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The Fruit of Passion

The author says:

I designed this cover for my mythic fantasy novel. It’s not ready to be published. I’m just playing around with various concepts. The book draws heavily on ancient Celtic tradition and the story unfolds in a fictional island somewhere in the North.

Here’s the blurb: Since the death of her mother, Queen Blodwen of the island of Rumia, Morella has trouble adjusting to the changes in her life and cannot accept her loss. Having to deal partly with her own suffering because of that, partly with the challenges her people have set for her in order to be crowned queen, partly with a consuming love affair with Rhys, the king of the fae, and partly with driving away the military forces of the empire in the South that has set eyes on the islands of the North, Morella embarks on a quest of knowledge and maturity that will take by storm the realms of the Otherworld, offer her strong alliances with their leaders, test loyalties and friendships and, above all, prove the strength and endurance of the human spirit.

Nathan says:

The first thing you notice in thumbnail is that there’s a whole lot of unused real estate.  Negative space can be a major design element, but it takes a lot of skill to make it work.  There’s no reason that the cup of petals shouldn’t go edge to edge, that the title can’t fill two lines (please, some other font than Algerian), and that the knotwork can’t be behind them.

Also, that’s a big block of text for a front cover. Save that for the back cover (or the top of the Amazon blurb).

Other comments?

Catslay [resubmit #2]

The author says:

In 1985, a witch turns little six-year-old Dana into a cat. Ten years later, he escapes the witch and takes up with a little six-year-old girl whose legal guardians are sexually abusing her. The witch’s curse gave Dana no special powers or abilities whatsoever apart from being a cat with a human mind, but this is more than enough for his purposes; for when horrendous and often fatal “accidents” begin befalling various unsympathetic people and institutions around him and his new owner (starting with her rapacious guardians) who’s ever going to suspect her cat of being the culprit?

As mentioned on previous submissions, the genre is Suburban Horror-Fantasy, but I should probably also add that Horror is its primary genre, the Fantasy premise being of only secondary importance to the story.


[previous submissions and comments here and here]

Nathan says:

You say now that it’s primarily horror, but is that really the case?  Horror stories are usually about the people that things happen to, rather than the people doing things.  If this were truly a horror novel, I’d say to go back to the first cover you submitted as “Catslash” and work from that concept.  However, since it still seems more “urban fantasy thriller” than actual horror…

(BTW, if Dana is turned into a cat, not a kitten, and then the events of the story take place a decade later and he has “no special powers or abilities whatsoever apart from being a cat with a human mind,” we’re talking a pretty old cat here.)

I think you’re missing the boat by having your cover be NOTHING BUT CAT. The story is how this cat protects the little girl, right?  Then have a sad-eyed little girl holding a cat with red eyes.  Put them against a black or murky background, use a title font reminiscent of the horror or revenge-thriller paperbacks of the ’80’s, and you’re good.

Other comments?

 

Bitcoin, Ethereum… Les Cryptomonnaies

The author says:

Explains what cryptocurrencies are, how they fit in our economic system, how to trade them and the risks/rewards involved. This book serves as a introduction to the world of cryptos and technical trading.

Nathan says:

I understand the “pirate treasure” motif you’re going for, but you need to switch your emphasis around.  Books that explain something usually put the title and subtitle big and clear, with any picture accompanying it as a definite sidenote.

The font you’ve chosen for the title and byline… again, I understand what you were going for here, but “angular” doesn’t always connote technology. In this case, it looks like cheap do-it-yourself painted lettering that you see on roadside-stand signage made by people who don’t want to pay for a professional sign (“Fresh Strawberries”).  And the italics font for the subtitle clashes terribly.

My advice: Let the title and subtitle take up at least half of the cover, in a clear but professional font.

And for Pete’s sake, lose that skull.  You don’t want the subtext of the cover to be “Bitcoin will kill us all.

Other comments?

 

Chance for Hope

The author says:

Steamy Suspense Romance – not for kids or teens ‘Vanilla’ man saves D/s woman from attack in dark alley, they become lovers while fending off the revenge of gangsters. They teach other about their type of pleasures while falling in love. First in series of the couple building philanthropic empire against all odds.

Nathan says:

Now, I’m not the target audience (and I have no idea what “D/s” means), so I hope other can corroborate what I say.

You say this is a “steamy suspense romance.”  What I see is a just plain romance.  The steamier subgenre usually puts more of a focus on bodies than on lips (thus giving rise to the “headless torso” phenomenon), and suspense… well, some indication of danger is usually included.

Who are the books that you would expect to see in the arms (or on the Kindle) of the reader who would enjoy your book?  What are the commonalities between those covers?  How is your target reader used to being marketed to?

Enchanted

The author says:

Hi all, need some direction. My book is a fast-paced high fantasy book heavy on the sorcery, (no swordplay) with the world-building of an epic but the feel of an urban fantasy set in an enchanted, no-tech locale starring a father and his young son.

I’m not sure which book covers I should be using for guidance. High fantasy ranges from swords or symbols on the cover (GRRM) to landscapes/strangely lit arches (Wheeler) to characters looking mysterious (His Dark Tidings, etc). Other faster-paced, character-driven tales like the Palace Job or Nicholas Eames’ Kings of the Wyld use an illustrated group of mysterious people standing about looking tough with swords that look like stick figures when shrank down on the Amazon sales page. But there’s no swordplay in here, just lots of magic and enchanted trees. Did I mention this is a work of high Christian fantasy? Not so much book 1 but the rest of the series, yes. So which subgenre should I use as a guide for covers? O_o

The current blurb, which needs rewriting in case my rant above wasn’t enough:

Evil rises in the enchanted forest. One untrained mage and his son must stop it, if they can.

Start No Fires. Carry No Weapons. Do No Harm.

Those three rules safeguarded countless travelers through the enchanted forest—until they didn’t. One boy’s murder ripped open a gateway allowing evil to enter. Now no one is safe from corruption.

Enchanted trees take Sarn to where the forest failed to uphold its rules. Seeing a dead child gifted with the same magic as his son unhinges Sarn. He vows to find out the truth no matter what the cost. But his gift is untrained and finding answers won’t be easy. Sarn must balance nights serving the Rangers with days dedicated to hiding his son from the dark forces stalking them both.

When Sarn’s masters demand he abandon the quest, he faces an impossible choice—doom the ghost whose murder endangers them all or die from the backlash of breaking his word. With the odds stacked against him, can Sarn fix anything or will all be lost?

Nathan says:

I think the biggest problem is that the way the (completely modern-looking, BTW) father and son’s silhouette is shown makes it look like this is a story about things being done to them (usually the premise of a contemporary suspense novel) than them doing things.  I think a father/son high fantasy is novel enough that that’s what you need to play up here.

Other comments?

Witchy Wickedness [resubmit]

The author says:

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Designed by SwoonWorthy Book Covers
About: Ravenwood, California isn’t like other coastal towns. It’s a mystical place built over a gateway into Hell, with some extremely unusual residents. And Shiloh Trudell isn’t like other girls—she’s a teen witch who can sense the things that go bump in the night.



[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

Some advice taken, some not. I don’t consider myself 100% infallible in these things, but I think this is a case where the advice taken improved the cover and the advice not taken didn’t.

  • At least she’s hold a recognizable object now!  (Not to nitpick, but she looks like she’s holding it curled in her fingers, instead of back against her palm and the ball of her thumb.)
  • Byline bigger: Good. Title smaller: Bad.
  • The glow still looks more artificial than magical.

Other comments?

Stasis [resubmit]

The author says:

This is an updated cover concept I’m re-submitting for comment, based on several much-appreciated comments from the group. Because the new concept is such a diversion from the previous, I hope you’ll consider it in that light. As for the book, it’s a sci-fi novel targeted at adults. The story begins 50 years in the future as the protagonist and her husband travel to an exclusive resort on the Moon. A bioterrorist attack leaves most of the guests and staff infected with only days to live. The heroine goes into stasis to try and survive long enough until a cure can be found. She’s in and out of stasis for the next 200 years until the day arrives when she can take matters into her own hands.

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

It’s a much more solid design than your first attempt. My two biggest comments are:

  1. Up the sci-fi factor — whether with the font, or adding an instrument panel, or something.
  2. There’s no need for the byline to be crowded into where it is, at the size that it is, when you’ve got all that empty real estate at the bottom.

Other comments?

Alone

The author says:

This book is about a girl who wakes up with amnesia. She has to figure out who she is and why she feels like someone is after her. It is YA and will have paranormal and suspense elements. Cover is not finalised.

Nathan says:

Give that you can’t tell us anything about the protagonist — what can you tell (and show) about the setting?  Is it a high school in suburbia?  The Old West? Thailand? The moon?  You really ought to give us some indication of the one thing you can tell us about.

Despite the fact that albinos are unsettling to some, I don’t see a lot of suspense or mystery here.  What if her eyes were closed? Or blank? Or black?  Or just plain not there?  I’m spitballing here, but there’s got to be a way to show an absence here, which is one way to describe the story.

(Also, the title font isn’t very suspenseful; it seems more appropriate to a coming-of-age drama.)

Other comments?

The Legend of El Toro

The author says:

My book’s a comedic western. A con-man, who can’t shoot the ground with gravity’s assistance, stumbles into the life of a gunfighter. Figuring to make a living faking the deaths of semi-famous and infamous gunmen, his new ‘career’ puts him in the crosshairs of his sweetheart. (pen-name not settled)

I attempted to blend the classic earthy colored oil painting style most ‘gritty’ western covers use with a more colorful high-contrast cartoony thing, throwing my own style in the mix. I figured I’d post this here before it ended up on your Lousy Book Covers website with the ‘refrigerator art’ tag. (note: The art is digital art saved with multiple layers, so it’s easy for me to change big and small things. This is the first artwork I’ve done in over a decade, so I’m not sure if it’s rank horrible or actually pretty good.)

Nathan says:

Before we even get to the art, the first thing that’s gonna draw some ire ’round these parts is the title font — not only is Algerian overused beyond all reason, the drop shadow in the font conflicts with the angle at which you’ve set the type. Ditch it!

The art isn’t horrible, but the excessive detailing in the ground, the trousers, etc. is distracting, and the bright purple matching-shirt-and-holsters set, while amusing, doesn’t just stand out, it clashes.

I’d say simplify the details, tone down the purple, change the title treatment, and enlarge and center the byline (and drop the “by”), and you’ve got something that works.

Other comments?

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