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Witchy Wickedness

The author says:

young adult urban fantasy

Nathan says:

It certainly hits the spot for the genre.  Here are the refinements I’d make:

  • The title font is a little hard to read because of the ornamentation.  I wouldn’t swap it out, but I’d enlarge it so that the curlicues on either side of “Witchy” extended off the sides — that would focus attention on the actual letters.
  • In fact, most of my refinements would be “make it bigger” — there’s no reason that the byline shouldn’t go from side to side, and if that crowds the reviewer blurb, that’s fine; it could move down to the space beneath her left hand (and move to a bigger font size itself).
  • Speaking of her left hand… That’s my one real complaint. Aside from the book’s lack of shadow, I have no idea what’s going on with that book.  Is she using a steaming Halloween wig as a bookmark?  It may be something that makes sense once I read the book, but this is the wrong place for that.
  • The only other thing I’d play with is the glow around the figure; it looks too “out of the box.” I’d play with either reducing it to the bare minimum I need to separate her from the background, or adding a texture to it.

Other comments?


  1. I like the color scheme and general composition. If anything, the figure gives me a bit of a cut-and-paste feel (might be the glow, or maybe she could have slightly bluer shadows), so if she can be harmonized with the background a bit more that’d look nicer in my opinion. I also find the magic effects to be underwhelming, including the stuff oozing from the book, but also the effects on the hand. Without making them over-the-top, I think they should be somewhat more noticeable and prettied up a notch. It’s already looking quite nice as a whole though. (:

  2. My reactions are similar – right look for genre.
    Thought figure looked a bit cut and paste.
    Thought curlicues a bit OTT.
    The book? looks to me more like an artists palette with a heap of something purple and steaming on it.
    Left hand looks awkward.
    Author’s name a little too near the top of the cover for my taste.
    Also, what is going on with the right hand? The magicky pattern from the background is over the hand like a tattoo. If that is her accessing the magic with that hand, why is the hand on her hip?
    If you want a collection of magic around a hand, would suggest doing it around the left hand and taking the right hand back to flesh. Unless of course she does have a tattoo all over her right hand.

  3. This is nice looking!
    A couple of minor points:
    I’d like to see her hair a bit softer around the edge.
    The book looks too pasted, and maybe get rid of the emanating purple stuff altogether. The magic smoke/waves you’ve used there and on her right hand could be enough.

  4. If the book were removed, but the purple ‘magic’ going on around the book were left in, it might give a decent image of her hand in the midst of casting a spell. That could help solve the concerns with the hand (unless the book is covering up something off-brand like a gun, drink, or stick of deodorant). But, honestly, I’d go with Tracy’s recommendation and drop the purple entirely. Moon, magic circle, title, and font communicate dark magic reasonably well on their own.

    Pet peve, think hard about the skull and crossbones gimmick. Between poison and pirates the imagery is heavily saturated with things that aren’t necessarily on topic. If you really like it, sure, but if its only there so that you don’t need to use a colon, use a dash.

  5. I like it but your girl lacks finesse. Her head seems too small for her body, and she’s very obviously pasted, (a hair paintbrush might fix that with the addition of a few small wisps) the book is held in such an unnatural position it glares as an addition. Maybe look for a new girl? Or a new arm, or a book held at the correct angle?
    I do love the title with the hint of sparkle behind it (just drop it down a layer so it isn’t marring the W or duplicate the layer and weave the sparkle in and out of the text, but it looks a bit like a mistake as is to only cover one letter) and the overall color of the cover is great. Your blurb is way too small and maybe increase author name size so it doesn’t look ‘forced’ into the spot. I’d drop the trees and girl a hair to give myself more black space on the top. I liked Nathans idea of moving the blurb to beneath her hand. The background elements are nice. Maybe try using the round spell graphic off center to light the trees a hair more? Maybe try sliding her over a hair and moving the blurb while putting the round spell more in the upper right and just behind her body. (doing so gives the traditional Z pattern for catching the eye) I’d also maybe try making the W in the title bigger and maybe even interlock the 2 Ws.
    Instead of crossbones, which feel really off for this genre, consider a rune inside a pentagram or even an open/closed book with a rune on it. There are some great free rune paintbrushes available just google free brushes for whatever photo editor your using.
    Also, as this is a series, consider making at least a rough draft of the next book to make sure you can use this same font and word placement for series branding.

    1. It’s a difficult model to find–most of the Witch-type images out there are too “Sabrina” or “Bewitched,” or they’re too erotic, or, or or. Or “too TV” like this one:

      Or this chick: (Although, she’s not really “beautiful,” but the staging is good….)

      This one has potential: . Or this one: (which I rather like, despite the miscasting of the keywords.) This one is also a bit intriguing:

      (As this is apparently YA, what about this girl? She’s young, quite attractive, pretty YA-looking to my eyes…she’s even already on a bluey-gray background–bonus!)

      Frustrating, I can see, trying to find the “right” female model for this particular cover.

      I confess, I’m not wild about the limning, and the way the model is standing is just peculiar. I think it’s making everyone sort of look at it, and feel the oddity of the stance, but not quite sure what it is.

      She’s got her near leg (the one nearest the camera) pushed out in front, as if she’s angling the bottom of her body away from the camera, and then has twisted her upper body toward the camera–along with the drink or tray that I think she had in her hand. I mean, that’s a sort-of restaurant stance–carrying a cocktail tray of drinks and trying to look bad-ass. Or…something.

      Anyway, yes, I’d use a paintbrush made for hair, on the hair, give it some ends, some life; I’d work on the limning/glow; I can’t sort out the glowy/magic thing, around the two hands, and I think that while you can see it, when you zoom way the heck in, you can’t at any size that a buyer is going to see it.

      My only other image/design thought is, I wish it had more of a “bang” in contrast. Yes, the white lettering stands out, but other than that, there’s not a lot of contrast. No hots against the cools, not even any warms, really. (I wonder–could you create the limn/glow, with some contrast? A Yellow, perchance? Designy dudes, whatcha think?

      I would definitely make the byline much, much larger, stronger, and I agree with Nathan’s suggestion to move the tagline below the magicked book.

      @RK: Good question–I’m not sure I know the answer. @Savoy–nice catch on the head, too.

  6. Well, the cover fits the description, but only because they both are awfully vague and generic. The cover definitely says “urban fantasy about a modern-day witch” as intended. My only gripe (apart from S.M. Savoy’s pointing out the girl’s undersized head–good eye, Savoy) is: what’s going to make this cover stand out from that of every other urban fantasy about a witch on the market today?

  7. I had no idea at all as to what she is supposed to be holding in her left hand. And even once I figured it out, I still had no idea what that’s supposed to be piled on it. Purple seaweed?

    On top of that, it also simply looks much too much like cut-and-paste.

    You might also want to adjust your superimposed graphic, which seem to be focused on obscuring her right hand.

    Overall, the main problem, I think, is that the cover is bland and unengaging. It is really little more than a picture of a girl rather nonchalantly holding something in her hand. There is really only the superimposed graphic to convey the idea of “urban fantasy” or witchcraft, but it is so subtle that it takes some effort to puzzle out what it is…and you don’t want to count on potential readers to make that effort.

    Her body is little more than a black hole in the middle of the cover. Everything of any interest—her face, the book, etc,—orbit that void. What I would suggest creating an entirely new image of the woman. Enlarge the figure so we see her only from the waist up. Have her facing the viewer, holding the book open in both hands in front of her—as if offering or presenting it to the viewer. This would place the important visual elements more in the center of the cover and make absolutely clear that it is indeed a book. With her facing the viewer you could also have a strong eye contact and perhaps a chance to express a little more character or personality. I have no idea what that purple mass on the book is supposed to represent, but if it is indeed important this would also be a way to make what it is clearer. (Keep in mind that you don’t want to include anything on the cover that requires reading the book to understand.)

  8. It’s a good design! It fits the genre for sure and at a glance it looks great. (I’m not in love with the model–at first glance, I thought “1980s power suit”–but I’m not going to tell you to change it if everyone else thinks it’s ok.)

    On a closer look, though, the little problems start to appear:
    -The cut and pasting isn’t great; it’s too sharp and angular on places like her left arm and too fuzzy other places, like her butt.
    -Her hand is DEFINITELY not actually holding that book.
    -I concur that the glow is too opaque.
    -The cyan sparkles are either too low-res or too heavily blurred.
    -Definitely too many layers of Magicky Stuff, both on the book and on the background. The big circle with the Greek letters is already more than you really need; the little pentagram circles are way excessive.
    -Is that a CG background image? Surely you can find a real photo of a creepy black gate.

  9. I think the over all design and look is good, but I would let the girl who is vacillating between preppy and goth to go continue her job in silver service. If you cannot be rid of her, at least get rid of the clip-art book and the blueberry jelly it materializes from the pages – she could be holding like a floating blue flame or other vaguely mystic special effect, a glowing orb perhaps. If it was meant to be a magic book, grimoires are usually large and ornate – yes, it might be delightful to have one that is bound as a trade paperback, but don’t put it in the cover. It is better to avoid things that need to be explained – as they cannot be explained in the cover. No-one buys a book because they understood the cover after reading the book, that would break rules of space-time.

    The placing of the blurb, and the other notes about the title & fonts I generally agree with, so I will not repeat all that. Th blurb especially is oddly placed, when there is plenty of space for it to be placed nicer. I do like the curly title.

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