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Oak Point

The author says:

OAK POINT is commercial fiction for readers who experienced the sixties, or would have liked to. It is the story of two girls coming of age in 1969, one of whom has an affair with the neighbor of Countess Mona von Bismarck. It also explores the world of French haute couture, especially Balenciaga, and Long Island society as it stood in those free-wheeling days. A “Roman à clef” based on real people and events, the cover is a map of Oak Point, which I grew up next door to in the 50s-60s. Other parts are set in Paris, NYC, & KY.

OP cover 4.4

OP cover 4.4

Nathan says:

I think the main problems are immediately apparent if you look at the thumbnail: The title isn’t very readable, the byline is completely obscured, and the map — which is always an arresting image — barely looks like a map, thanks to the color treatment.

Here’s what I would try:

  • Put the map in “map colors” — either its original color scheme, or a beige-and-coffee color scheme that looks like well-used paper. Overly a texture of crumpled paper (not too strong, and stronger at the edges) to map it look like an honest-to-goodness used map.
  • There’s no design reason to have the title shifted to the left; centering and enlarging it makes it look less like an afterthought.  If the background map is in for-real map colors, the color you have for the title should stand out better, but I’d still look at other fonts — something that does better at evoking either the time or place.  Find some old paperbacks or fashion magazines from 1969 for ideas.
  • Separate “A Novel” from the rest of the byline.  Put “A Novel” under the title, and your name someplace separate like at the bottom.  You can then increase the size of your name, making it more readable. I’d play with the font here, too, to give it some of the flavor of your setting. (Those fonts are especially important on your cover because, without cues given by the fonts, the old map might make it look like a pirate adventure.)

I get the suspicion that, even once those changes are made, the cover will still want something else, but I’m not foresightful enough to know what that would be.

Other ideas?

Comments

  1. Nathan pretty much hit on everything I think. I would just add that the “A Novel by…” text is unnecessary given it is obviously a novel by the author. It’s sort of like decorating a cake with the words “This is a Cake”. It is a waste of space and text IMO.

  2. Get rid of the confusing mish-mash that is the rest of the background. Keep the map, make colo adjustments along the lines Nathan suggested (which will make it look more map-like and less a blueprint), and enlarge it so it bleeds off. You can keep it askew if you want and put something purposeful in the non-map corners, a color or texture or something that suggests the 60s…oooh, like maybe a psychedelic melange of color like they used to use on Laugh-In (or that you see on 60s magazines and book covers) but muted so the map and title take center attention.

  3. To me, a map says “nonfiction”. Using a map on a fiction cover feels lazy, like you can’t find any other iconic image of the location where your story is set.

  4. I mainly agree with Nathan, especially the thumbnail: I clicked on it on the LBC page thinking What is that? Looks like a patchwork quilt of some kind. The uniform blue colour scheme makes it even more unreadable. Having a colour scheme is good, rather than just randomly using any, but it would work better if there was one contrasting colour too. Using all the colours of the rainbow, on the other hand, would look more like late 60’s in this case though. Groovy! Psychedelic, man!
    I do not agree with that maps make interesting images, to people who do not collect them. Well, interesting to study, yes, but not catching the eye. They work very well as one element of a cover, but not as the whole thing. I would try to find some picture either of Oak Point or of girls in the 60’s and use that as the focal point, and the map as background.

  5. It’s much too dark and too busy…to say nothing of irrelevant.

    I see no reason to reproduce the map as a negative. Nor is there any apparent rationale for the strange background. Even if the map were to be reproduced as a positive image, it is too full of detail to make any immediate sense.

    I suspect that the inclusion of the map is the result of a fault too many authors share: it is meaningful to you. But this is because you are intimately familiar with the story. To the uninitiated potential reader it is meaningless. One has to actually read the map (which is nearly impossible to do in any case) in order to get the connection with the title. But even then, it is a personal connection on your part. As others have already pointed out, the image does nothing whatsoever to convey the actual subject, setting or period of the book.

    I would strongly suggest replacing the map with an image that more immediately gets across the subject and time period of the book.

  6. Put the map in the front matter of the book (with other colors so it doesn’t get confused with a blueprint) and get it off the cover.

    Seek an interesting, strong visual image that will attract people who want to read a novel that takes place in the 50’s or 60’s. This isn’t it.

  7. It just looks like a blue rectangle. It’s practically illegible at thumbnail size. It doesn’t say anything to me about the 60s. I think I’d be inclined to look for images and fonts with a 60s feel and start again. Sorry I can’t come up with anything more positive. 🙁

  8. -As mentioned by others, the title is indiscernible when in thumbnail. Play around with colors, fonts, gradients, font sizes, and other options for the title especially, to increase visibility when small.

    -The map is cool, but Nathan is right on about the blue color! It brings up an almost digital feel, which isn’t at all in line with the 60s invocation that you need.

    -Speaking of the 60s, the cover needs more 60s in it. Changing the map into plain map colors will help a lot I think. Maybe try plenty of beiges, browns, and some harvest yellows, punctuated here and there with light treatments of brighter colors.

    -The background is heavily 80s sci-fi. Definitely needs a change. A more 60s pattern might work?

    -I like Sirona’s idea of bleeding the map off the sides of the cover!

  9. Yes, the colors are drab. It’s all too murky and undefined. Even up close the image makes no statement. In thumbnail it’s just a blot of dull blue.

  10. My first glance at the thumb made me think “cyberpunk.” I thought the map was a circuit board. Overhaul the colors and pick some era-appropriate fonts and then see how it works.

    I’m inclined to think you should lose the map and pick different imagery. Thing is, every novel takes places somewhere, so any novel could have a map as a cover image. There is so much cool, instantly recognizable stuff that could immediately make the novel evoke 1969.

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