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November 17

The author says:

When Bre Collins family tells her to leave a week after her brothers death she devastated. They blame her for it. But, the thing is, they’re right.



Nathan says:

Playing it a little close to the vest, aren’t we?  The CoverCritics submission instructions say:

Tell us where and when it’s set, what the genre is, who the target audience is…

I can’t tell from your description what the story is about, who the prospective readers are, or even what the genre is.  I can tell from your description that apostrophes frighten you, and I hope that the actual text of the book is better edited.

Looking at the cover simply as a piece of design work, it’s clean and well-composed… but again, I can’t tell genre or intended readership.  From thumbnail size, I can’t even see the authors’ names; I’m not one of those people that insists the byline must be readable at thumbnail size, but I should at least be able to tell that the text is there.  Why?  Because if all I can see is “November 17,” I can’t even identify it as a book cover.

I think you need to take another look at the cover and, while keeping the strong and clear aspects of its design, ask yourself: “How will readers who would like the novel know from the cover that it’s for them?”

Other suggestions, please.


  1. Making the author names stronger would bring balance to the design.

    I do like it. It is striking, memorable, and unique. It is a great cover for a book… I am not sure if it is for this book, we would need more information! 😀

    1. I find myself in one of my rare moments: ye gods, I disagree with something that Waffs has said!

      Now, dismissing that, I concur that the byline needs strengthening. And I concur that for someone like Stephen King, or another master of the craft, it would indeed be a striking cover. What I’m not sure about is whether or not it’s a striking cover for you.

      My reasoning is this: a cover needs to suck readers to you. Yes, strength and cleanliness of line are important, and you did quite well there. But I’m not sure that it’s a good cover for an up-and-comer. Or, to be accurate, up-and-comers, plural.

      I am going to assume that this is literary fiction, as that’s what it feels like. If it’s not, then you may have an issue. As everybody else noted above, it’s hard for us to adjudicate whether or not this is a banging cover for you, sans any hints as to genre, demographic, etc.

      Until we have more feedback, that’s really all I can contribute. (n.b.: I’m a bit of a font wonk, and I have to say, I do like the font usage, FWIW).

      1. It is amazing how one word can shift the meaning so much.

        You are right though. It would be a good concept for someone that can sell books based on name alone. It likely isn’t right for this author.


  2. I don’t know how to react to the cover for the reasons Nathan has already stated. I can, however, tell you that that, based on your very concise blurb, Bre did it.

  3. I literally did scroll past it without realizing it was a cover. I honestly thought it was just a graphic for an event happening on November 17.

    This suggests a new rule: The less your title sounds like a title, the more like a cover your cover needs to look.

  4. I think that this is a lovely, simple design. However, it does not at all strike me as a book cover. I too thought it was a calendar announcement. I think, if you would like to stick to the wood and simplistic style, I would look for images relating to something in your story. A wood floor with a toy, book, shoe, or other symbolic element on it as the main focus of the cover, with a more tradition title treatment, would really help transform this design from a calendar to a book cover.

  5. Even before we get to the cover, that summary is awkwardly phrased, badly punctuated, and leaves words out. I’m going to assume the protagonist’s name (which sounds vaguely ghetto-ish) is properly spelled. Let’s try cleaning up this summary:

    When Bre Collin’s family throws her out a week after her brother’s death, she’s devastated. They blame her, and the trouble is that they’re right: it really is her fault.

    I second Nathan’s hope that you have a decent editor to proofread your manuscript. While ghetto grammar for a story told by characters in a ghetto setting (as in e.g. Sapphire’s novel Push) can lend the story a certain authenticity, the spelling and punctuation should nonetheless always be standard English. Only when a character incapable of good punctuation and spelling is indicated to be directly writing the story (as in Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon) is any exception to this rule permissible.

    To get to the cover, it might be a good cover for some kind of book, but as others have already noted, we can’t be sure if it’s right for your book unless you tell us what the genre is. My first impression, on seeing the thumbnail with the title against the wooden background, was that this was another author’s attempt to cash in on the novelty of the Wool series’ use of a simple one-material background, which would make this a dystopian novel. I would never have guessed the book’s actual genre and target audience from this cover.

    For that matter, now that I’ve read the summary and bylines (the latter being virtually invisible in the thumbnail), I’m still in the dark concerning the genre and target audience. Is this a hard-boiled mystery novel with a vaguely Phillip K. Dick A Scanner Darkly kind of setup in which the protagonist investigating the crime gradually discovers that the culprit is herself? Is it a Kafka-esque horror novel about her believing herself innocent of her brother’s death only to discover that she’s guilty as charged and a terrible person as she snaps out of some kind of post-traumatic amnesia committing the crime induced in her? Those would be my guesses.

    In either case, neither the cover nor the title tell prospective readers anything useful about what’s in the book. I recommend studying the covers of best-selling books in whichever genre your book fits for some idea of what to put on your cover, and then starting over with a fresh perspective and a new title. Something along the lines of Because I Deserved It or What Do You Mean, I Killed Him!? might be good.

  6. I agree that it is a strong, striking image!

    But I also agree that it doesn’t give the potential reader a clue as to what kind of book it is or what it might be about. You could retain the present graphic effect while still adding something to the image that conveys an idea of what the book is about.

  7. Whatever editing you got, it wasn’t good enough. Get better editing.

    Regarding the cover, I like it, but it doesn’t feel much like that synopsis (which I also like, or would were it easier to parse). I’d prefer this over a ridiculously genre-targeted cover, but then, I lean towards the literary-cover end.

  8. Note:

    The description here is just a sentence typed into ‘description’ in the submit form. We don’t know if it is the actual book blurb, or even if this book is written in English. We have no idea what the quality of the writing is inside this book, how the editing is, or even if it is written in prose. But remember – we are not here to judge that.

    If the line was written on the book, then yes, it should be helped out.

    They are asking for help with the cover. Sure, the blurb would be exceedingly helpful with that in this case, but can we tone down the snark about it already?

    This not only isn’t the place for snark, wit, or attitude, it is specifically not the place for it. There has been a lot of it lately and I just needed to say something.


    1. You are indeed perfectly correct, Waffs. We should only be viewing the description as a tool with which to view and assess the cover–nothing else.

      We have plenty of snarkage on the sister site.

      Thanks for reminding us, Waffles. 😉

  9. I don’t like the title. But that is substance, not book cover.

    As for the cover, I am confused by the wooden fence. Also there is a decided lack of color. And that white “17” does not stand out. The authors’ names should be more readable.

    I would not click on this link or open this book, if it were paper.


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