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Quality DNA

The author says:

In 2059, every person’s DNA is recorded in the Genome Database. Even though Annette’s perfect baby girl was the product of a one night stand, she knows the database will give her the name of the sexy stranger who fathered her child. Instead, her baby’s DNA matches that of a man she’s never met who died several years ago. Irene works at the Social Department and is assigned Annette’s case. When more and more instances of births that don’t make sense and babies who shouldn’t exist cross her desk, she realizes there’s something deeper going on. Her investigation sucks her into a sinister organization with a single goal in mind. Misguided matchmaking. Deranged medical experiments. Outright terrorism. All in the name of finding one elusive thing: Quality DNA.

Nathan says:

This is the kind of cover that relies almost entirely on its ability to interest the eyeballs and make the potential reader stop in their browsing.  With that in mind, I think that the random color patterns detract and distract from the impact of the cover.

Sorry, I’m a little under the weather today, so I’ll let the rest of our cadre of helpful commenters helpfully comment.


  1. The title is quite readable and you can tell what the graphics are in both full size and thumbnail, which is good. The graphics leave something to be desired though.
    The color pallet emphasizing neon blues and purples I think causes problems. they look like bruises more than anything else, though weird and unnatural bruises due to the teal highlights. It almost mis-brands the book as a domestic abuse survival story, though with a sci-fi edge. In the thumbnail there is also a camouflaging effect that masks the face and actually decreases visibility. Perhaps something subtler like the stereotype of piercing but mismatched eyes on an otherwise ‘perfect’ face could yield the desired effect. Another stereotype that could work is a collage of beautiful faces from different races forming a ‘perfect’ gestalt face. I would recommend a less common idea than either, but something subtler is the point. Definitely have piercing eyes though.
    The water-on-the-lens effect in the foreground is awful in the full sized version. One of the tracks of water coincidentally obscures her right eye, which should be a focal point, while the crispness of the water drops serves to distract from and mask the art’s softer character entirely. In the thumbnail this effect is absent, but it then serves to further break up the outline and camouflage the art, lowering visibility once again.
    I think the bones of a very effective cover are here. The title font and coloration may need no work at all, though I am very unskilled where text is concerned (still not entirely sure I understand what kerning means).

    Best of luck,

  2. I think the cover works pretty well. What makes it most striking are the accented eyes peering out from the face. I would be very careful about keeping any of the textures and color well away from the eyes. At the moment some of the water patterns and color shapes overlap the eyes: I would remove those.

    You have an interesting idea with the color…but I would work with it more. At the moment it is awfully harsh and a little too hard-edged. It’s also too random. Make the color patterns work with the contours and shape of the face better.

    Weirdly enough, the cover works much better as a thumbnail!

  3. I think it’s good except I also think you need to pick a dimension. The water rivulets are on a different plain as in rain running down a window in front of the face rather than down the surface of the face which seems to be the intent. If not, and the intent is a wet glass wall, it’s not very convincing. If your intent is a wet face it’s far less convincing.

  4. I definitely like this overall. It’s professional-looking and the type treatment is very simple, but effective. (I do think either all the A’s should have crossbars or none of them should.)

    But I agree that the exact placement of the blotches could do with some tweaking. At thumbnail, they obliterate the nose and mouth and all I see is eyes amid a pile of blotches. I also would have picked a model with no stubble; that’s a more grungy feature on an otherwise very clean-looking design.

      1. You might be right. I can only see them on the chin but that may just be because the rest of the face is obscured. (Either way I think a model with very smooth, uniform skin makes more sense for this particular image.)

  5. I sort of agree with the criticism of the picture… I suspect though this is a stock photo that has been delivered as it is? I think it is definitely striking at least, and sort of fits with the genre. So you may want to change/tweak the pic, but if you stick with it – the cover is pretty good, but perhaps a little plain. The way everything is at least almost centered makes it seem a bit less than professionally laid out – not bad at all, just lacking that little edge.

    The background could have some subtle pattern – or perhaps an almost not readable text with the genetic code TAGGCCACT etc – or grid of some kind to keep the techno-look – and the title could have even bigger size difference between QUALITY and DNA, and a bit more space between the words; or DNA can be little more right of center. I do like the choice of font – but I agree with katz on “either all the A’s should have crossbars or none of them should.” And you could test different colours, now the byline looks like you just settled with white, somehow: same colour as title, or a slightly darker or lighter hue of same would probably work well.

  6. My one kibitz is the one thing that apparently, everyone else likes: the title font. I like the feel of it; it definitely conveys the ubiquitous “sci-fi/horror/creepy” vibe, and that’s good, BUT the D in DNA, in thumbnail, reads like ONA, not DNA.

    I don’t know why the colors are a blue-green-purple pallet. I was wondering–any chance it could go to stronger colors? Red, orange, yellow, or the like? Any possibility of that? I think it could be quite eye-catching with stronger active colors.

    (BTW, I like your description–and typically, I don’t. I know this isn’t Description Critics, but, just as an aside, I do yours.)

    The slight off-centering is detracting from it, as previously mentioned.

    I generally like the idea. I’m not sure I’m wild about the colors, as I mentioned, and I do like Tuula’s suggestion, of running the coding–perhaps in a pale blue-grey, on the blackish background–as an accent. (I know that running that across the face would be a trope, but you know what? Tropes work for a reason. I confess: I’d have done it, at least as an option for the author-publisher to look at. It is bloody difficult to do, however, across facial features.)

    I like the idea of the book, and it’s NOT a terrible cover. I’d guess that this cover will actually catch eyes in a good way, but if you listen to the guys, above, I think that the cover will be even stronger.

  7. Thanks everyone for all the great feedback! I’m going to implement a number of slight changes to make the overall cover stronger. The image is made using two different stock photos, so tweaks like bringing out the model’s features can be done pretty easily. I played with the color palette a bunch. Using reds and yellows makes the model look like he’s ill, but I did tighten the color range to get rid of the bruised purple look. I’ll add a subtle background and tweek the text. I really appreciate all the design ideas.

  8. I’m probably a bit late to the party. For what it’s worth here’s my comment.

    I think your cover pretty well nails it. Simple and very effective. It’s all about the eyes. It will definitely catch the attention.

    The only thing that slightly bothers me is the jet black background. I’d probably experiment with a grey … as if the head is emerging from a mist/fog and change the title font colour accordingly.

    Really nice cover.

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