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The Eight Lives of Harvey Bradshaw

The author says:

Synopsis- Harvey El Bradshaw insists that his life is fragmented, defined by eight places, eight different times, eight, eight, eight. He feels like he is always becoming a new person as he grows older, almost like a snake consistently shedding its skin. To contrast the divided way he sees things, Harvey meets a small Spanish girl again and again over the years (her appearance almost always being a constant). Her name is Lucia Pérez. This book captures the life of Harvey and is split into eight main parts. Play on numerology to almost parody how much humans look for patterns in life. I am not the author, but I did design the cover. The genre is something like a combination of phycological journey/satire. The target audience would likely be young-mid adults (think 20s and 30s.) I tried to capture both genres through the cover, as well as make the “eight” very prominent. I worked off the idea of Harvey feeling like he was constanty becoming a different person, hence the faceless suit to represent a unknown identity (if that makes any sense). Thank you for your time and critique, I really appreciate it!

the eight lives of harvey bradshaw medium

the eight lives of harvey bradshaw medium

Nathan says:

I have absolutely no complaints about the general design. I think it’s distinctive, simple, intriguing, and appealing to the “intelligent lit” crowd.

My only advice would be on execution. The edges of the hat and suit (especially the hat) are hard enough that I can see exactly how and where you used the lasso tool.  That’s easily solved with a bit of feathering.

Also, I’m not thrilled with how you treated the byline.  At thumbnail size, it’s easy to be unaware of it completely; in full size, it still seems strangely shrunk and subdued.  I’d increase its size so that it stretches at least 80% of the width of the cover, and maybe add a blurred drop shadow to help it stand out more.  (I’m also not thrilled with “A. Fountain” as a byline either — it could easily be mistaken for a description of some sort. If this is your first novel and you don’t already have a following under that byline, I’d strongly suggest using a full name instead of a single initial so that your name looks more like a name.)

Other comments?


  1. Thank you for your comments!
    I will defiantly clean up those edges.
    The “a novel” byline is not absolutely necessary, I don’t think, I had included it to help even out the spacing, as I felt that the design needed something down there. Should I replace it with a filigree of some sort?
    Also, since I’m not the author, I can’t change the author name without discussing it with the author. I was having a bit of trouble figuring out how to make it stand out, and I can see that in the thumbnail it’s hard to make out. In personally a bit opposed to drop shadows, as I think they can easily make a cover look cheesy.
    Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can make the author name stand out more?

        1. Remember also that drop shadows don’t have to be hard and distinct. Playing with the size and spread can allow you to have a subtle but effective area of contrast around the letters without a stark, corny shadow.

      1. It shouldn’t be red text at the very least. 🙂
        That is a very hard spot for text, over black and white that changes several times.

        Try some subtle effects. Subtle being the key word. The standard for every photoshop effect tends to be set to high, I suppose for a wow factor. Just tone it down, a subtle bevel or outerglow or drop shadow can save you.

        Good luck

  2. It bothers me that the space between the hat and the collar is larger than the head would be if it were there. Can you enlarge the elements so that they’re to scale with the missing head? As a bonus, you might then be able to fit “Bradshaw” into the collar. (I’m just eyeballing this; apologies if it doesn’t work in practice.)

    Your trim lines are untidy enough that just feathering won’t cut it, IMO; they actually need to be drawn more neatly, particularly inside the hat. The jag on the left, where there was probably an ear or something in the original, is particularly apparent. These elements have such smooth curves on such a distinct, high-contrast background that you need to have the trim lines absolutely perfect.

  3. hey there. for me this is a pretty strong concept and cover. at a glance its interesting enough to warrant a second look and echoing what Nathan said, it feels like a intelligent lit book. I guess the only thing that stood out when scrutinising the piece is the deep etching of the suit and hat is a little rough, perhaps too crisp and looks a little “Snipped out”

    re your question about the author name and how to make that stand out.. hmm .. perhaps put a solid footer on the piece and reverse the text out? … not sure how that would fit within the overall tone of the piece, it may become to busy.

    Otherwise, well done, Nice work

  4. I like it. I do, however, agree with Nathan on the edges, especially the lighter edge on the shoulders that stands out. As for the “Novel” byline? Lose it. It’s like printing “this is a book” on a book. It is at best pretentious and at worst it suggests your readers are stupid.
    Other than that, you’ve done a fine job in my opinion.

      1. I agree. “A Novel” does have its place: (a) to distinguish fiction from non-fiction, and (b) to peg the book as being in the “non-genre” genre, with literary aspirations.

        1. Yes. My initial reaction to “a novel” was negative, but given the title, I think it’s appropriate, in this situation.

          I’m in agreement with Al; I think a block across the bottom (doesn’t necessarily have to be a rectangle, or even full-width) and reverse the font. I guess using something too cheesy, like an umbrella, horizontally, to contain it would be too John Steed. {evil grin}

          Mostly, I really like this. And the empty-head syndrome (size) doesn’t faze me at all.

          Oh, and Emma…I’ve emailed you, Keep an eye open for them, wouldja? Tx.

  5. I pretty much agree with Nathan.

    The concept is great…it only needs a little refinement.

    1. The hat is difficult to read, both because of the lack of contrast and because its silhouette is not hat-like enough.

    1a. Absolutely clean up those edges!

    2. I would have liked to have seen the typography of the title suggest the outline of a head, rather than an inverted triangle.

    3. The byline is extremely difficult to read.

    4. I have no objection whatsoever to the inclusion of “A Novel”—this is a convention that appears on a great many books.

  6. I like this. It pulled my eye right into it.

    When I first saw this cover I thought it was for a book on some business non-fiction subject like “mindless multitasking,” so “a novel” told me that it was OK to pick it up and check it out. I like Ron’s suggestion of having the type form a head shape, and “a novel” would make a dandy chin. A subtle 8 shape behind the type might also fill in for a head.

    The suit and hat look a bit too small considering the size of the type. Making them larger would also help the eye fill in the emptiness between the head and collar.

    I don’t know how important this particular image is, but the “suit” looks like a sort of unfinished vest-in-progress. A suit coat with texture and a subtle pattern would contrast nicely with the solid background. And if Mr. Bradshaw is wearing that type of hat, he would have paid close attention to the knot of his tie, and would probably be wearing a shirt with a small stripe or check pattern, which would tone down the stark white behind the author’s name. The by line could be larger and heavier and a little higher, and the beige color would work well, I think.

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