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Month – December 2016

Patchers of the Code

The author says:

Yes. This is happening again. Rejoice! The third book of my Elfrotica series is now covered, with this cover. The name was changed from Redeemers, as that didn’t fit so well. So I present to you Patchers, now with centaurs! (As a bonus I remembered to put highlights and the background solid colour thingies in this one before submitting this! A new record) The angel was going to have a giant sword, but there is no room for it. He has a flower instead. I was thinking of maybe using a dagger, as flowers are not that intimidating but are in the book. He doesn’t actually have a dagger in the book, but it would look more ‘dangerous’.

Nathan says:

I will, of course, go to hell for what I’m about to say:

Phallus harder!

I think that each successive cover needs to be even more suggestive, juuuust inside the bounds of plausible deniability.  I went into this saying, “Surely there’s gotta be some suggestion of phallic imagery in the spear…” Nope.  And you’ve got a centaur, without ever playing with the visual idea of “hung like a horse?” For shame!

(Also,”Patchers” isn’t very readable in that font.)

Anyone else? Also, don’t tell my mom.

Mrs. Hartley and the Senator

The author says:

This is a nonfiction book. It is 1895. A young artist moves into the top floor of a bank building in frontier Reno, Nevada. The bank owner slips something into her drink and, well, has his way with her. The book is told almost completely though newspaper stories of the time, with transitions from one to the other by the author.

Nathan says:

An interesting premise.  And the cover’s professionally done.  But I don’t know that the cover as it is will draw in the audience that would want to read this account.

One of the tests of cover design often mentioned in the comments here (and which I will thus shamelessly steal) is, “Would someone who doesn’t understand English be able to look at the cover and tell what the genre and tone is?”

If I didn’t understand the text, I would assume that we’re looking at possibly a detective story (the newspaper background would lead me there), but I would assume, I don’t know… a chemical or scientific angle? (The drink in the hand isn’t distinctly enough a shot glass at first glance, and coupled with the newsprint, I’d jump to the conclusion of some sort of newsworthy chemical announcement.) And the typefaces chosen say neither “Reno, Nevada” nor “1985.”

Here’s what I’d do:

  • For the title, bylines, etc., I’d find some actual fonts used in newspapers of the time.  If need be, I’d get things a little more Western-looking than the actual fonts (small-town newspapers didn’t WANT to look small-town, after all), but I’d at least use the original fonts as a touchstone, including the wear and printing mistakes that would show up in newspapers of the time.
  • The newsprint is a good idea; I’d put it in several clippings at overlapping angles, riffing off the idea that there are several disparate accounts being assembled here.
  • Rather than a male hand triumphantly holding a drink aloft, I think you’d get a lot more mileage out of a female hand, on the floor, a spilled drink next to it.  There’s a lot more drama to be had there.

Other ideas?


The author says:

Homicide detective Kim Phillips isn’t like the other officers of the Chicago Police Department. She’s quiet, isolated, and she can speak with the dead. Born with the ability to see into and interact with the afterlife, she is a Burner: a person tasked with hunting down dangerous spirits and sending them to the other side. When Kim exorcises the ghost of a young girl, she’s dragged into a new and unsettling case, one where people like Kim are being killed. The only problem? There’s no connection between the victims, and no proof that they were murdered in the first place. Kim has to catch the killer before he finds his last victim and unleashes an unknown evil on the world.

Burner, the first book in the Affinity Series, is a dark exploration of how life and death are only separated by a single breath and how even those with power can be powerless.

Nathan says:

I think this is a very professional cover — the limited palette works well with the focal element of the art, the fonts chosen are distinctive without being overloaded with novelty… I think it says “urban fantasy novel” very well.  However, as the story is also a police investigation, I think it would work better if you could find some way to say “urban fantasy crime novel.”

Could there be yellow traffic lines on the ground, underneath the glowing sigil (muted to match the color scheme, of course)?  Or some police tape in the shadows behind the title? Or a pair of handcuffs on the ground by the byline?  I would brainstorm on some simple addition like that to add the angle of police involvement to the cover.

Other ideas?

(And since everyone expects me to say it: “Burner? I don’t even KNOW ‘er!”)

A Hostile Takeover

The author says:

This is a science fiction novel set in a post-cyberpunk world, struggling with the rise of corporate gangs and untamed technology. I wanted it simple as possible and chose the skull motif to represent criminal/piracy elements to the story involving corporate banksters, slumlords, rogue AI’s. It is set in a near future, post economic super-depression civilisation. I’m aiming to soon publish a new edition and am wondering if I should redesign the existing cover or ditch it altogether.

Nathan says:

As a practical matter, you should always put a distinctly different cover on a new edition.  Which gives you lots of room to play with this one!

First: The sizing of the words in the title make it look like “A” is the most important word/letter.  Meanwhile, “Takeover” becomes unreadable in the thumbnail.

Second: While the digitalized, dot-matrix effect on the skull comes through at full size, that’s completely lost in the thumbnail; it could a cross-stitch, for all we can see.  Coupled with the fact that “blank white” isn’t a a color that anyone associates with cyberpunk, the cover fails to let potential readers know in their first glance that this is a post-cyberpunk criminal dystopian novel.

My suggestion? Steal. Add Matrixy, grungy elements.  Let “cyberpunk” and “dystopia” and “crime” be the first thing people notice, even before they read the title.

Here’s my five-minute redo:

I know I’ve got your title font somewhere on my computer, but I couldn’t find it quickly, so I substituted.  I played with the color balance until it looked like The Matrix, enlarged your name, and added the first “broken glass” wallpaper I found.  I’m not happy with it as a final, obviously, but I think it’s a good starting point.

Other ideas?

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