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A Change in Crime

The author says:

When you lose everything, who are you? In November of 1929, the last autumn leaves started a domino effect in Fall River. At a time when most give thanks, others lurk at society’s fringes, waiting for a shot at revenge. Power. Redemption. A Mafia hit leaves Leo Riley homeless and at the mercy of Oguina, a powerful monster under an ancient curse. A hunter with skin in this game stalks the streets, playing cat-and-mouse with the creatures he’s sworn to eliminate. The capo di tutti capi with a secret gazes into a moral abyss, threatening to take his men with him if he falls. All struggle to hold on to humanity. Unlikely allies join forces, fighting for their rights to Fall River’s streets and their very survival. Some will fall, some will rise, but can there ever be a winner when crime and change come to call?

Genre: Alternative History, Speculative Fiction
Setting: 1929 New England
Target: Adult readers

Nathan says:

So what I’m getting from the description is a Depression-era urban fantasy/crime drama. However, I’m seeing not seeing the urban fantasy part from the cover, just old-timey crime.  I think that if you’re going to go for one or the other on your cover (crime drama or urban fantasy), urban fantasy is the way to go, because readers looking for urban fantasy are more likely to accept a historical crime setting setting than readers looking for crime drama are willing to accept urban fantasy in the story.

(I’m not saying you’ve GOT to choose one or the other; I’m just saying that, of the two, an urban fantasy cover would probably attract more interested readers than a crime drama cover.)

Other thoughts?


  1. It’s a little thing, but the bevel/embossed effect on the text reminds me of when I first tried out Photoshop.

  2. Up close, that does look a lot like an old-timey crime story, but do you know what it looked like in thumbnail? The bright yellow ringed with red looked like a Hollywood-style explosion, and all the items around it like bits of shrapnel being flung from that explosion. I was half-expecting this to be a futuristic novel with the cover being a picture of somebody’s hover-vehicle getting blown up in a futuristic hit; what a disappointment it was when I got to the description and the cover at full size to learn I’d gotten the setting completely wrong.

    So… this is a crime story from late 1929 involving some supernatural monster threatening people’s humanity. Were it merely a crime story, a color scheme change might be sufficient to sell the story while preventing people from getting the same false first impression I did; there’s nothing inherently misleading about the picture itself, just the thumbnail. However, the paranormal urban “fantasy” aspect of this book is not in evidence among the items on the cover. (Sure, that necklace draped over the pistol might be some kind of magical amulet, but I could just as easily think it’s just some kind of rosary an Italian-American mafioso with a Roman Catholic upbringing might own.)

    Basically, even if this is mostly a crime story with just a few fantasy elements (presumably having something to do with that Oguina creature), you do need to let your prospective readers know there’s some kind of paranormal or supernatural element to this story. Your Great-Depression-era aesthetics are fine for giving us the setting (as long as you can make them look less like a vehicular explosion in the thumbnail), but we need at least a glimpse of something out of the ordinary to let the readers know there’s an other-worldly creature on the loose in this story. You mention something about there being a curse on the monster; might there also be some unholy-looking talisman or occult symbol related to this curse that you could slip into this montage of items somewhere?

    While I can’t think of many comparable supernatural stories set in the Great Depression era, the old first-person shooter Killing Time does have a lot of the kind of Great Depression/gangsters/paranormal creatures aesthetic you’re seeking, though the Egyptian decor and horror-oriented imagery might not suit your purposes quite so well. It’s still worth studying for a few pointers in any case. A gripping image of something distinctly other-worldly and unrealistic in an otherwise this-worldly and realistic 1929 setting should be sufficient to attract your target audience to your book.

    1. While I can’t think of many comparable supernatural stories set in the Great Depression era…

      Not so many novels, no, but the preponderance of modules and guidebooks for The Call of Cthulhu RPG have been set in that time period; those covers may be useful.

    2. In viewing the thumbnail, I, too, saw something similar. I thought it was a 30’s era (from the font/outlines) novel, crime, set in NYC, and that that was a crashed Checker Cab (yellow).

      Two of us? That’s one too many for it to simply be an off-chance.

    3. Really? To me the thumbnail just said Old-fashioned crime novel cover – and not really in a good ‘retro’ way, just sort of Yeah, that is what crime novel covers used to look like, especially the framed title.

      Otherwise I do agree – the picture is good, but on the whole this seriously needs a supernatural element, or the Agatha Christie fans will be disappointed and the possible fans of this book will never find it. Maybe look up Lovecraftian Horror genre, and see if any of their covers seem to inspire?

  3. It’s a cliche, but the old standby of a pentagram etched into the table with these items laying on it could help. A pentagram of blood would be too much, cleanly etched into the wood is better. It’s outline would dominate the thumbnail to attract urban fantasy types and the full size details sell the crime drama angle. The rosary even establishes precedence for western occult iconography in the existing art. If someone knew what they were doing with a blending tool (I don’t) I think adding it to the existing art is readily achievable too.

  4. Nice job, generally, but there is little impression of the period in which the story is set. There is even less impression of the nature of the story: alternative history and speculative fiction with, I take it, a fair dollop of occult horror included. You need to include some visual elements that convey these aspects of the novel.

    There appears to be no reason for the decorative border around the title and, as others have pointed out, the embossed effect serves only to render the type difficult to read. I would certainly eliminate the border, eliminate the embossing and try to integrate the title with the cover photo better.

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