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The author says:

Invivo is a love story of honor, remorse and revenge, and one man who sacrifices everything to fulfill a promise. The story opens in a small university town in Scotland. Dr. Harold Spencer is arguing with his wife Shelly. She wants a child. He does not. Harold’s father and then his brother died of Cystic Fibrosis. He did not want an abbreviated, unhappy life for his child. He would not have children unless they could be healthy. His research was progressing. He promised they would not wait too long. Harold was deep into a bold experiment, injecting foreign DNA into a host animal, doubling the viable DNA. His approach promised miracles. So far, however, he had managed only to kill hundreds of rats, until one survived. A brutal murder ends all possibilities and results in one lost life, one given away, and one life allowed to blossom and quickly die. Harold found the one way he could keep his promise. Aimed at adult fiction readers.



Nathan says:

Minimalism is a tough gig. More than any other style of design, I have only by gut reactions to go by when saying whether something works or it doesn’t. I don’t think this works, and what follows is my attempt to reverse-engineer my gut reaction in intellectual terms.

1) I think most minimal designs work best when the lack of extraneous information lets a strong focus be put on one, and only one, detail.  In this case, I think that seeing the curve of the back distracts from the navel, which would otherwise be the obvious focus.

2) With very little to take away the focus from the type, it becomes imperative that the type be presented confidently.  That doesn’t mean that it needs to be gaudy or even ornamented with serifs, but I think the font you chose here gives more of a “chosen at random” feel than “chosen for strength.”  I hope that makes sense.

3) I’m nor sure from the description what the real focus of the story is, but I’m pretty sure that the cover doesn’t convey it.  Looking at the cover without the description, I may think that it has to to with the pursuit of physical beauty, and the title gives at least an indication that procreation is involved, but I don’t get anything remotely science-y or science-fiction-y, or murder-y.  Again, I don’t really know how central those themes are to the book, but they seem central to the description and yet absent from the cover.

Given that there’s a lot of image to work with here, I was to do one of my Five-Minute Makeovers to see what I could come up with.  But when I tried cropping the curve of the back and the text out of the photo, the navel over to the side wasn’t enough of a visual clue of what we’re seeing. I think you might want to find a different photo (it could even be something from the same modeling session) with the navel more toward the middle so that you can include the muscle and bone structure around it and have it be more recognizable.  An added bonus there is that you can play with the color more to indicate either the suspense-thriller or medical-science mood of the story, while not impinging on recognition of the navel.

I have now talked about navels more in the past twenty minutes than I have done in the last five years.

Anyone else?


  1. To me, your blurb and cover simply don’t match. The cover shrieks erotica, while your blurb is something entirely different. Sorry, but I don’t think you’re going to salvage anything using this image. Time to rethink your approach.

  2. I have to agree: I don’t see even the remotest connection between the cover imagery and the story you are trying to tell. I think the only solution is to go back to square one and rethink this.

  3. I like this cover, but not as a cover for the book that’s described in the blurb, so I agree with Bruce and Nathan there. This looks to me like a cover for some literary-erotica novel like the recent “Hausfrau” is said to be. (I haven’t read Hausfrau — if it had a better cover I probably would read it. I’m not kidding.)

    Commenting on the cover purely as a cover, I kind of agree with Nathan that the font could be a tad stronger. I’d also like to see a little more negative space on the right side of the tummy; as it is I find that tiny, tiny sliver of black distracting. In a thumbnail you can’t see that sliver of black, and that leaves me wondering just where in the space off the page the tummy ends, which is more distracting.

  4. Yeah, no. Doesn’t work for me at all, not for erotica, either. What disturbs me a bit is that the stretched-skin pose and distortion of the original image makes that person’s belly look like it’s the abs of a TWEEN.

    The improbably-long drop (what’s called “the rise” in clothing-making) between the naval and the bottom of the image is distracting. I keep staring at the image wondering if it’s been distorted to be longer, if the model shaved her pubes so that this image could be taken, or worse, as I said–there’s no pubic hair there because this is a 12-13 y.o. girl. The latter thought starts to up my “creeped-out-factor,” and not in a good, sci-fi way, because honestly…that’s what’s coming through. That someone took nude pics of a Tween, for this. Which puts the idea behind the book, if you haven’t read the description, into a category nobody wants to think about.

    I also don’t think that the naked woman aspect works, at all, even if you manage to convey a perfectly normal adult woman there. What’s the naked belly got to do with that storyline? Where’s the suspense, the mystery, the sci-fi? I think you’d do better with a huge image of a highly-developed Fetus, perhaps with a mischievous face. Or an evil rat fetus. (Or, whatever is appropriate, as I can’t really comprehend your storyline from your description–something else I recommend you work on, but as Nathan reminds us, this is not I agree with @DED that a naked pregnant belly would work far, far better, and it would give you some shape (no pun intended) that you could work with.

    Also: Font bad. Does nothing for me. Again, as the primary genre isn’t clear to me, don’t know if you need sci-fi-y, mystery-y, or fantasy-y, or suspense. Knowing that would help us help you. Can you tell us? I’m sure we could help a bit with fonts, at least, if you help us understand the primary thrust of the plot, genre-wise.


  5. Not going to lie, I’d expect to see this on Lousy Book Covers. I don’t see any design at all to this design; it just looks like a distorted iPhone photo of someone’s torso with the title on it in plain black Helvetica.

    Scrap and start over.

    1. Well, yes. And I won’t lie–it also occurred to me that this could be a boy tween photo, too. The curvature of the back tends to not say “male,” but…it could be. The fact that I’m not 100% sure makes this even less of an appropriate cover for the story.

  6. Thank you all, the cover seems to be a collision of unintended consequences. I will start over with some help from someone who knows what he is doing. The book is a good one and deserves the right cover. Thanks again.

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