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Month – February 2016

The Eyes in the Gingerbread House [resubmit]

The author says:

This is a remake of the cover for this book, which hopefully is better than the first. Book info remains the same: A middle-grade satire about government and digital security in the U.S. involving an evil Santa Claus. It’s mainly humor/satire with fantasy and some sci-fi elements, set in a future Canada where Santa is real and runs a global Christmas operation. It is NOT dystopian by any means. It’s just normal Canada with some slight interference from Santa’s surveillance department.

One line pitch: After a school trip to the North Pole goes awry, revealing some unpleasant truths, a twelve-year-old aspiring journalist and her friends must find a way to bring down Santa’s global surveillance operation.

I know this doesn’t look like traditional MG fantasy covers, with a painted scene from the story in a frame, but I thought that since the story is slightly different from traditional MG fantasy ones (because of the satirical elements), a more modern, simple, and graphic design (as opposed to artwork) focused cover would fit the theme. The left lens is supposed to look like the view from a futuristic camera with a laser targeting/tracking/whatever system (the kind in sci-fi and spy movies that involve lots of red lines on the display), and the right lens is more or less a scene from the book. I know they probably won’t be visible in a thumbnail, but I’m hoping the general shape of the beard, hat, and slightly ominous looking glasses might entice readers to take a closer look, where they can see all of the little details. Hopefully this cover is better than the last one, and thanks for the help!

The Eyes in the Gingerbread House

The Eyes in the Gingerbread House

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

Much, much better. I can see the Christmas vibe from 20 feet away, and the artwork is both clean and focused.

I don’t know how well confining the title to the hat/beard works.  For one thing, I’m always suspicious of divided titles — the eye has to jump and quest for where to continue with what should be a continuous thought — and for another, it crowds the artwork, while leaving the teal background (that’s teal, right?) empty and expansive.  I would play with cropping the artwork so that it leaks off the edge of the image, and seeing whether you can bring the title into one place.  (I also think the calligraphic font for “Gingerbread House” is unnecessary, and might be overkill.)

Re: the glasses: I like the concept of the surveillance camera-eye.  Remove the reflections, so that it’s clearer.  You’d get more impact from that eye if you just left the other as an inert lens — “Christmas” is already well-established, so you don’t need a Yuletide scene in there to reinforce it.

I think you’re definitely on the right path here.  Any other comments?

Fighters of the Code

The author says:

Yes, I know you have been eagerly awaiting this in your update feed! The wait is finally over. Book two in my series is here to judge!

Blurb

giant expansion untapped. An ancient threat ignored. A spunky elf re-pantsless. The vast expansion to the massively multi-player online role playing game Annals of Gentalia has been spread wide open and Anders, the elf protagonist from the last book is primed and ready to experience everything it has to offer. Anders must set off on an even higher staked quest to attempt to save his own ass. He and his companions are stretched to the absolute limit attempting to reach the climax of the island expansion. Many questions weigh heavily on Anders’ mind. Can he find who was responsible for breaking the world? Is this expansion also filled with sexually charged monsters ready to take advantage of any avatar that gets in their way? (Of course it is! This book would be dreadfully boring if it wasn’t!) More importantly to Anders though is his own personal question, “How could I possibly have lost my pants again?!”

Fighters of the code - Front Cover

Fighters of the code - Front Cover

Nathan says:

<george takei>Oh my…</george takei>

I will let everyone else give their opinions on this on.  Me, I’m overcome with the vapours.

Phoenix Afterlife [resubmit]

The author says:

This is a draft of a new cover for my book, Phoenix Afterlife. I previously submitted my original cover (http://covercritics.com/?p=1349) and received a very useful critique. The new cover, produced by Rena Hoberman at CoverQuill (whom I found through your Designers for Hire links), takes into account all the feedback that I received on the original cover. Thanks for any further input you folks care to give.

newCover

newCover

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

Absolutely beautiful.  The steel-and-glass building, together with the square sans-serif font, gives the proper first impression of cutting-edge or near-future.  I love how the text on the spine just perfectly meshes into pre-existing elements of the image. And I didn’t notice the guy in the window at thumbnail, so it was an added discovery when I looked at the full-sized version.

If I were to tweak one thing (and this isn’t a make-or-break element), I would change the woman’s posture, leaning her to one side as she’s running, and maybe raise her hand so it looks like she’s reaching for the silhouette on the second floor, not the front door.

Other than that, though, perfect. I’m glad you were able to find a designer who could give you a cover appropriate for your book.

 

The Stray: The Plan [resubmit]

The author says:

Re-release of “The Stray: To Plan”. Changed the title since people kept getting it wrong. It’s cyberpunk mystery, paranormal adventure, science fiction plus school life. The characters are teens, but the language and situations are more suited to adult readers: so it’s not New Adult cos the characters are too young, but it’s not specifically Young Adult because of the situations (and the profane language). As the first book in a (very long) series, the cover is meant to be simple and establish a pattern. The leaf symbol is integral to the story.

Cover 4 Scrivener-01

Cover 4 Scrivener-01

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

I think this is a lot stronger in both original size and thumbnail size: the central image is an icon, and the rest of the cover doesn’t detract from it.  (The primary consideration isn’t whether the leaf is an integral part of the story, but whether it’s a memorable graphic element.  In this case, it is.)

I’m still a little confused by the title, since what I see on the cover is “The Stray: Plan,” or possibly even “The Stray Plan” (there are two different fonts in use, but both being strong san-serif fonts, I can see how they could blur together).  You might be well served to add a colon after “Stray.”

Other than that, I think it’s a good job.  Anyone else have comments?

Sundrop Sonata

The author says:

Sundrop Sonata is a contemporary woman-and-child-on-the-run suspense novel featuring a heroine whose skills as a piano turner both trip the action and eventually resolve it…The widest target audience would be women readers who are looking for something different in mystery and suspense novels or who have a music background/interest.

Sundrop Sonata Cover

Sundrop Sonata Cover

Nathan says:

I think it’s a good cover, but not for the book you describe. (BTW, I assume “piano turner” is a typo, unless we’ve started rotating them like crops.)  At best, it could be mistaken for a “cozy” mystery; at worst — and more likely — readers would assume that it’s a memoir, or litfic.  The “A Novel of Suspense” sub/supertitle doesn’t make up for the fact that there’s no suspense in the cover.

And what does “suspense” look like?  At its most basic, it looks like something is wrong with the world.  Too many shadows, or too stark, or lighting that says that something is out of kilter. The photo for the cover of your book is the opposite — it looks like everything’s perfect.

Now, here’s what I did in five minutes, playing with exposure and saturation and a couple of filters.  I’m not saying this is a good cover, but I think it shows that making things look a little less “perfect” and “right” is good.

Sundrop Sonata Cover

Again: Not a good cover. But I hope it indicates the possibilities.  If I were working with the original photo, I’d be playing with things like having the girl be the only red tone on the cover, adding some scratch marks, playing with a heavier, grittier font… I hope this gives you some ideas.

Anyone else?

This Friday: The Cover Critic, in person!

This Thursday through Saturday (February 11th through 13th), I’ll be participating in Life, the Universe & Everything (aka “LTUE”), a slightly fannish symposium on science fiction and fantasy held in Provo, Utah.  On top of having some items in the art show, participating in discussion panels, and barking sudden nuggets of wisdom to bewildered random passers-by, on Friday at 5pm I’ll be giving a presentation on “Book Cover Design for Self-Publishers.”  If you’re local and you don’t participate in LTUE, you’re missing out on so much I can’t tell you.

Sparkle

The author says:

Contemporary fantasy with some horror elements.


scoutcover4

scoutcover4

Nathan says:

Hmm.  Lotta problems here, and I don’t know which to address first.

First, I suppose, is that the main image is composed of elements in disparate styles which don’t blend well together.  You’ve got an over-processed (and poorly composited) photograph of a house in the middle of a digital sketch.  They look like they were thrown together not by design, but by desperation.

The digital sketch is a problem by itself, because it looks just like what it is: A hasty sketch. Lord knows I love sketch artwork, but this is too scribbly to be much more than a guide for a later, more controlled rendition.  And the scribbled details to either side look almost like digital graffiti — they distract without adding anything.

I could go into font choices and such, but I think you’ve gotta correct the main image before any other repairs make sense.

Am I wrong? Other opinions?

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