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The Burning of Cherry Hill [resubmit]

The author says:

THE BURNING OF CHERRY HILL is a dystopian novel set in North America 150 years in the future. Though it features teenage protagonists, it was written for the older teen/adult crowd. The siblings (Zay, 14, and Lina, 12) grew up on an island in hiding from a government they never knew existed. They are remanded to foster care when said government brutally kidnaps their fugitive parents and burns down their home. The kids have to learn to cope with a totalitarian (but prosperous and outwardly generous) government while trying to figure out a way to find and rescue their parents. The tulip is a recurring literary theme in the story.



[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:


The color scheme bullseyes the dystopian vibe, the typography is clear, and the tulip motif is present but unobtrusive.

The only solid suggestion I’d give is to put periods after the initials in the byline, because there are so many series books out there that are “A Something-Something Book” that a reader could initially assume that the “A” is the word, not an initial.

If I were doing the design, I’d probably experiment with things like adding a very subtle “grunge” texture to the type, or reducing “The” and “of” in the title, but I don’t know that I’d decide in favor of either.

Well done.

Anyone say different? (If you do, you’ll have to answer to ME!)


  1. Personally, I find the type too intense. So much so that all other elements are nearly lost. While it certainly could suffice as is, I would be inclined to tone down the size and/or color of the type to better balance the overall look of the cover.

    You have done a really nice job though.

  2. You have indeed done a very nice job! It’s a pleasure to see something that looks this professional here. I agree with Nathan’s comments with the exception of the tulip. I don’t think that reads well at all…I had to look twice, and closely at that, to realize what it was. In fact, I wasn’t even sure until I read Nathan’s comments. Removing the tulip may go towards solving some of the problem that Adrian raises since it would obscure less of the background image.

    The tulip may be a recurring theme, but no one will know that until they read the book. To the uninitiated it’s merely a busy, confusing graphic. It also obscures what may be the most important part of the background image.

    If it is really important to include the flower, you may find a better way to do it. Perhaps a color image to the left of “Hill.” If the color is chosen well it might make a nice contrast with the dominant red and yellow of the rest of the art.

  3. I like the colours and the overall theme and design and I agree it is more genre-appropriate than the other one.

    I don’t like the tulip overlay. It’s hard to see and the pencil look of it doesn’t match with the theme. I think a more symbolic tulip would work better.

    I don’t like how the different lines of the type run into each other. Make the type slightly smaller to give it room to breathe.

  4. I like the tulips, but I’d bump them over a little more to the right and get rid of that large upright solid bit (a leaf, I think?).

  5. Ah this is interesting! I spotted your previous submission when I was browsing through the old posts. Like others said, it was a great design just not for this book. I was intrigued enough to check out the book though, and I liked it.

    I’m a designer in the book world myself (mainly poster design these days, though I have experience in cover design). Having a quiet few days at work, and having enjoyed your book, I thought I’d have a go at designing a cover for you. Here’s what I came up with:

    As you can see, the designs I’ve come up with go in a similar direction to the ones in your design above in some ways. However, I think while your design is well-executed and certainly closer to the mark than our previous design, it still does not quite work at portraying or selling the book.

    One of the things about YA book design is that its much more amped up than adult book design. You can be – have to be – more unabashedly ‘attention grabbing’ with YA covers.

    I’m thinking of reference points like the current , the , , etc.

    Brash, almost neon, colours are very current and I think suit the intensity of your book well. I’ve mostly gone for a black/orange/hot pink scheme. In one version I tried out a blue and orange scheme as an alternative, but my feeling is that it somehow gives the book a less mature feel. The orange/yellow-only scheme goes too far the other way for my money – it puts me slightly in mind of Andy McNab book covers. the hot pink is a youthful touch that identifies the book firmly as YA.

    In the top six images I’ve gone with imagery that plays up the action-y aspect of the book. For the market your aiming for, that’s a point worth playing up.

    I’ve also put in a representation of the main character(s) – at least in silhouette form – partly because the protagonist is a boy. Male heroes of YA dystopian fiction are rare enough that it’s worth making the point on the cover. It won’t alienate female readers, and it will attract male readers.

    The bottom three images are a bit different. I know you’re keen to include the tulip imagery. Myself, I kind of agree with Ron Miller that ‘to the uninitiated it’s merely a busy, confusing graphic’.

    But one iteration of the tulip imagery I could maybe see working is making it into a stylized badge or emblem. That’s something which is a big trend in YA dystopian front covers (as I’m sure you’ve noticed): for example, The Hunger Games picked out the visual of the ‘mockingjay’ pin very successfully for its front cover. It didn’t literally convey much about the book’s contents but it was an intriguing enough visual to get away with it.

    I’ve tried a couple of version featuring a tulip-on-fire emblem. I think these version have got some merit, but I think ultimately you have to lose some much stronger, more informative imagery to make way for the tulip symbol. Maybe it’s a graphic that could be utilised elsewhere – the back cover, the title page, chapter headers etc.

    In the other versions I’ve instead incoorperated subtle tulip imagery by using it as a texture on the title type. It’s a nice hint of symbolism for those who spot it but isn’t prominent enough to be distracting and confusing in this treatment.

    I offer any of these free gratis for use, and I encourage you to make use of one. Email me – – some of these are a little rough around the edges and need a bit of polishing before use, and I’d ask for a credit.

    The elements I’ve used fonts and stock are fine to be used; I already owned this stock, and the fonts are public domain.

    1. These quite literally took my breath away. Stunning. You did an amazing job. I might cry. In the best possible way.

    2. Those are bloody nice!

      The only comment I would make is that the story is YA and the characters are teenagers. The images look like they are children and not teenagers. That tulip design was exactly the sort of thing I had in mind when I said I thought it needed to be more symbolic.

      1. Actually, from what I’ve seen of teens and preteens, those might really be silhouettes of a 14-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl. Since they’re running head-on toward the “fourth wall” in all shots, I can’t see whether the girl has her *ahem* lady bumps yet, but the gentle curve of the hips is just about right for a girl hitting puberty. My only objection is that she ought to be a bit taller; girls usually hit their growth spurts a year or two earlier than boys, so she’d be almost caught up to her brother at their stated ages before he pulls permanently into the lead the next year.

        Bear in mind that children in movies and on television these days are usually played by actors a little older than the stated age of their characters; union rules and government regulations make casting for really young children difficult. Also, if the characters are teenagers, they can be played by small adults as old as 30. 15-year-old Brooke Shields’ body double in The Blue Lagoon was a 30-year-old swim instructor, and you may recall how Michael J. Fox managed to play the young teenager Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy while he was actually in his late 20s. This kind of casting subtly influences how we expect real children to look, making–for example–child silhouettes shot from actual children at the stated ages look younger than we think children “should” be at that age.

        From personal experience as a camp counselor at a church retreat, I can testify that middle school (where both siblings would be by today’s standards) is right where the difference between children and teenagers becomes the most obvious. One week, a group of middle-school kids we had there were difficult to tell apart from the younger high school kids. The next week, another group of middle school kids were difficult to tell apart from the older elementary school kids.

        In other words, those silhouettes of the kids running might be more true to life than you think; though I still think the guy’s sister ought to be taller.

  6. I see the linking html went a bit wonky! The links are to The covers of The Hunger Games, Muchamore’s books, The 100 by Kass Morgan and the How I Live Now poster.

  7. Thanks for the comments on my work!

    I think Ms Butler did an absolutely great job with her own design and made some really strong design choices. I just think the genre elements and audience still isn’t stated clearly enough to gab the right readers in this cover.

    I’d love to help boost this book if I can, it’s a goodun!

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