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Rumpelstiltskin’s Child [resubmit]

rumpel cover 5

rumpel cover 5

Nathan says:

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.

Other opinions?

Rumpelstiltskin’s Child

rumple coverkindle

rumple coverkindle

Nathan says:

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?

Paladin’s Odyssey

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…)

PaladinsOdyssey

PaladinsOdyssey

Nathan says:

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).

Other ideas?

Pride’s Children

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.

PC 2nd gen cover

PC 2nd gen cover

 

Nathan says:

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.)

Other opinions?

 

Spawn of Evil

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.

Spawn Front CoverSm

Spawn Front CoverSm

Nathan says:

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.

Other ideas?

 

Tesla’s Signal

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.

TESLA SIGNAL cover

TESLA SIGNAL cover

 

Nathan says:

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.)

Other ideas?

Scar Jewelry

The author says:

Where and when: southern California, now and in the early days of punk Genre: literary fiction Target audience: readers of literary fiction. Thumbnail: What do we really know about our parents or the ways they shape us? For twins Deirdre and Langston, 20, the answer is: not enough. With their father long dead, and their mother now in a coma, they realize they don’t even know whom to notify. In fact, they understand almost nothing about their mother. They delve into her life and uncover secrets that revise the past and transform the future.

scarjewelry

scarjewelry

Nathan says:

A much better cover than your last one in terms of design. What I’m not seeing here is much, aside from the barbed wire, that relates to the punk genre. Yes, there is the overlapping type, but it’s in far too “gentle” a font to convey much punkishness. Where’s the ripped paper? The hand-drawn type? The in-your-face imagery?

Also: Centering is a bit wonky in the text below the title, and “by” is unnecessary.

Other opinons?

Frames, Book 1: Nica of Los Angeles

The author says:

Setting: Los Angeles and other dimensions. Genre: speculative fantasy with detective and dystopian elements. Audience: adults who are comfortable crossing genres, able to enjoy Chandler *and* Tolkien, Douglas Adams *and* Dashiell Hammett. Thumbnail: When rookie private eye Nica takes on a mysterious case, she enters a world of multiple dimensions called Frames, where buildings and lawn chairs can be sentient, where a stray cat has great powers, where books can be killers, and clouds can be spies. At home, Nica tackles missing persons cases, while in the larger reality of the Frames she is swept into an escalating battle between good and evil.

nola

nola

Nathan says:

There are two groups of problems here which we can loosely group under “what the cover says,” and “how the cover says it.”

The biggest by far are under “what the cover says.” I get Los Angeles from what I see, but I get nothing that hints that this book contains either detective or fantasy elements — there’s no Chandler or Tolkien in evidence.  If you’re committed to the grid outline (which has its own drawbacks — see the next paragraph), couldn’t you use some of the squares for something other than skyline and aerial shots? How about evocative back streets at night? Noir silhouettes with glowing eyes? Something other than postcard imagery?

Under “how the cover says it,” the biggest problem is the grid itself. I’m guessing that you went with that because of the “Frames” idea, but the grid prevents the cover from having any single noteworthy image as its center of attention.  As you can see from the thumbnail version above, the postcard images in the grid are rendered even more generic.

Another problem under “how the cover says it” are the fonts. There are at least three (I’m guessing that “Book 1″ and your byline are the same font), they don’t work well with each other, and — again — not a one of them evokes either detective or fantasy fiction.

And a third problem is the white space on the cover. White space can be very effective when it looks like part of the intentional design (usually, though not always, in nonfiction books). Here, it just looks like you didn’t know what to do with it.

If the covers posted here are salvageable, I like to suggest ways in which that can be accomplished. In this case, however, I think that starting over with a new visual concept is the way to go.

Anyone think differently?

 

Black Book

The author says:

A Sci-Fi Fantasy Horror Western. Initially set in the old west, the story follows time travelling special forces commando Jack as he hunts down the Black Book. An ancient ledger that can save humanity’s future. Dark forces conspire to put an end to Jack’s mission even before it begins and Jack’s personal demons are dangerously close by.

image

image

 

Nathan says:

From a design standpoint, there are no egregious errors here. But I think we can fine-tune it to better attract the eyes of the right people.

First, I don’t know that the cover scheme is right for a SF/horror/western — it seems too soothing for me. Especially for westerns, I think one expects “dry” or “dusty” colors on the orange-through-scarlet spectrum. I think that would work for the horror part, too.

Second, the leaf silhouettes look like something more commonly seen in a romantic drama. Maybe it’s just the fact that they’re maple leaves (not really associated with the West).

Third, the way the silhouette of the Indian on the left overlaps the cowboy silhouette is visually confusing.  I know you didn’t want to hide the horse entirely, but I think you might want to sacrifice it for visual cohesion.

Fourth, while the illustration captures the “western” part of the story, there’s not much indication of the SF/fantasy/horror parts (the existing color scheme may be an attempt to indicate SF instead of pure western, but I think all it really does is detract from the western appeal). Maybe a riveted border? Maybe a texture of ominous ancient writing over the lower shadowed parts? Obviously one doesn’t want it to get too busy, but I think this cover would be missing out by only emphasizing the western elements.

Finally, for the description under your name, rather than “previously released as,” you might try “collecting parts 1-5″ or “parts 1-5 complete.”

Anyone else?

Among the Red Stars

The author says:

This is a historical novel about the Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment that served in the Soviet Union during World War II, flying obsolete wood and canvas biplanes.

Cover

Cover

 

Nathan says:

So, if I’m understanding your description right, this is a fictionalized account of a true story. Yes?

I like the idea behind it, but I see whole bunches of things I’d tweak.  Most of it becomes apparent in the thumbnail: The cover is dominated by something I just can’t make out.  In the larger version I can see that it’s a plane, but I can also see that it looks oddly comic-bookish.  That may be what you’re going for — it’s a story which lends itself to a knowing pulp flavor of derring-do — but in that case, the comic illustration should look older.

Here’s what I’d do:

  • Make the title larger.  And give it a little more character, like the grungy paint texture one would see with stencils.
  • Remove the “by” from the byline. If readers see a title and a name on a cover, they’re smart enough to understand that the name belongs to the author.
  • Add a simple tagline that gives more context. “Soviet Bomber Babes vs. Nazis!” (Again, I don’t know the full vibe of the novel, so my tagline may be completely inappropriate for this book. But you want as many of those essential elements as you can fit into one line: Soviet, female, bombers, WWII.)
  • Lighten the artwork so you can at least get a glimpse of it in the thumbnail. I know they’re night bombers, but you can still get that across if you leave the background dark and lighten the plane itself.
  • If you were going for a knowing comic-book feel with the artwork, I’d play that up by adding “Ben-Day” printing dots and maybe some paper fold marks.

Other ideas?

 

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