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Blackest of Lies

The author says:

Blackest of Lies is set in 1916. It aims to suggest an alternative view of Lord Kitchener’s death at the hands of the German Navy in the cold waters off Orkney. There were many questions raised concerning the security of his journey which started immediately after the tragedy and have rummbled on until the present day. This book suggests that Kitchener was murdered in his house by the IRA and follows the efforst of the security services to keep the murder a secret by employing a military doctor as a resonable stand-in to fool the public at a distance. But, when he is sent to Russia via Scapa Flow, it is in the interests of friend and foe to ensure he does not return. It is left to Lt Hubert, the man who suggested him, and Anne Banfield of Special Branch to race after him to prevent his death in the coled waters of the Pentland Firth. Thsi book is aimed at those who are interested in espionage, the security branches and the Great War.




Nathan says:

Very confident in its use of images, a muted color palette, and type.  Here are tweaks I would recommend:

  1. I don’t know about most people, but I know I’m not history-savvy enough to instantly grasp the setting from the images shown.  Perhaps a subtitle/supertitle giving just a smidge more info — “A Conspiracy of the Great War” or somesuch — would be appropriate.
  2. I can’t tell what exactly I’m supposed to pick up from the upper image. If it’s the military imagery, it might be worthwhile to move that photo up so that the medals are more clearly seen, and make it a bit less transparent. That would also help the train tracks be more easily recognized as well; readers would benefit from instantly understanding “military” and “railroad” than “what am I looking at?” in that first three-quarters of a second.
  3. I’d probably also try a bit more space between the title and byline, but maybe that’s just me.

Other thoughts?



  1. I don’t know about anyone else, but this twigs the “layers upon layers” reaction for me. The transparency gradient makes it difficult to sort out what is part of which picture, especially at thumbnail size. I can’t even tell if it’s two images or three.

    I’m also not sure these are the best photos for you to use. I only figured out that the top one by Googling him; even if you showed his whole face, I don’t think he has the instant face recognition you need to sell a historical book just based on who it’s about. And the bottom picture(s), I’m assuming, have some important significance to the story, but I don’t know what; it just looks like a rail yard.

    What I don’t get from your photos is either a) espionage or b) Great War. (Yes, Kitchener’s outfit theoretically ought to clarify the latter, but to anyone who isn’t a uniform buff, it could evoke the late 19th century as well.) So I don’t think this cover will be very effective at attracting the readers it really needs to attract: People who are interested in history and espionage but don’t know anything about this particular topic.

    (One thing I wasn’t clear about from your plot summary: Fiction or nonfiction? This definitely looks like a nonfiction cover.)

  2. For me the image montage is a bit of a mess … the eye doesn’t really know where to focus, I mean, it’s close, but just falls short for me: having said that the elements within the montage are quite nice.

    So, what would happen if you got rid of the large, faded person image in the background – that would achieve some clear space –– (Continue to blend the montage to transparent though).

    Then take the (currently faded and very large) shot, but reduce it, so that you can make out the whole of the face/uniform. In essence you are taking the back faded shot and making it a hero or focal point.
    Another way to put it would be you’re taking single element which defines and give an immediate visual clue as to exactly the period and place without the potential buyer trying to figure it out. (does that make sense?)

    The second thing i’d have a play with would be the century gothic/Avant grade bold font for the title … for me it just feels like a throw away and a waste of potential. I’m not sure what you could replace it with, but perhaps something like

    or perhaps even this type of treatment:,204,203,200_.jpg

    Hope that can help?

  3. Nice concept, but one too many images.

    I am also a little off-put by the cropping of the soldier, which cuts his face off just above the chin. The result looks very odd.

    The eye tends to go toward the center of the cover…and there is really nothing there.

  4. I was rather surprised to see a layered cover here at all. Let it suffice to say that layering on covers like this almost never produces desirable results. For the sake of clarity, you should dump one picture and stick with the other; and for the sake of staying on subject, I’d say the railway photo (which tells me nothing, other than that this is from the era of black-and-white photography and trains) is the one you ought to dump, and that you should show us all of Lord Kitchener’s portrait; even a lot of World War I buffs aren’t that familiar with him, so a full shot of the victim should help jog everyone’s memory.

    From your synopsis (which you really should have typed a little more slowly and carefully, by the way; I’m seeing a lot of typos in it), this is apparently supposed to be a historical novel overlaid with just a bit of murder-mystery-style fictionalization. If so, once you have Kitchener’s portrait on the cover, all you need to do after that is add some hint that this is a story about his assassination. To this end, we have for an inspirational example a perfectly good cover someone whipped up for a book about another infamous assassination that took place in the same era, that of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Note the tagline and arterial-red crest overlaid on the family portrait on that cover.

    In your case, a whole family crest in red would be overkill. A simple splash of red like a drop of blood should clarify to us that this guy is the victim, and his uniform (which resembles that of practically everybody who was anybody back in the day; seems everyone was wearing them) should suffice to tell us this is set around the time of World War I. Throw in a tagline across the top, something like “What really happened to Lord Kitchener?” and space the title and byline a little further apart from each other so that your title is over the blood mark, and you’ve got a good working cover.

  5. There isn’t much I can say that hasn’t been said already, but I will add some points.

    1. I think the typography needs more work. It is a little generic default font looking and it just doesn’t have enough punch to really sell this. Experiment and look at some good book covers and find something that better fits this idea. It definitely needs to breath more and fit the space better.

    2. Two image faded backgrounds are notoriously hard to pull off properly. Even worse is that often on your screen it will look fine, and then when printed or on someone else’s screen with different settings it becomes a mess. Two pictures can work, but mostly with a person in the sky kind of layout. If you want to keep both, move the train way down, make Lord Kitchener smaller and in the sky above.

    3. I do like the colours, but just a hint of splashy colour on one important thing could be so eye catching!

    4. That cloud is giving Lord Kitchener an epic mullet.

  6. RK’s solution is both elegant and eyecatching! A very nice solution for the cover, I think. (I would only have toned down the blood splatter a little: it looks a little like Lord Kitchener is suffering from a chest burster.)

  7. My eyes don’t like the middle of the cover, where the railroad tracks wandering into various directions abruptly vanish, with a similar vanishing of clouds and medals from above. That the two images might be at war doesn’t lessen the impact.

  8. I like the atmosphere of the cover, but there are too many images overlaid together and their positioning doesn’t complement each other. There is a lot of clutter in the middle of the cover, where the soldier’s medals, which are the most detailed part of that image, clash with the top of the other pictures, and then there is an empty expanse above this where the chin and collar of the uniform are. I would move this image up so the medals are in the top part, and get rid of the image of rails overlaid on the lower image that already has rails on it.

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