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Hallowed Souls

The author says:

The first of a series of high-fantasy books with more of an emphasis on historical fiction. There are multiple characters and multiple plots in the story all tied together under a single plot involving an economically stagnant country on the losing side of a war set in a world greatly influenced by Medieval Europe and East Asia.

Synopsis: War rages on as various kingdoms struggle to gain power and maintain their freedom. From the shores of the Grey Sea to the mountains of Cosca, chaos reigns. It is a tale of murder, rape and war. Here a peasant girl masquerades as a princess; a deposed king schemes to regain his throne; and fierce pagans strive to regain their freedom. As opposing forces scheme and plot to gain power, a strange sickness blows in from the mysterious east and ravages the land. Not even Spenta can save them as everyone, from fools to sages, realize that even the most hallowed of souls can do nothing.

hallowedsoulscoverdraft1

hallowedsoulscoverdraft1

Nathan says:

It’s well-executed art, and I don’t know how much of a draw it will be for readers.  In thumbnail, all I can see is “blue” (and maybe “tree”).  At the larger size, while I can see the human figures, I have to hunt for them, and I can’t make out enough detail to tell setting or genre from their clothes.  Couple that with a font that is the epitome of “generic,” and you’ve got a cover that tells the reader as little as it can.

Is the original artwork that intensely blue?  If not, I would scale that waaaay back, and let other colors at least give a penumbra of a palette.  Also, you could trim the artwork so that the characters are larger and more central (the only thing you’d lose would be some trees and sky).  Then find a font and font treatment that helps convey the fantasy genre (not Algerian!), as the artwork still probably wouldn’t be able to do all the heaving lifting in that regard.

Other ideas?

Comments

  1. I like the art, a lot, but it is awfully dark. I suppose it’s a night scene, but there needs to be more contrast for better visibility. The blue doesn’t bother me, (my favorite color), and I think if some of it was lightened up another color wouldn’t be necessary. As a reader, the title is a big clue as to genre, but Nathan’s right, the font could make that more obvious.

  2. I agree with Nathan, the blue is a tad too much, making it lighter will make the rest stand out more. The font choice should mix with the image, perhaps capture it font or something along those lines would work better. I would push the title higher and make your byline bigger, it’s hard to read in the thumbnail. Good start.

  3. Hi: well, I don’t like the art as much as some of the others here. For one thing, it definitely doesn’t say “high fantasy” to me. For that matter, it doesn’t convey fantasy at all. The name, Hallowed Souls, could mean anything. If I saw this cover, I’d think it was martial (war) fiction. That’s what I get from it. People that feel vaguely military, in a frozen place. That’s it. My initial reaction was that it was in the Tom Clancy line–not the Brooks or Tolkien or McCaffrey’s various and sundry fantastical realms. And there’s nothing about the art that tells me that it’s a different world/realm than our own.

    I do agree that getting rid of some of the blue, so that your (heroes? heroines?) can stand out a bit, warm the cover up a bit, would be helpful. I would consider what could be done to the cover that would a) tell the prospective reader that this is fantasy; b) that it’s high fantasy, which means a world different than our own; and c) give it some much-needed contrast, of which it currently has zip.

    Is it possible to “de-blue” the living characters? Maybe also put the blue into remission around the (presumably dead?) person on the ground? And if she’s dying, maybe you could splatter some blood, so nauseating against the purity of the snow?

    Just throwing out some ideas. The others may really like your art, and even if it’s great, as art, I don’t think it will help your book. Not all art, great or otherwise, suits the specific job of selling books. I don’t feel that this does.

    sorry; wish I had some more concrete ideas for you.

  4. I’m confused by “high-fantasy with more of an emphasis on historical fiction.” If it’s high fantasy set in a completely different world, what could it possibly have to do with historical fiction?

    If it were historical fiction, then I’d say this cover was pretty good. A little too blue and could use a stronger type treatment, but I really like the look-and-feel of the artwork, especially the texture, and it suggests some kind of War Story In The Past. However, since it’s not historical, it’s not going to work.

    Given the description, I suspect what you mean by your genre is “fantasy like Game of Thrones.” If so, you want a cover like Game of Thrones. Give us swords, crowns, dudes on horses, coats of arms, epic medieval battles, whatever will tell people “Did you like that incredibly popular fantasy series? Read this next!”

  5. Since I always browse through the latest additions to “Lousy Book Covers” before turning to “Cover Critics,” pretty much anything looks good by comparison.

    I think there are two fundamental problems with this cover. The first is that is simply too dark and murky to work well. This is especially evident at thumbnail size, where everything tends to blend together. At the very least, it needs more contrast, especially in the figures which are all but invisible.

    The second is that it really doesn’t say anything meaningful about the book, its nature or what it might be about. Seen without the accompanying blurb no one would guess that it’s “high fantasy.” Judging only by the title and cover art, it could be taken for something by Nicolai Gogol or Dostoevsky. Combined with the title, I would suspect that most potential readers would take the book for a supernatural or ghost story of some sort.

  6. I recently advised the author of another book on here that on her cover, she’d literally gotten too close to her story; so close, in fact, that we couldn’t see enough of it. Here, I’m making the very opposite complaint: your cover has gotten too far away from the story. The dark blues make this look like a night shot of a snowy landscape, and even when we look closer, we can just barely see what looks like a couple of guys sitting around and some corpses; which tells us just about nothing about what we’re likely to find in the story.

    Considering that your synopsis sounds a lot like you’re looking to grab some of the target audience from Game of Thrones for your novel, I suggest looking at other successful grim n’ gritty adult fantasy novels for your inspiration. Here’s one focused on the action at just the right distance with just the right level of lighting and color (de)saturation. Where it’s in pale green, you’ll likely want to put your cover in pale blue instead; in all other respects, however, this is the kind of art you need and want to have on your book’s cover.

  7. Man, that’s a lot of blue. Nice art, but I recommend black on parchment. I think that would look pretty damned good. I would also select a more “ancient” font with possibly a hint of Asian script. If you choose to incorporate more color use MORE color and preferably not blue, as blue is a common color used in sci-fi/futuristic themes. I would lean toward earth tones or, if you want something brighter perhaps copy colors used in illuminated manuscripts from the medieval era.

    Good luck.

  8. Thank you for the critiques and I’ll be sure to incorporate them. Firstly, the story is not exactly what you’d expect for a fantasy or high fantasy novel. I did mean a fantasy like A Game of Thrones, just without all the dragons and magical stuff in it. It mostly focuses on war and the only magical stuff in it are the spirits of the drowned heavily based off of the funayūrei of Japanese Folklore who attempt to drown people at sea. The original artwork was a black and white photo of a forest at night and I simply gave it a blue filter to give more of an emphasis on the night part before adding in some more effects to make it seem like an oil painting. What I meant by the historical fiction thing is it reads more like a historical fiction novel than a fantasy one due to the emphasis on the martial aspects of the story. It does focus more on political intrigue and war than magic but the spirits of the drowned, which is a major aspect of the plot, don’t make it a historical fiction at all, coupled with it being set in another universe.

    1. Oh, and the font was Trajan, not Algerian. I was going to choose between Perpetua Tilting and Trajan before opting for Trajan. I will change the font though as with what you people have said.

      1. I think he just meant that as a preemptive warning not to change it to Algerian. (We’ve all had that font burned into our brains so often that we definitely know what it looks like!)

        Trajan, unfortunately, has been ruined by being on every movie poster for the last 20 years. Perpetua’s OK. If you’re going for a Game of Thrones look, you may be right to pick a classic font instead of a fantasy font, but then the imagery really needs to pull its weight to say “this is fantasy.”

  9. I redid the cover and resubmitted it. I took most of your suggestions into account, and I redid the artwork. I did try to use an slightly Asiatic font for the new cover, however I was not satisfied with the font I made so I scrapped it. The story does focus mostly on war, so I think I did pretty good for the new cover, and I included something vaguely demonic on the cover so it says that it’s fantasy.

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