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

Month – April 2014

Ghosts of Blackwell

The author says:

On a stormy night, Amelia Stirling meets Darren Duncan. While stuck at an old station, he could take her on the ride of a lifetime. In a tangle of confusion, could ghosts be afoot? Is danger looming in every corner or is it all an illusion?

Book-Cove4ru12

Book-Cove4ru12

 

Nathan says:

There’s only a little bit of information here, but I’m going to guess that it’s a paranormal romance. Yes?

First: There’s no need to put “Author” before your name, any more than you need to put “Title” before the title.

Second: You may think that the font contributes to the cover, but it actually detracts by competing with the illustration.  And the fact that the lines of type are all different sizes, and have been stretched different directions, doesn’t help.  (Thanks to its size and the fact that it’s in uppercase, the word “OF” looks like it’s the most important word in the title.)  The best option is to go for a plainer or more readable font — either use one that comes “pre-distressed,” or add some texture (don’t overdo it!) by overlaying a texture.

Third: The illustration looks like it’s been stretched a bit.  It’s also not of a terribly high resolution, and that’s readily apparent in contrast to the type.

Fourth: It’s okay to have the text overlap the illustration. Really.  As it is, it feels like all of the elements are separate instead of connected.

Fifth: A little bit of color? I know there’s a little bit in the shadow to the type, but it really gets lost against the monochrome illustration. It doesn’t have to be garish, but even a tint to the shadows could go a long way.

Since the image sent was large enough to work with, I did a five-minute revamp to show some of the things I’m talking about. Again, the description is a little shy on detail, so I’m not at all sure that this version fits the genre or tone of your book, but…

Book-Cove4ru12

I think that’s a good starting list from me. Anyone else?

 

 

Life Is Not Enough

The author says:

Slightly above average author Bob Brown, wrote about understanding you, others and the meaning of life in his book, Personal Wisdom. Life Is Not Enough is the backstory to that book; how Brown decided to seek to discover the meaning of life and explain what it is. This memoir describes the moment that stimulated this search, his intellectual and emotional guides, and what he learned over his fifty years of looking. Audience is older adults.

BookCoverImage

BookCoverImage

 

Nathan says:

The first thing I’d say, from looking at the thumbnail, is that the color scheme is too murky. It doesn’t have to be flashy — a memoir shouldn’t look like a K-Mart flyer — but it all kind of fades to gray.  A slightly deeper background color will also let the title be read more easily at thumbnail size.

The second thing I’d say is that the background detracts more than it adds.  I can only tell (guess?) what it is at thumbnail size; all full size, it’s just a digitized something or other. But it’s distinct enough that it draws attention, and then frustrating the viewer who doesn’t see any point in it.  If the original image you worked from is big enough, then I’d say to try again and render it only just blurry enough to keep it in the background from the headshots and text, but not enough so that it’s a mystery at full size.  (If the image you worked from isn’t big enough, find another image.  Obviously, it must not be important to have this specific image, because if it were, you’d let us see what it is.)  While you’re at it, look at the most visually complex area of the background image; it’s right behind the title, again distracting from it.  Rearrange those two elements so they’re not competing against each other.

The third thing I’d say is that the subtitle (or, as it were, supertitle) font should be replaced; it’s readable, yes, but it’s also so common that it looks like it was chosen without thought.  (And look at how the letters of “GUY” are mashed together.)  And while I understand that the box around the byline is to call attention to it and separate it from the background, that would really only make sense if the background were something that shouldn’t be obscured; instead, I’d recommend you enlarge the byline from side to side and center it, and let its greater size make the box unnecessary.

Well, that’s enough from me. Anyone else?

Koxinga of Taiwan

The author says:

This is a modest digest of what should be known about the life and deeds of Koxinga (Zhèng Chénggōng), the Ming military mandarin who founded Chinese Taiwan, and belonged to a family of international traders commanding a vast fortune and a fleet of merchantmen. Sometimes, instead of smoothly following its predictable course, history swerves to another direction because of an unexpected event. When Ming China was invaded by the Manchus, instead of collaborating to make even more profits, Koxinga launched a resistance movement. Yet, his fate was apparently sealed for hadn’t he been compelled by tradition to celebrate his birthday during the siege of Nanking, he would not have been defeated by the Manchus the morning after. If he had not died suddenly the year he ordered the Spaniards of Manila to pay him a tribute as to their sovereign, the Philippines would now be an overseas Chinese territory like Taiwan.

COX-cover by Ron Miller-Black Cat Studio-2014-04-12

COX-cover by Ron Miller-Black Cat Studio-2014-04-12

 

Nathan says:

I don’t really see anything wrong here. The only things I would do differently is (a) put the author’s last name in normal upper-and-lowercase, like the rest of the name, and (b) maybe add a tagline or short description: “A Biography of the Founder of Chinese Taiwan” or somesuch. You could drop the byline and put it under the title, or put it at the top of the cover (if you do this, I’d pull down everything on the cover — image and print — and put it in the empty space over the statue’s head).

But still, well done! Anyone else have comments?

Fightcard: The Adventures of Sailor Tom Sharkey

The author says:

The Best Weird, Historical, Humorous, Boxing Stories You’ll Ever Read! He was one of the greatest heavyweight boxers to enter the legendary squared circle during the Golden Age of Boxing. Standing a mere 5’ 8”, Sailor Tom Sharkey was one of boxing’s most feared opponents…Gentleman Jim Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, Kid McCoy, and Jim Jeffries all agreed he was their fiercest opponent and gave them their toughest fights. A colorful boxer both in the ring and out, he retired in 1904 after several legendary and controversial failed attempts to win the championship belt. That’s the story you know – But it’s not the end of Sharkey’s story – not by a long shot…In the tradition of Robert E. Howard’s humorous Sailor Steve Costigan boxing tales, this action-packed collection of rowdy, bawdy, burlesque, tall Texas tall feature Sailor Tom Sharkey’s adventures after he hung up his professional gloves. Thrill to Sharkey’s brush with Hollywood’s “It” Girl, Clara Bow…Get chills as Sharkey and Kid McCoy faces down a maniacal bandit…Feel the heat as Sharkey rides the rails with Jim Jeffries and the Vaudeville Carnival into a clashes with a mad scientists and mummified menaces…Watch as Sharkey plays Santa Claus to a bunch of Tammany Hall orphans and end up with a tiger by the tail – literally – and much more! These are the Untold Tales of the Wildest Tale-Teller of Boxing’s Golden Age!

SHARKEY A

SHARKEY A

Nathan says:

It’s a good, well-rendered illustration. However, it’s not exactly dynamic; the static pose means that something else needs to bring the energy to this cover, and the only “something else” you have is the text, which is in a lifeless and boring font.  But I think that if you replace the font, you can add enough dynamism to complement the illustration.  Not that you need to use the wildest fonts imaginable, but you should look at period typefaces.  How was the text usually presented on period posters and placards advertising fights? How was the magazine title rendered in the magazines in which REH’s boxing stories appeared?  That’s where I would look for inspiration.

Also, the chest tattoo looks like exactly what it is: a separate graphic that’s been modified by computer and superimposed.

Other thoughts?

Monok’s Bones: Discovery

The author says:

This is a fantasy story with wolves as the focal point. Monok is the dead wolf god. They have been separated from humans for a long time and suddenly a ship lands on their island and what everyone knows as ‘history’ begins to unravel. “Watership Down” meets “David Gemmell”. Book 1 of 3, other 2 will be called Transgression and Redemption.

x-default

 

x-default

 

Nathan says:

The cover art is professional, but unremarkable. I don’t know what details of wolf culture are in your book, but if there is any detail you could add to help distinguish it, that would help.

And with the art being fairly generic, the text needs to carry more weight.  I’d pick a font with more character. Instead of using italics to set the volume title apart from the series title, I’d use either a different font or style treatment, or a line or some other simple ornament.  And lose the “by” on the byline; it’s unnecessary.

Other ideas?

A Hospital Bed at Home

The author says:

A Hospital Bed at Home is a linked collection of true stories about the experience of being a carer during the weeks, months and years that can stretch between the day someone you love is diagnosed with an incurable, fatal disease and the day of his or her death. Couples facing separation after forty years together; a workaholic with three small children and a dying, angry wife; an Irish immigrant called home to nurse an ailing father who cannot, or will not, eat; a Buddhist couple striving for serene acceptance of a brain tumour… The patients and carers profiled in these stories bring to their challenging situations the gamut of typically human strengths and weaknesses, plus all the baggage of their pre-existing relationships. The narratives are intensely personal and biographical, but the insights and information they contain about illness, caregiving and dying at home have profound and general relevance. The author’s reflections on these topics are woven throughout, linking the individual stories and concluding with a gritty memoir about caring for her own mother, an anxious optimist who was ravaged by cancer.

A_Hospital_Bed_at_Home_ebook_Cover

A_Hospital_Bed_at_Home_ebook_Cover

Nathan says:

I like the idea of a view through the window from the implied bed.  If I were going to go with that, I’d use one image that shows the full window frame (or most of it).  I think the image-upon-image here is distracting, especially when both of them are essentially the same idea.

Don’t be afraid to go larger on the fonts; there are no specific details in the cover photo that you risk obscuring.  You can see from the thumbnail that the title is awful tiny, and both the subtitle and byline are almost not there.

I’d also find a font or two with more character.  The first thing I’d try is something with a handdrawn vibe to it (but still clearly readable), to support the idea that this is home-based, almost do-it-yourself medical care, as opposed to an institutional setting.

Other thoughts?

 

Sweet Remedie

The author says:

My book is about a guy named Oscar who developed depression and cuts and his parents find out and put him on medicine that makes him hallucinate and he hallucinates a girl who he falls in love with.

sweet

sweet

Nathan says:

The text on a nothing-but-text cover needs to be two things:

  1. Easily readable.
  2. Interesting.

Let’s look at the first.  Intersecting type always “hiccups” in the reader’s mind, because while trying to read the vertical word, the eye is more easily drawn to the horizontal word (which is itself not easily recognizable with another word interrupting it, because “remedie” isn’t the spelling our brains expect).  It’s worse in this case because the “e” in sweet isn’t pronounced the same as the “e” in remedie.

As for the second, a plain uppercase typewriter font is about as far from “interesting” as possible. It’s got no mood, no nothing.

And then comparing your cover to your book description, we might suspect some sort of medical thriller (red cross and “remedie”), but the description you give is only tangentially related to the field of medicine.  Do we get depression, or hallucination, or delusional true love from the cover? Nope.

Plain covers can be very effective; see this one for Michael Collings’ horror novelThe Slab. You could do something similar, but you must make sure that both your font and your background texture are exactly evocative of the mood of your novel, since there’s no other artwork to carry the weight. And a subtitle is invaluable in these cases, to add information that artwork would otherwise convey. If your story whimsical? Bittersweet? Stream-of-consciousness surreal?  Use a subtitle to add info.

Anyone else?

 

Blood Diva

The author says:

What if Paris’ infamous party girl didn’t die of consumption at 23 in 1847? Blood Diva is a sometimes humorous, erotic look at love, sex, romance, celebrity, destiny and the art of seduction, that asks a simply question – Can a one hundred ninety year old French courtesan find happiness in 21st century Brooklyn without regular infusions of fresh blood?

latestblooddiva
latestblooddiva

Nathan says:

I like both the concept and the artwork chosen, but the resolution is too low; you can see the fuzzy pixelation that’s a dead giveaway for an image found on the web and blown up.  The contrast is especially obvious when comparing any straight lines in the artwork with the lines of the font.

And speaking of the font… Too, too dull. You don’t need something ornate — the artwork takes care of that — but explore try to find either something period or, for contrast, something very current and edgy to indicate that the story takes place in the present.  (I’m not sure how well my second suggestion would work; it would depend a lot on the specific font.  You’d have to try and see.)

Also: The modifications to the art to make the fountain flow red are really, really primitive. Take the time to do it right.

Here are other things I’d do:

  • Reduce the unused space at the top and bottom of the poster, either completely or to a symmetical border.
  • Play with the color balance, upping either the green or blue, to give the image a slightly unsettling/otherwordly aspect — you don’t want the cover on a vampire story to be too warm and sunny.  (But make sure that the blood still looks like blood.)

Anyone else?

 

Contact Form Powered By : XYZScripts.com