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Month – March 2016

Ascent of the Nebula

The author says:

A dystopian high-tech novel set on another world. The main character has had his memory wiped by a group of scientists called the Developers and is struggling to stop them and rediscover his identity. This is book 3 in a 3 book series.

Synopsis: With the Developers’ plans to reengineer the human race in disarray, this may be the one chance Adan and the Sentient renegades have of saving the desert world of the Vast. Using the chronotrace, a device capable of looking back into time, Adan discovers their next point of attack, but a window to the past can’t prepare him for what the future has in store. He will have to risk his life, his future, and everything he’s fought for if he hopes to survive.

ascentCoverLarge

ascentCoverLarge

Nathan says:

As we’ve seen before, with later volumes in a series, brand continuity with the earlier books is as important as the quality of that particular volume’s cover, so here are the two earlier books in this series:

cover[6]  cover[1]

Honestly, I don’t think there’s much I would change. The branding is consistent across all three volumes, but the changing color scheme keeps them distinct, and the motif of strong typography over textured background works for me.

If I were to try to tweak anything, I’d see if I could adjust the kerning on “Nebula” (and while I was at it, on “Viscera” on the second book) so that I could enlarge that whole word — I like the way that “Vast” takes up the space on the first cover, and I’d want to imitate that more.  But aside from that one thing…

Anyone else have a different take?

Guarding Genny

The author says:

Will the plane crash that killed her husband two years earlier also claim Genny Stevens as a victim? When the insurance company demands their money back she hires Taylor Coleman to prove her husband’s innocence and protect her and her two small children. Someone else has a different plan for Genny, one that doesn’t involve her staying alive. She wonders if help from an unexpected source can possibly manage to arrive in time.

Guarding Genny weaves suspense, intrigue and fantasy into a modern day romance while straddling the worlds of the mystical and reality. This is a draft for the first of four books in the Moonlight Magic Series. It can be considered a Clean and Wholesome romantic story but with enough suspense, intrigue and mysticism to appeal to the YA through the senior citizen set. At this time we are leaning towards the Romantic Suspense category but are still researching which option is best. The book is finished, we just need the cover to publish. Thank you for any input that will better the cover.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00065]

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00065]

Nathan says:

I have to tell you, if I saw this cover on Amazon I’d seriously consider putting it up on LousyBookCovers.Com.  Why?  Here’s what I see:

A bear’s butt.  In a moon.  With a smiling woman. But mostly a bear’s butt.

Does this tell me what the genre is?  Who the intended reader is?  What kind of story I’ll find behind the cover?  No, none of that.

And your description takes it further afield. You’re describing a suspense thriller, but suspense thrillers aren’t marketed with smiling people and gentle color schemes and bears’ butts.  Suspense thrillers are marketed with bold fonts and ominous shadows, and the people definitely aren’t smiling. Heck, you even mention a plane crash in your synopsis!  Plane crashes are exciting and dramatic! So why am I staring at a bear’s butt instead?  (And if your answer is, “It makes sense once you read the book,” you’re doing it wrong.  Nobody reads the book so that the cover will make sense to them.  The cover needs to appeal to readers before they know anything else about your book.)

The thing is that suspense thriller covers, especially “woman in jeopardy” covers, are really quite simple.  Go to Amazon and look at Tess Gerritsen’s covers, or Tami Hoag’s covers, or Lisa Jackson’s covers.  These are the readers you’re going after, so you need to catch the readers’ eyes by marketing to them in the same way.

Other comments?

 

 

Face Lift

The author says:

Face Lift is an urban fantasy set in a near future where there’s still a bit of magic in the shadows. Gregorios, a rare facetaker, infiltrates an island medical compound in search of his missing wife. The “doctors” claim to possess the scientific secret to eternal youth, but Gregorios discovers instead old enemies, old magic, and a plot of astronomical proportions.

Face Lift

Face Lift

Nathan says:

Zzzzzz… Sorry, what?

Okay, that was uncalled for. But it seems that everything about this cover is intended to be innocuous and deferential.  The color, what there is of it, doesn’t stand out from the monochrome image, which is all shades of gray instead of having any clear blacks or whites.  The fonts are thin and indecisive.  There’s nothing here which tells me what the genre is, who it appeals to, or whether this book has any adrenaline or “juice” to it.

You could take several corrective actions here — add a color overlay to the background image after you’ve played with the levels, make the fonts bolder and more decisive — but this cover could probably best be served by going back to square one.  Really, you could go to a free image site like Pixabay.com or Deathtothestockphoto.com, find the first image that captures your attention, and work from there to create a better cover… because “captures your attention” is what this cover is lacking.

Am I wrong? Anyone else?

Bloody Night

The author says:

An adult paranormal romance set in present-day USA in which a vampire assassin and the prince of the werewolves fight their desire for one another while trying to prevent a war between their clashing factions. It’s the first book in a series aimed at women over the age of eighteen. It’s in a similar vein as Kresley Cole and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Bloody Night 500px

Bloody Night 500px

Nathan says:

Nice cover for a steamy romance — but where’s the paranormal?  Nothing on this cover indicates “werewolf,” “vampire,” “supernatural,” or anything but two hot people getting groiny. Far be it for me to defend the “photobombing wolf” we see far too often on covers at LBC, but at least they serve the purpose of letting potential readers know that the book isn’t just 100,000 words of standard hookups.

What can you do with the color scheme to make it look not just warm and fuzzy?  If you make the figures smaller, could you put something in the background, like crypts or vaulted cathedral ceilings?  Could you convey something in your fonts — old Germanic, or clawed scratches?

Other ideas?

Time Traveler Chronicles

The author says:

Evelyn Carter is a struggling video news stringer, who stumbles into the biggest story of her life. After she records and reveals to the world the arrival of a time machine, she is recruited to become a member of an elite government time travel team. She and her team travel through time, with the public goal of recording historical events on video for the world to see. Along the way she learns of a hidden agenda that must be kept secret from the public at all costs. Buried deep in the past is a potential solution to stop the unstoppable. The team must journey farther through time and space than anyone has ever gone or thought possible, in order to put the pieces of the puzzle together. However they are blocked at every turn in their efforts, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00013]

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00013]

Nathan says:

Hmm. There are a lot of choices that seem almost-right here, but they’re cumulatively less than the sum of their parts.  I’ll try to pick them apart.

First, I’ve got real problems with your font choices.  The title font is too plain to be enticing, but too innocuous to be urgent.  The back cover font is an impediment to reading the text.  And while I have no problems with the byline font itself, it doesn’t mesh well with the other fonts at all.

The color-transparency of the silhouetted figures is also annoying.  But more than that, they seem to be indicating that whatever is worth looking at is happening somewhere off the cover.

And then you’ve got an egg-shaped moon on the back cover. Definite demerits there.

To tweak this cover, I would move the sun to behind the couple and crop it like this:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00013]

Since the other detail in the image doesn’t actually convey any additional information, it can be excised in favor of focus.

Anyone think differently?

A World Alone

The author says:

A young adult, zombie, horror novel that focuses more on their internal struggles while surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Synopsis: Stella Carlisle is a thousand miles from her destination, and she’s willing to do anything to get there. Whether that means manipulating fellow survivors, or killing them, nothing is going to deter her. While infected lurk around every corner and bandits hide in every shadow, starvation and illness follow closely in their wake. In a world of personal demons, void of connection, Stella truly is living in a world alone.

Thank you so much for any criticism you can give me!

A World Alone Cover

A World Alone Cover

Nathan says:

First, a niggling little ebook design tip: When you’ve got white background to the edge of the page, add a very thin border to separate your cover from the (likely white) background of the page on which it’s sold. (Yes, I know that it’s off-white, but so subtly so that it’s still a problem.)

Now on to the cover itself:  It’s a very solid design, and you’ve done well with separating it from the blood/guts/etc. of most of the zombie genre… perhaps too well.  Nothing on this cover looks dangerous.  Nothing looks like the world is out of whack.  It looks almost completely introspective.

Also, the only person you mention in your synopsis is a woman who’s completely alone — but that’s a man’s silhouette.

I would add some “noise” to the picture — cracks, probably, not only showing that something is “crumbling,” but also giving me the opportunity to add hints of a contrasting color.

Heck, the file you sent me is large enough; I’ll show you what I mean.

A World Alone Cover w cracks

Not the best possible design solution, obviously; I just grabbed a lava texture out of my textures folder to show what I mean.  (Doesn’t everybody have a textures folders?) The point is that distressing the image can add some of the apocalyptic vibe that the current image doesn’t hold.

And fix that man.

Other comments?

A note about the posting schedule…

There’s been more interest in CoverCritics.com lately (largely spurred by a presentation I did on indie cover design at LTUE in February), with a corresponding rise in the number of submissions.

However, I don’t want to post more than three covers for critique per week, as I want commenters to have time to give thoughtful critiques without feeling that things are “piling up.”

The upshot is that the submissions themselves are piling up a bit.  There are currently five submissions in the hopper, or almost two weeks’ worth.

If you submitted and have not seen your cover here yet, please be patient.  (If, however, you’ve already submitted and don’t see your cover in two weeks’ time, feel free to drop me a line.  I have to rescue at least half of the submissions I receive from my spam folder.)

Echoes in the Cavern

The author says:

Book two in the middle grade Young Marian series. Deep in the serpentine caves beneath Nottingham, a plot unravels, its sinister tendrils threatening to ensnare Marian’s father in dark accusations of treachery. With her home under a blanket of suspicion and the long shadow of Prince John looming over them, fourteen year old Marian and her best friend Robin seek to uncover the true culprit behind the mysterious theft of the crown’s gold. Her quest to catch the thief and prove her father’s innocence leads Marian on a chase through the heart of Sherwood Forest to the bowels of Nottingham Castle. Events unfold rapidly and the villainous Lord Ranulf hovers ever in the background, whispers and lies at the ready. As he weaves his web of deceit, Marian begins to worry that her own impulsive actions may play a part in destroying her father and everything she loves.

YM2cover

YM2cover

Nathan says:

As this is the second volume in the series, I looked up the first one to see what elements were already established for branding.  My comments are divided into those specifically for Echoes in the Cavern, and for the series as a whole:

cover[1]

Comments specifically about Echoes in the Cavern:

It’s very professionally done.  I think the only things I would toy with changing are:

  1. Somehow, I don’t think the lighter color behind the title works as well.  Maybe it calls attention to the lack of illustration up there; I dunno.
  2. The title seems marginally harder to read.  That could be because of the overlap between E and C, confusing the order in which the words are to be read.  Again, I dunno.

Comments about the series branding:

I like all of your elements.  I wish the titles were larger (after all, it’s not like you’d be obscuring the illustration behind the title — it’s just dead space), and I especially wish your byline were larger.  Let your fans know it’s another Mandy Webster book!

Any other comments?

Dazzled by Darkness

The author says:

What happens when a book-smart Jewish girl who haunts museums falls for a street-smart Latino guy who creates radical in-your-face artwork? Author Erica Miles invites you to take a trip back in time to the 1960s art scene in Brooklyn, New York, to find out.

DazzledbyDarkness_EBOOK (1)

DazzledbyDarkness_EBOOK (1)

Nathan says:

If I were to see the cover without the description, I’d assume it was a paranormal romance.  (Not the kind with alpha wolves and shifter bears, but still.)  The color scheme and sparkle definitely buy into that otherworldly vibe that the “reincarnated psychics in love” novels cultivate.

Where’s the ’60s in this?  Yes, he’s got a peace sign around his neck, but it doesn’t really draw the eye, and it’s invisible in the thumbnail.  But you could do so much with the color scheme, the font choices… Heck, it’s a book about a radical artist.  Show me some radical artwork!

(Also: The guy’s hairline makes it look like his ‘fro wig is sliding off his head.)

Anyone think differently?

The Assassin’s Brink [resubmit]

The author says:

Reworked cover for my in-progress story. I’ve used better images that I think better convey the story’s title “The Assassin’s Brink.” I’ve changed a few things after a bit of time away from the project (gotta love writer’s block and hectic schedules). The two biggest differences to the story are the two main characters; Alexandra Granger is now Alexander Granger and Marcus Kane is now Amanda Kane. Other than that the story will remain roughly the same.

The Assassin’s Brink: An Alex Granger Thriller

Drummed out of the US Army after a dispute with his superiors, former Delta Force operator Alexander “Alex” Granger is recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency for an off-the-books mission in the Middle East to assassinate terrorist leader Abdul bin al Kamal—formerly Lt. Cdr. Kenneth Monroe, a Naval Intelligence officer. But nothing is what it seems when Alex is ambushed and nearly killed by a CIA strike team. Wounded and on the run from his own country, Alex calls upon the one person he can actually trust: Marine Force Recon sniper Gunnery Sergeant Amanda Kane. Off the reservation and hunted by the country they’ve faithfully served, the duo faces off against a shadowy cabal—who will stop at nothing to keep their existence secret—plotting a devastating attack against the United States.

The-Assassin's-Brink

The-Assassin's-Brink

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

I like this very much more.  (That sounds wonky, but the grammar’s correct. Honest.)  The fonts are strong, the color scheme adds a bit of tension to the red/white/blue, and there’s more detail for readers to discover at full size.

My only suggestion would be for the figure himself; rather than a man with a mission, he looks like a man abandoning his mission and walking away.  If you squared up his shoulders and put a gun in his hands, he’d appear much more resolute and driven.

Other than that, I’m happy.  Anybody else?

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