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Month – July 2015

Bodyswitch

The author says:

BODYSWITCH Multi-racial split personality thriller appealing to fans of Dean Koontz, Clive Barker. Tagline: ‘If you think your body belongs to you – think again’.

Cemetery by night

 

Nathan says:

Hmm.  Sort of like the last cover featured here, we could talk about font choices and layout and contrast… But before that, we need to talk about the overall concept.  Because this cover and that description don’t seem to go together.  This cover art is perfect for a boogedy-boogedy spooky story; that’s not what your description says at all.  Even if this is more of a supernatural story than your one-line description suggests, it still looks like a “haunted ruin” story, not a “split personality/possession” story.

I think before we can help you fine-tune your vision, you need to start with a different vision.

(Side note: Better remove the original metadata from the stock image.  When I posted the cover here, the title came up as “Cemetery by night,” with a caption of “Old cemetery in a foggy full moon night.”)

Valkyrie’s Vengeance

The author says:

Valkyrie’s Vengeance is set in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the modern era. Best read by those interested in urban fantasy and Norse mythology. Fans of C. Gockel, Neil Gaiman, and Jim Butcher would enjoy it.

Valkyrie's Vengeance 750

Valkyrie's Vengeance 750

Nathan says:

I think the biggest thing we need to discuss here is the overarching concept.  By that, I mean: I can see the Norse mythology.  But modern-era? I don’t get that from the cover.  Albuquerque?  I don’t get that either.

If the New Mexican setting isn’t terribly important (just an “everything needs to take place somewhere, so this happens here” thing), then concentrate on how you can indicate a modern timeframe.  A city skyline? Cars? Cellphones?  If the New Mexican setting is specifically important — if it adds a distinctive flavor that can’t be transported to Chicago or New Orleans or Seattle — then get that in there too — desert or mesas or New-Agey ex-hippies or Los Alamos or… If it’s important enough to mention in a one-sentence description, it should at least be hinted at one your cover.

Once you get a cover concept that more clearly portrays your novel, then we can talk about color and type and whatnot.

Race Against the Dark

The author says:

Between changing names, yanking an elven king’s soul out of his body on accident, and battling a bat the size of a minivan because it dared try to eat her horse, Ka’lei has issues. Kidnapped into another world, Haylie must work with her captors to save Erth and the two worlds connected to it from the darkness that follows her. Race Against the Dark is adult fantasy with a romantic subplot.

RAD_Cover

RAD_Cover

Nathan says:

I warn you ahead of time, you’re not gonna like a lot of what you hear, because your cover hits two hot-buttons that have become cliches over at LousyBookCovers.com:

1) The font.  The title isn’t terrible, but the font for the byline, Algerian, not only clashes terribly with the title, but calls attention to itself as “the font that everyone uses when they want something fantasy-ish and don’t know what to choose.”  (And the third font used for the tagline and the series title looks far too modern for a fantasy.)

2) The CG horse.  I suppose rendered imagery has its place, but a fantasy doesn’t strike me as that right place.

Sorry. (Anybody got anything else?)

Jackman

The author says:

This is a concept/composition cover for a title I probably will self-publish. You know, after the publishing houses reject it. Title: Jackman Genre: Space opera, science fiction and fantasy mash-up Target Audience: SFF readers Short synopsis: As Arekan traveled the stars as a crewman aboard merchant vessels, he used many names. It was safer that way. The young man had his own secrets to keep. But Sinlon Mor’a’stan, a member of the outlawed family that once ruled the Kyn Empire, did not know these secrets. When he taps Arekan as his son Santir’s guide and protector, he unchains a force that would change not only Santir and Arekan’s lives, but the Empire of Kyn forever. But before the two young men get to Santir’s home world they face many dangers, including Santir’s failed spacewalk, pirates, and their intense dislike of each other. Thanks for taking a look at this!

Jackman concept cover

Jackman concept cover

 

Nathan says:

I like the fact that the image you sent me is labeled “concept art.”  This is a starting place, and a good one.

First, when I look at the thumbnail, it seems oddly bleached — and by “oddly” I mean that the lack of contrast doesn’t seem to be for any reason in particular.  I can see that you were going for a glow/aura/nimbus look, but I still think you can work some contrasts into the figure.  Especially with a light title across the figure, it just looks washed out.

Also from the thumbnail, I can see that the proportion is a little wider than standard. Obviously with an ebook cover you can technically make it at any proportions you want, but there’s still reader expectation to deal with.  Readers of genre fiction unconsciously expect their book covers to approximate the standard dimensions of a mass-market paperback — two-to-three, or 6″ x 9″ if you’re printing at Createspace.  The good news is that I think that trimming the right side of the image would actually make for a better layout of the figure.  I mean, it’s not like you need to see his left shoulder…

Moving from the thumbnail to the full image, here’s my first impression:

BUSYBUSYBUSYBUSYBUSY

The combination of filters adding “fake detail” to the photo plus the textured font for the title adds up to “too dang much.”  What’s worse, it looks like you’re trying to compensate for a blurry or too-small photograph by gussying it up.  There are ways to do that that work better than this.

And finally, your synopsis puts this book firmly in “space opera/science-fantasy” territory, but the cover doesn’t hit that bull’s eye nearly so well.  From the cover, I’d guess maybe SF, or maybe urban fantasy, or possibly a light-hearted post-apoc adventure…  What can you do to up the “sciffyness” of it?  More futuristic fonts?  The silhouette of a Kelly Freas-like spired city on the horizon?  A multi-colored planet peeking in from the upper left?  Whatever you choose, give more definite clues to your potential reader.

Other thoughts?

First Mystery of the Time Vandal

The author says:

Dr. Elijah Snow wanted to record history, not become a part of it. But after stealing the T714 time-displacement craft from his US Air Force benefactors, he quickly found out that witnessing an event without participating in it was easier than it sounded. Accompanied by his quirky A.I ‘Fuzzy’, Dr. Snow sets out to document many of the major historical occurrences which had always intrigued him. From the Mongol Invasion to the crowning of the Danish king Harald Bluetooth, Elijah does his best to record without getting involved. But invariably he ends up becoming embroiled, time and time again, in these events, never failing to leave his footprint on the pages of history.

coverforweb

coverforweb

Nathan says:

I sometimes have “opposite” days where I think I have a good design concept, and yet everything I do to make it better instead makes it worse, until the only thing left for me to do is scrap it.  This cover reminds me of my output on those days: there may have been a good starting point (“good” meaning “something that caught your imagination”), but a succession of decisions that didn’t seem bad at the time bury it.

From your description, I’m envisioning a novel of obviously wide scope, colorful adventure, and more than a little humor. Unfortunately, I don’t get any of that from your cover.  The only indication of adventure or thrills is the silhouette of the running man, and he’s not central enough to draw the eye, nor specific enough to convey anything.  After reading your description, I can recognize the clock face as meant to convey the time travel element, but clock faces are also used to convey “ticking clock” tension in contemporary thrillers.  The buildings, likewise, are modern, as is the stolid typeface; there’s absolutely nothing here to clue the reader in on the genre, tone, or scope of the novel.

And the color scheme… waaay to murky to draw the eye.

This is a link to the current bestsellers in the Time Travel subgenre on Amazon. (You can refine the sub-subgenre further to Horror,  Humor,  Mystery,  Non-Romantic,  Romantic,  Thriller — and the fact that they have “Non-Romantic” as a specific sub-subgenre fills me with despair for my species.)  Ignore the covers from books by Stephen King and Douglas Adams, since the most important element of those covers is the author’s name.  The rest? These are your comrades, and your competition.  This is how readers of time travel novels expect their novels to look; this is what they look for.  Could your cover attract the positive attention of someone who just read one of these books and wants more?

My advice, cruel as it may seem, is to scrap what you’ve got and start over.  Start with a color scheme, or maybe with a font — those are the things a reader will see first, and they have to be interesting enough that they’ll take a second look.  Build from there.

If that’s beyond your skill set, seeking help from a reasonably-priced professional is your best bet.

Anything feel differently?

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