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Month – August 2015

Saving Mim

The author says:

Charlie Kadabra feels like the biggest loser ever born. A foster kid, abandoned as a baby, picked on by the bullies at school, he thinks his life stinks, until he tries to save the little rabbit and accidentally blows up his science teacher, who’s a robot! Running for his life, he follows the new girl, Emily, through a shiny curtain in the woods, and lands in the magical world of Mim. Charlie discovers he is the last of the Magicians, who are guardians of the land of Mim. Can Charlie find all the jewels of power for the Magician’s staff his father left him in time to save all his new friends from Dr. Pi’s destruction? This humorous fantasy tale will delight readers of all ages as they find out, there is a little Charlie in all of us.



Nathan says:

The artwork is terrific. No complaints there.

The type isn’t quite the equal to the artwork.  I don’t think the characters in “Saving Mim” lend themselves well to that arc (the space between the words and the capital “M” give an off-balance feel to what was meant to be symmetrical), the font for the series title is underwhelming, and the byline… too small, too boring.

Everyone remembers the custom font for the original Harry Potter releases as “cutesy” — and it was — but it was also active. That’s what you should be looking for to replace the title font: something dynamic enough that it doesn’t need the arc to pep it up.  I always recommend a max of two fonts on the cover (with the possible exception of a pullquote, which needs to be readable above all else), so I’d recommend one font for the title and a second for the series title and byline.  remember that everything needs to be readable, and smaller type is harder to read anyway, so whatever font you pick for the subtitle needs to be easily read at those sizes.

I would also recommend that you put the series title on one line — “Charlie Kadabra, Last of the Magicians.”  Otherwise it seems like you’ve got a book title, followed by a series title with its own subtitle. Titleception!

Anyone else?

Locksmith’s Journeys

The author says:

“Locksmith’s Journeys” is the sequel to the YA science fiction novel “Locksmith’s Closet.” Lachlan Smith and his immediate circle of family and friends continue their search of the future through the time portal to learn the secret of what happened to the human race. Back in the present, they learn who made the portal and why. (This isn’t quite the final design. I plan to add some flocks of birds silhouetted against the sky. But that will be a lot of work, so before I do it I want to know if it’s worth improving.)

LJ cover version

LJ cover version

[For those who don’t recall, Locksmith’s Closet already received the CoverCritics treatment; final version is here.]

Nathan says:

You’ve hit a good balance between maintaining a series look or “brand” and making this cover original and different. (I hate when the differences between series volumes are so subtle that I can’t tell them apart.)

My problem with this cover is that it’s so… plain.  The silhouette of the Washington Monument (I sure hope that’s supposed to be the Washington Monument, because that’s what 100% of people will immediately think) could be from one of a billion tourist snapshots, and the paragliding figure is similarly just there.  Even just a different color to the sky could make a big difference — I took the cover you sent, slapped on a cloudy sunset from Google Image Search, and got this:

LJ cover version b

That was thirty seconds of work; image how much better it could be if you fine-tuned the light/dark dynamics from one corner to another, etc.

Two other comments:

-If I divine correctly, your intent was to make the blur on the Washington Monument look like the camera was focusing past it toward the paraglider.  Unfortunately, looks less like it’s out of focus and more like it’s a poor resolution image.

-The paraglider itself is so small as to be ignorable, and in the thumbnail it might as well not be there.  I’m not saying that every image element needs to be clearly discernible from the thumbnail, but since your image really only has two parts — the monument and the paraglider — they really ought to be easily seen.  It’s only going to get worse once you add the flock of birds, and even worse if you go with a more dynamic sky like I suggested.

Other thoughts?

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