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Old Things

The author says:

This is novel of the thriller/horror genre and centers around the life of a small town electrician who is in the process of breaking out and starting his own company. A early morning emergency call to his first customer starts him on a journey into the darkest corners of what we perceive as reality. He is to encounter impossible and horrifying things. Old things.



Nathan says:

1) THAT FONT MUST GO. A low-key photograph such as this one isn’t necessarily a problem, but it does shift more of the burden of communication onto the font, and this font simply isn’t up to it.  It is a distinctly non-scary font.  The replacement font doesn’t have to be out-and-out scary, because often those overboard fonts end up looking like a joke (for example, all of the “blood-dripping” fonts).  But something slightly distressed will do just fine.

2) I’d say to curtail the color palette of the photo a bit; you don’t need a full range of pastels to show on a thriller/horror cover.  If you overlay everything with a grunge texture, it can do double-duty of making the color more uniform, and adding that “gritty” connotation that works so well for this genre.

And since I had a few minutes to spare and it was easy to work on, I did this to illustrate what I’m talking about:


This is the five-minute version, and it shows; neither the font nor the texture is what I’d call my final choice. But it shows you what I’m talking about.

Any other comments?

March 23, 2014 Edit:

The author has made some revisions:

OldThingsCover v1.3

OldThingsCover v1.3

I like the addition of the birds in the sky; it’s an extra detail rewarding those who look at the full-sized cover.

I like the font for the title, but I’d still like to see it both bigger and brighter.  The same for the byline; I don’t necessarily think the author’s name needs to be read from the thumbnail, but it really disappears here.

March 24, 2014 Edit:

Another revision:

OldThingsCover v1.4

OldThingsCover v1.4

I would move the title down so that it’s centered in the darkness of the trees. And I still think the text would be served by a lighter/brighter color (not as much as in my five-minute rework, but some).

Other thoughts?


  1. The product description needs to be tweaked as well, and since this is just a paragraph, I’m betting the book itself could use a good overhaul. For example: “A early morning” should be “An early morning,” “This is novel of the thriller/horror genre” sounds too English as a Second Language. I know this is just the cover, but if we’re talking presentation, synopsis is part of it. By the way, solid redesign.

    1. In his defense, I just asked for a quick description so I’d know what the cover is trying to sell; I’m not going to ding the description for lack of polish.

  2. The suggested improvement is certainly, well, an improvement!

    I like the somberness of the photo, but it may be a little too low-key to stand up to thumbnail size or a quick glance (giving the cover the squint test pretty much everything blends together except for the type and the light area at the top). I think the effect of the photo could be maintained while increasing the contrast just a wee bit. (The gritty layer that was added is a nice touch, but since it makes the photo even darker the photo probably needs to be lightened a little bit to compensate.)

  3. Great feed back, folks. I will rework it and resubmit. Just two things, my description was an informal one. I wasn’t aware it would be published, but no matter. Also, I created the image. It is not a photograph.

    Thanks again!

  4. Looks like I’m late to the party! I agree with what Nathan said and did to the cover. Looks good now, and the composition was good to begin with.

    The blank space at the top is almost screaming for a blurb, which raises a good question. Are blurbs even necessary nowadays? They’d get lost on an ebook thumbnail, and even self-published paperbacks are already bought by the time the reader is holding the book in his hand and reading the blurb. (I don’t know if this is a self-pubbed book, I’m just raising the question.)

  5. Am I seeing things or are there two menacing red eyes looking back at me from the woods? If so, that would help with the horror/thriller vibe but maybe make them bigger.

    If there aren’t any red eyes, then I need to clean my screen.

    1. Personally, I preferred the old eyes. Their lowness and redness made me think of an animal, although maybe you were going for something else? I’m not sure what would have eyes as high and wide-set as those in the resubmission, but then again I also don’t know what sorts of impossible and horrifying things the guy meets. I also liked how the old eyes matched the color of the font. They could certainly be brighter if you want them to be obvious, but the current look is just… too crisp.

  6. I can’t see those eyes at all in the thumbnail. To me, that’s the only feature that suggests the genre, and I didn’t even notice it full-size until I read the comments. I think it works to function as a cover for those readers whom you recruit, but don’t see this cover attracting readers nor standing out in search results (when I browse covers in this genre, there are many fantastic ones that pull me). It seems rather bland to me, i.e. nothing to attract me as a reader.

  7. Much better font on the redesign. It’s got a scratched, worn out look to it which evokes rundown places, neglect, abandonment.

    I didn’t notice the eyes until someone pointed them out. I don’t know that you should necessarily abandon them. People who are scrutinizing the cover may see them and ask, “What’s that?” The next step from there is for the curious person to peek inside and read a bit. At that point, your cover has served its purpose.

  8. Fwiw I noticed the orange dots, but I didn’t realize they were eyes. I thought they were supposed to be the lighted windows of a cottage or something. Thing is, they’re too small for windows, but at the same time, all the way back there at the treeline, they’re too big for eyes. I’m wondering if some other idea would work better instead? Maybe a glimpsed silhouette against orange bonfirelight?

    1. Wow, I just noticed you post, Take Cover. I dunno how I missed it before. Good point on the eyes. Based on the story it really should be eyes, but let me think on this.

      I may have to post a couple more versions after all. BTW, the html code for inserting an image in a post doesn’t work here. I don’t know why. I am pretty sure I have the syntax correct because it’s a copy/paste from the html code generated at Photobucket, so I’m mystified.

  9. Weeeeeeeeee! I’m feeling incredibly smug now. I have your suggested font on all my book covers, although I actually thought the guys who design them for me had made it up, themselves, because I’d never seen it before. Just goes to show.



  10. These are all great criticisms. I have not had a chance to rework the piece, but I will do so tomorrow and get it posted so you all can give me more thoughts. Your time is very appreciated.


  11. The only thing I’d caution your readers when contemplating using a grunge font, is to make sure your title doesn’t have multiple letters with the same grunge. for example, if your title is “Peter Pipers Pickled Peppers” all the “p”s in that title would have the same look, which looks terrible/repetitive. If this is the case, you can either render the text and manipulate some of the letters or apply your own grunge texture using an alternate method.

    Just to weigh in, I didn’t notice the eyes at all till they were mentioned, then had to really search.

  12. Thanks for the feedback. I will have one more go at it if you all are willing to take a look. I understand if you’d rather move on.

  13. I like the addition of the birds. They resemble turkey vultures which I see around here all the time.

    I think the title font needs to be bigger and lighter in color. It almost gets lost on the thumbnail. The typeface is good.

  14. If this works, my final revision should show up below. I pretty much followed the advice offered save making the title lighter. I like the rather uncomfortable feeling that darker color evokes (at least in me). Thanks again for your feedback. It was very valuable.

  15. I don’t think the color needs to be a lot brighter. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think your original title color is a shade or two lighter than the last update. If I’m right, would that color be acceptable?

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