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Breaking the Edge

The author says:

“Breaking The Edge” is a YA-NA, chick-lit novel revolving around sport and romance. I’m trying to pull readers who like Mariana Zapata’s “The Wall of Winnipeg and Me”, and “Kulti”, having the same genre as this story is. A story about the protagonist working in a ski-lodge dealing with her exhilarating father/employer and (hilariously aloof) snowboarder. Note : I don’t know, I’m new in this, and honestly I feel like the cover isn’t really telling about the story?

Nathan says:

Your fortune-cookie wisdom of the day: “Knowing that you don’t know what you’re doing is the first step to knowledge.” So there you go.

And remember, the primary purpose of a cover ISN’T to tell the story; there’s nothing wrong with it doing so, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the ACTUAL primary purpose, which is to attract the interest of readers who would want to read the book by signalling to them that this is the kind of book they like to read.

Actually, looking at the covers for the novels you cite, I think you hit the essentials for your genre –i.e., that it’s energetic, and that it’s sports-related.  I think that the second edge you’ve put over the artwork (the one under the word “Edge”) breaks up the cover image too much; the dark lump at the bottom is unrecognizable as a foot unless one purposely studies the photo, because it’s dissociated from the rest of the person.  I’d also like to see that right hand extending into the light space above “Breaking” — having both the hand and the helmeted head visible would help instant recognition of the figure as a figure.

One other thing: “Twaine Novak” isn’t the title of the novel, so “A Novel” shouldn’t be associated with it, it should go with “Breaking the Edge.”

Other comments?


  1. Pretty good! Just needs some tweaks. I agree about the placement of the words “A NOVEL.” Also, I think the title text can be darker to make it pop more, and please please bring the snowboarder’s head in front of the g.

  2. You’re definitely on the right track. I love the type treatment. The first book I was reminded of of was Keeping the Beat, which isn’t too far off from what you’re going for. So well done. The changes I’d make:

    -I’d lose those two “edges” entirely. I think they’re just busier than you need.

    -I really want a snowboarder photo that’s in pin-sharp focus.

    -As utterly BS as it is, it would probably help your audience if the snowboarder was more identifiably a young woman. I know, she’s dressed how any reasonable real-life snowboarder would be, but if the photo had her face uncovered, it would help identify who this is for.

    -Thirding the comments about “a novel.”

  3. I think I disagree about the upper and lower edge lines. With the existing art they focus the field of view in on the snowboarder, which is necessary because he/she cannot fill the space of the cover in that pose. The problem with the bottom line, I think, is that the D in Edge has been truncated. Put it back and the readability issue vanishes. If you do get different art much of this can change, but I would highly suggest the thick flying powder that this art has in anything new you choose. It looks great, especially in thumbnail.
    Identifying the book as a novel does buy you something, right or wrong, by labeling the book as non-fiction instead of genre. “A Twaine Novak Novel” could work for the wording, but could also cause confusion because Twaine Novak is a pretty good name for a titular character. One might think this is part of a series of novels about Twaine Novak until such time as your own name recognition is significant (though your byline being too catchy is a good problem to have). “A Novel by Twaine Novak” seems stuffy for the feel of the book, “Breaking the Edge, a Novel” has the same problem. “A Novel Twaine Novak” would be funny, but clearly wrong. Would “Novelist Twaine Novak” work? Should it just be discarded?

  4. I’m not going to say the same stuff that all the guys did, so far, except to say: I really like this cover, almost as-is. I would lose “a novel” completely, design-wise. On the other hand, if you fear that the book will not be recognized in the correct genre/category…hmph. I agree that because you have gone upmarket, and not stuck some bare-chested beefcake on the cover, people may not immediately think “Chick-lit,” or YA/NA, either. Hmmmmmmmm.

    Any reason you can’t put “A Novel” in a nice, sturdy (not delicate) sans-serif font, at an angle, tracking with “Edge,” at the bottom right-hand corner? Why wouldn’t that work? Hell, if you can pull it off, maybe put a little motion in that text, too? A feeling of speed?

    And may I say: thank you, thank you, for giving us a cover where I love what you’ve done with the title font? I never get to say that. 🙂

    I like it. I should say, albeit female, I’m not the target market for this, so I don’t know if it will satisfy its primary requirement, which is: your cover is click-bait. Period. Your cover’s job is not to tell the story. Its solo job is to get people to click into your Amazon (or iBooks or B&N) sales page. That’s it.

    Good luck with it!

    1. Regarding the “A Novel” tag, Hitches idea I think offers a good solution. With a different font the link between title and tag is broken, avoiding any potential awkwardness in phrasing while still letting you use it.

  5. All right, I get that this is a novel about snowboarding; not so much the part about romance. To clarify that it’s a romance… maybe what katz says about making the snowboarder more obviously feminine? Maybe a discreetly-placed heart or two or a feminine pink color wash on the background? I don’t know; I hate to detract from a picture that perfectly promotes one genre just to promote another.

    As for the “a novel” designation, you can cut that part out altogether. I have never yet seen a good book cover for any novel that needed to state that it was a novel. Your prospective readers should be smart enough to be able to figure that part out for themselves without your help.

    1. RK:

      Someone here, up thread, noted that it’s possible that this cover could be easily mistaken as a non-fiction book, you know, memoir, or whatever. I originally thought as you do–just lose it–but when I tell myself to forget what we know about the book, I can see that it would be easy to miss that it’s fiction. That’s why I cogitated on where that could go (“A Novel”) without affecting the remainder of what I think is really a pretty good cover.


      1. If it were only about snowboarding, I could see how it might be difficult to distinguish the fiction from the non-fiction. However, it’s also a Romance. If the author can make its other genre clear, the “novel” part will take care of itself no matter how photo-realistic the picture on the cover.

        (“Novel” doesn’t mean a whole lot anyway; I’ve even heard the term “non-fiction novel” used to describe 80,000+ word books that tell true stories. To say this is a “novel” is to tell your reader that this is a big book; to which the reader is likely to say “Well, duh!” Even just saying “A Romance” would do more for this book’s cover than that.)

        I really, really don’t want to call for the cover image to be replaced, but the only remotely similar kind of book I’m finding as a basis for comparison is one showing a couple in snow gear kissing on the cover. The rest of the “Sports Romance” genre I’m seeing leans a lot more heavily toward the Romance rather than the Sports side of that equation, while I get the impression this novel leans more the other way (i.e. lots of Sports, and just a little Romance). Maybe adding some kind of stylized border or just some kind of romantic symbol near the bottom would do the trick?

        1. Sure, but: how, without changing that image–and I concur, that would be a shame–is s/he going to convey the romance angle? Just slapping flying locks o’hair on that pic–even if there were another version of the image that had a female skier–doesn’t say squat to me about it being chick-lit, versus a skier’s memoir, or a non-fic novel about some year of skiing competitions, etc.

          And who says that the skier on the cover is a woman? I’m not certain–by any means–but I thought I saw some stubbly stuff there.

          Sorry, I just don’t see that adding hair, or using little pink flowers or hearts, is going to solve the issue. (I’ll refrain from commenting on the pink/heart stereotype.)

          I’d cheerfully sacrifice that corner, and let it carry “A Novel,” just to keep that image, with that font treatment. YES, it will mean that the publisher will have a more-uphill battle than someone who slapped the usual bare-chested male/fragile fawning female on the cover, but perhaps the author’s story is more sports competition and less Sandra Bullock Movie Du Jour.

          Don’t know, I’m not the publisher. But I don’t see any way to “feminize” or “chick-lit” this cover, or change that skier into not only a woman, but one that will automagically convey “Sports Romance Chicklit YA/NA story.” Sports novel? Yup. Romance? Nope.

  6. WRT “a novel,” the only two formations I’ve seen regularly are a) “a novel”, placed directly below the title or b) nothing. Formations like “a novel by so-and-so,” etc, seem to be vanishingly rare on book covers.

    About romance: This is a contemporary novel with a romantic plotline in it, not a romance as in the actual romance genre, right? If so, there’s no need to signal romance specifically. As long as you’ve signaled “for girls,” it’ll go without saying. (Keeping the Beat has strong romance plotlines, for instance, and it doesn’t have anything to signal that on the cover.)

  7. I think it is good – yes, one can always say something about tweaking it, an I think the second edge might go as N. suggests, but it is pretty competent looking and quite fun and exciting lookingas it is; just lose ‘a novel’ – is that really used except for some reason in self/pub? I tried to check a few covers, and well, I could not see it but it was just a couple of examples. On the other hand, covers tend to now include some sort of blurby sentence like “exciting stuff, buy me, this famous bloke liked me too” – but perhaps not in those exact words…

    1. If the content of a book justifies the novel tag it can have a positive effect on sales of the book. The reason is prejudice, but it is a real prejudice that, I think, has fairly good data backing it up.
      To expand, there is some bias in publishing and also in self publishing that fiction, by which I mean fictional stories set in the real world, is superior to genre fiction (i.e. everything else). It might be that the non-genre fiction market is just bigger, it might be a literary snobbery thing. The point is that calling a book ‘A Novel’ codes the book as non-genre fiction, I think because of reasonably successful campaigns in literary circles against allowing any other fiction to be called novels. The takeaway is that there are readers who believe this and won’t wast their time or dollars on genre fiction regardless of quality, so there is an advantage to having ‘A Novel’ on your cover if you content backs it up. There is, after all, no accounting for taste.
      To illustrate, there was a fantasy author (I write fantasy by the way, the red-headed stepchild of all genres, so I apologize if I’m somewhat impassioned) who insisted he didn’t write fantasy he wrote novels, despite having an entire fantasy world in his books with the magic turned up to 11. Many people fought him hard on this point, flame wars erupted. It became important because he wanted extra prestige from the label and they wanted to deny it to a ‘genre hack’. Both camps were wrong in their way, he was maligning the fantasy genre as much as they (The author may have been Terry Goodkind, but I’m not sure).
      Another odd case, sometimes genre authors become so popular that some of their readership tries to do the same thing to justify their own tastes. I have seen Neil Gaiman claimed, by some, to not be a fantasy author. They insist he is a novelist, and only a novelist, as though the fantasy label somehow cheapens him. The man has written some of the best comic book characters I have ever seen and collaborated with Terry Pratchett, but somehow he is too good for fantasy because certain of his fans believe they are too good for fantasy.

    2. They put “A Novel” on my cover because it’s an illustrated cover and they were concerned it might be mistaken for a graphic novel. So that’s one reason aside from the whole “snobbish literary people” thing.

  8. I really like this, it’s an exciting and slightly edgy (no pun intended) design. It’s a great title treatment.

    I agree with everyone else that the chick lit angle isn’t coming across. Maybe I’m being a hack, but have you considered making the words pink? I know, I know, but I think pink text sitting over this very exciting and unisex image would potentially have quote a nice antithesis that gets across exactly what’s interesting about your book – it’s girly AND no-nonsence sporty. I’d be more inclined to make that adjustment than change the snowboarding figure, personally as I think you’ve got a nice image there. I like how the bright rainbow of the visor stands out at the head is framed by the gap in the text. I would tweak it a little though. I’d enlarge her and move her up if possible. I think I’d like to see her arm coming up over the top of the word ‘Breaking’. She’s coming right at us, she needs to be a bit more dominating of the cover size-wise.

    Everything is just getting a little weighted towards the bottom of the frame, with empty space left at the top. Just a bit of resizing and nudging to get everything more balanced centrally would be good. Then you’d also have room to put ‘A Novel’ in its proper place under the title.

    I’d also put your name in a contrasting colour to the background – probably a shade picked from the rainbow visor to echo that element in the otherwise monochrome cover.

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