Before commenting, PLEASE read the commenting rules. It will make us both happier, you and me. Especially me.

3 Days of Grace

The author says:

Shortly after moving to Prague, Grace is attacked by a werewolf and has now 3 days to decide if she wants to go through with the transformation or not. The intended audience is more or less young adult with a sense of humor. I would especially appreciate feedback about the typography.

Big-Cover

Big-Cover

Nathan says:

[looks at description]

[looks at cover]

[looks at description]

Are you sure this is the cover to that book?

I mean, I know I’m not the target audience for a YA werewolf novel, but I’m pretty sure that a werewolf novel should give some indication of it being a werewolf novel… or at least not look like it’s something completely other than a werewolf novel.

All we’ve got is an Old World cityscape. That’s not indicative of genre, readership, or anything else that would allow a potential reader to identify him/herself as the target audience.

And the typography, as especially requested, is awfully gentle. Even if this isn’t a slam-bang werewolf action novel, it still seems gentler than is warranted.  Between the flowing script and the words “3 Days” and “Grace” in the title, I would assume that it’s a Christian drama at first glance.

(And “RSPOB Series?” That’s an entirely uninformative series name — once again, it’s not telling the reader anything about the novel. And given that this is the first entry in the series, it’s not like you can count on name recognition to bring in the returning readers.)

I think this is definitely a case of a bad initial concept… or maybe even no initial concept.  You need to sit down and think, “What would catch the eye and the mind of my target reader?  How would I use that half-second of attention before they move on to the book sitting next to mine to tell them that, yes, this IS a book that will interest them?”

Good luck.

Any other comments?

Tyr

The author says:

TYR is a space fantasy (part one in a series) that follows Kai Brecken. It’s set in an undefined ‘future’ and takes place partly on a planet (Egeria) and partly on a spaceship. The target audience is lovers of sci-fi/fantasy/Vin Diesel. Thank you in advance!

COVERPLAY2

COVERPLAY2

Nathan says:

No glaring problems that I can see.  Let’s go to fine-tuning!

  1. While the star-scape is visible at full size, in the thumbnail it just blends into a gray texture.  I’d suggest adding some extra stars the look like stars even from a thumbnail.
  2. I don’t think your byline needs to be so small.  I also don’t think that a typewriter font is the the right font for this cover.
  3. Back cover: The planet that takes up half the cover really doesn’t need all the focus; it would be better as background. Don’t you have a bio note, or a blurb, or a publisher logo that you could use to fill in that shadow-side?

Other comments?

Rock the Boat [resubmit]

The author says:

ROCK THE BOAT is an erotic romance or maybe a (romantic thriller I’m really not sure) set in current day America. A simple love affair becomes complicated when a soldier shares his new wife with his best friend. Parental disapproval escalates to lies and manipulation. A man with an obsession, a kidnapped spouse, and a murder, change a happy home into a nightmare. One that might be fixed by choosing the right man. this is my third attempt at a cover. I’m going for a hint of sex in a thriller vibe. The covers for erotica books are not at all the ‘feel’ for my story. Mine has very little actual erotica in it.Sorry I’m not clearer, I’m confused myself on my genre.

rtb4.JPG

rtb4.JPG

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

If this isn’t erotic, then you are going to have a lot of readers angry at you for the bait-and-switch, because that definitely ain’t a “hint of sex in a thriller” vibe.  That’s a bikini babe.

The most important role of a cover is to attract the kind of readers who would enjoy the book.  That means you need to know who your target audience is.  Then you need to figure out which other books those same readers would like, and use the covers of those books to learn how those readers are accustomed to being marketed to.

Until then, you’re just throwing random things into PhotoShop.

Black Book

The author says:

A lightning fast action packed sci-fi thriller for fans of Stephen King’s Dark Tower and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. Sheriff Jack is an elite soldier from the future, trapped in the Wild West. He must find and protect the sacred Black Book before someone or something else does. The clock is already ticking for humankind, but for Jack the countdown has only just begun.

x

x

Nathan says:

Hmm.

Obviously, the most important component of the covers of the books that you cite are the huge letters proclaiming “Stephen King” or “Lee Child.”  You can’t really go that way.

And I’m going to assume that this is a quick sketch version of the design concept, so I shouldn’t worry about things like how the title doesn’t line up with the byline, or how the cowboy silhouette is artifacted against the moon.

A common observation around here is that red text against a black background is surprisingly unreadable. Your byline is in orange so it’s not as bad, but in the thumbnail it still becomes a smear.

For the rest… I’m of two minds, so I’m going to have to defer to the hivemind instead.  Does the minimalist approach work? Could it work, even if this one might not?

Input Wanted: After-the-Fact Procedures

Hi y’all,

Wanted your input on this.  A particular author, who has had both an original cover and a resubmit featured on here, now wants me to redact the title from the post so that it won’t interfere with her search engine optimization. (Her original response was that I remove the posts entirely, but I pointed out that part of the purpose of CoverCritics.com is to allow other indie publishers to learn from the examples and discussion here.)

What do you think?  Should I be open to that kind of after-the-fact revision?

Dead Line [resubmit]

The author says:

Dead Line is a time travel adventure, set in the current day and in the 1860s/1870s. The locale is Arizona, Tucson and its surrounds. It is intended for adult readers. Jon Hansen, a modern grad student of history, finds an old tintype photograph of an outlaw, Tom Dorin, who could have been his own brother, or even his twin. The only facts known about the man in the photo is his name, that he was a Confederate veteran of the Civil War, and the date he was hanged: March 13th, 1874. Intrigued, Jon decides to make Tom the focus of his thesis paper. His research slides into obsession, until he’s in danger of losing his relationships, his scholarship, and perhaps even his mind. Until the morning when Jon wakes up in a strange room, with a 19th century world outside the window. Everyone he encounters calls him Tom. Now, his scholastic deadline has become a very real dead line… For despite all his diligent searching, one fact about Tom Dorin’s life remains a mystery. On March 1th, 1874, WHY will Tom Dorin hang?

Cover6jpg

Cover6jpg

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

I like the idea behind this cover a lot better. (I should, because it pretty much follows my suggestions from the first submission. :))

I think this also illustrates the utility, if not the absolute necessity, of having a second designer for ideas and tweaks.

If I were handed this cover in PhotoShop and told to play with it, I’d experiment with the typeface (is there too much detail in it?).  I’d play with washing out the sepia further, to isolate the main character more.  And because he’s isolated by color, I’d experiment with making the figure larger or smaller.

I don’t know which of these options I’d choose; I’m very much a design putterer, especially when I get to final details.  So all I can tell you concretely is that this cover is better, but it could be better yet.

Anyone else have suggestions?

Control

The author says:

Synopsis: When one door closes another opens. An adage painfully true for Alexandria Shaw, who is invited to an exclusive club for a night of fun, but after meeting Landon Miller, she is left with a heart-pounding night that leads to a world of danger and a web of deceit. The novel is a mystery/suspense setting in current day.

Control

Control

Nathan says:

If an author sent this to me as a concept, here’s what I’d do:

  • Make the title bolder. “CONTROL” demands a more commanding font treatment.
  • Make the byline bigger across the bottom. (I’d probably also switch out that Trajanesque font.)
  • Add a grungy color shadow to the black.

Other suggestions?

Rock the Boat

The author says:

ROCK THE BOAT is an erotic romance set in current day America. A simple love affair becomes complicated when a soldier shares his new wife with his best friend. Parental disapproval escalates to lies and manipulation. A man with an obsession, a kidnapped spouse, and a murder, change a happy home into a nightmare. One that might be fixed by choosing the right man.

RTB good cover.JPG

RTB good cover.JPG

Nathan says:

I will readily admit that I’m not the target audience, but in my perusal of book covers in all genres, I’d noticed this distinction:

  • Soft romances usually have soft color schemes, airy or pastel.
  • Erotic romances usually have deeper color schemes — darker shadows, more saturated colors.

Your description says “erotic romance,” but the color scheme doesn’t support that.  That’s the first change I’d make.

But then: I don’t think the transparent overlay of the soldiers works, I don’t think the placement of the title works, and I DEFINITELY don’t think the “Word Art” warping of the title works.

I’ll give you the advice I give often: Look up the books on Amazon that you would expect to see in the same armload of books as yours.  Look at their covers.  Taylor yours so that all the signifiers are there to tell your potential readers that, if they liked those other books, they’d like yours.

Good luck.

Hallowed Souls

The author says:

The first of a series of high-fantasy books with more of an emphasis on historical fiction. There are multiple characters and multiple plots in the story all tied together under a single plot involving an economically stagnant country on the losing side of a war set in a world greatly influenced by Medieval Europe and East Asia.

Synopsis: War rages on as various kingdoms struggle to gain power and maintain their freedom. From the shores of the Grey Sea to the mountains of Cosca, chaos reigns. It is a tale of murder, rape and war. Here a peasant girl masquerades as a princess; a deposed king schemes to regain his throne; and fierce pagans strive to regain their freedom. As opposing forces scheme and plot to gain power, a strange sickness blows in from the mysterious east and ravages the land. Not even Spenta can save them as everyone, from fools to sages, realize that even the most hallowed of souls can do nothing.

hallowedsoulscoverdraft1

hallowedsoulscoverdraft1

Nathan says:

It’s well-executed art, and I don’t know how much of a draw it will be for readers.  In thumbnail, all I can see is “blue” (and maybe “tree”).  At the larger size, while I can see the human figures, I have to hunt for them, and I can’t make out enough detail to tell setting or genre from their clothes.  Couple that with a font that is the epitome of “generic,” and you’ve got a cover that tells the reader as little as it can.

Is the original artwork that intensely blue?  If not, I would scale that waaaay back, and let other colors at least give a penumbra of a palette.  Also, you could trim the artwork so that the characters are larger and more central (the only thing you’d lose would be some trees and sky).  Then find a font and font treatment that helps convey the fantasy genre (not Algerian!), as the artwork still probably wouldn’t be able to do all the heaving lifting in that regard.

Other ideas?

Vandal Valkyrie [resubmit]

The author says:

Changes include overlaying text directly onto the background image and adding a drop shadow. A less ornate typeface is used (actually the same font, but there is a world of difference between the all-caps and lower case for this font).

A dark fantasy and cosmic horror novel, book 1 in a series. The main characters quest to bring justice to the dread lord of an evil nation. But all of their actions are orchestrated by titanic forces that move in the shadows of history, seeking terrible ends that these mortal pawns cannot begin to imagine or oppose.

The art is a sketch by Alex Ruiz at Conceptmonster.net used with permission, my role was in colorizing and formatting it as a cover.

Vandal Valkyrie Cover

Vandal Valkyrie Cover

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

Getting there. Still not there yet.

Remember that the purpose of type on a cover is, first and foremost, to be read. Against a busy dark background, your title especially needs to stand out and be understood.  That means bolder, thicker letters, and more dynamic contrast between the type and the art.

Let’s say you’re browsing Amazon, and these two thumbnails are at the bottom of the page.  Which one is going to catch YOUR eye?

Vandal Valkyrie Cover        Vandal-Valkyrie-Cover-modded

(That’s my five-minute do-over, just grabbing a font that was convenient and futzing with the art.  Not the best font, not the best layout, but you get the idea.)

Any other comments?

Contact Form Powered By : XYZScripts.com