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Dragon Warrior & The Princess

The author says:

He’s a volatile, genetically-engineered slave, longing for peace. She’s a spoiled princess who wants to reclaim the throne and save the world. He must help her. Princess Aurelia is left for dead on the frozen planet of Quisquiliae. There she meets a dragon warrior…the last of his kind. The Dragon Warrior, who had also been left for dead, thought war and servitude were behind him. But his short-lived peace is shattered when the fiery young woman revives and starts telling him what to do. He submits himself to her, as is his duty as a slave to the royal family but, deep down, he blames her for everything he is and all he has been forced to commit. After the Dragon Warrior saves Aurelia’s life, the princess is duty-bound to return the favor. Her course of action shocks the Dragon Warrior as he tries to come to terms with his true nature and identity. The Dragon Warrior and the princess walk the path of honor together but it will take a confrontation with space pirates, a supply run for weapons, a star ship battle, a ground skirmish, a rescue mission and, ultimately, an encounter with evil itself before they find out where this journey will end. An edge-of-your-seat science fiction adventure filled with innocent, romantic longing, The Dragon Warrior and the Princess breaks from the typical military space opera mold. Shaped by the theme of mercy verses justice, where shades of grey polarize and resolve into right and wrong, The Dragon Warrior and the Princess displays the power of good working through its heroes to give the world hope and a future.

NewDragonWarriorAndPrincessCover

NewDragonWarriorAndPrincessCover

Nathan says:

I know I’m not the target audience for this, which is okay: It means I can look at it strictly from a design standpoint.

The first thing I notice is that, in the thumbnail, “The Princess” is almost invisible, and even in the larger version those words tend to disappear into the similarly colored background.  I think you’ve established the color scheme well enough in the main image that you can use contrast to make the text stand out — maybe a deep cherry red, that starts strong at the bottom of the title and fades toward the top.

I also think you’ve got too many fonts, exacerbated by the unsuitability of the typewriter font for the byline. (You should ditch the font that “The Princess” is rendered in; for one thing, the kerning problems between the uppercase and lowercase letters seem almost too great to correct.)

One other thing, regarding the layout of the image itself: The nearest part of the space-station-thingie, which is the natural focal point of the structure, is obscured both by the title and the fade into the portraits. Also, it’s angle can cause confusion among viewers who maybe think initially that they’re looking at some sort of castle from a high angle.  If you vertically flipped the space station, the nearest part would be more easily seen near the byline, and the castle confusion would be lessened.

Other ideas?

Comments

  1. I think the design is too noisy. The mix of what is clearly artwork in the spaceship image and the photo derived images of the man and woman. Having two facial images of the same size (importance) in the larger image adds to the confusion in processing the picture. Try taking one and making it large in the background and faded. Then put the other one smaller and less faded. Most of all, I would process the portrait images to look as drawn as the ship. I would also echo Nathan regarding the fonts. Make up your mind and remember that simple is often best. Just select one that is very readable at both full and thumbnail and you fell reflects the feel of the story.

  2. This comes under what I call a “kitchen sink” cover. This is when the designer feels that they need to include everything important.

    There is simply far too much going on. Combined with unnecessarily busy typography, the cover becomes almost impossible to decipher.

    You need to drastically simplify. You also need to focus on one visual element to dominate. At the moment everything—the two faces, the spacecraft, etc.—all have equal dominance with the result that the eye doesn’t really stop on any one thing. In short, if everything is of equal importance on the cover nothing is of importance.

  3. The thing that immediately jumps out at me: You say “innocent, romantic longing,” but there are two naked people on the cover. I would be 110% sure this was a steamy sci-fi romance based on that. Get those people some clothes!

    Aside from that, I agree that the general busyness is the main problem here. Reduce the number of fonts and I’d pick different ones that are more elegant and less aggressively unusual. In particular, the fixed-width byline font really looks wrong to me.

    I don’t think you need to lose any elements, but Ron’s right that one needs to be the central focal point (the faces, almost certainly).

    Side note: “The Dragon Warrior and the Princess” would be much more tonic as a title, particularly since he’s called “the dragon warrior” in the plot summary.

  4. For as long as the synopsis is, the story therein seems fairly simple: a guy genetically engineered to be something like a bodyguard develops a complicated romance with a spoiled princess while having various adventures with her in a space opera future. While all of this has been done before, you doubtless offer some unique perspective on how the romance develops or how a society in a space opera future works or some such. Fair enough: no matter how formulaic a genre gets, it can almost invariably be reinvented; I’ll assume your capacity for doing so.

    Regardless of whatever your innovation is, however, certain well-traveled conventions still necessarily apply to the book cover. In particular, the element of the story which is most important needs to be in the foreground, with everything else in the background. Right now, your hero and heroine and the futuristic space station indicating this to be a space opera are all in the foreground, which means nothing is emphasized over anything else; this won’t work.

    If this were mainly a social and political story like Frank Herbert’s Dune series, having the space station in the foreground and the couple in the background or even out of the frame altogether would make sense. Judging by your synopsis, however, this is mainly a character story with the interstellar civilizations all being the background within which the main characters’ relationships develop. Therefore, it’s the loving couple who really ought to be in your foreground, just as with various spinoff novels from television space opera series. That’s how a typical Star Trek novel usually looks: whichever characters get the most face time in the story will be on the cover with maybe a shot of the station or ship or whatever somewhere in the background to remind you which series in the franchise this is. You’ve got a lovely space station there, but that’s not the story’s focus; you’ve got to banish it to the background so your main characters can have the foreground all to themselves.

    Speaking of your main characters, in addition to that cool-colored font on a cool-colored picture being difficult to see and read in the thumbnail, it’s getting in the way of your characters’ faces. Bigger is not better in this case; that ampersand in particular is a major nuisance for hiding a corner of the pretty princess’ mouth and chin from us. Get it out of the way: if anything, the portrait shots of the warrior and princess both ought to take up the entire bottom two thirds of the cover, with the title plastered over the space station in the upper third. Also, give the title font some hot colors like pink (for princesses) and orange (for dragon’s fire) to contrast with the cool icy bluish-white of the mountains and orbital space station in the background.

    Finally, your fonts and pictures need a little more symbolism to them. As katz already mentioned, an evidently naked couple on the cover certainly suggests a romance, but hardly an “innocent” one. If you want innocence, take a lesson from how George Lucas and his crew fixed up Carrie Fisher for her part as the somewhat bratty but morally mature and wholesome Princess Leia in Star Wars: they dressed her in a virginal white gown, braided her hair up into that conservative cinnamon-roll hairstyle, and actually taped her breasts down to keep her from looking too voluptuous. As Fisher herself put it, “No jiggling in the Empire.”

    I don’t know whether your hero’s being a dragon warrior means he’s engineered to fight like a dragon, or fight against dragons (either is entirely possible in a space opera), but he needs some help in the costuming department too: maybe some kind of scaly reptilian leather outfit to match his job description. Just don’t keep him completely shirtless, and if he must have long hair (a symbol of humility), at least sweep it back over his shoulders male-style. (Men don’t generally feel the need to hide their pecs with their hair Godiva-style the way women do with their breasts.) The last thing you need is to inspire a lot of bad jokes from your readers about your hero like the ones movie fans make about Orlando Bloom looking like Gwyneth Paltrow in the Lord of the Rings.

    To summarize: get your characters out front and your setting out back, get the title font (one should be sufficient) simplified and contrasted with the picture and shunt it up toward the top, and get your characters some decent clothes and hairstyles to match their personalities and social status. Then your cover will attract the kind of target audience you’re seeking.

  5. To add to the font etc woes: the colouring is also quite weak. It is clearly tweaked to the whole teal-and-orange scale that we just can’t get rid of now. It is then bleached to the colour of stonewashed jeans. I would not tweak the colour scheme that far, letting in some natural variation. Putting some contrast in the titles
    Also does it need to star two pasty blondes? Well I guess the plot of the book is out of the equation here, but no-one would sue you for false advertising if you put in a brunette on the cover and in the book she is blonde. Princess Leia was mentioned – would the posters have looked as good if both her and Luke had blond hair? The couple are only contrasted by being clearly of two different sources, the male is blurrier than the female and lit differently. I would look for a picture of a couple, to start with, this way they could also interact more rather than just both stare at the camera. That is, if you do go with the couple on the cover. I would agree with there being too much on the cover, but for a romance, you would be better off losing the spaceship than the people – you would need to maybe point out the science fiction setting in some other way – fonts, spacey background, costumes or props. You could have the spaceship in the background perhaps?

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