September 15, 2014
The author says:
A science fiction writer struggles with his sanity when the parallel worlds he creates collide with reality. Theme: The observer effect from quantum mechanics. Conscious thought creates reality. Yes, I am a amateur attempting to design a book cover because my funds are going to a professional editor. Looking for input on title and pen name. I plan to republish a refined product on Smashwords in the near future.
Note: An earlier version of this cover ended up at lousybookcovers.com, where it got solidly punched around. This version lacks some of the main offences.
I’m formulating a new dictum for indie publishers designing their own covers (I hope to be presenting on that subject at an upcoming writers conference). It’s this:
“The two most important parts of your cover are (1) typeface and (2) color scheme.”
Looking at this cover in light of that advice, the first thing I see is that the typeface is common — “vulgar,” if one can be so bold. There are plenty of sci-fi/futuristic/mechanistic free fonts out there (make sure the one you choose is readable!), and it would only take a very slight texture or other distressing effect to give the “shaky sanity” vibe I get from your description.
Also: If I understand right, one of the central themes you’re trying to portray in the cover is “single observer/multiple realities,” yes? If so, then I submit that the various eyes actually work against that since they imply many observers. Something like a single person or head, overlapping as it looks in several directions at once, might convey the appropriate concept better. But doing that well might be beyond your technical skill.
Remember, the point of your book cover is to attract the readers who would enjoy the book. So what would tell the appropriate audience, “This is a book I want to read?” How do other books about fractured reality present themselves? That can be your best guide.
Other ideas, anyone?
September 8, 2014
The author says:
Gemworld is an epic fantasy novel, the first of three books set in a world of magic. It features a US Navy SEAL who finds himself in this world, and follows his adventures as he goes from displaced soldier to magic user and rebel leader. Target audience ranges from young adult to adult, Christian to secular, hardcore fantasy to easy reading.
This is a very strong cover design. I’d only tweak a few things before calling it finished:
- The sparkle around the left eye seems oddly dull. I’d make it a whole lot brighter.
- The fade from left to right in the title makes the latter half of the word blend into the background. Maybe you should keep the green-to-blue transition but step back on the light-to-dark transition.
- I have an aversion to the Flair Roman font you used for the series title. Others may not have the same reaction, though.
Overall, very strong. Other thoughts, people?
September 3, 2014
The author says:
YA urban fantasy, set in modern-day Phoenix, AZ. Summary: Indal, chronomancer werewolf, is dragged home from exile, because Michelle, his would-be girlfriend, has discovered her own dead body, sent back from the future. But the body is actually a deathless killing machine, and Indal’s investigations reveal smugglers, alchemists, and a far-reaching plot that will shake the entire multiverse.
It’s got a good thumbnail, which is important; book covers need to be engaging at small size these days.
A few things crop up at full size:
- Trajan is a great workhorse font, but it’s also overused these days, and one of the consequences of reader familiarity with it is that little boo-boos about its use stand out. For instance, the spacing between the two lines of the title crows the “C” of Crime against the “H” of Chrono. I’d also play with the kerning to make the letters look like they hang together better.
- The male model’s head obviously doesn’t belong to that body (or maybe it’s his face that doesn’t belong to that head). Either way, it’s disconcerting.
- The wolf silhouette seems cartoony in comparison to the human. (And you’ll probably get a ration-o’-crap from the commenters here about “Wolfie,” because wolves show up so darned frequently on the covers of run-of-the-mill urban fantasies and paranormal romances.)
- The hand with lightning seems crowded by the byline. One suggestion: Move the title to the top (where the series title is), shift the male model up a big to give the hand more room, and fit the series title under the book title on the left on two lines, in that space above the wolf and to the left of the model.
One other thing: It sounds like a nifty feature of the book is mixing urban fantasy with sci-fi, and that’s missing from the cover. Could there be cogs/circuits/something indicative of technology in the background clouds, maybe at the top behind the title, to give some of that science-fantasy flavor?
Other ideas, people?
August 28, 2014
You remember those Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ads where two well-meaning klutzes accidentally combine their peanut butter and chocolate? (I never figured out, in one of them, why a robot was eating peanut butter, but there you go.)
I think neither of the cover you’ve shown us individually work as well as you want. But if you mash them together — if you add the biohazard symbol of this one in behind the torn flag of the previous one, and similarly if you add an orange tone from this one to the cloudy texture of the previous one — I think you’ll really have something.
August 20, 2014
I think you’re just exchanging your old problems for new ones. Is there any reason that the white rectangle isn’t centered inside the borders? Of that the title is confined in that white space? Expand it out! The flowers on the right aren’t going to feel bad if you cover them up. The title’s important; the flowers are background.
I understand what you’re trying to do with the gold ornamentation and gold flax, but this “gold” looks like dull brass, especially against that white background — not the impression you want to make. In fact, the flowers on the border are a lot more eye-catching than the brassy flax-blob (which is what it ends up as in the thumbnail).
My first inclination would be to start over from scratch, but if I were to work from these elements, I’d:
- eliminate the white rectangle entirely and fill the background with the flowers;
- enlarge the title to fill the cover almost from edge to edge, and put it in white with a darker border to help it stand out from the border;
- enlarge the byline and put it in a better font;
- turn the flax bundle on its side and make it really stand out as golden — I might even experiment with it becoming more golden from left to right, with a full glow on the right instead of random sparkles.
August 5, 2014
I know I’m going to hurt some feelings here, but it has to be said: The art doesn’t meet the standards for a professional cover. It just doesn’t.
On top of that, the Verdana font used for everything except the initial “R” in “Rumpelstiltskin” is leaden and unexciting, and the plain brassy border and dark navy background are just boring. This is a book about a fairytale world — it should be lively and visually exciting and magical.
Everything could be fixed except that artwork. There’s just no recourse for it except to start over again — either with a different artist, or with the same artist after three to five years of hard practice and the commensurate increase in skill.
Anyone think differently?
July 30, 2014
The author says:
A dystopian thriller. Joesph Paladin is a national hero everyone thought they knew: A former major in the United States Army, retired colonel in the Maine Republic Militia, and one of the key founders of the New American Confederation. His exploits to reunify a fractured nation in the grim aftermath of a global catastrophe are legendary. But only a handful of people knew his real story. History books will be rewritten as his long awaited memoir discloses a jaw-dropping secret that he’s harbored for decades, along with other untold stories of his past. (PS: No, I don’t really have an endorsement from a big-time publication. I was just curious to see how it would look on this cover. Maybe, someday…)
It’s a well-designed cover in terms of aesthetics. I don’t know if it conveys the near-future, semi-post-apocalyptic setting of the novel; if I were to guess from the cover alone, I might expect a WWII or Vietnam-era battle epic or memoir.
For some reason, orange-red or brick-red seems to convey a near-future political dystopia well; you might experiment with adding that color to the background and tinting the ripped flag with it. (And if that makes the colors to uniform, try switching the type to white to stand out).
July 29, 2014
The author says:
Obsession is commonplace; what you do with it can be exceptional. Pride’s Children is a story of betrayal and love in a modern retelling of the Book of Job that answers the question, Who is allowed to want? The reincarnation of Job is fragile writer, Karenna Ashe, who has lost almost everything—and put herself back together. Acceding to a request for a unique interview exposes her to powerful Irish actor Andrew O’Connell—and the specter of public ridicule, when she falls for a man she never expects to see again. Her competition, Hollywood actress Bianca Doyle, is young, beautiful—and infinitely more suitable.
The biggest problem is that the byline font is almost unreadable. Even if it were spaced correctly (a cursive font like that shouldn’t have jarring breaks between each character), it’s still a hard font to read, and the fact that your last name is a less common variant doesn’t help.
I don’t think the title font is the best, but it’s not as distinctly inappropriate. At worst, it doesn’t help convey the genre or mood of the novel.
And really, that’s the underlying problem here: The novel sounds like a romantic modern-day recasting of the Book of Job, but the cover doesn’t relate to that at all; it’s simply generic. Even if you only indicated the romance without the Job part, that’d be something. Look at some romance novels (especially those without cover art dominated by people groping each other’s loosely draped bodies) and see how the fonts used indicate the genre.
(I’m not crazy about how the image, the type, and the black bars at top and bottom interact, but I think that’s of secondary concern.)
July 28, 2014
The author says:
THIS NOVEL IS AN ADULT FICTION THRILLER The book melds WWII history, murder, graphic sex and extreme serial killer violence into a thrilling novel. It is not suitable for children. While with their parents, who were serving as SS Nazi guards at Auschwitz, six boys with psychological behavior patterns, were selected for a special educational class. Their teacher, who is a Nazi officer, instructs them in the new beliefs of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. The young teenage boys are indocumented into Nazism. Through books and teachings, the Nazis prove that the Gypsies and Jews are a threat to Germany, and must be exterminated. The boy’s witness this first hand, while at the concentration camp and are encouraged to participate, in the raping and murdering, of the prisoners. After World War II ends, some of the boy’s parents, as war criminals, are caught and hung. Now, while their being raised by other German families, their psychopath and sociopath behavior festers and becomes heightened, as they approach their late teens. Soon they began to rape and murder Jews and Gypsies.
If I were to see this in the bookstore, I’d assume it to be either a historical account from WWII, or a wartime novel. What I don’t get — and should — is the “graphic rape and murder” part. Fortunately, you’ve got all of that red space that would otherwise go to waste; if you overlay it with a bloodspatter pattern in a deeper blood red, I think that could close a lot of the gap between the cover and the subject matter. I’d also be tempted to try adding grungy scratchmarks (the kind you often see on “torture-porn” DVD cases) either around the title text or in the border area, but only once I’d already added the bloodspatters to make sure I don’t over-texture it.
July 25, 2014
The author says:
Visionary inventor Nikola Tesla and his assistant Clara must use their extraordinary talents and devices to save Earth from alien invaders. This is a SF novel set in the early 1900s, with the themes of advanced ‘weird’ science, alien invasion, mind control, interdimensional travel and telepathic beings. The target audience is readers of classic SF, and any fan of Tesla, who is a cult favorite of nerds and New Agers alike.
The historical back-and-white photos look like they’d be more at home on a nonfiction book (especially the assissant Clara, since the poor quality of the photo makes it look like “this is the only documentation we have of her”). I’d say lose both photos, as they really don’t fit with the rest of the full-color cover. If you’re worried that that leaves the bottom half empty-looking, then move the Tesla tower further down the page, put your byline at the bottom (and make it bigger), put your blurb closer to the top, and increase the size of the title (which would also help correct the almost-but-not-quite-centered look). You might also want to experiment with making the dark blue even darker, and perhaps adding a subtle texture to it. (You could also play with adding a subtle texture to the main part of the Tesla tower; at full size, the computer-generated image looks a bit plain, and a slight texture could help set the tower off from the lightning emanating from it.)