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Serpentine

The author says:

Basically, high school junior Xen Aspen (still working on that name) is a mutant. At least he thinks he’s some sort of freak, that is. He is immune to snake bites and has an illegal part time job hunting venomous ones for rich people. One day, though, he learns that he belongs to a group of hybrids from a failed mutation experiment a hundred years ago (This is the book cover I designed for my book and I’m such a noob so I need your help and advice. Thanks).

WITH NAME - Serpentine

WITH NAME - Serpentine

Nathan says:

One thing you need to keep in mind is that, even though there’s no utilitarian reason for ebook covers to be any particular shape, they still ought to strike prospective readers as “book-shaped.”  The first impression of yours is that it’s an album cover.

I like the serpent eyes in a (more) human face, but I warn you that the floating disembodied eyes are such a design cliche that they’ve lost effectiveness.  I think you would get a lot more mileage out of the cover if you put an entire face/head on the cover with reptilian eyes.  (The fact that the image you use for the snake eyes is far lower resolution that its needs to be isn’t helping.)

I think the font you use for the title is marginally okay, but leaving it hollow decreases readability.  Make it either solid, or a texture tight enough that it looks solid in thumbnail.

The byline font, on the other hand, doesn’t have much going for it: It’s hard to read at any size, and it gives a medieval flavor to the cover which doesn’t match the description you gave for the book.

Anyone else?

Comments

  1. The title is great and it just seems like it shouldn’t be hard to make a visually appealing cover with the serpentine concept. There are so many possibilities. The effect with the eyes is one possibility, though here it’s not pulled off quite right, and even if it is, you can probably find a better way to say serpentine. It’s a good first attempt, but there seems to be much untapped potential here. Maybe someone can suggest an alternative (or show a mock up). I think many designers would love a shot at this concept.

  2. I am having a hard time trying to give advice due to not knowing enough about the main character but I will do my best.

    I had two instant inspiration flashes looking at this cover. It is either too close in, or not close in enough. I think both could be striking if worked properly.

    Make it even closer: Focus on just one eye, on a very close up picture of a reptile’s eye of some kind, with enough skin and scales around it for you to get your text and name on the cover as well. Then you give that reptile a human iris and eye.

    Make it further away: Does he have any mutations at all besides serpent eyes that could be incorporated into a larger version of the character? If there was a bigger picture of a man in shadow, from say the waist up, with the glint of reptile eyes, that would work. If there are other mutations in the book, such as odd coloured blood, or pointed teeth, this would be a good place to incorporate them. Just don’t go overboard, the key to this one will that it will be subtle.

  3. This is kind of like those story problems I used to get in math classes where the correct answer was “I need more information.” We need a bit more grist for this mill. For instance, what kind of personality does this chimera protagonist of yours have? Bitter alienated loner? Thinks looking a bit different from the other kids is kinda cool? Maybe he’s just kind of shy and nerdy? How radically has his genetic background altered his appearance from an ordinary human’s? How much of this would you care to reveal to your readers on the cover?

    As Nathan mentions, your almost-square cover is not all that reminiscent of a book cover. There is one practical reason you might want to make it more standard-sized: if you ever put out a physical print edition, people will want it to be some standard size. The common standard in much of the publishing industry is a 2:3 ratio, specifically six inches by nine inches. That might be worth a shot here as well.

    Finally, I should point out that pure black with a splash of golden imagery on it is usually standard for stuff like a Game of Thrones or Hunger Games novel, not the kind of science fiction you’re selling here. Your fonts likewise suggest some kind of medieval or neo-medieval story. The font for the title is fine, but I’d recommend filling it in with gray or bright-green scaling like a snake’s. As for the byline, make it something precise and metallic and science-fiction-ish.

    If the character’s appearance is only subtly different from other people’s, this might actually be a good time to put a pseudo-human of the sort we’re always mocking on Lousy Book Covers to use: the point being to make the protagonist look a little “off” in some vaguely creepy way from ordinary people… unless you just want to take some otherwise ordinary-looking guy and give him some slitted reptile pupils; that shouldn’t be too difficult to photoshop.

    1. Hmmm… Yes, I can see the similarities, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it plagiarism. It’s not really a good source for inspiration, though: that cover’s pretty weak too. If you want a science fiction cover for inspiration, I’d go with this cover as a template for a book about a character with an identity crisis: instead of floating eyes, a portrait that shows everything but the character’s eyes.

      That’s if this book is about a character with an identity crisis, of course. Again, I need more information.

  4. Thanks for the comment, guys! I did this cover years ago, but I only had the courage to show it to people to get some comments. I didn’t even realize how much of the story relied on the cover till I read the comments, which made me realize what my plot also lacked. The MMC would have scales on his arms and his eyes would actually be bluish-violet. Should more/different color combo be used here? I’d like to portray a mysterious, suspenseful and action-packed mood. Which kind of font style would look better? (Thinking of asking a professional designer for this, but I’d still love to know what elements to take note of or see in the book cover).

    Again, thanks for the comments guys! I learned a lot here more than anywhere else about book cover design.

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