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Under a Hunter’s Moon

The author says:

Richard Parsons is a lupine, one of the many breeds of shape-shifters living in Seattle. Mortal legends of his kind call them werewolves. When a traveling exhibition returns to Seattle, Richard takes a night time visit, with plans that go beyond seeing a particular display. However he is unprepared for the memories and emotions that come flooding back.

This short story is set partly in current day Seattle, and partly in the near past. It’s intended to be part of a series of releases that provide some background stories that precede an upcoming novel.

xx-Under A Hunter's Moon 5in x 8in Cover

xx-Under A Hunter's Moon 5in x 8in Cover

Nathan says:

There’s a running gag at about “Wolfie” showing up on covers. I’m afraid yours would be a candidate.

I can see what you’re trying to do here — a big shadowy wolf looming over the city — but it isn’t working.  The wolf isn’t looming so much as looking on in a disinterested fashion.  The filters you’ve used to render the wolf “ghostly” also make him plain and easy to ignore.

I also have a big problem with how you’ve decided to separate your type from the main image.  Let’s be honest: There are no particular details in your image that absolutely shouldn’t be obscured by text, so there’s no reason to keep your text completely off your image.  And in shoving the text to the top and bottom, and then encasing each in a border, you’re forcing the text to be smaller and smaller — the result being that not one bit of it is readable in thumbnail.

There are no quick fixes here.  To take your cover from your concept to a market-ready layout requires the find of graphic intelligence that is usually only gained from years of practice.  I think this is the point at which you should turn over what you’ve done to a freelancer to make it professional.

Anyone think differently?


  1. In a word? Dull.

    It is very mundane, the wolf thing jumped the shark with the “3 wolves howl at moon” tee shirt. Again, there is no shame in stealing. Go to Amazon and look at bestsellers in that genre and get inspired. The cover is what will sell your book until you develop a following. I would start from scratch and resist the urge to take the easy path. Imitate what works, but make it uniquely your own.

    As an aside, and I rarely do this, you might want to reconsider the use of Lupines as a proper noun when it is a well known adjective meaning wolf-like in common English. It could possibly confuse the reader in some passages. It was just a thought, it’s obviously your call.

    Best of luck!

    1. You may have fallen for the usual trap of thinking the cover has to illustrate the story – no, cover needs to sell the book. It helps if it is indicative of mood and genre and so on, of course – but a book about wolves and Seattle is not required to have wolves and Seattle on the cover.

      I’d scrap Seattle, and get some cool wolves, I guess – I am personally bored with them but as long as potential readers are not, who cares – some artwork with more menacing, dark wolves: this looks like a friendly husky, which can be a problem with wolves. They basically look like fluffy dogs, which your instinct is to pet and give treats to – this is why I’d go with artwork rather than photo, maybe go for a more monster/hybrid wolf look.

      And the title is unreadable in thumbnail. And the colours are dull. So, yes, I would star again from scratch.

  2. The layout’s not too shabby, though those interlocking squares at the corners of the frame could use some calibration. The picture in that frame leaves little doubt what kind of story the book contains, but the shoddy quality of the cut-and-paste job on the wolf’s face (betrayed by the “magic wand” ragged edges and hole in the wolf’s neck) also suggests a similar quality of story within. There are already too many werewolf novels on the market as it is; a cover of this quality will only help it get lost in the shuffle.

    It’s not that a wolf on the cover can’t be cool: Wolfmother’s album Victorious managed to do a pretty good job making a giant wolf with frickin’ laser beams shooting out of its eyes look pretty amazing to me even though I’ve never actually heard any of that band’s songs and have no idea whether they’re any good. It’s a matter of quality: someone obviously took the time to do a competent drawing of that giant wolf and its bizarre surroundings.

    Cliched as the concept is, a wolf looming over Seattle could work if your execution of it didn’t seem so hastily slapped together. It would also work better if the giant wolf were properly centered and actually seemed to be stalking the city instead of just staring off somewhere into space. Furthermore, you can dispense with the moon; it takes up a lot of space better allocated to the other elements on your cover, and nobody much needs to see a moon at this point to know a novel with a wolf on the cover is most likely a werewolf novel.

    Try getting someone from Deviant Art to draw you an original picture as specified, and then put that in your frame; I can almost guarantee that will look better than what you’ve got now.

  3. Maybeee…if the wolf head were larger and more centered, and the city outline were incorporated inside it, like some covers I’ve seen lately. Since the city seems to be an important part of the story. And either get rid of the lopsided moon, or make it round and huge behind the wolf’s head. Also don’t like the outline at all, or as Nathan says, the way the text is separated from the image.

  4. I don’t think the border is bad, borders are just really not in right now so they make your book look out-of-date.

    As for the main image, how about making the wolf head into a shadowy wolf-shaped cloud headed toward Seattle? That would be cool looking and mesh well with your title. You do want a crisper, higher-contrast photo of Seattle, though, and one that already includes the moon instead of cutting and pasting one in.

    1. I think that idea has legs, no Wolfie pun intended. I like the idea of a dark, stormy wolf shaped cloud. It might even be a wild twist to put in on a daytime silhouette of Seattle. After all, the ubiquitous Sky Needle gives it away, as the ‘where,’ right?

      Not that simple to do, in that frame, or even, to be honest, out of it, but…hey, worth a shot, if you can find a real talent on DA to do it for you.

  5. OK. I can handle the wolf head overlooking the city. But there is no discernible reason for not having the art fill the cover nor for the border, which adds absolutely nothing to the cover. I can imagine you are going for a “branding” by placing the text in decorative boxes…but again, this really adds nothing. A simple similarity in type choice and placement for each book would be sufficient.

    The biggest problems I see with the art (and trying not to duplicate too much what others have already said) is that it looks like a cut-and-paste job. In short, it simply looks stuck onto the background. The moon, too, doesn’t work. It’s a gibbous moon which you have cut the left half from, with result looking like a shapeless blob. Put the entire moon into the image.

    There is an overall murkiness to the cover that I find a little off-putting. The moon certainly looks grayed out and is the city undergoing a blackout?

    Finally, all three elements of the cover—the skyline, the wolf head and the moon—are floating around independently. Try to make them work better together. Overlapping might help.

  6. I looked around, at all the freebie image/vector sites, and even without paying a dime, you could scratch up some very nice wolf silhouettes that you could use for either a) the dark clouds idea (be careful, because that could go damned corny), or b) what if you zoomed in on the Space Needle, as the focal point of the cover–use a real image of the city at night, so you will get evening lights, etc, in the buildings–and maybe you could put the wolf–suitably huge–atop it? (Or, if that goes corny, too, maybe putting the wolf behind the much-enlarged space needle, etc.)

    I don’t know. That’s one of those ideas that could be great or dreadful. But, no matter what, the cover drastically requires more contrast and more color. At least one strong primary, that gives it the ubiquitous ‘pop.’

    I found wolves on Pixabay (nice ones); Graphic Stock, and many others. The paid sites have zillions more.

    I doubt this helps, but…good luck.

  7. Before anyone ELSE tries to go over and read what this author discusses, about, be advised that you MUST join his mailing list, to catch a GLIMPSE of his blog. Literally–you can’t get away from the subscribe pop-up. UNBELIEVABLE. I was gobsmacked by the Hubris.

    OBVIOUSLY, I didn’t read the blog article/pingback. Honestly..I can’t say, in a family blog, what I thought of that nonsense.

      1. I tried that, katz. Obviously, I missed it (I’m on a decent-sized laptop; not sure why I would), but if it’s intentional, that’s just as aggravating. What’s the ploy? Piss people off enough, so that they’ll subscribe to your newsletter? Well…I’m sure I’m not his target reader, anyway, so I’m sure he doesn’t care if I’m beyond irritated by it.

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