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Cover Critique - Unleash and Refine Your Inner Artist

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  #1  
Old 07-10-2012, 01:17 AM
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Default Cover Critique - Unleash and Refine Your Inner Artist


Welcome to the cover critique thread, the place to have the cover you've created for your self-publishing project viewed and critiqued by others.

Our guidelines are simple (and, well, subject to change):

1) Covers placed into the post should not be overly large - make sure to re-size the picture so it stays within the forum page boundaries. Bear in mind that pictures can slow download time for some. Any cover that falls beyond the forum page boundaries will be removed and the member PMd to resize it. Note: placing the cover picture within a spoiler tag is an option, as is linking to the picture off-site, so long as it links to the actual picture. If you wish to post in-thread, please be considerate when choosing a size to post up.

2) Covers critiqued here are covers made for self-publishing projects only. Please do not place a traditionally published cover in-thread and discuss it, though linking to it by way of example is fine. Note: traditionally published covers posted in-thread will be removed.

Everyone is welcome to give his input; however, please be advised: anything that dissolves into a flat-out argument will be deleted. We're here to help, not bicker with each other!

That said . . . who wants to theirs post up first?

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  #2  
Old 07-10-2012, 10:31 PM
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Lin already gave an evaluation of where this could be improved but to get he ball rolling here we go

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Old 07-12-2012, 03:55 PM
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Oh, yay! Our first cover to critique!

Anyone want to give their insights/input, etc.?

(Yeah, yeah . . . "Hey, Devon, how about you, since you're here.")

*hums to self, tries to attract attention to thread with a post*
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Old 07-13-2012, 05:21 AM
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Just one thought,

The authors name is bolder than the title, and that's O.K. if the Author is established, but, I would have thought the title would be the selling point for the newer writer? I do like the artwork and design as a whole.

Best regards
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:15 AM
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Ethan said exactly what I was going to say about it. The first thing that hits me when I look at it is the author's name--which initially made me think it was a part of the title. Like, "Karen Fletcher: Flick of the Wrist."

As soon as I saw the bottom text was an explanation of the genre and not the author's name, I easily put two and two together . . . but it's the only thing that stood out to me as "not quite right." Otherwise, I think it's very appealing to those looking for some erotica!
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Old 07-13-2012, 08:31 AM
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The first thing I got was the woman's arse. Then the author name and then the title, which I didn't really take in because thats a very nice arse and pair of legs, even if I do say so as a female myself.

The image is fine but I'd make the title the size the author's name is now and move it to the top, or somewhere it'll get more attention. I'm not really sure about the font either. Something about it looks cheap and tacky, though I'm no expert on that kind of thing so am mostly running on instinct. I've always been a fan of clean lines and keeping it simple so that's probably why and it's personal choice at the end of the day.

P.S. Why cant we post traditionally published covers, Miss Devon?
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:05 AM
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Why cant we post traditionally published covers, Miss Devon?
Because this is a thread to help authors who are looking to become self-published. We're not going to help those whose covers have already been published and are pretty much static, aaaand the author wouldn't see our comments anyway. Though, like I said, a link to one as an example is fine. Just don't want to take away from our members' efforts at self-publishing, is all.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:15 AM
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But you're assuming no one on this forum will have a traditionally published cover they'd like to get feedback on before it goes to the presses.

Shame on you girly!
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by CandraH View Post
But you're assuming no one on this forum will have a traditionally published cover they'd like to get feedback on before it goes to the presses.

Shame on you girly!
CandraH, you could start a row in an empty house!
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:37 AM
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No, no, no. I mean ones that have already been published. Static ones. And usually people who get traditionally published have them done by in-house artists, no? who're likely not to listen to many suggestions from random people, or even the author (I suspect).

Anyway, stop starting rows! Or start stopping them. Lol! Or just furnish that empty house Ethan's talking about.

Back to the first cover. I have to agree, for someone looking for something darkly erotic to read, the picture is an excellent eye-catching one. I do actually like the font, though yes, could be the author name and the title needs size-switching there. Didn't Lin shuffle the text around a bit (in the other thread)? Liked how it looked that way, in the darker areas, actually.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:55 PM
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Thanks for the feedback, Ethan and CandraH, its really appreciated. I will rework the cover as soon as I get a chance and post it up again.
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Old 07-13-2012, 11:40 PM
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This is probably the worst cover I've ever done. An early one where I was trying for the "montage" look a lot of thrillers do, and pretty much muddied everything up. Took tons of time and work, too. I'm considering redoing this one for the ebook edition.

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Old 07-13-2012, 11:42 PM
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BTW, the title font, called "Wild Rid" is really cool. It's actually two fonts, the center (yellow here) and a background (orange here) so you can stack them and get an outline, or offset "shadow"
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Old 07-15-2012, 02:27 AM
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Muddied, how exactly? I went and read the blurb that's up on your Amazon page, and comparing the cover with that, you have all of the elements listed there in the cover (assuming the blurb is the highly condensed version of the book's synopsis).

Don't read a lot of thrillers myself, so not familiar with the montage look you mentioned they often have. But, visually, the cover easily draws you in (I think) with its color scheme and placement of the elements (e.g. the baseball player draws the eye up to the woman's face as though he's pointing at her with the bat), though that one firework burst in front of the woman's face feels . . . not so much off, just . . . I don't know how to describe it. Like there's one too many of them there. Font-wise, I love the title; its placement, colors, etc. The bar below it, though . . . I know it contains the subtitle, and it needs to be visually strong enough in comparison with the title, but that's the one thing that hits you in the face right away, at first glance, and overwhelms the title. Only because of the red, I suspect; a color that snags the eye immediately.

Don't know what you had in mind as far as a re-work on this. Whether you were thinking about scrapping it completely and starting fresh, or just moving around what you have there. Like I said, according to the book's blurb, the elements are spot on, which makes the cover encompass the core of the story, overall, in colors that draw attention, so likely you wouldn't have to change much (you mentioned putting it together was a lot of work). I honestly don't see it as muddied up at all.
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Old 07-15-2012, 08:54 AM
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Devon, plenty of writers getting work published traditionally through small presses do have input on their cover art, so it's not a stretch to say trad covers need feedback too. Just trying to keep things fair is all.

Lin, I loved Sweet Spot but you're right, the cover is a bit dodgy. It's not the worst I've seen but it is a bit on the garish side and I never liked the font either. But like I said above, I'm all for clean lines and simplicity so thats more about personal taste than what works, because I'm no expert. I think if you kept the image also really clean and simple - not sure what exactly because I'm a bit braindead right now but maybe just focusing on one aspect of the story or a single character might give it more punch.
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Devon View Post
I went and read the blurb that's up on your Amazon page, and comparing the cover with that, you have all of the elements listed there in the cover .
a cover should be more than just a shopping list of components. Putting together an effective montage as Lin was aiming for is hard - certainly beyond my capabilities. I'd suggest if it's not something you excel at, to keep it simple and elegant.
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Old 07-15-2012, 03:30 PM
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I agree with Mike and Candra's views on that cover. And the the advice for simplicity. I've thought of doing something like a baseball filling the middle of the page, maybe with a Mexican symbol or guns or something on it.
If I do, I'll post it.
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:28 AM
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And so now I've learned something.
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Old 07-16-2012, 04:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Lin View Post
I agree with Mike and Candra's views on that cover. And the the advice for simplicity. I've thought of doing something like a baseball filling the middle of the page, maybe with a Mexican symbol or guns or something on it.
If I do, I'll post it.
That's it, Lin! To me the baseball player looks unusual there. A flying baseball coming right at you, complete with air strokes around and behind, might be better.
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Old 07-16-2012, 01:08 PM
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Coolio. Looking forward to the baseball, Lin. I like the idea of that.
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Old 07-17-2012, 05:54 AM
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I'm considering self-publishing a collection of my short stories -- and this thread got me thinking and inspired me to try my hand at book cover design. I guess my problem is deciding on which story to feature on the cover. Otherwise, I'm just having fun looking at different styles and designs. These use stock images -- all photoshopped to varying degrees to accommodate the type etc. Anyway, here's a look:


























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Old 07-17-2012, 06:10 AM
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Hey, those are all really cool, Joe. Love the simplicity of the images and the narrative in them. They all embody their respective stories wonderfully.

I cant decide between the two Waffle Queen covers because they each touch on different but important aspects of that story, so they both work well in their own right. But I prefer the first Happy Hour cover because it's more bleak and poignant where the others are too happy and brightly coloured, though thats maybe just personal opinion on my part.

Also, I don't like the subtitle "and ten more stories". I think "and other stories" is enough and by telling people there's another ten, it just seems limiting to me as a reader. Like, if I don't enjoy the first, I've got another ten to go. Damn. Or if I do, I only have another ten. Again, damn.

Anyway, no idea if any of that helps. I just thought I'd quickly add my two bob's worth. I'll get back to your other stuff later by the way, just in case you think I'm ignoring you.
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:53 AM
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Hey thanks, Candra. Glad you think they work with the stories. Wasn't sure if you read "The Mill Falls." I haven't posted "Angels of Suburbia" yet. It's about a woman who tries to help her suicidal neighbor -- and how it backfires -- so the image doesn't really relate so much -- but I thought it looked cool. I'm trying other stuff for that one too.

I'm not at all married to the idea of the 10 stories -- just thought I'd try something different.

I like the Naomi covers -- but I'll likely replace the counter stools with ones that look more 50's or 60's -- these look too deco and one-of-a-kind and the Waffle Queen is supposed to be chain. (That might mean a font change too.) While I like the design, the other Naomi cover looks a bit too chick-lit I think -- maybe not quite right to represent the stories which are mostly darker. Same with "The Mill Falls" but I've got another for that too.

My problem will be the same as it is with my stories -- deciding when to stop noodling and call it done. This might be even worse.

Thanks for the input!

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Old 07-17-2012, 07:15 PM
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I always like artwork with nice tits.

These look good to me, and more important, they look "typical", what is expected in that type or genre of book.

People think I'm being sarcastic when I say that poetry and "literary fiction" only requires three horizonal bars with a vague picture in the middle bar... but I think some of these make my point.

I'm not saying they're facile, but I think you can see my point.
And of course in reality you need to select fonts and colors that don't blow it, which Joe has done here.

I'd like to think that this nice display or covers might be encouraging to other writers bringing out their literary shorts or poems.

Chance are, you can pull it off.

And the more you look at covers like these, the more you get the drift.
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:20 PM
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Note the Mill Falls one. He's "lightened" the background picture. Notice how this gives it a more ethereal quality and also moves it back behind the type. You can also do that with a slight blur or out of focus, but this is the most effective for something like this.

The hard red and yellow covers do the opposite, and very effectively.

Some might say it would be better to run titles and bylines bigger, but when you look at them, I think you see that reading is not a problem, mostly because they are very concretely separated and contrasted.
This is another advantage of the three-bar approach. It makes it really easy to snap the type out.
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:22 PM
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Joe I love those, you have a real eye for this.
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Old 07-18-2012, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeMatt View Post
Wasn't sure if you read "The Mill Falls."
I don't think I have but I remember you posting a couple of photos of the place or somewhere similar and thought the cover had a similar vibe, if not actual similarity in colours or scenery etc.

I also realised I havent read Happy Hour either. For some reason my brain told me you were talking about The Real Bar so I superimposed that story onto the cover. It works for that but makes my crit for the other one useless, heh, so feel free to ignore me on that.

But yeah, very classy and professional stuff all roound. And good luck finding the right moment to quick tweaking them, and choosing which one to use.
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:55 AM
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The Mill Falls is my absolute favourite of those covers. I like the angel and the snowman too. Well, I like them all, I just prefer those ones. I agree with Candra - don't like And ten more stories.
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:11 AM
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My favourite is the green Happy Hour, but I agree with the others, lose the mentioning of ten more stories.
I like it because of the desperate feelings that Happy Hour screams at you.
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:46 AM
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That cover comes in with a few strikes against it. Green is not a happy attractive color, especially on a lot of computer screens.
It's also kind dark or brooding.
But it still works pretty well, I would say.

I think one way to deal with the objections people are mentioning here would be to reverse to coloration of the title type. Let the title ring out in white (and maybe a little larger) and put the subtitle in a shade. As is, the most attention grabbing item on the cover is the subtitle, which is not the best way to go.
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