job. (If you’re hesitant to lighten the foreground airplane further, maybe you could try increasing the red sunset glow behind it to make it stand out.)
  2. Play with the font for the supertitle text — perhaps something serif and period-appropriate.
  3. I’d make it “daring Soviet airwomen.”

Other ideas?

Art and Humor [resubmit – previously Art For the Unwashed Masses]

The author says:

Target audience: Adults and kids who like color and clean humour. I have implemented many of the changes suggested here, as they were very good ideas. I am also considering the following title changes. Again, my objective is to cause a browser to open the book to see if he or she wants to buy it. In your view, will it have this effect? Possible title/subtitle combos include: 1) Title: The ART of the Unwashed Masses Sub: Art and Humour for the common man 2) Title: Art and Humour Sub: A visual Guide to the Curves of Life 3) Title: The ART of the Unwashed Masses Sub: Cautionary tales to guide the common man 4)(current post) Title: Art and Humour Sub: The Illustrated Adventures of a Roving Artist Or any combination of the above. Your thoughts, and new ideas, are much appreciated, Will

Art for the Unwashed Cover1

Art for the Unwashed Cover1

[Original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

That’s the one weak point of this kind of crowdsourced critique: You’ll get differing, and sometimes contradictory advice.  Here’s mine:

I don’t like the title featured here. I know some people had problems with the original title (I was not one of them); I think that this one is far too generic. I also realize that you’re limited in your ability to retitle, as the word “Art” is part of the artwork and you have to work the rest of the title around it.

And your name could be bigger still. Self-publishing is not a venue in which modesty is a virtue!

I’ll leave it to others to debate the options for your new title.

Chinese Education in Singapore: A History of Violence

The author says:

In this short work of history, Zhang tells the story of violence in the Chinese community of the colony. Set between the founding of Singapore and the shuttering of Nanyang University is a colorful story of secret societies and their wars, of Sinitic languages and dialects, and of suppressions by a colonial government in a free port. Its 70-plus pages are not crammed with historical facts and dates but filled with the experiences of Chinese migrants over centuries. It is an impression of their achievements and a witness to their weakness of character.

cover

cover

Nathan says:

So is the book actually about violence? The impression from your summary is more of social conflicts.  That would make a difference as to whether your cover implies more violence or less than it does now (the fist, especially, gives it a “revolutionary” vibe unmentioned in your summary).

Strictly from a visual standpoint, two things: The charcoal background in the bottom half could stand some sprucing up (not a lot, but a subtle decorative border could go far), and the fist being split between two colors confuses the eye and reduced the immediate impact of the image; maybe moving it entirely to the bottom half would be a good idea. (Again, I don’t have a good understanding of how well the fist fits the book; I’m just talking about visual impact.)

I don’t know how much good further advice would be without understanding the book better.

11/05/14 Update: I’ve added the resubmitted cover:

cover2

 

That’s certainly less ambiguous!

My suggestion at this point is that you tone the red down to a richer color, and add something visual to indicate a Chinese connection — perhaps a pattern like this behind the fist:

(Please note that I have no idea what symbols like this may mean — I’m just thinking in terms of design elements.)

Art For the Unwashed Masses

The author says:

A picture book with short humor featuring the artist’s art, writer’s short stories of 50-80 pages.(same guy: me) Cover objective: Make viewers want to own the book. Book objective: Create exposure to, and desire to own, the artist’s work.

Art for the Unwashed Cover

 

Art for the Unwashed Cover

Nathan says:

You’ve certainly got the illustration part down!

I only have three suggestions for the present cover:

1) The way the title is placed, it looks like it reads “For the Art Unwashed Masses.” If you could put “for the” to the lower right of the huge “Art,” it would read more intuitively.

2) My rule of thumb is, “The smaller the type is, the more readable the font should be.”  That subtitle/description is an awful lot of text to wade through in that irregular font.

3) Inflate your name, dude! The byline shouldn’t be the smallest thing on the cover!

Other thoughts?

Two Moon Rebellion [resubmit]

Two Moon

Two Moon

[The original submission and comments are here]

Nathan says:

Much better, but there’s still so much more you can do.

The typeface is still too “gentle” for an interstellar adventure involving space police.  Center it! Make it bold and in-your-face!

The addition of the nebula is a good start, but as it is the two moon and the nebula seem like separate elements thrown onto your cover.  Make the nebula bigger, and put it in the black space behind the two moon, visually connecting everything into a composition.

The texture on the smaller moon looks fine, but it’s a lot more artificial-looking on the big one, and the curve of the moon, doesn’t seem spherical.

Remember: The point of a cover in this genre is to get the reader EXCITED to read your book.  Promise excitement on your cover!

Other comments?

Oak Point [resubmit]

The author says:

Long Island, 1969. Hendrix, incense, light machines, free love. Sophia “Taffy” Kuhn, a foxy ninth-grader, needs a boyfriend. So does her cousin and best friend, Laura “Candy” Essex. Enter Evan Charles, an eighth-grader, the last year for boys at posh Mill Hill School. He thinks Taffy and Candy are out-of-sight, and anticipates carefree years filled with girls, cars, and parties. Then his father drowns in an inch of liquid. Now he has to wing it.
 Next door, Countess Mona von Bismarck, a horse trainer’s daughter from Kentucky, is in a high-stakes legal battle with Evan’s refined mother, president of the planning board, over the development of Mona’s 60-acre estate, Oak Point. The village’s future is at stake. Exploring the semi-abandoned property is Evan’s dangerous pastime. When a night of romance there ends in gunfire, his luck takes an unexpected turn. 

 Paris, 1983. Mona, dying, wants to tell all, to Evan, a fledgling writer. From stable to salon, her many loves of both sexes, and decades-long friendship with Balenciaga. The Countess gives Evan a 75-carat black opal, which allegedly has psychic powers. She used it to become the most beautiful, best-dressed and richest woman in the world. Evan has a loftier goal. Later that year, when Taffy and Candy re-enter Evan’s life, Mona’s black opal proves its worth. OAK POINT is commercial fiction. (Re-submission with tweaked cover!)

OP 5.3

OP 5.3

[Original submission and comments can be seen here]

Nathan says:

You took the advice on separating the byline from the title, and upping the contrast between the type and image; that’s good.  But I still think that your color scheme and your chosen fonts work against you — they give no indication of the setting in time and place (which, from your description, seems like a big part of the novel) or the genre.  I think this cover is going to need more than minor tweaks to serve its purpose.

What says everyone else?

The Mystic Princesses and the Magic Show

The author says:

The Mystic Princesses hear about an oil spill in the Gulf of Alaska. They raise money to help clean the water and wildlife and are treated to a trip to Alaska to help with the clean up efforts. While there, they get to see the Aurora Borealis. The book is written for children aged 5 to 10 years old.

Draft Cover 2014.09.22

Draft Cover 2014.09.22

Nathan says:

I love all the elements. My only advice: Make the title bigger!  Right now it looks hesitant. In fact, the only reason the snowy landscape exists is to have a place to put the title; instead, crop it so the cabin is right in the lower right corner, and boldly splash the title right across the heart aurora!

Anyone else think different?

Two Moon Rebellion

The author says:

A man leaves his planetary defense system in hopes of joining the planet’s police force. What he finds out changes the course of his life and the planet. This is a SciFi novel set on a planet in another galaxy. The target audience would include Star Wars fans.

Two Moon

Two Moon

Nathan says:

I’ll be painfully honest: If I had seen this for sale on Amazon, I’ve have posted it on LousyBookCovers.com. It’s completely underwhelming, especially for a genre as slam-bang as space opera. The font, Times New Roman, is the most common one in the world. The moons are dull and featureless — and the upper one is visibly “stretched,” instead of being spherical.  Even the starscape is boring.

What would I do? I would awesome it up!  Use a mechanical or futuristic font, and then add flares and rivets! Texturize the moons! Add a rainbow nebula to the starscape! (Did you know that every photo on the NASA website is free for public use? They’ve already been paid for with your tax dollars.)

If you don’t feel at all confident in your abilities to use PhotoShop or a similar program to get the results you want, the other option is simple: A quick search for “space opera” on DeviantArt.com gives me over 6,000 results. Find some pre-existing artwork you like (it shouldn’t be hard, as the cover you already tried had very little content that related specifically to you book), message that artist and offer him/her fifty bucks for the use of their art on your book. They might even put in the title and byline for you.

Good luck!

Oak Point

The author says:

OAK POINT is commercial fiction for readers who experienced the sixties, or would have liked to. It is the story of two girls coming of age in 1969, one of whom has an affair with the neighbor of Countess Mona von Bismarck. It also explores the world of French haute couture, especially Balenciaga, and Long Island society as it stood in those free-wheeling days. A “Roman à clef” based on real people and events, the cover is a map of Oak Point, which I grew up next door to in the 50s-60s. Other parts are set in Paris, NYC, & KY.

OP cover 4.4

OP cover 4.4

Nathan says:

I think the main problems are immediately apparent if you look at the thumbnail: The title isn’t very readable, the byline is completely obscured, and the map — which is always an arresting image — barely looks like a map, thanks to the color treatment.

Here’s what I would try:

  • Put the map in “map colors” — either its original color scheme, or a beige-and-coffee color scheme that looks like well-used paper. Overly a texture of crumpled paper (not too strong, and stronger at the edges) to map it look like an honest-to-goodness used map.
  • There’s no design reason to have the title shifted to the left; centering and enlarging it makes it look less like an afterthought.  If the background map is in for-real map colors, the color you have for the title should stand out better, but I’d still look at other fonts — something that does better at evoking either the time or place.  Find some old paperbacks or fashion magazines from 1969 for ideas.
  • Separate “A Novel” from the rest of the byline.  Put “A Novel” under the title, and your name someplace separate like at the bottom.  You can then increase the size of your name, making it more readable. I’d play with the font here, too, to give it some of the flavor of your setting. (Those fonts are especially important on your cover because, without cues given by the fonts, the old map might make it look like a pirate adventure.)

I get the suspicion that, even once those changes are made, the cover will still want something else, but I’m not foresightful enough to know what that would be.

Other ideas?

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