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The author says:

Welcome to the Weird Wild West. There are people here who are not as they seem and others who watch them. Supernatural and mortal alike unite to reach what peace that can be found between them as hunters can become prey and prey can become the hunter. This is their story.



Nathan says:


Those pre-made Cover Creator templates look exactly like what they are.  They scream, “I’m self-published, and I tried to save money on a cover!”  At least the image you chose doesn’t clash horribly with the template — the diagonal of the paper background intersects in an interesting way with the diagonal of the roofline — but still: Nope.  It looks impoverished and amateur.

On top of that, the image you chose is Western, sure, but there’s nothing weird or paranormal or off-kilter about it. You miss your entire audience if the cover looks like “a happy market day in the Old West.”

If you just found a Western-themed photo or illustration (preferably one that concentrates on an individual or some other central image, instead of a town) and then applied a color scheme that you find on horror novel covers (stark contrasts, lots of shadows) and a distressed Western font, you’ve be about 400% ahead of where you are now.

Best of luck.  Other comments?


  1. Why are all these templates tilted? This is not how a book cover looks like, ever. I don’t want to tilt my head to read the blurb.

    And Nathan is right, you’re missing the supernatural part. Right now it looks like an average Western. Also, the font is neither Western nor supernatural.

  2. Hm. Yes, you might be able to do something with that image, but dump the template; it’s not helping anything. As for the image, it may be useful as a foundation for the “Western” part of your cover, but you definitely need to build something on that foundation that informs your readers of the “Supernatural/Paranormal” part of your book. Keeping your cover free of clutter when clarifying to the reader that the book belongs to more than one genre is difficult, but you’ve got to do it all the same.

    Something you do have going in your favor is that if (as your synopsis suggests), this is a story in which all the supernatural/paranormal stuff is going on just under the surface of an otherwise normal-looking dusty Western town, your picture of a normal-looking dusty Western town will generally be a suitable cover. All you’ll need to add to that will be some element from the story that looks completely out of place to the readers, though not to the townspeople. Case in point: your general synopsis brings to mind a Far Side comic I saw once that shows a man on his soapbox in the middle of a city street yelling at the rather apathetic passersby that vampires are everywhere… and meanwhile, behind him, a couple of workmen are carrying a mirror in which only the guy on the soapbox is showing any reflection. (Apparently, the guy’s not so paranoid after all, though you can understand why his message isn’t getting much traction with his audience.)

    Likewise, showing the people of Anywesternville quietly going about their business around a huge idol of Cthulu in the middle of the street, or maybe everyone walking around with demons’ wings on a typical day in the town market is the perfect way to demonstrate how “weird” this Weird Western is. Having everybody act like something incredibly bizarre to us is no big deal (because to them it really isn’t) works just as well on the cover as in the story itself. Slap whatever is “supernatural” about your story square in the middle of your cover where prospective buyers can’t miss it while changing nobody and nothing else on the cover at all, and that target audience is yours from the get-go.

  3. Yes, I agree with the rest, the template is stupid. I have seen a few covers with slanted text that were OK, but then they are usually abstract covers where the text is central to the design. Most books covers do not have slanted text for a good reason. And why does the paper cover more than half the page? Most titles don’t take that much space, and now I feel like I am being actively prevented of seeing the picture. Show me! What is it! No mam, classified, look at this blank piece of paper instead. So the picture then is too small – I had to open it and zoom to see it properly, but that does bring up a problem: it is a painting, and it is much too twee. I like it, and in a Little House on the Prairie type book cover it would be spot on but I do not think any tweaking will give it a paranormal western look. I did think it could be tweaked with just ominous, dark purple sky and deep shadows for example, without adding any fantasy elements as such, but on closer look I do not think so.
    With a different picture … I have been binge-watching Preacher, and some of the publicity shots for that show well how a nice simple wooden church in the West can be made to seem like the temple of doom: angle of the shot: from close to ground, making the building loom over us, slight tweaks on colouring, making the sky darker, darkening the shadowy church over pale, desiccated earth – and bingo, we know nasty supernaturalness is about to happen, with not a demon or a pitchfork in sight. Various art about Stephen King’s Gunslinger also shows a typical wild west gunman figure in a desert, normal so far, but the desert is bright red and the sky black or some other unnatural colour scheme.

  4. Again, another example of a cover that simply doesn’t convey any sense of what the book is about.

    Design-wise, there is far too much unbalanced blank space. On the front cover, the parchment area takes up more than half the space…with only the title and author’s name swimming in a sea of beige. The same goes for the back cover: the eye goes immediately to the large brown triangular space—and there is nothing there. Evidently this is all the result of having used a pre-existing template. That in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing…if it is used well. In this case, however, it was not.

    But most of these comments are moot since the cover really needs to be rethought from scratch. You should probably abandon the use of templates and focus on finding or creating an image that conveys to the reader in a glance what kind of book you have.

  5. I’m not a fan of blank spaces. Whenever I give authors advice, whether it’s a script, novel or a cover I use the same analogy, if you think of the page as the most expense piece of real estate available you want to use it as wisely as possible. Leave out what is not necessary and make sure everything has important information that will attract your audience. Never add things just because you can and never, ever leave wasted space. Make certain your cover tells your future readers everything you can not.

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