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Catslash

The author says:

In 1985, a modern-day witch casts a spell on a six-year-old boy who’d been annoying her that turns him into a black cat. Ten years later, he escapes the witch and takes up with a little six-year-old girl whose guardians are sexually abusing her. Starting with her rapists, anyone who wrongs his new owner or himself is going to be severely crippled or killed in mysterious “accidents” in the years and decades to come, with no one to stop him; for who in our skeptical modern society would ever suspect a cat of being the killer?

Basically, this is an urban fantasy with more than a little psychodrama-style horror to it, as we’re given a view of events that might occur in a horror movie through the eyes of the sympathetic “monster” killing off a whole slew of rather unsympathetic victims.

Nathan says:

Look at the books that urban fantasy readers buy. Look at the books that horror readers buy. Does your book look like either of those?

Urban fantasy books tend to have some indication (usually in the background) that the setting is present-day, and rely on color scheme and ornamentation (swirls, etc.) to indicate the presence of magic.

Horror books tend to rely on grungy textures in both image and font to flag their genre.

In contrast, your cover combines two flat image components in such a way that the cat is almost invisible at thumbnail size, and not much better at full size.  The font you’ve chosen does nothing but display the letters; it doesn’t pulls its weight in telling about the book.

Just take a look here and brainstorm, “If I want my book to be bought by the people who buy these books, what do I need to do differently?”

Comments

  1. Very imaginative, but I think the kitty could be outlined better so we can be sure it is a cat. The title? Is it to be read as “Cat Slash” or “Cat’s Lash”? Could be either. I’d give it a subtitle so the reader can be sure that what kind of novel it is.

    I have never heard of this “B.R.L. Coryn,” so I don’t think it would draw me in. Unless, of course, this Coryn is well known as an author to a bunch of readers who would be interested in clicking.

    Again: Very intersting concept, but outline the cat.

    Nice of you to share this.

  2. I think it works very well (I was able to understand the image immediately even at thumbnail size)…but might work even better if the image were larger. There’s no need for quite so much black space around it.

    I don’t think I would outline the cat…this would spoil the effect, I think, of the cat being both there and not there. Nor do I think that the cat is so difficult to see that it needs to be hammered home.

  3. Consider something like this: A close up image of a black cat in a dingy alley. There is a dirty brick wall behind it. Maybe it’s full body is shown or maybe it’s peeking out from behind a dented trash can in part of the frame. It has bright yellow eyes like you’ve shown looking strait at the viewer. There is a blood stained hand and forearm lying limp in the filth in the foreground, extending from the implied corpse that clearly exists beyond the frame. Focal points are the cat, which is important, and the hand, which is why. One weakness is this idea does not explicitly show magic. Something simple like a pentagram license tag on the cat’s collar could work, or could be trite.
    Beyond this font choice needs improvement like Nathan says. If you go with a very vibrant image I would suggest something fairly subdued, no dripping-blood fonts for example, for maximum readability. George’s suggestion of ‘Cat Slash’ is also good. ‘Catslash’ reads awkwardly as a single word when the combination ‘cat slash’ is so culturally familiar.
    Best of luck.

  4. It’s very eye-catching but has some problems at all sizes: the nearly-invisible cat, that filter (slur, I think?), and the hypersaturated colors. Bold coloring can be good, but not if it looks like you just used the top row of colors in the MS Paint default palette.

    I like the simplicity, so I might be inclined to work with what you’ve got, but it is indeed very far afield from either urban fantasy or horror and you do run the risk that your audience won’t know it’s for them. Both horror and urban fantasy tend toward monochrome or low-saturation covers with a lot of texture. So something like Kristopher’s suggestion might work better for that audience.

  5. In both thumbnail and full size, your cover definitely points more to “horror” than “urban fantasy” on the whole. If we didn’t have the title, we might still be able to pick up on closer inspection that this is a cat glaring out at us from in front of the slash marks, but even those brightly colored whiskers are difficult to see in thumbnail, leaving us just the cliche of hostile glowing eyes in the night to suggest that a monster is watching us.

    Now, to your credit, that does sound like it matches your description pretty closely; but your description, in fact, also sounds a lot more like a horror story than an urban fantasy. A cat that kills is not incredibly common, but certainly not unheard-of in horror: Stephen King’s short story “The Cat From Hell” (which got an adaptation as one of the stories in the Tales From The Darkside movie) comes to mind. About the only part of your description that tags this as urban fantasy is the bit about a witch in modern times (well, 1985 is pretty modern, even if the technology was nearly all analogue back then) magically turning a boy into a cat, something that I doubt even self-proclaimed witches of our time would claim to be able to do.

    I should note that on my desktop PC’s flat-screen monitor, the ragged dark blue outline around the cat is very difficult to see even at display size; until you zoom in to the full 3600 X 5400 view, it would be easy to dismiss the outline as an optical illusion generated by one’s mind. On my old laptop’s (significantly smaller) screen however, I’m able to make out not only the outline, but several fuzzy details inside the outline around the cat’s ears and face and even (when viewing it carefully) what might be a bit of his nose. This difference in monitors might particularly explain the difference in opinion between George and Ron concerning how visible the cat is and whether it needs outlining.

    Concerning differences in viewing devices, by the way, the printing method on a physical copy is likely to render its cover somewhat darker than it appears on the screen of a reader for the e-book. If you’re planning on releasing a physical copy of this book, therefore, I would boost the cat’s luminescence to ensure it’s visible for both versions. I would also turn those whiskers white, as their current yellow tends to smear together and get lost in the red of the scratch mark behind them.

    Concerning Nathan and katz’s assertion that horror and urban fantasy typically use low-saturation and high-texture imagery… that rather seems to vary from one author’s line of books to another. This is another area in which your cover heavily implies horror more than urban fantasy, since a lot of the urban fantasy covers I’m seeing are indeed highly complex and detailed with washed-out colors; yet horror novels seemingly can go either way on the spectrum between minimalism and complexity, and low or high saturation. As with many other genres, how saturated the colors are tends to depend on the intended age of the target audience: covers for horror stories for children and teens such as (for instance) a lot of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike’s paperbacks, are often saturated with eye-gouging neon fluorescent colors, whereas works for more mature audiences by Stephen King and Neil Gaiman may indeed have a more monochrome or washed-out appearance.

    This would suggest that your brightly colored book is for younger readers, but in searching through Amazon for some examples of cat-themed horror books, I couldn’t help noticing this doesn’t seem to be a very hard-and-fast rule. Also, after sorting through the books about cat burglars, cat girls, cat-and-mouse games, and the like to find horror novels specifically about actual cats, I couldn’t help noticing a remarkable number of these feature just the cats’ eyes (or just one eye) on the cover. While showing these nagilum (as they’re tagged on this site’s companion site Lousy Book Covers) makes some sense for an old Edgar Allen Poe novel, since nagilum had not yet become so shopworn back when Poe and other classical authors were writing their pieces, people are still using them on cat-themed horror novel covers in the current decade; I’m starting to think they’re out of ideas.

    While nothing I could find seems exactly like your story, I did find a tale about a girl with a cat (though I’m guessing your tale doesn’t have a zombie apocalypse like that one), and one about a witch turning a girl into a cat to help her get revenge on her rapists. The latter (The Nine Lives of Felicia Miller) in particular suggests to me some of the directions you might want to go with your cover along the lines of what Kristopher suggested, though I’m guessing the witch in your story is the villain rather than the benevolent old mentor type of that story. Also, while something like the pentagram and paw-prints on that cover might serve you well, I hope you’ll stick with showing the whole kitty behind the angry-looking eyes on your cover rather than the yet-another-nagilum-display on that cover whatever else you do.

    A final matter of concern is your font; not as boring as some I’ve seen, but it doesn’t really stand out much from any others either. As our esteemed host Nathan has pointed out on Lousy Book Covers on a couple of occasions, however, “scary” fonts usually aren’t. Maybe somebody else here could suggest a good horror font for a cat-themed horror novel? (Around here, of course, “somebody else” usually refers to Hitch, but this is an open question. Any suggestions, fellow critics?)

  6. (n.b.: before I start talking fonts, all I can hear now is “CatScratch Fever,” so, thanks for that earworm. Of course, my head keeps thinking, “CatSPlash fever,” so not sure how much good this title is doing you, RL.)

    Let’s see:

    1. Urban Decay, on Dafont? I was thinking of Graffiti (the earlier suggestion, cat in the alley, clearly swayed me on that front. If there were an alley wall or a building behind the cat, a graffiti-title would be kinda cool); “You Murderer” is also sort of Graffiti-traditional, for horror.
    2. Simple, but effective: Under Your Bed, a sans serif font, that has a crackled effect, on some of the lettering that lends some creepifying/decay to the letters;
    3. If you do want to go with the more-traditional (dripping blood and the like), I’ve been trying to find a place to use Lolita Scorned. IIRC, that’s also 1001fonts.com (so is Under YOur Bed, I believe).
    4. Another Sans Serif Grunge/horror: Living Hell font.
    5. Ravenscroft has that old-time Disney horror feel. Probably not for this book, but…you may also want to look at Necrotype, same area of 1001fonts.
    6. FleshWound is a bit too “too,” for my taste, but some folks like it.
    7. I also like Just Die Already. It’s subtle, but it has some creep.
    8. You know, Witching Hour might work for this book, given the plotline. It does have a bit of that “old-timey Exorcist feeling” to it, but…this might suit it quite well.
    9. Wooden Casket: yes, it’s a little “type-y,” but…we all love tropes because people respond to them, right? So, maybe a little Trope Down Memory Lane wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Right? (Aren’t you guys sorry that you let me come out and play????)
    10. Back to some graffiti-ish fonts: Kerberos Fang is solid.
    11. Yataghan is a nice one, channeling that sort of urban-fantasy witchy thing.
    12. I like Blue Vinyl’s My Scars, but it doesn’t kern worth a damn, IME. BUT, I usually like to see if it can work for a given title, just in case.

    That’s my shortlist, of fonts that are free to download, that have various licensing requirements (from zip to de minimus). If you want other fonts, RL, and you will be willing to license them from whichever foundry, I have some others. I tried to winnow this down to what I think might work, for this particular book.

    The rest of the Crew here have listed those same things that I would have mentioned, so I’ll spare you reading the same stuff again.

    Good luck.

  7. Before I answer, something you might be interested to know that’s not in my description: I’ve only begun to write this story, so where it’s going to go is a bit uncertain and a lot of the aspects of this cover are up for revision. As with my last novel, it could fit a number of genres, but I’m leaning specifically toward horror and urban fantasy due to the magical transformation and the modern setting. It’s also got a fair amount of “slice of life” in it (since the little girl doesn’t spend that much of her life being abused and there’s a lot of downtime to be found between seeking revenge on evil people in the several decades that this story spans), and the protagonist spends a lot of the time between killings getting himself an education while musing philosophically about the bizarre implications of what’s happened to him.

    George Garrigues

    Very imaginative, but I think the kitty could be outlined better so we can be sure it is a cat. The title? Is it to be read as “Cat Slash” or “Cat’s Lash”? Could be either. I’d give it a subtitle so the reader can be sure that what kind of novel it is.

    I have never heard of this “B.R.L. Coryn,” so I don’t think it would draw me in. Unless, of course, this Coryn is well known as an author to a bunch of readers who would be interested in clicking.

    Well, it has been a while since I last submitted a cover here; and that was in a rather different genre. Since Mr. Shumate is always telling authors who print their bylines too small to make them bigger, I figured printing my (pen) name nice and big is the way to go. Heck, that’s the way traditionally published authors have always done it, so when in Rome…

    As to the odd title, the meaning could go either way, actually: the protagonist cat “slashes” (kills) people the audience won’t be sorry to see killed just like in a slasher flick, and that makes him a scourge (or “lash”) of the guilty. Originally, I had been considering titling this “All Cats Are Gray” in reference to how cats are “gray” (i.e. beneath our notice) in our modern skeptical society, but that was already taken. Since I always rather did like titles with double meanings, I’m keeping the “catslash” portmanteau for now.

    A subtitle or tagline? I’m open to suggestions, but is that really necessary? No one seems to be having any trouble so far guessing that this is a book about a killer cat.

    Ron Miller

    I think it works very well (I was able to understand the image immediately even at thumbnail size)…but might work even better if the image were larger. There’s no need for quite so much black space around it.

    I don’t think I would outline the cat…this would spoil the effect, I think, of the cat being both there and not there. Nor do I think that the cat is so difficult to see that it needs to be hammered home.

    Technically, the cat is already outlined in blue at about a quarter luminescence, though that seems not to be visible on everyone’s monitor. Maybe I should bump the luminescence up from a quarter to a half? That wouldn’t spoil the “there and not there” effect for you, would it?

    Maybe the image could be a little larger, but the images from which I composed this can’t be expanded much further without getting blocky or blurry. I also learned from working the cover for my last book that covers need a substantial margin for error, particularly when printing physical copies. Furthermore, it’s a minor plot point in the book that compared to humans, house cats are small; which is another reason this one would make such an unlikely suspect in a homicide case, and why he shouldn’t be looming over anything like a panther or any of the other larger cats.

    Kristopher Grows

    Consider something like this: A close up image of a black cat in a dingy alley. There is a dirty brick wall behind it. Maybe it’s [sic] full body is shown or maybe it’s peeking out from behind a dented trash can in part of the frame. It has bright yellow eyes like you’ve shown looking strait [sic] at the viewer. There is a blood stained hand and forearm lying limp in the filth in the foreground, extending from the implied corpse that clearly exists beyond the frame. Focal points are the cat, which is important, and the hand, which is why. One weakness is this idea does not explicitly show magic. Something simple like a pentagram license tag on the cat’s collar could work, or could be trite.

    Beyond this font choice needs improvement like Nathan says. If you go with a very vibrant image I would suggest something fairly subdued, no dripping-blood fonts for example, for maximum readability. George’s suggestion of ‘Cat Slash’ is also good. ‘Catslash’ reads awkwardly as a single word when the combination ‘cat slash’ is so culturally familiar.

    Indeed, I actually have one or two of those cliche “dripping blood” fonts installed on my computer, but using any such would have been the obvious mark of a rank amateur. Besides, one of the other plot points of this story is that even if the protagonist wanted to draw attention to himself by making a bloody mess of his victims (which he doesn’t), a little black house cat isn’t really able to do that much damage to anyone even with his claws fully sharpened. As such, there’s not likely to be that much actual blood flowing in this story, other than maybe someone getting a nosebleed from being poisoned or overdosing on something.

    In other words, despite having a respectable body count, this “slasher” isn’t going to involve much actual literal slashing. The horror of it comes not from any hideous imagery of splattered blood or rotting flesh (to which jaded audiences are getting rather desensitized anyway), but from witnessing how truly evil some seemingly decent people can be, and the psychological trauma of seeing into a killer’s motives and realizing you might have a hard time disagreeing with them. While I may just go with your suggestion to include an ever-effective Dead-Hand Shot in the next revision of my book’s cover, therefore, it probably won’t have any blood.

    I may also try to work in some modern-looking background and symbol for the magic involved, though there’s not actually so much magic in this story beyond the beginning and ending. It’s highly unlikely the protagonist would willingly go wearing any of his enemy’s symbols, so a pentagram collar is pretty much out of the question. Mainly, though, I want to avoid having too much clutter in the frame; is it really necessary to have every last plot element on the cover?

    As for fonts, well, see my answer to Hitch below.

    katz

    It’s very eye-catching but has some problems at all sizes: the nearly-invisible cat, that filter (slur, I think?), and the hypersaturated colors. Bold coloring can be good, but not if it looks like you just used the top row of colors in the MS Paint default palette.

    I like the simplicity, so I might be inclined to work with what you’ve got, but it is indeed very far afield from either urban fantasy or horror and you do run the risk that your audience won’t know it’s for them. Both horror and urban fantasy tend toward monochrome or low-saturation covers with a lot of texture. So something like Kristopher’s suggestion might work better for that audience.

    That filter was called “spread” on my image editor, actually. I thought it added a nice fuzziness to the cat’s features that helped him blend into the background better, though I’m rather surprised you noticed it had also been applied to the scratch marks behind him. You must have looked at the cover at full zoom to have noticed their raggedness. If you like, I could redo those to make them clearer and more precise, but did it occur to you that the grainy effect the “spread” filter produces is a part of that “grungy” texture you and some of the others here are advocating I use on my cover?

    RK

    Oh boy… As usual, RK, you’ve delivered a nice long treatise on cover design here. Well, let’s break it down:

    In both thumbnail and full size, your cover definitely points more to “horror” than “urban fantasy” on the whole. If we didn’t have the title, we might still be able to pick up on closer inspection that this is a cat glaring out at us from in front of the slash marks, but even those brightly colored whiskers are difficult to see in thumbnail, leaving us just the cliche of hostile glowing eyes in the night to suggest that a monster is watching us.

    Now, to your credit, that does sound like it matches your description pretty closely; but your description, in fact, also sounds a lot more like a horror story than an urban fantasy. A cat that kills is not incredibly common, but certainly not unheard-of in horror: Stephen King’s short story “The Cat From Hell” (which got an adaptation as one of the stories in the Tales From The Darkside movie) comes to mind. About the only part of your description that tags this as urban fantasy is the bit about a witch in modern times (well, 1985 is pretty modern, even if the technology was nearly all analogue back then) magically turning a boy into a cat, something that I doubt even self-proclaimed witches of our time would claim to be able to do.

    The more I turn the matter over in my head, the more I begin to think this is more horror than urban fantasy. I mean, it’s got magic and it’s set in fairly contemporary times (from the 1980s on up to the present), but it doesn’t really delve into the broader social implications of the magic as much as my previous book did with its science fiction elements toward the end. Everything in this story has more to do with how the protagonist deals with being a cat with a human mind in modern times than with how people in general might react to finding out there are real witches living among them with enough real power to transform someone into an animal just like in the old fairy tales.

    I should note that on my desktop PC’s flat-screen monitor, the ragged dark blue outline around the cat is very difficult to see even at display size; until you zoom in to the full 3600 X 5400 view, it would be easy to dismiss the outline as an optical illusion generated by one’s mind. On my old laptop’s (significantly smaller) screen however, I’m able to make out not only the outline, but several fuzzy details inside the outline around the cat’s ears and face and even (when viewing it carefully) what might be a bit of his nose. This difference in monitors might particularly explain the difference in opinion between George and Ron concerning how visible the cat is and whether it needs outlining.

    Concerning differences in viewing devices, by the way, the printing method on a physical copy is likely to render its cover somewhat darker than it appears on the screen of a reader for the e-book. If you’re planning on releasing a physical copy of this book, therefore, I would boost the cat’s luminescence to ensure it’s visible for both versions. I would also turn those whiskers white, as their current yellow tends to smear together and get lost in the red of the scratch mark behind them.

    Well, that explains a lot: maybe I really should boost the cat’s luminescence so it’ll be more visible on both kinds of monitors. Do you really think I should make those whiskers white, though? That might be rather disruptive to the cover’s general color scheme.

    Concerning Nathan and katz’s assertion that horror and urban fantasy typically use low-saturation and high-texture imagery… that rather seems to vary from one author’s line of books to another. This is another area in which your cover heavily implies horror more than urban fantasy, since a lot of the urban fantasy covers I’m seeing are indeed highly complex and detailed with washed-out colors; yet horror novels seemingly can go either way on the spectrum between minimalism and complexity, and low or high saturation. As with many other genres, how saturated the colors are tends to depend on the intended age of the target audience: covers for horror stories for children and teens such as (for instance) a lot of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike’s paperbacks, are often saturated with eye-gouging neon fluorescent colors, whereas works for more mature audiences by Stephen King and Neil Gaiman may indeed have a more monochrome or washed-out appearance.

    This would suggest that your brightly colored book is for younger readers, but in searching through Amazon for some examples of cat-themed horror books, I couldn’t help noticing this doesn’t seem to be a very hard-and-fast rule. Also, after sorting through the books about cat burglars, cat girls, cat-and-mouse games, and the like to find horror novels specifically about actual cats, I couldn’t help noticing a remarkable number of these feature just the cats’ eyes (or just one eye) on the cover. While showing these nagilum (as they’re tagged on this site’s companion site Lousy Book Covers) makes some sense for an old Edgar Allen Poe novel, since nagilum had not yet become so shopworn back when Poe and other classical authors were writing their pieces, people are still using them on cat-themed horror novel covers in the current decade; I’m starting to think they’re out of ideas.

    The bit about the “nagilum” sounds like another argument in favor of boosting the cat’s luminescence: though a pair of unfriendly-looking eyes staring out of the darkness still sets the mood as well as it ever did (which is probably why you’re still seeing that in use on those covers), I do want people to realize there’s an actual cat behind those cat eyes. As for the bright colors, the distinction you mention concerning what age the coloring indicates the target audience is supposed to be is part of the emotional effect on the reader I’m seeking here: most horror novels with young protagonists are written for younger audiences, but this one (as the part about the sexual abuse might have hinted) is definitely for adults. For both the protagonist and the little girl he’s protecting, the adult world has intruded on their childhood and violated their innocence, albeit in a rather different way for him than for her.

    One work that inspired me to use bright “childish” colors on a horror novel for adults was a horrific scene from the uncut PG-13 version of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, in which the rejuvenated Joker threatens one of his “Jokerz” with a gun for questioning his leadership. When he actually pulls the trigger, it just pops out one of those “Bang!” flags you get from some toy guns, and everybody relaxes as the Joker says “I was only kidding.” Then he pulls the trigger again, and the gun fires the flag like a bullet, impaling the minion and killing him instantly; “Oops! No, I wasn’t.”

    As mentioned in the director’s commentary track for the movie, one aspect of the scene that makes it truly horrific is that the Joker’s gun has one of those bright neon-red plastic rings around the muzzle, just like all kids’ toy weapons are supposed to have to keep police from mistaking them for the real thing. The Joker, of course, is a nightmarish character precisely because his whole personality is based on going around violating sacrosanct things like childhood innocence. This is also why the witch in my story, despite being rather different from the mythological creatures of Halloween and old fairy tales, specifically decides to turn the protagonist into a cliched black cat: unlike the wannabes who go around protesting Halloween displays for being disrespectful to their religion, she actually enjoys cultivating all the old stories’ cliches about witches as part of her public image so that parents will dismiss all of their children’s perfectly justifiable fears of her as the products of overactive imaginations.

    That’s why I want to keep some of those bright colors on the cover, especially the blue sheen of the cat’s fur and the yellow-tinged-with-red on his angry eyes. Anybody have any ideas how I should go about modifying my color scheme to clarify the story is about children and yet targeted exclusively to adults?

    While nothing I could find seems exactly like your story, I did find a tale about a girl with a cat (though I’m guessing your tale doesn’t have a zombie apocalypse like that one), and one about a witch turning a girl into a cat to help her get revenge on her rapists. The latter (The Nine Lives of Felicia Miller) in particular suggests to me some of the directions you might want to go with your cover along the lines of what Kristopher suggested, though I’m guessing the witch in your story is the villain rather than the benevolent old mentor type of that story. Also, while something like the pentagram and paw-prints on that cover might serve you well, I hope you’ll stick with showing the whole kitty behind the angry-looking eyes on your cover rather than the yet-another-nagilum-display on that cover whatever else you do.

    Basically, you’re right on all counts, though this also isn’t a “shifter” story like that one. From what I’m seeing on its sales page, I might actually want to take a few pointers from the story itself as well as the book’s cover.

    A final matter of concern is your font; not as boring as some I’ve seen, but it doesn’t really stand out much from any others either. As our esteemed host Nathan has pointed out on Lousy Book Covers on a couple of occasions, however, “scary” fonts usually aren’t. Maybe somebody else here could suggest a good horror font for a cat-themed horror novel? (Around here, of course, “somebody else” usually refers to Hitch, but this is an open question. Any suggestions, fellow critics?)

    Hitch answers the call!

    Hitch

    (n.b.: before I start talking fonts, all I can hear now is “CatScratch Fever,” so, thanks for that earworm. Of course, my head keeps thinking, “CatSPlash fever,” so not sure how much good this title is doing you, RL.)

    Sorry for the earworm, Hitch, though you really ought to blame it on the songwriter: the song’s mashing the words “cat” and “scratch” together into one word is what gave me the idea of mashing “cat” and “slash” together into my title.

    As mentioned earlier, the cat protagonist of my novel tends to kill cleanly, so I rather have to disqualify the “grungy” and messy fonts. Again, there’s not a lot of actual blood-letting in this story, though there’s plenty of killing. Therefore, I’m going to try out some of your cleaner and sharper fonts.

    3. If you do want to go with the more-traditional (dripping blood and the like), I’ve been trying to find a place to use Lolita Scorned. IIRC, that’s also 1001fonts.com (so is Under YOur Bed, I believe).

    This probably deserves a mention simply because of the sexual abuse near the beginning of the story, but again: the protagonist kills cleanly. Right now, I’m thinking to have the protagonist off the girl’s rapists by spiking their wine with antifreeze. Also, the font’s theme seems to suggest the “Lolita” (sexually attractive underaged girl) is more the perpetrator than the victim of the crime, which is certainly not the case in this story.

    The vindictive mood of this font does remind me of a hilariously dark bit of comedy I saw once concerning greeting cards for dysfunctional families. The greeting card that might have benefited from “Lolita Scorned” lettering showed a rose on the front with the words “To my uncle…” Inside, it read “…on the anniversary of Our Little Secret!” Yeah, I can imagine a vindictive little girl who’s planning to cut her pervert uncle’s throat in his sleep sending him that card…

    5. Ravenscroft has that old-time Disney horror feel.

    It’s also rather clean and… bladed, if a bit bland. (Funny, I always associated the name “Ravenscroft” with the insane asylum from which Spider-man’s gory enemy Carnage originated in his comic books.) This should make a good potential backup font.

    11. Yataghan is a nice one, channeling that sort of urban-fantasy witchy thing.

    More to the point, it’s also got some nice sharp curvy serifs to go with its somewhat spidery quality. I may have to bold it to give the font some proper weight for my cover, though.

    Thanks for the advice, everyone; you’ve been quite helpful. I’ll get back to you with my next revision… whenever I get around to making it.

  8. Thank you for the feedback on the feedback. As for doing a cover before you finish the ms., well — that is all right by me. One side of the brain feeds the other, and I am doing the same thing myself; that is, working on a cover as a respite from writing and also to provide some kind of ocular assistance to the act of writing.

  9. did it occur to you that the grainy effect the “spread” filter produces is a part of that “grungy” texture you and some of the others here are advocating I use on my cover?

    I appreciate that that’s what you’re going for, but an aged look isn’t a filter. You’re using pretty much all solid colors, so everything looks very crisp and digital (not a bad thing); slurring the edges makes it less crisp, but doesn’t make it look aged, because the colors are still solid and because the edges of natural materials aren’t an exactly uniform amount of fuzzy.

    Have a look at your slash marks side by side with some natural textured paper and cloth. The latter two are the sort of look we mean by “grungy,” and you really need to use a photo texture to get that look–filters are, at best, an approximation.

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