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The Burning of Cherry Hill

The author says:

THE BURNING OF CHERRY HILL is a dystopian novel set in North America 150 years in the future. Though it features teenage protagonists, it was written for the older teen/adult crowd. The siblings (Zay, 14, and Lina, 12) grew up on an island in hiding from a government they never knew existed. They are remanded to foster care when said government brutally kidnaps their fugitive parents and burns down their home. The kids have to learn to cope with a totalitarian (but prosperous and outwardly generous) government while trying to figure out a way to find and rescue their parents. The tulip is a recurring literary theme in the story.



Nathan says:

This is a beautiful cover, and it is absolutely wrong for a YA dystopian.  There is nothing here to indicate that readers of The Hunger Games or Divergent or The Maze Runner or Partials would be interested in it.  It is all well and good for the tulips to be a recurring motif, but a watercolor of tulips doesn’t draw the kind of crowd you’re trying to draw.

If you’re absolutely committed to using this artwork, then I would suggest you add a thick contrasting border of some kind which gives more of the feel of the setting and which contrasts with the tulips.  Is this a technologically advanced future?  Is there a way that could be represented in ths border?  How about a thick steel doorframe, complete with locks on one side and thick hinges on the other?  Combined with a different type treatment — one that boldly emphasizes the title rather than putting it to the background, you might have something.  But personally, I’d start over; hang the tulip original over the sofa, and then do something completely different for the cover.

(This is how I don’t make friends.)

Anyone else have input?


  1. This is so sad… because it’s a magnificient cover. Really well done and totally gorgeous. But Nathan is right. Dang.

  2. I agree. It’s a nice cover… if the book were slightly highbrow chick-lit. Can you make something that looks more dystopian and futuristic, and perhaps have more of a symbolic tulip incorporated into it? The Hunger Games has a bird as a symbolic feature on the covers, so perhaps look at how that is handled and see if it brings to mind any ideas.

  3. A beautiful cover! Sadly, it has, apparently, little to do with the book.

    The question is: would anyone, not knowing anything about the book, be able to discern what the book is about, let alone what genre it might belong to, from looking at the cover alone?

    I suspect not.

    And that is the real criteria of a book cover.

    I realize that there is a very good description of the book…but many readers may not get that far. In fact, drawn to your description by the cover, they may find themselves disappointed enough to shrug the book off.

    Rather than try to adapt the artwork as Nathan suggests, I would urge you to rethink the cover from scratch.

  4. Agreed–the cover is beautiful. The artwork is awesome. But I hit a snag as soon as I read the word “war.” This cover art does not indicate the turmoil of war, a dystopian future society or the incredibly altering events the two young MCs are about to face. I get you may want to stay away from emulating Hunger Games and such too much but you need a cover that says more about the nature of the future society (for example, steel, gadgets, technology, architecture, mass destruction, or something to suggest oppression or deception) and the challenges the MCs are facing. The soft tulip art doesn’t drive any of that home.

  5. Oh RATS! – I scrolled to see the cover with such excitement thinking “Oh YAY a GREAT ONE” and it really is… (though, I’d have done something slightly different with the title) but then I read “the author says:” and kind of had whip lash… I have to agree with everyone, it’s beautiful, but it doesn’t fit the subject matter.

  6. This is a gorgeous cover — and I see the book itself is already meeting with considerable success — but I have to agree with everyone else that there’s almost nothing to indicate that this is a dystopian YA novel.

    If I correctly understand the intention here, then the idea is that in this future, the evil authorities present themselves as benign (hence the watercolor tulips) whereas in fact they’re evil and authoritarian (hence the reveal of the relatively harsh title behind the torn paper effect). But even if this interpretation is correct, the problem right now is that the tulips really are an absolutely lovely facade, and it’s very hard to see past it. Nathan’s suggestion of ‘imprisoning’ all that’s beautiful (as represented by a prison door slamming closed on the tulips) is one solution; another would be to show more — much more — of the regime’s true nastiness behind their plausible facade.

    I also have a bit of a problem with the tag. ‘The war followed in their wake’ is a great line, but when I read it, I’m looking at tulips — and wondering how they managed to start a war.

    And a final quibble: the glare behind the title is affecting readability. The flatter, slightly graded charcoal grey as seen on the Amazon version of the cover is simpler and better imo.

  7. A great cover for the wrong audience = scarce sales. Look at the covers for popular books with a similar audience for inspiration.(Or keep this cover and write a totally different book for the audience that this cover will attract.)

  8. Hi – author here. You guys are great! Thanks so much!!

    The book has been out for a year and while the people who have read it have generally liked it I only sell about a book a month. I’m starting to think it’s the cover – because you’re right, it definitely does NOT scream “dystopian” – so I was thinking about doing a complete redesign but wanted to see some unbiased opinion first. I figured, if I’m looking for a dystopian, I’m going to skip right past this cover, and if I like the cover, I’m likely going to skip the book once I find out what it’s about because I’m going to be looking for something more literary.

    This cover cost me $30 to do – a couple of pieces of stock art and a font – so, apart from the time I spent making it (and, of course, that it’s my baaaaaaby 😉 ) I think I’m ready to move on to something that more adequately reflects the books contents.

    The problem is this book cover took me MONTHS to design because I just couldn’t come up with anything at all. I have no ideas, lol. None. Aaaahhhh! Back to the drawing board. 🙂

    Thanks, y’all have been a great help! 🙂

    1. Hi Amber! Don’t throw it away, it’s really gorgeous. You just have to write a story (or poems) to go with it. 😉

  9. It’s a beautiful cover, for sure, but I would think it would be better on a romance or a women’s fiction cover (not sure about the latter, since I don’t read in that genre). I don’t read YA dystopian, either, but with all the hype over The Hunger Games and Divergent, I saw someone (funnily) point out the sort of sameness of the covers, among other things.

    This cover wouldn’t even come close to those.

    Save this for a romance cover. Or better yet, print it out and frame it like a painting (seriously, it’s that pretty).

  10. I agree with everyone saying what a great cover this is, but how very wrong it is for the story. It has mystery novel written all over it to me. I would go so far as to say, shelve this design for another project and rethink the whole thing. Based on the talent you have displayed in this design, I’m pretty sure you will come up with a new design that is equally great and more appropriate to the theme you are aiming for.

  11. Perhaps if the tulip painting was burning away, or singed and burnt, starting at say the top right corner (audience’s right.) Just hint at things under the surface, things are not always as they seem, etc. The corner could be the same kind of charcoal treatment that is happening with the title, but that might help it be more suggestive without a complete redo.

  12. Agree with many of the above comments. It is a beautiful cover, but there is no sense of dystopian repressiveness or dehumanization. There is no sense of human urgency or danger. Y/A novel covers are most often populated with young men or young women who will appeal to the target reader. The exception that proves the rule are John Green’s novels.

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