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Falling For Mr. Nice Guy

The author says:

A contemporary romance for Young Adults set in the Caribbean nation of Belize. Adam Lockwood is bamboozled into a date with an escort– who doesn’t seem to approve of her own job. Through a series of adventures, they draw closer and fall in love.

Nathan says:

First up: If it’s set in the Caribbean, why am I not seeing any indication of that?  Romantic novels are a form of escapist entertainment, and that means that the exotic setting is a big part of its draw. I should see sunny beaches or colorful Mayan ruins or something in that big blank area.

Second: Because the cursive font for “Falling For” is less easily readable than the font in which the byline and rest of the title is rendered, the eye (and the attention behind it) has to linger longer on it to decipher it, with the unintentional result that it gains more emphasis.  In the reader’s mind, the title becomes “FALLING FOR Mr. Nice Guy.”

My suggestions:

  • Move the byline up to the upper left, put “Falling For” in the same readable font, and render “Mr. Nice Guy” in the cursive font — or better yet, a similar cursive font which is both heavier (thus making it more readable in thumbnail) and less ornate (ditto).
  • Add something colorful and tropical in that unused area thus created by moving the byline up.

Other suggestions?



  1. I would move the photo-shopped lipstick mark as well, it doesn’t follow the contour of his cheek and I think it would be very difficult to make it do so. A better position would be incorporated into the title, like a period at the end of it for emphasis.

  2. I disliked the lipstick on the cheek because at first glance it was a bit “clown make-up” look.
    Other than that, the man does actually look like a “nice guy” so I think that part works.

  3. Cute concept, and good choice of picture for the guy. He really has a harmless “Mr. Nice Guy” vibe. Adding some beach-themed elements in the back would definitely make it pop more.

    It might be just me but the green hue of the current background is a bit too close to a color I’d see on a horror novel. A richer color would help to confirm the romance element, although changing the whole backdrop for a beach would obviously also fix that issue.

    As for the lipstick mark, I feel like it could be “warped” easily enough to follow the cheek. Certainly worth a try at least, since it adds interest to the face.

    Small detail: I seem to see a crisp line on the side of the guy’s neck, I assume a brush stroke. Could be smoothed out, since it looks Photoshopped once you notice it.

  4. Agree with the comments so far. Something else that might help the lipstick mark would be to reduce the opacity. If it’s more translucent it will look more realistic. Put on a similar shade of lipstick–like you’d ordinarily wear it, not too thick–and smooch the back of your hand. You’ll see what I mean!

  5. Please: change the fonts. They are both pretty bad, for what you want to convey.

    The serif font for your byline, and Mr. Nice Guy, is just so boring. It doesn’t convey anything, other than “boring here.” That’s not what you want your cover to tell other people, right? Also, the kerning and letter arrangement on your name is discombobulating. If you get a better quality serif font for that, you won’t have that problem.

    To me, when I view the cover, what I see is your name, and “Mr. Nice Guy.” I do not see “falling for.” Oh, yes, it’s there–but that’s not what I see. That tells me that the font or the layout or the colors–or any combination of those–isn’t working for it. I recommend a heavier brush font–something like NautiGal, maybe–for the handwriting/script font. Maybe something with a bit more Panache, like Bauer Bodnieu, for the serif.

    One of the guys here tells people to imagine that you can’t READ the text–that it’s in Romanian–and see if the cover still tells you what you want it to say. The same thing is true with fonts. If you see that combo of fonts, on a plain piece of paper, can you reasonably infer the genre? While that script font definitely implies chick-Lit, or romance, it’s not enough.

    Good luck. I also agree that a tropical background, a beach, a beach-bar–those would be much, much better for the book.

    Good luck.

  6. Hmmm… All right, that’s a fairly common romance plot you’ve got in your description, but considering how many romance novels with that sort of plot have sold over the years, you should have no trouble finding a market for yours. The main problem I see with this cover is that other than the rather exotic script for part of the title, it’s incredibly bland. Other than the guy with the smooch on his cheek, there’s basically nothing in this picture.

    On closer viewing, the guy is also pretty obviously cut-and-paste; the smudging and over-sharpening around his neck is a dead giveaway. If you’re going to try to airbrush a guy into a picture, you do at least need to do it consistently. In addition to that over-sharpening, the non-airbrushed section of the neck down near his collar also shows up how uneven your airbrushing efforts were.

    Others have recommended putting something more interesting in the background, which is a good idea, but have you considered maybe doing something with the guy’s shirt too? Right now, it looks like he’s only wearing an undershirt; which might be good for adding a comedic “adorkable” quality to his appearance (“Hey, look, he’s in his underwear! Ha ha!”), but seems unnecessary. If he were wearing something stereotypically touristy-looking, like (say) one of those fruity loud-colored islander shirts like you might see on characters in a Garfield strip, he could be subtly signaling to us that this book is set at an island vacation resort somewhere and still look quite adorkable. (The tourist shirt doesn’t have to look like it specifically came from Belize, by the way; as long as it looks like something Caribbean, your target audience will get the point.)

    Once you’ve adjusted the picture to be more interesting, I then agree with Hitch: change those fonts. Also, don’t mix and match: while that script font you’re using for (part of) the title is fairly readable, it clashes with the far-more-readable print font you’re using for the rest of the title and the byline. For best results, go with either an all-print or an all-script font for everything.

      1. Not in any way I’ve ever known. This shirt, for just one example, could be from any nation of the Caribbean or even from Hawaii, for all I know… or care. That, or anything like it, would do the job for this cover.

  7. A nice concept and a nice image (more about that in a moment)…completely undone by the handling of the typography.

    The image does indeed need refinement, as others have pointed out, since the cut-and-paste is all too obvious. But even if the image had been perfect, it would still have to contend with the type. There doesn’t seem to be anything at all gained by making “Falling For” so decorative…so decorative, in fact, that it is almost completely unreadable. The mix of script and serif typefaces can work really well…but in this case the contrast is far too extreme.

    The placement of the type is also much too lopsided, with the title crowded into the bottom and the author’s name floating aimlessly in an otherwise empty space.

    As I said, the basic idea of the cover is pretty good: but it needs much more fine-tuning on the placement of the elements.

    1. Yeahs it’s nice! I’d boost up the saturation and add a yellow tint on the guy so he looks to be outdoors, I guess, but that is a good quick mockup.

  8. I have more of a problem with the “young adult” but tricked into a date with an escort than the cover. Escorts = fancy hookers, young adult = teens ranging from 13-18. Hookers and children don’t mix. I’d up the age range for the book even if there’s no major sex scenes.

    1. Maybe that’s just a question of classification? The guy on the cover doesn’t look like a teenager; I wasn’t able to grow that much facial hair myself until I graduated college. Also, you don’t see a lot of teenagers (even after they’ve graduated high school) going off by themselves on vacation in the Caribbean. The description sounds like this is probably actually a new adult novel.

      (Also, to your “Hookers and teenagers don’t mix” claim, tell that to Tom Cruise in Risky Business. If people insist on putting sex into YA stories, every related subject is bound to come up sooner or later. It’s just a pity nobody ever thinks to try slipping marriage into those same novels; that would be more innovative and scandalous than anything that pandering hack Judy Blume ever wrote in her “groundbreaking” YA novels.)

    2. The description says the target audience is young adults (YA, which is as you say teens and up), but the author never states the age of the main character. As RK said, the story and image strongly imply the main character is an adult.

  9. As mentioned above the guy looks like he’s at least in his early twenties. And maybe the character IS that age but picturing an adult him stops this looking like a YA novel.

    I’d also say that this cover falls into what Chip Kidd describes as ‘putting an apple on the front when the word apple is in the title’. I.e. your cover isn’t giving us information that the title isn’t already proving. This DOES look like a nice guy and the imagery certainly depicts that he’s in love/loved. But that adds nothing that the title isn’t already telling you. In addition, both are telling us something we already know from the genre: that this book is about falling in love! You should use the cover to tell your readers one of the unique and interesting things about your book.

    Like Nathan says, setting is a massive selling point here! Romance novels are so numerous you really need to flag up what is particular about yours. And setting is always a strong selling point.

    You don’t want the hackneyed silhouettes kissing on a beach cover though. You want to stand out while signalling your genre and hook strongly.

    A little bit of clever lateral thinking can go a long way. For example, wouldn’t an image like one of these say more while also being cute and clever?

    Can’t you imagine the title handwritten inside the heart shape in the second one?

    I think your approach to the text will dictate audience appeal. I mention handwritten text because it really is a byword for girly-but-not-necessarily-empty teen books:

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