While you’re waiting for the next critiquable cover to show up here, you could check out Corp-ID-Theory, a cool new blog by Michael Shumate. why yes, we are related; in fact, he’s my father. And whereas I’m a largely self-taught designer who proceeds by gut feeling and tries to justify it afterward, Dad is an honest-to-goodness retired professor of graphic design. His new blog is all about branding design, and if you think that’s a field unrelated to book cover design, you definitely need his blog.
Month – March 2015
The author says:
The newlywed Don and Denise Richards get their minds swapped with those of his son Jackie and her daughter Jaymee respectively while their Caribbean honeymoon cruise is lost in the Bermuda Triangle. No matter what they try, they can’t seem to find a way to swap back! Now what will they do? “We Can’t Rewind” is the latest prospective title for this paranormal romance. (Before you ask, yes, that’s from the lyrics of “Video Killed The Radio Star” by the Buggles, though it has only the most tenuous association with this story.) The prospects of coming to an agreement with traditional publishers so far are looking rather poor, so it seems I will have to design and publish the whole book myself; I still plan to get a professional artist to redraw the final cover, however.
The cover is definitely evolving. Much clearer, brighter, easier to process.
That said, it’s still not sitting right with me somehow. It’s a (very strange) love story, but I don’t get that from the cover. I’m guessing from the description that there’s a certain amount of wacky comedy a la Freaky Friday, but I also don’t see that in the cover.
You said that, as independent publishing is looking more likely, you “plan to get a professional artist to redraw the final cover.” May I suggest that a professional graphic artist or designer is worth more than his ability to draw what you tell him? You seem very attached to using certain elements to market your story, but maybe you should have a graphic professional read the first few chapters and tell you how he would market your story. You might be surprised (pleasantly).
The author says:
Hello everyone! I made some changes to my cover in an attempt to kick it up a few notches. The idea of using a more obvious monster, and more obvious… implements helped and I like it more now! There are a few specific notes from the last version that I am addressing up here. 1) I tried the different colour backgrounds, and while they did work and look nice, the main character’s accent colour is green, so it didn’t feel right to have it someone else’s colour! (I did gay it up with a rainbow though.) 2) I am not sure if I am sold on the phallic arrow as opposed to the bum arrow. Everything I tried looked a bit too… spot on. I have included it on this version to see what others think. Otherwise thank you everyone for the comments! – ♥ CB
Boy, that butt just pops now, doesn’t it?
I honestly wouldn’t notice the phallicness (phallicity? phallusy? whatever) of the arrowhead, but the lower viney protuberance jumped out at me… so much so that I’m wondering if Amazon is gonna let it by.
I don’t know. I think that I’m not the best commenter on this one, as I’m really not the target buying audience. I’ll just say this: My favorite humorous-erotic cover (and it’s even fantasy!) is one that I saw on Joe Konrath’s blog a couple of years ago. Here it is. (What, you think I’m gonna display it here?)
Otherwise, I’ll let everyone else weigh in on this one.
The author says:
With a fresh round of spending cuts in the Afterlife and immigration services stretched to breaking point, mistakes are inevitable. Admin errors, but from the Other Side. The Book of the Not-Dead-Enough is a collection of contemporary short shorts and flash fictions about the people who have died but been returned to their bodies. And don’t drop the Z-bomb; they hate that. These stories are their continued attempts to keep calm and carry on in a world that has seen too many George Romero films. Some of them are silly, some of them are topical or satirical. Loitering somewhere between Dickens, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, this collection isn’t wholly flippant nor wholly serious, but tickles at the join between. [This is a second draft cover, and obviously needs to lose the Shutterstock stuff]
A clever idea, and clever imagery. I think a few tweaks will yield huge dividends, design-wise.
I’m okay with the typeface used, but I think you need to use it more dynamically; making “of the” smaller than the rest of the title is the first thing I thought of. (You might even try shrinking the initial “The” to the same size and putting it on its own line; I don’t guarantee the results, though.)
I also think letting the title occupy more of the cover is a good idea. Obviously, you’re hampered by “Not-Dead-Enough,” which needs to be on a single line, but I still think that the title needs to take up more real estate. Nothing in the imagery will be hampered if it’s slid further down the cover.
The “for rent” sign really sticks out as being cut-and-pasted due to its angle; if you can find a replacement image, you ought to use it, and maybe have it canted as it sticks out of the grave. (Same thing with the “Gone Fishing” sign — those things never hang straight, even for the living.)
This looks like a really clever project; I’m actually pretty interested in reading this.
The author says:
A virtual world perverted. An ancient threat looming. A spunky elf pantsless. Industry giant Tornado Tech Games has just released their latest masterpiece, the massively multi-player online role playing game Annals of Gentalia and Anders, the honest elf Night Ranger is pumped to explore its most secret depths. But things are not always how they seem in the virtual world and when the elf accidently breaks into the hidden code of the game, his play experience is forever altered. Adapting to a game world where the once normal monsters have become charged with sexual energy, Anders sets off on an epic journey to save his own ass. As the world quickly plummets into chaos around him, a vital question lingers over the world. What kind of avatar would willingly release a horde of sex crazed monsters into the world? More importantly to Anders though is his own personal question, when am I finally going to find some new pants? Title: Breakers of the Code Genre: Elfrotica (A mix of fantasy & gay sexyness that does not take itself seriously) This is one on my cover ideas for this book. It is at a publisher right now and I am waiting to hear if it will be published by them, but I still am working on ideas for the cover anyways. I am not sold on the ‘Book one’ part. It may not be needed. This cover does contain one element that must be on any final cover though. A key plot point: Elfbutt.
It’s a technically good cover, but it just looks like a straight (in at least two senses) YA fantasy. It’s missing two elements that need to be there in much greater quantities according to the description:
I mean, come on — “Elfrotica”? This is way too reserved for that! Accentuate that elfbutt — I should be able to see the buttcrack in the thumbnail! Go all out with the exaggerated fantasy font! Make the monster a lot more obvious and cheesy! Turn it up to 11!
(Unless everyone else says I’m wrong, of course.)
The author says:
Basically, high school junior Xen Aspen (still working on that name) is a mutant. At least he thinks he’s some sort of freak, that is. He is immune to snake bites and has an illegal part time job hunting venomous ones for rich people. One day, though, he learns that he belongs to a group of hybrids from a failed mutation experiment a hundred years ago (This is the book cover I designed for my book and I’m such a noob so I need your help and advice. Thanks).
One thing you need to keep in mind is that, even though there’s no utilitarian reason for ebook covers to be any particular shape, they still ought to strike prospective readers as “book-shaped.” The first impression of yours is that it’s an album cover.
I like the serpent eyes in a (more) human face, but I warn you that the floating disembodied eyes are such a design cliche that they’ve lost effectiveness. I think you would get a lot more mileage out of the cover if you put an entire face/head on the cover with reptilian eyes. (The fact that the image you use for the snake eyes is far lower resolution that its needs to be isn’t helping.)
I think the font you use for the title is marginally okay, but leaving it hollow decreases readability. Make it either solid, or a texture tight enough that it looks solid in thumbnail.
The byline font, on the other hand, doesn’t have much going for it: It’s hard to read at any size, and it gives a medieval flavor to the cover which doesn’t match the description you gave for the book.
The author says:
Paranormal mystery. Geared towards readers of Kim Harrison. It’s set in modern day Sacramento, CA. Naomi’s living a normal life and trying to keep being a werewolf secret, when her brother’s kidnapped. His kidnappers threaten to kill him and reveal he’s a werewolf to the world.
I’m going to assume this is the “sketch” version and not hammer you on mechanics like the bad “magic wand” cut-and-paste edges around each of the elements. Let’s look at the big picture.
First: The font has to go. There’s nothing evocative about it. I would recommend you use a maximum of two fonts — one for the title and byline, the other for the series title.
Second: Give that your name is not a household name, I think you should reserve the place of prominence for the title and put the byline at the bottom. Or maybe put all three at the top, and shift all of the images down, getting rid of that black block at the bottom that screams “I couldn’t think of how to fill this space!”
On to the images themselves:
I understand what you’re trying to do, but it seems like the image elements are working against each other instead of with each other — the silhouette vs. the bridge vs. the moon vs. the pawprints. Silhouettes, in particular, work a lot less frequently than they’re used. I think you need to decide: Which will be the focal element of the cover? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be dead center, as long as it’s very clearly the main point of the cover.) Then work with the other elements to have them help and add to that main element — and feel free to toss the elements (whether you replace them or not) that don’t play well with others.