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Month – November 2015

Chasing Redemption [resubmit]

The author says:

Take two of my cover upgrade for “Chasing Redemption.” I found a background image that gives a clear impression of SPACE, and even added in a space vessel. The photo resolutions are low (using sample images) and the lighting/shadows are not really correct on the vessel, but it gives you an overall feel for my idea. I’m also very tempted to nix the vessel and just go with the background image. I fear it’s going to be too difficult to add something to this background without it looking too cut-and-paste.

ChasingRedemption2015bUpgrade

ChasingRedemption2015bUpgrade

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

Much, much better.  I can instantly tell the genre and setting from the thumbnail.

I would vote not to lose the spaceship (or not to lose the idea of a spaceship — you may find one with lighting that meshes better, though I doubt it; you’ll probably have to go in and paint a reflective glimmer along the far bottom edge of the ship).

My only suggestion, and I leave this open to commenters to support or nix this, is to add a hint of contrasting color somewhere on the color.  May a red-orange in “Chasing,” or in the shadows on the byline; maybe some subtle maroon veins in the shadow-side of the planet.

Other comments?

Oliris [resubmit]

The author says:

Senana Sa’z Rays has always been angry. Since the day he hit puberty an unholy rage festers in him threatening to destroy everything he loves. It ultimately gets him imprisoned on planet Indiku for a sentence of five years to harvest in the Leeri flower fields. Sena didn’t expect to be taken by a blue dragon, or what they would end up meaning to each other. There is a race against time for the two, and they’ll have to find a way to survive when everyone is trying to kill them.

OLIRISNOTAHORSE

OLIRISNOTAHORSE

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

Well, the dragon pretty definitely isn’t a horse this time. That’s good.

However, it looks like you traded some old problems for some new ones.  As is especially noticeable in the thumbnail, the two image elements — “dragon” and “torso” — are just hanging there separately.  If the torso were larger and was more clearly behind the dragon head, not only would it attach the two elements, but it would get rid of the problem of the male figure not having any body below the belt.

I don’t think it works to have the title nudged over ever-so-slightly to the right; just center it and be done.  And I don’t know why you insist on having having the byline so faint that it’s almost invisible.

Other comments? (Not about bestiality, thanks.)

Analog

The author says:

The Internet suddenly disappears. Now a systems analyst from a dying newspaper, a clueless gamer and two hipsters are all that stand in the way of anarchy in this comical adventure. Targeted to YOUNG ADULT/ADVENTURE genres.

cover

cover

Nathan says:

This’ll be short, because I love it.

My only concern is that there’s nothing about it that suggests “comic adventure” — and given how grim most post-apocalyptic dystopian YA yarns are (leavened only by some rebellious teen romance, naturally), I think that would be a great selling point.

I know that in DVD marketing, a big red title against a white/off-white background immediately means “comedy” to most people.  That trend doesn’t seem to be nearly as prevalent in book publishing, but it’s still worth a try; what if the CRT letters of the title (and I love that element, by the way) were red?  That would also help the cover “pop” at thumbnail size.

(Part of me also wants to see a bowl of popcorn on the man’s lap, but changing that photo composition is probably out of the question.)

So, specific suggestions sought: How to play up the comic elements of the novel?

Surrender: Innocent in Africa

The author says:

Contemporary romantic suspense set in Africa. Will appeal to readers of JA Huss and Alessandra Torre. Falling for my hot billionaire boss and his hunky Black lover should have been enough trouble, but the bad guys struck again. They took Kane and his fate was up to me. Unless I returned to my captors, our threesome might remain incomplete — permanently. The deeper I went into the mystery of West’s business in Africa, the more I feared the truth. Did he really care about me, or was he using me in his dangerous game? Did the two of them want me as much as I hoped, or would they send me home if I made another mistake? And could I remain untouched through a second abduction? This is the third and final episode of the Billionaire First Boss Menage Suspense serial.

Surrender luma 8

Surrender luma 8

Nathan says:

So even though this is the third of a series, I’m not going to take into account any branding continuity from the two preceding volumes.  If we come up with good design ideas here, you can reserve-engineer it for the earlier books in the series.

The thing with billionaire romance novels (and now we’re already deep into a sentence that I never thought I’d type) is that there are so many of them.  I can’t look at a “free books” or “books on special” bulletin without seeing at least one.  That means that, in a glut, your cover needs to stand out, or at least hold its own.  Here’s how I see them doing it:

  1. Color.  Not just a color, but vibrant technicolor — deep, rich hues.  I don’t think that the monochrome photo with red type you have here competes.  The only place on your cover where color comes to the forefront is where you have, confusingly, three faces overlapping for no discernible reason.  Confusion isn’t hawt.
  2. Romance.  Just about all of them have some incontrovertibly romantic imagery, and some of them eschew any subtlety altogether.  Compare that to yours; yes, there’s a shirtless hawt guy, but he’s just standing outside.  There are no dramatic shadows, no deep skin tones (except, again, in the confusing overlap of faces).
  3. Fonts.  I suppose that stencil fonts might work in a military-themed romance (if supported by the other elements above), nothing about your description suggests that stencil fonts might be appropriate to this story.  And the handdrawn font below it absolutely needs to go. (While we’re at it, dividing the title and subtitle with the byline is a really bad idea.)
  4. Sub-genres.  We’ve all seen them: romance novels which don’t just divide themselves into Regency or contemporary or paranormal or romantic suspense, but super-granulated sub-sub-genres: “Taken by the Alpha Billionaire Shifter, A BBW Polyamory Pregnancy Mindswap Romance.” I think the reason behind this (well, the most defensible reason) is that, in picturing sex, readers are very definite in who they want to imagine humping who.  Your description mentions a black lover, and the whole thing’s set in Africa; do you think you should maybe include a black person somewhere?

Sorry if this seems overly negative, but as I said, the subgenre you’ve chosen is one in which readers have no shortage of reading options.  Is your cover going to grab the attention of the appropriate reader, versus the five or six other covers that reader will see at the same time at the bottom of the Amazon page?

Other thoughts?

Spacelore

The author says:

Spacelore is a collection of sci-fi short stories, all with a common theme of space travel (in various ages, modes, etc.) It pays homage to the sci-fi paperbacks of the 1960s-70s (Ace, Pocket Books, etc.) The art is licensed, the layout is mine (author).

spacelore-cover-review-jpg

spacelore-cover-review-jpg

Nathan says:

I have no complaints about the artwork, obviously.  It’s good art, and a good choice.

You’ve also chosen a good typeface for your title — stylized, but readable.  I think having the publishing company logo up in the left corner, and nudging the title over because of that, calls to mind comic books more than paperbacks; I’d extend the title across the top, then place the logo either on the right under the title or in one of the bottom corners.

I think you miss a bet by not using the same font for the byline. Center it, enlarge it, and let the world know you wrote it.

I also think that a short description — “Stories of Space Travel” or something” — would not be amiss.  Most readers assume that a book sporting nothing but a title and a byline is a novel; you should correct that from the get-go.

Good work!  Any other comments?

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