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Black Book

The author says:

A lightning fast action packed sci-fi thriller for fans of Stephen King’s Dark Tower and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. Sheriff Jack is an elite soldier from the future, trapped in the Wild West. He must find and protect the sacred Black Book before someone or something else does. The clock is already ticking for humankind, but for Jack the countdown has only just begun.



Nathan says:


Obviously, the most important component of the covers of the books that you cite are the huge letters proclaiming “Stephen King” or “Lee Child.”  You can’t really go that way.

And I’m going to assume that this is a quick sketch version of the design concept, so I shouldn’t worry about things like how the title doesn’t line up with the byline, or how the cowboy silhouette is artifacted against the moon.

A common observation around here is that red text against a black background is surprisingly unreadable. Your byline is in orange so it’s not as bad, but in the thumbnail it still becomes a smear.

For the rest… I’m of two minds, so I’m going to have to defer to the hivemind instead.  Does the minimalist approach work? Could it work, even if this one might not?


  1. I tend to agree with AJ. I’d say that I’d like a better/stronger font use; I’d recommend that the orangey-red font be replaced with a color I’ve taken to calling “Creamsicle.” It’s a creamy-beigey-tan-with an orangey hue over. It makes it stand out against blacks and other backgrounds. It tends not to have the same anti-aliasing issues that reds and straight-up oranges have.

    I’m also going to say that the outline of the silhouette needs to be crisper. This one–not to offend anyone–I actually mistook for a tree, until I stared at it for a while. So, mo’bettah silhouette.

    And then…yeah, maybe. It could work. I don’t think it would be a massive magnet, but I wouldn’t blow past it, saying “yuck,” either.

    Is there anything that the publisher could do, to indicate a futuristic element, to this cover? Right now, even using the more-modern sans-serif fonts, this skews strictly western, which isn’t channeling Reacher or Dark Tower, IMHO. That may not be a requisite, of course.

    Those are my thoughts. I think that they’re somewhat limited because I’m not moved strongly by the cover. That may not be the best thing.

  2. I like minimalism, but I’m not sure if this is that or just laziness give Nathan’s two observations. It amazes me how many people attempt to create a cover without taking the time to study the covers of successful books in the genre. I tire of mentioning it in fact.

    This cover doesn’t stir me at all, so I recommend starting over after so homework on what sells.

    1. Yes–see, this is what struck me most. That nothing struck me. I think that we are all somewhat accustomed to having instantaneous “ick!” reactions to what we see (more on LBC than here, but still…), and so we are equating a non-reaction with a positive reaction. I’m not sure that’s the right thought process.

      It’s inoffensive. That’s not what you want, ideally, for a cover. You want something that will grab them by the short and curlies, and drag them shrieking to the checkout counter, so to speak.

      I’ll be surprised if this isn’t what’s giving Nathan pause. Might not be, of course…but I’ll bet it is in there somewhere.

  3. I’m a bit surprised that Mr. Jones chose to redo his covers for this series again. We reviewed the first book in 2013, but Mr. Jones re-did the cover, and it’s no longer available. So that we didn’t have a broken image tag on our review page, we plopped in the new cover. I present here to give some history of this cover.

  4. I guess I’m not understanding that if the Sheriff is an elite solider from the future, why does he resemble a cowboy from the past? I get that he would be in disguise throughout the story, but nothing on this cover represents the future or tells the reader that the main character is from the future. As it stands this cover looks like a story from the wild west. I wouldn’t think this novel was a sci-fi thriller there’s nothing on this cover that indicates that at all.

  5. I’d never heard of this book or series until today. From the thumbnail, my first impression was that this was some kind of Western. From the (slightly) larger cover, that’s still my impression; and judging from the synopsis, that’s not far off. The part about the protagonist being a soldier from the future might be science fiction, but if he’s going to be spending the vast majority of his time in the old West, this is mostly just a “Weird Western” with technological stuff replacing the supernatural stuff.

    So fine, your cover tells us this is a Western. That’s about all it tells us, though, and it’s just not very exciting. The title needs to be bigger, the byline needs to be bigger, the picture needs to be bigger, the cover itself needs to be bigger… Everything needs to be bigger, louder, more in-your-face; a lone figure against a distant moon on a tiny cover that’s getting swallowed up on my display just isn’t cutting the mustard here.

    I used DED’s link on a reverse image search engine to dig up some of your older covers, and one that I found has me wondering: what was so wrong with that cover that you felt you needed a new one? I mean, apart from that cover’s also needing to be a lot bigger.

    That old cover’s got blood, it’s got thunder, it’s got action… Why replace it? Why change what works?

  6. Well, it certainly is a black book!

    I think the cover would work pretty well if the art were made considerably larger (and I assume that it is of high enough quality that it can be made larger). There would still be enough of the black field to get the point across. As it is, both the title and the art are completely lost, swimming in an overwhelming sea of black. It’s bad enough full size, but when reduced to a thumbnail there is virtually nothing left.

    You might want to rethink the typeface as well, which is a little too generic and uninteresting. Find something that better reflects the nature of the book and the period in which the story is set. You may also want to not make your name red…this almost invariably renders type impossible to read when against a black field…and if the cover is ever reproduced in B&W, your name will disappear entirely.

  7. Just stumbled across a submission to CoverCritics from 2014. It’s for a different volume in this series, but the size is much larger than the one on our book review blog. Is this one all of the volumes put together?

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