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Sweet Remedie

The author says:

My book is about a guy named Oscar who developed depression and cuts and his parents find out and put him on medicine that makes him hallucinate and he hallucinates a girl who he falls in love with.



Nathan says:

The text on a nothing-but-text cover needs to be two things:

  1. Easily readable.
  2. Interesting.

Let’s look at the first.  Intersecting type always “hiccups” in the reader’s mind, because while trying to read the vertical word, the eye is more easily drawn to the horizontal word (which is itself not easily recognizable with another word interrupting it, because “remedie” isn’t the spelling our brains expect).  It’s worse in this case because the “e” in sweet isn’t pronounced the same as the “e” in remedie.

As for the second, a plain uppercase typewriter font is about as far from “interesting” as possible. It’s got no mood, no nothing.

And then comparing your cover to your book description, we might suspect some sort of medical thriller (red cross and “remedie”), but the description you give is only tangentially related to the field of medicine.  Do we get depression, or hallucination, or delusional true love from the cover? Nope.

Plain covers can be very effective; see this one for Michael Collings’ horror novelThe Slab. You could do something similar, but you must make sure that both your font and your background texture are exactly evocative of the mood of your novel, since there’s no other artwork to carry the weight. And a subtitle is invaluable in these cases, to add information that artwork would otherwise convey. If your story whimsical? Bittersweet? Stream-of-consciousness surreal?  Use a subtitle to add info.

Anyone else?



  1. Black and red can be striking, it’s true… but in this case it tends to be a bit more macabre than sweet. That’s not a terrible thing, if that’s what you are going for, but it is a little flat. Some texture wouldn’t go amiss to giving it just a tad more interest. And you’ll want to be careful with that much darkness that you aren’t going to run in to trouble with your printer and ink load issues.

    I agree that the font is less than desirable. It doesn’t read well, and It’s too thin and weak for such bold simplicity.

    I also agree that It could really use a sub title too, but aren’t we also missing an author name?

  2. I can’t help but see a typo in remedie… It really bothers the hell out of me and I wonder if it was intended. Even then, to me, it’s a sad choice.

    There could be so much more happening with this simple design. But plain black on red on black is really tiring to the eye. And Nathan said it: Intercrossing words asks a lot from our brains.

    I really like these simple covers where the type becomes part of the design:

  3. If you want the cover to be effective, two things need to be instantly clear: the text and the content/genre. Vertical text is hard to read. You want large, clear letters, easily read in the thumbnail (without having to strain or figure it out). What, this book doesn’t have an author?

    From the description, I’m not quite sure what genre to expect. From the cover, I still can’t tell. Whatever the genre is, this needs to be obvious from the cover image to attract your audience. Shoppers are browsing through tons of thumbnails, so they won’t click on your book if they are unsure of what to expect by sight. (There are stray marks in the image around the text. You want to make the image in a way that it will appear clean.)

  4. What’s the genre? Horror? Hard to say with the cover shown. IMHO, having only words on a cover works best with non fiction. (I know of only one example of novels that I read where every cover is only words, but it’s a well-known series by a well-known writer.)

    Also, IIRC, The Book Designer ( despises red on black because it’s hard to see, and I would take Joel’s word over mine any day (because he’s been a designer for quite some time). 🙂

    As someone else said, the cover also needs the author name.

    So what to do? It sounds like it might be horror, and it looks as if the author wants to bring in the whole meds thing. Make the cover simple. Go to a stock pictures site (there are plenty), and go for a terrified eyeball (like this one: or maybe a syringe or something else medical (like this: against a dark background.

    The above are my first thoughts. But you might also want to browse thru Amazon and look at covers that are similar to get more ideas.

    Typography? If it is horror, go to Font Squirrel and search for horror fonts, but don’t go for one of those that go overboard – you know, one of those “dripping blood”-type fonts? Personally, can’t stand those; looks too cheesy or cheap or something to me. 😉 Don’t forget to make the letters big enough so that the title and author name (don’t forget your author name!) are readable in thumbnail.

    Well, that’s all I got. Hopefully this will be of some help.

  5. Love the title and the blurb, both style and content. This is the kind of thing I’d definitely check out, if not actually read. I’m also hoping the spelling isn’t meant as an eye pun, and that it’s in fact an allusion to Elizabethan poetry —

    Yet may he lend Divine sweet remedie
    To those that doe in Hell and Darknesse sit,

    But I have to agree with everyone else that the cover doesn’t work, and it connects only very obliquely to anything mentioned in the blurb. So imo a total rethink is called for.

    I’m thinking something that suggests ‘heavily medicated’ — and something jarring. Here’s a mockup. The execution is a bit crap and this version would probably end up on Lousy Book Covers, but I think the direction is about right.

  6. There is one problem with red on black that is all too often overlooked. If the cover is ever reproduced in B&W the red areas may become almost indistinguishable from the black.

  7. Oooo, and it’s just occurred to me that if your cover has to be converted to a greyscale image, for magazine advertising or when ported on to a device that does not use colour, the colour values of black and red are so close, the entire cover will appear almost completely black.

  8. A red cross is not just a symbol that means health, or hospitals. Especially that red and with those dimensions.

    It is the logo for the Red Cross, which they defend aggressively. If it is on white, which is the logical way to fix the black / red contrast problem, then it is their logo exactly.

    They bite hard (trust me), so scrap the red cross. It is faster to do it now then remake the entire cover later when they see it.

    In the spirit of constructive criticism, the Red Cross doesn’t own green crosses, or any other colour for that matter. This cover could be really simple but striking if tweaked!

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