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Clouds of Ecstasy

The author says:

A young woman’s boozy days at college hit a bump when she discovers a strange parasite in her ovaries. Her quest to secure funding for the surgical removal of her unwanted guest flings her into a world of relentless madness.



Nathan says:

You know what? I’m just gonna leave this one for everybody else to comment on.  Have at it.


  1. I am truly baffled by what this novel is about. Is it a comedy? By the cover I would hope it is, but the description really doesn’t describe it as a comedy. The two seem opposing to me. Maybe, I’m just not getting it. I’m with Nathan on this one, I’ll let everyone else make their comments.

  2. Between your sparse description and the cheap vector graphics (somewhat) reminiscent of South Park, I’m having trouble figuring whether this is supposed to be a bit of raunchy humor, a cheesy erotica short, or both. If you’re doing humor, you need something visually humorous on your cover regardless of what style you use; just referencing South Park in the artwork isn’t going to do the job. By the same standard, if you’re doing something erotic, you need to have something sexy-looking on the cover. While the gal with the yarmulke might be mildly attractive and the bird on her head is a bizarre addition, I’m not seeing much more than that in the way of humor or sex appeal here.

    In addition, when doing vector graphics, you need to have something that looks at least as expensive as the book itself; if you’re just doing a 15-page short, this quality might be all you need, but if you’re doing anything longer, you’ve got to do better than this. When I say this is reminiscent of the South Park graphics, I’m talking about the first season or so of the show, which was very low-quality indeed. For anything longer than a short, you need the artwork quality of this year’s South Park episodes at the very least; and the cinematic quality of the movie if you can get it.

    Regardless of these factors, I think we critics are in agreement that we could use a little more information, starting with your telling us what genre (and sub-genre) of story this is supposed to be. Sex comedy? Drug comedy? Lifetime Movie of the Week drama? Help us out here.

  3. Assuming cartoon is actually appropriate for your genre (which is a big assumption, as others have noted above), you’ve got everything oddly centered and zoomed so far out there’s no immediacy to it.

    Look for books in your genre, take a peek at their covers. If you’re still convinced about the cartoons, try:

    Zooming in. Thigh-gap girl doesn’t need to be a full view. I’d argue you get more mileage by a zoom in and re-center which shows only half her face.

    Move the crane and Bespin’s Cloud City or whatever somewhere other than dead center. Your title and etc. can cover up some of the art, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Lower the treeline, bring your character and the architecture closers together. Whatever you were trying to express with tall trees gets lost when it just looks like you were trying to full dead space.

    Consider removing the advisory sticker. Too many cd’s with one tame little expletive have turned that sticker a bit boring.

    Maybe give it some shading. You don’t have to do anything difficult, a cheap and easy color gradient on the trees would do. Maybe consider a color gradient for the sky, too.

    That’s all I’ve got, but please, before you do any of those, find more books in your genre. If you haven’t found any like yours, you should. If you don’t think any exist, it’s time to ask a librarian or a bookseller. If they don’t have a suggestion, ask another. As a self pubber, you really need to know.

    Good luck!

  4. The thing that immediately sticks out to me is all the unused space at the bottom. Why is the “advisory” sticker not taking up some of that?

  5. The description of the book–“a strange parasite in her ovaries”–led me to believe that this was body horror. And then I scrolled down to what was presented for a cover and did a double take. “Explicit Content/Warped Humor”. I checked to make sure that I wasn’t over at LBC. I checked my calendar to make sure it was November 1st and not April 1st. I’m at such a loss over the disconnect between the description and the image provided that I can’t offer any advice. Is this meant to be a bizarro-satire hybrid?

  6. Not much I can add this time around. The cover is entirely inappropriate. The bottom line is that absolutely no one would be able to tell what sort of book this is or what it might be about from the cover alone.

    I’ve often suggested that a test for the effectiveness of a book cover is to imagine all the text in a language you don’t understand. Are you still able to gather something about the nature of the book or what it might be about? If not, then the cover needs to be rethought.

    Even if you decide to retain the style (which would be unfortunate), there is still too much going on, placing the cover squarely in the “kitchen sink” school of book cover design: the cover where the author feels they have to include everything they think is important. Aside from the unnecessary clutter, most of these images are meaningful only to some who—like the author—is already familiar with the story. In this case this includes everything from the bird and the beer sign to the construction equipment and whatever that mysterious stain on the floor is.

    At the very least, even if you cannot make it more relevant, simplify this cover.

  7. Hello, this is the author, and also the cover designer.

    Thanks for the feedback, guys, appreciate it.
    Thought I’d try and clear up some confusion about a few issues as I admit the description I provided was a little skimpy. Here goes:

    1. Yes, it’s a comedy, a dark comedy with more than a few absurdist elements.
    2. No, it’s not erotica by any stretch of the term.
    3. Everyone keeps telling me the style reminds them of South Park, which I kinda see, though that wasn’t intentional when I made it. I just wanted to do something in a simplistic style that I was confident could come off decent.
    4. Just a little thing, but that hat on her head is a beret, not a yarmulke. You can tell by the little triangle top, the relative size, and the fact that traditionally only Jewish men wear yarmulkes.
    5. Yeah, it’s a bit of a kitchen sink approach, but only because this book has a really unusual premise I didn’t know how to depict accurately with a few simple details. Read the book and you’ll see.
    6. That ‘parental advisory’-type sticker was there to make sure people didn’t think the cartoony style meant the book was kids friendly.
    7. In case you didn’t notice, the area she’s standing in is supposed to be a dingy pub that fades into a forest.


    1. So this is a kind of “stoner” comedy or some similar kind of drug humor?

      1. Then you need to have something funny-looking on the cover.
      2. Try not to make it look too sleazy, then.
      3. As long as you use this cartoon style, South Park is bound to be everyone’s basis for comparison. Also, for the record, “simplistic” means too simple and has negative connotations, as in “My opponent’s political position on [issue] is awfully simplistic.”
      4. That’s good to know, although frankly I didn’t know for certain it was a woman, just assumed this was your protagonist from the description. Some more obviously feminine secondary attributes might help: right now, she’s wearing what could be men’s clothing and looks to be flat as a board in the… chest area.
      5. “Read the book and you’ll see” is the one thing we can’t do; remember, your prospective readers aren’t going to have you looking over their shoulder and instructing them how to interpret what they’re seeing. You need something immediately visually accessible, and your “kitchen sink” approach isn’t doing the job.
      6. Back before South Park hit the air, that might have been necessary; not so much now. Amazon and most of the rest of the book sellers through whom you might be trying to sell your book have various setting that allow you to specify your book is for adults only anyway, so don’t worry about labeling it as such.
      7. Well, yes, I did notice that; it’s a bit bizarre and surreal, certainly, but not especially funny.

      If you want to do anything like drug humor, try studying covers and posters for other stuff in the same genre. I think you’ll find the imagery and title each have to do half the work: drug trip colors or graphic distortions give people the idea that the book is about drugs, and then the title has to sound sufficiently funny to clarify that it’s specifically about drug humor. Clouds of Ecstasy is not a bad start, but you might want to play with it some more and see if you can’t find something that sounds funnier.

      Off the top of my head, here are some potentially funny titles about Ecstasy:

      Who Moved My Pacifier?
      Medic Molly Makes Me Ecstatic
      Up My Nose, Two Blocks Down
      Breaking Tabs
      Good Golly, Miss Molly!
      Glomp, Glomp Them Raves
      The Ovary & The Ecstasy

    2. Hi, Jakob:

      My reading of your reply to the gang is that pretty much, you’re set on that cover. I hope that you rethink that. While the cover is, as someone else mentioned, technically proficient, the cover doesn’t do its job.

      The cover has a single job. Just one. Not 20 or 5 or even 2. One job. That job is to bring readers to your book sales page. Once it does that, it’s done. It has no other purpose, other than displaying on the eReader’s book carousel, to make finding the book somewhat easier, presumably.

      Almost–almost–every author I meet sees their cover like an IMAX screen. They see the saga of their tale scrolling across that IMAX screen, all 3 acts or what-have-you. But the cover’s job isn’t to tell your story. That’s the BOOK’s job, not the cover’s.

      Your Cover is Click-Bait. That, and NOTHING else.

      I recognized that the “hat” was a beret, not a yarmulke, but…so what? What does the beret tell me? WHY should I care? If it were a yarmulke, at least then I’d think, “okay, well…Jewish angst,” or somesuch, but a beret? What does that mean? It’s set in Paris, or, it’s some pretentious artist with his/her (again, can’t tell if that’s a man or woman on the cover) head up his…well, you get it.

      I didn’t really notice that the pub “faded” into the forest. I saw a forest/woods element, and a pub. Kinda. Not sure what that tells me, either.

      See? I’m the type of buyer for dark humor, and this cover has thrown me for a loop. It doesn’t tell me what the book is about; it doesn’t help me maintain interest; and I cannot tell, at a glance, whether it’s a book for me or not.

      As someone else said, if you gotta explain it…well. You won’t be telling the reader why the cover matters, is significant, etc. And really–the cover isn’t SUPPOSED to be “significant.” You’re losing the plot. That isn’t the cover’s job. Significance is utterly irrelevant to this task. It’s supposed to convey the genre, and to make people curious enough, interested enough, to CLICK. Once that happens, to iterate what I said above, the cover’s job is fini. Complete. Done.

      Rethink your cover design, bearing in your mind only that one thing–the cover’s real job. Not the job that you thought it was supposed to do.

      Oh, and…there are something like 20+ “cloud” fonts. All of them will work better than what you have now. You may want to investigate that, too.

      Good luck.

  8. The first thing that pops into my head is that, if you need to put a sticker on the cover saying what’s in the book, your cover is not doing its job. And, while this cover looks fine on a technical level, that’s my basic conclusion here: It’s not communicating what you want to communicate. Hell, I didn’t even realize that was a girl until I read your description.

    #4-#7 on your list demonstrate the problem; you’re giving us additional information we need in order to interpret what we’re seeing. “Read the book and you’ll see.” Well, if people don’t like your cover, no one will read your book.

    So I had a goofy idea: How about putting the girl, large, on your cover with an X-ray over her abdomen, and through the X-ray we see the female reproductive system and the ovaries have little cartoon bugs on them or something? That fits your description better and it communicates both “really weird” and “possibly adult” while still being Amazon-friendly.

  9. Whenever I see a warning label telling me that I’m going to laugh, I am very sure (as a prospective reader) that I won’t.

    Definitely drop the warning label. Instead, let the cover suggestions of the folk above me tell the reader that your reader book is funny.

    I would also consider a good blurb about the humour as written by a reviewer. Double kudos if the reviewer is a big name in the genre. When I pick up an unknown dark comedy I want to know someone else thought it was funny.

    I couldn’t tell this was dark comedy or maybe dark comedic science fiction. Southpark definitely was the first thing I thought so I assumed absurd autobiographical stand-up. I thought where this would go in a book store and I was stumped.

    Check out a Tom Robbins or Hunter S. Thompson cover. You’re going to want to appeal to someone who would pick up one of those novels.

    Right now this screams that it wants to lounge in the Humor section until it is remaindered.

  10. It’s a funny cover, but really too busy. Too much stuff. Couldn’t even see any hat on this person’s head, only a crow. Title is too faint. See Warning label is rather engaging and might work as click bait.

    Good luck, Jakob! Keep writing and designing!

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