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The author says:

The Internet suddenly disappears. Now a systems analyst from a dying newspaper, a clueless gamer and two hipsters are all that stand in the way of anarchy in this comical adventure. Targeted to YOUNG ADULT/ADVENTURE genres.



Nathan says:

This’ll be short, because I love it.

My only concern is that there’s nothing about it that suggests “comic adventure” — and given how grim most post-apocalyptic dystopian YA yarns are (leavened only by some rebellious teen romance, naturally), I think that would be a great selling point.

I know that in DVD marketing, a big red title against a white/off-white background immediately means “comedy” to most people.  That trend doesn’t seem to be nearly as prevalent in book publishing, but it’s still worth a try; what if the CRT letters of the title (and I love that element, by the way) were red?  That would also help the cover “pop” at thumbnail size.

(Part of me also wants to see a bowl of popcorn on the man’s lap, but changing that photo composition is probably out of the question.)

So, specific suggestions sought: How to play up the comic elements of the novel?


  1. As the resident YA person, I’m going to disagree: This looks great and it’s really professional, but it’s all wrong for YA.

    First: Everything about this cover suggests “adult.” From the obviously-adult man in business attire to the mid-20th-century looking setting, nothing here would make teenagers think it’s for them. I would have thought it was for baby boomers (see below).

    Second: I’m wondering if this really communicates what your book is about. I expected it to be some kind of biting cold war satire a la The Atomic Cafe. I’d never in a million years guess that it involved gamers, hipsters, or the internet.

    The obvious suggestion would be to replace the 20th-century businessman with a modern teenager.

  2. While I’m not YA (and don’t read it), I agree with katz. I thought it was targeting adult readers until I read the author’s preface.

    The gas mask seems out of place. If this is a story about the internet, why drag in a symbol of dystopia/war/apocalypse?

    You have a great cover, but IMO, it belongs on a different book.

  3. My $0.02

    I love the cover, and I think you could do a few things to make this a little more YA-friendly. The television is a nice touch, but having it visually blaring something bright and ridiculous (like a cartoon) might help. If you had a band of light illuminating the man with those same colors it might help more.

    I second the red CRT in the title and byline, with a caveat: lessen the angle at which we see the title text and byline. Right now, it’s a little too hard to read, and my eye separates the stark, linear letters “ANAL” from the rounded and larger “OG,” which leads to a result you probably don’t want. You can still keep the angle, just make it a little more shallow.

    Just my thoughts.

  4. I’ll have to second those who love the cover for its own sake (it’s beautiful!) but suggest that it doesn’t convey the idea that the novel is a “comical adventure” meant for young adults.

  5. I like it. The only things I’d like to offer are a) Unless my usually dead-on eyes are starting to fail me or the scale and perspective angle of the title characters is off ever so slightly; and b) I concur with Nathan’s suggestion of bringing the “comicbook” feel into the image. Perhaps the font is the best way to provide that vibe. And you don’t have to use Comic Sans, there’s lots of fonts with a comicbook feel. Adventure, for example, most known for the Indiana Jones font.

    At any rate, just a couple of thoughts. Nice work.

  6. My first thought upon seeing the thumbnail was that it looked a lot like Fallout box art. Judging from the synopsis, this is indeed the effect you were seeking; apparently, should the internet suddenly cease to exist, an apocalypse would follow. This, presumably, explains the situation in this stock image in which a man has to wear a gas mask and sit on the roof of a tall building to watch TV.

    Having played the first two Fallout games myself, I can sort of see the joke on this cover, but it seems that not many of my colleagues here are working from the same reference pool. Any of your prospective readers who haven’t played Fallout will likely miss the potential humor of this too. You’ve got a nice start on your cover, but it needs a little something extra to give it that “Dr. Strangelove meets Saturday morning cartoons” feel that Fallout did so well.

    Yes, changing your font to something cartoonish probably would help (I’m partial to ObelixPro), but what you mainly need is a lot more color. Fallout could get away with showing black-and-white video reels (and cartoons) because it’s basically set in a world in which the 1950s never really ended. Your story sounds like it’s more set in a world in which technology is very suddenly regressed to the 1980s. Even back then, color TV reigned supreme and black-and-white TV was well on its way out.

    To set the mood, therefore, I suggest you colorize your picture and run it through some kind of filter on your image editor to give it the appearance of being shot on an old grainy NTSC video camera. For a more specific customization, if you can arrange it, see if you can replace the businessman with a gamer (like the one in your story) playing a video game on that TV. Depending on how much you’re willing to exaggerate the technological regression, you might also give him a mullet and checker shirt and have him running an old NES or Atari system.

    The gas mask is fine, as it hints at the apocalyptic nature of the story. You might also want to throw in a few other typical signs of the apocalypse, such as having some of the buildings in the background be on fire. Depending again on how much you’re willing to exaggerate, you could also color the skies a deep red and show black rains falling from them. (I tend to think an internet failure wouldn’t have quite so many visible effects on one’s environment, but such is the nature of humor.)

    In short, you’ve got the right general concept for your cover here. It just needs more pizazz.

    1. Of course it evokes Fallout, but that’s exactly why it’s wrong–Fallout is 50’s nostalgia, so that just further makes it seem like some kind of mid-20th-century nuclear-war thing.

      1. Well, yes, 1950s nostalgia is off by about 3 decades or so. That’s why I suggested various things to make it look more like 1980s nostalgia. As with Fallout, I also think the picture should blend this nostalgia with 1980s ideas of how the future was going to look in our time, maybe something out of Blade Runner in particular. The dark flaming city in that movie would make a fun background to frame everything taking place in the foreground.

        Incidentally, having a closer look at the original stock image from which this cover came, I notice this piece extracted from it has had its horizontal aspect shrunken ever so slightly. Hence those off-kilter angles Adrian was detecting. Pulling that stunt around here earns you the “Aspect Ratio” tag penalty on; just sayin’.

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