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The Magician’s Horses

The author says:

The Magician’s Horses is a Sci-fi novel built heavily on mystery and suspense. My intention is to extend beyond the usual Sci-fi audience to reach any young adult reader, while also appealing to the older, more sophisticated Sci-fi fan. I am still working on the wording for the back cover, but envision it reading as follows: “Follow Dave as he is drawn out of his solitary life by a mysterious couple who introduce him to a world of adventure far beyond his television remote. Science and thought combine to form a magic act that breaks the boundaries of time and changes Dave’s world forever…”




Nathan says:

First up, take a look at your cover. Now take a look at the genre you just described. Now look at your cover again. I’m on a horse! No, wait. Anyway.  I can’t get “science fiction” from what I see. Fantasy, sure — I could definitely see this being the cover of a fantasy novel called The Magician’s Horses. But there’s nothing to cue me in that it’s SF.

And really, that’s the problem so big that other criticisms are moot.  I could talk about how the Web 2.0-style reflections under the title don’t really work, or how the drawn-by-computer sunrise (moonrise?) would be a lot more engaging if it were a photograph, or how the entire cover fades to a dull dark gray in thumbnail size… but all of it would just be rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic if the biggest problem — that the book’s description and its cover don’t come within a country mile of each other — isn’t addressed first.

Anyone else?



  1. A horse is always a strong visual–they suggest strength, speed, endurance, perseverance–but this horse doesn’t quite fit. For one thing, it seems like it’s an outlined constellation that’s neither in the sky nor grounded (if it were suggesting a real hose). It floats, awkwardly, amidships and feels pasted in rather than integrated.

    That aside, I agree 100% with Nathan. There’s nothing sci-fi about the cover. And even the fantasy vibe is a bit thin. I think part of the problem is it’s too “generic horse and stars.” Sci-fi (and fantasy) covers tend to have a customized look about them. In this case, if science and thought are coming together to change a (poor) sap’s life the cover needs to be mysterious, science-ish, and maybe touched with a human aspect.

    The story sounds intriguing!

  2. I agree with Nathan. Do your homework and you’ll see why this cover isn’t working. And no amount of fancy title treatment will cover the poor rendering of the background image.

  3. Even the concept description sounds more fantasy-ish than sci-fi-ish. I like the horse-as-dark-spot-in-the-sky. It looks cool.

    I realize this is personal preference, but it being half-off the page looks like it’s an after-thought scrambling for attention. Replacing it with a horse in the middle of the sky, full body, would make it less distracting. Again, just my opinion.

    Replacing the horse silhouette with an element specific to the mystery of the novel could improve its relevance – especially if it was a sci-fi element (a DNA strand or a spaceship, etc.). Since the title already says “Horse,” including it as an abstract image is duplicative.

    Just thoughts.

  4. Thank you for the direct criticism!
    Problem 1 – I seem to have designed the cover to fit the imagery within the book, rather than target a potential reader:
    The horse murals on the headstones, the horse constellation, the moonrise that marks the pivotal point in the story, etc.
    Problem 2 – I am still struggling to understand what genre(s) this story embodies.
    Problem 3 – Artistic elements need serious help, but this problem is likely irrelevant.

    So, for now, I will focus on Problem 2 and likely do a complete redo from scratch.

    Thanks Again!

    1. Browse through books on Amazon that are selling well that seem most similar to your book. That’s what buyers in this genre are accustomed to seeing. Especially look for books that don’t have big-name authors or publishers (as their covers can get away with things that everyone else can’t). The more you study covers that work, the better you will have an idea of what you’re trying to do. Good luck.

  5. I pretty much agree with most of the comments, no sense hashing them out again. I for one, Brian, would love to see what happens with the redo.

    Focusing on problems 2, and then 1 (think of your potential reader first, and study what’s out there for the genre) should result is a stronger cover.

    Good luck!

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