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The Souls of Wuhan [resubmit]

The author says:

Resubmit. Souls of Wuhan

[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

This is certainly a lot more appealing. I’m going to assume that this is a quick layout version, and so the heavily artifacted layers would be corrected before publication.

I’m going to let those commenters who were more heavily invested in this one take the lead on the critique.


  1. Now the cover suggests a three-way fight, but as I recall from the last submission, the story was of a war between China and Vietnam with the United States eventually joining in on Vietnam’s side. Also, with just the flags, it’s not quite as easy for someone who hasn’t read your description yet to realize this is specifically a war novel; it’s obviously a political novel, yes, but political doesn’t always automatically equal war in the eyes of the casual browser. I still say this novel’s cover should feature only the Vietnamese flag (since Vietnam is the central focus of the story) and have a picture of some impressive piece of military equipment in action to indicate this is a war story.

    1. First off, much stronger concept than the original. There is an evocative aspect that the picture of a ship was lacking.

      I agree that the novel is obviously political, and not so obviously a war novel, but I am unsure that detracts in a significant way. That international conflict will be present seems evident on this cover, and that may be enough to get potential readers interested enough to look through description.

      On a similar note, I think leaving in the American and Chinese flags is a must for the purely mercenary reason that the American and Chinese flags are far more instantly recognizable than the Vietnamese one. Both are very nearly dog-whistles in the current era for the sort of readers who are most interested in stories exactly like this one.

    2. Thank you RK.

      Yes, the book is very much a political thriller and yes, the war is mostly fought between Vietnam and China. The war takes place between the Chinese fleets and Vietnamese shore based missiles mostly. The military assets used in the wars are Vietnamese shore based anti-ship missiles and Chinese fleet missiles. The Americans also use ship based missiles. That was why the original cover had a warship firing a missile.

      Kristopher, thanks for your comments also. Yes those two flags are “dog whistles” and that is why they are there. Especially the American as the book needs to appeal to American buyers, mercenary indeed.

      Ron, if people cannot yet recognise the Chinese flag, I think we have a worldwide problem. Regarding the Vietnamese flag I agree with you. Maybe, once again for purely mercenary reasons, distinct American and Chinese presence is needed.

      For your information, the designer of the cover is Vietnamese.

  2. This is definitely an improvement on the first cover. I like your concept with the flags here, but the block of dark red below the “Wu” kind of unbalances the image. I suggest trying to bring the flag composite down a bit, so that more of the large yellow star is in the space between your title and byline. Alternatively, that might be the space to utilize if you wanted to try adding some ‘impressive military equipment’ as RK suggested.

    It’s hard to make out what the texture (or layer below) the flags is meant to be – some sort of corrugated metal? Fencing? Waves? The whole image feels a bit muddy to me, and I wonder if the color issues arise from that layer.

    I also like your confident type on the title and byline. Everything reads well at thumbnail size. I would try tightening the kerning between the “W” and “U” a smidge.

  3. Certainly better, but…

    It depends a great deal on the potential reader being able to immediately identify the flags. Other than the US flag, how many of us here would be able to instantly name the nationalities of the other two (something that Kristopher suggests)…even if we realized there are two other different flags?

    While the idea of the conflicting flags may be made to work, I think that in this example it is simply much too subtle for a book cover, which needs to get its idea across easily and directly.

    I think that while the cover is pretty strong design-wise, it depends a little too much on either prior knowledge by the potential reader or specialized knowledge. I think this issue needs to be addressed before focusing on the odd textures or muddy colors.

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