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Month – February 2018

Catslay [resubmit #2]

The author says:

In 1985, a witch turns little six-year-old Dana into a cat. Ten years later, he escapes the witch and takes up with a little six-year-old girl whose legal guardians are sexually abusing her. The witch’s curse gave Dana no special powers or abilities whatsoever apart from being a cat with a human mind, but this is more than enough for his purposes; for when horrendous and often fatal “accidents” begin befalling various unsympathetic people and institutions around him and his new owner (starting with her rapacious guardians) who’s ever going to suspect her cat of being the culprit?

As mentioned on previous submissions, the genre is Suburban Horror-Fantasy, but I should probably also add that Horror is its primary genre, the Fantasy premise being of only secondary importance to the story.

[previous submissions and comments here and here]

Nathan says:

You say now that it’s primarily horror, but is that really the case?  Horror stories are usually about the people that things happen to, rather than the people doing things.  If this were truly a horror novel, I’d say to go back to the first cover you submitted as “Catslash” and work from that concept.  However, since it still seems more “urban fantasy thriller” than actual horror…

(BTW, if Dana is turned into a cat, not a kitten, and then the events of the story take place a decade later and he has “no special powers or abilities whatsoever apart from being a cat with a human mind,” we’re talking a pretty old cat here.)

I think you’re missing the boat by having your cover be NOTHING BUT CAT. The story is how this cat protects the little girl, right?  Then have a sad-eyed little girl holding a cat with red eyes.  Put them against a black or murky background, use a title font reminiscent of the horror or revenge-thriller paperbacks of the ’80’s, and you’re good.

Other comments?


Bitcoin, Ethereum… Les Cryptomonnaies

The author says:

Explains what cryptocurrencies are, how they fit in our economic system, how to trade them and the risks/rewards involved. This book serves as a introduction to the world of cryptos and technical trading.

Nathan says:

I understand the “pirate treasure” motif you’re going for, but you need to switch your emphasis around.  Books that explain something usually put the title and subtitle big and clear, with any picture accompanying it as a definite sidenote.

The font you’ve chosen for the title and byline… again, I understand what you were going for here, but “angular” doesn’t always connote technology. In this case, it looks like cheap do-it-yourself painted lettering that you see on roadside-stand signage made by people who don’t want to pay for a professional sign (“Fresh Strawberries”).  And the italics font for the subtitle clashes terribly.

My advice: Let the title and subtitle take up at least half of the cover, in a clear but professional font.

And for Pete’s sake, lose that skull.  You don’t want the subtext of the cover to be “Bitcoin will kill us all.

Other comments?


Chance for Hope

The author says:

Steamy Suspense Romance – not for kids or teens ‘Vanilla’ man saves D/s woman from attack in dark alley, they become lovers while fending off the revenge of gangsters. They teach other about their type of pleasures while falling in love. First in series of the couple building philanthropic empire against all odds.

Nathan says:

Now, I’m not the target audience (and I have no idea what “D/s” means), so I hope other can corroborate what I say.

You say this is a “steamy suspense romance.”  What I see is a just plain romance.  The steamier subgenre usually puts more of a focus on bodies than on lips (thus giving rise to the “headless torso” phenomenon), and suspense… well, some indication of danger is usually included.

Who are the books that you would expect to see in the arms (or on the Kindle) of the reader who would enjoy your book?  What are the commonalities between those covers?  How is your target reader used to being marketed to?


The author says:

Hi all, need some direction. My book is a fast-paced high fantasy book heavy on the sorcery, (no swordplay) with the world-building of an epic but the feel of an urban fantasy set in an enchanted, no-tech locale starring a father and his young son.

I’m not sure which book covers I should be using for guidance. High fantasy ranges from swords or symbols on the cover (GRRM) to landscapes/strangely lit arches (Wheeler) to characters looking mysterious (His Dark Tidings, etc). Other faster-paced, character-driven tales like the Palace Job or Nicholas Eames’ Kings of the Wyld use an illustrated group of mysterious people standing about looking tough with swords that look like stick figures when shrank down on the Amazon sales page. But there’s no swordplay in here, just lots of magic and enchanted trees. Did I mention this is a work of high Christian fantasy? Not so much book 1 but the rest of the series, yes. So which subgenre should I use as a guide for covers? O_o

The current blurb, which needs rewriting in case my rant above wasn’t enough:

Evil rises in the enchanted forest. One untrained mage and his son must stop it, if they can.

Start No Fires. Carry No Weapons. Do No Harm.

Those three rules safeguarded countless travelers through the enchanted forest—until they didn’t. One boy’s murder ripped open a gateway allowing evil to enter. Now no one is safe from corruption.

Enchanted trees take Sarn to where the forest failed to uphold its rules. Seeing a dead child gifted with the same magic as his son unhinges Sarn. He vows to find out the truth no matter what the cost. But his gift is untrained and finding answers won’t be easy. Sarn must balance nights serving the Rangers with days dedicated to hiding his son from the dark forces stalking them both.

When Sarn’s masters demand he abandon the quest, he faces an impossible choice—doom the ghost whose murder endangers them all or die from the backlash of breaking his word. With the odds stacked against him, can Sarn fix anything or will all be lost?

Nathan says:

I think the biggest problem is that the way the (completely modern-looking, BTW) father and son’s silhouette is shown makes it look like this is a story about things being done to them (usually the premise of a contemporary suspense novel) than them doing things.  I think a father/son high fantasy is novel enough that that’s what you need to play up here.

Other comments?

Witchy Wickedness [resubmit]

The author says:

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Designed by SwoonWorthy Book Covers
About: Ravenwood, California isn’t like other coastal towns. It’s a mystical place built over a gateway into Hell, with some extremely unusual residents. And Shiloh Trudell isn’t like other girls—she’s a teen witch who can sense the things that go bump in the night.

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

Some advice taken, some not. I don’t consider myself 100% infallible in these things, but I think this is a case where the advice taken improved the cover and the advice not taken didn’t.

  • At least she’s hold a recognizable object now!  (Not to nitpick, but she looks like she’s holding it curled in her fingers, instead of back against her palm and the ball of her thumb.)
  • Byline bigger: Good. Title smaller: Bad.
  • The glow still looks more artificial than magical.

Other comments?

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