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Thread: what do you think of my cover?

  1. #26
    Maestro of Mischief Justin_AC's Avatar
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    Could you specify?

  2. #27
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Not without giving specific legal advice, no. I'm neither qualified nor inclined to do so.

    Back on topic now, please.

  3. #28
    Maestro of Mischief Justin_AC's Avatar
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    All right, sorry about that. No offense intended.

  4. #29
    practical experience, FTW robertbevan's Avatar
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    okay... back on topic then. i'll seek legal advice elsewhere.

    too dark for a comic fantasy seems to get the popular vote. my first idea for the cover was from the point of view of a dirty windshield, headlights pointed forward at four guys smoking cigarettes against a brick wall. the shadows behind them, cast by the car's headlights, would be of thier characters in the game (a halfling, a half-orc, a dwarf, and an elf). a similar sort of thing to that one movie poster for one of the prequel star wars movies. anakin/vader... you know the one i'm talking about?

    anyway... the cover at the top of this thread was thrown together by my brother in law with a big plastic die, a camera, and photoshop in about ten minutes. the cover i've just described might better suit the tone of the story, and certainly let on more of what the story is about if it's done well. but i don't have the talent to do it well, and honestly i think it would be difficult for anyone to get just right. i can just see me going back and forth with an increasingly annoyed artist saying "eh... that's sort of what i had in mind..."

  5. #30
    practical experience, FTW robertbevan's Avatar
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    okay. so i'm temporarily ignoring all of the suggestions that i go an entirely different way with this (that is not to say that i don't think those suggestions are entirely valid, but i'm working within the parameters of my skills, imagination, and free resources right now.). but should i end up choosing the original theme i started this thread with, how does this compare?



    the original picture was taken on top of a refrigerator, which i thought added some interesting texture to the lighted surfaces.

    this picture was taken on a wooden table. does the wood grain add, subtract, or make no difference at all to you?

    other thoughts are still welcome.

    thank you all for your time.

  6. #31
    paralibrarian GingerGunlock's Avatar
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    I actually kind of wondered why the die had the texture that it did in the first picture. I do like the wood grain reflection in this one.

    Reading your post prior to the cover retro-fit, your idea of the characters-in-their-shadows silhouettes is actually a neat one. As a non-artist, I have no idea what it would take to actualize such a thing.
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  7. #32
    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    Looks nice.

    Another thought:
    I think a skewed reflection of the d20 could add some texture and a little more ironic drama to the image.

  8. #33
    practical experience, FTW robertbevan's Avatar
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    i had another idea. i can get nineteen sequels out of this same cover idea.

  9. #34
    wants moar baddassery.
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    Die lodged in a half-melted popsicle on a table with peeling formica.

  10. #35
    paralibrarian GingerGunlock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSDR View Post
    Die lodged in a half-melted popsicle on a table with peeling formica.
    Or a die in a puddle of Mountain Dew
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  11. #36
    practical experience, FTW robertbevan's Avatar
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    in a comment on my latest revision, my beta highlighted this line, and suggested i use it for a tagline. i'm not sure if the comment was in jest or not, but... well, here it is.



  12. #37
    Gaze upon my shih-tzu powers! Billtrumpet25's Avatar
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    I like the cover (Simple and elegant ), but not the tag line entirely. I think a tagline should hook someone in, and the line just doesn't do it for me. Though, I can't help but wonder if the die refers to Heroscape, D&D, or other games of that ilk.

    ETA: I sometimes have trouble seeing the 20 sided die (the black on black). What if the cover was a shade of gray to create a little more contrast? Just my opinion...
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  13. #38
    practical experience, FTW robertbevan's Avatar
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    heh heh... thanks, bill. yeah, i don't think i'm going to keep that tagline. it was more just for fun. but now that i think about it, some kind of tagline might help offset the dark and serious tone. i'll think on it more.

  14. #39
    practical experience, FTW robertbevan's Avatar
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    here's a more serious effort. what do you think?


  15. #40
    here and there again fadeaccompli's Avatar
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    Are you planning on changing the handling of the words on the cover at some point? I still think the image looks good--if perhaps not entirely in line with expectations for the book--but the title, tagline, and so forth are all so clearly amateur that they're detracting from the rest of the cover.

  16. #41
    practical experience, FTW robertbevan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fadeaccompli View Post
    Are you planning on changing the handling of the words on the cover at some point? I still think the image looks good--if perhaps not entirely in line with expectations for the book--but the title, tagline, and so forth are all so clearly amateur that they're detracting from the rest of the cover.
    well, the source of the problem could be that i am an amateur. any suggestions? is there a specific problem that you can pinpoint?

  17. #42
    Gaze upon my shih-tzu powers! Billtrumpet25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robertbevan View Post
    here's a more serious effort. what do you think?

    I think it's a better tag line , though I wouldn't rule out experimentation, seeing what really works and what doesn't. I know there are days when I'll look and something and think it's the best thing out there, and then the following day, I'll hate it. At least for me, I'd like to see a tag line that plays off the 20 sided die, while relating to the topic of the book.

    I'd also italicize the tagline to differentiate it from the rest of the text. A gray background would be interesting to see, too. Even if you didn't go with it in the end, it would still be cool to see what contrast (or on the other hand, lack thereof) could come of it.

    Please don't get me wrong: I like the tag line a lot. All I'm saying is that through experimentation you often find something even better.

    Good luck, my friend.

    ETA- When working with a tagline, (just a general rule of thumb) make sure the language matches the intended audience. If it's for adults, add the curse words; if it's a YA/crossover, add the swears, but know that the book may be near books younger (corruptible) kids could come across, so would want to keep the swear words tame. Just my 2 cents...
    Last edited by Billtrumpet25; 04-28-2012 at 08:21 PM. Reason: wanted to add something
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  18. #43
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    I've just realised what it is that I don't like about the image.

    The die isn't sitting flat on the ground, it's balancing on one edge. It looks wrong like that. I want it to be flat, for goodness' sake! (And yes, I am obsessive about having things straight and lined up and all that, so perhaps I'm not the best person to listen to here.)

  19. #44
    practical experience, FTW SBibb's Avatar
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    I think this cover's getting better, though I might suggest playing with the font and finding something that matches the tone of your book.
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  20. #45
    here and there again fadeaccompli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robertbevan View Post
    well, the source of the problem could be that i am an amateur. any suggestions? is there a specific problem that you can pinpoint?
    Sadly, I'm an amateur as well. This is definitely one of those situations where I can see there is a problem, but not usefully explain how to fix it. I just know that when I look at that cover, the image is saying "Professional photography" and the text is saying "Amateur with basic image-editing software."

    Some of it is that you appear to be using a single font, all in a solid color, that looks to be a bog standard font packaged with any word processing program. If I could make a cover in Powerpoint, then it's probably not a professional-looking cover. And some of it is that you're using a very simple font on a very simple background, which makes it all look very...flat. A simple font on a complex background can work well (take a look at the cover for Range of Ghosts; now there's a super-simple, barely-serifed, all-white font that looks perfect on a very complex, dark background), but a simple font on a simple background ends up coming across as dull unless there's something else going on with it.

  21. #46
    paralibrarian GingerGunlock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    I've just realised what it is that I don't like about the image.

    The die isn't sitting flat on the ground, it's balancing on one edge. It looks wrong like that. I want it to be flat, for goodness' sake! (And yes, I am obsessive about having things straight and lined up and all that, so perhaps I'm not the best person to listen to here.)

    At our D&D (Pathfinder) game last Sunday, somebody rolled and their die in fact ended up balanced on a point. It wasn't leaned against anything; it just stopped that way.


    I'm not sure about the tagline, though using a "game quote" tagline could be a great deal of fun. Sometimes some of the best stuff gets said at the table!
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  22. #47
    wants moar baddassery.
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    Take the shot of the die (laying flat on it's side as if it's just landed with the one showing) on a grainy wooden top or some kind of map. Camera should be at about 45 degrees from the table so you have a horizon. Fade the table/map background into dark grey until you can just discern it. This could give your image more dimension.
    Try offsetting the Title and taglines, and your name so they're not all centered, or some are, one isn't, whatev.
    I do love "Shit just got real." Out of all the elements on that page, that would have had me going, WTF? and picking it up.

    Oh, were you going to include "Book One" somewhere or...?

  23. #48
    practical experience, FTW robertbevan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billtrumpet25 View Post
    I think it's a better tag line , though I wouldn't rule out experimentation, seeing what really works and what doesn't. I know there are days when I'll look and something and think it's the best thing out there, and then the following day, I'll hate it. At least for me, I'd like to see a tag line that plays off the 20 sided die, while relating to the topic of the book.

    I'd also italicize the tagline to differentiate it from the rest of the text. A gray background would be interesting to see, too. Even if you didn't go with it in the end, it would still be cool to see what contrast (or on the other hand, lack thereof) could come of it.

    Please don't get me wrong: I like the tag line a lot. All I'm saying is that through experimentation you often find something even better.

    Good luck, my friend.
    thanks for the advice. i'll play around with things when i get a chance and see what i can come up with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Billtrumpet25 View Post
    ETA- When working with a tagline, (just a general rule of thumb) make sure the language matches the intended audience. If it's for adults, add the curse words; if it's a YA/crossover, add the swears, but know that the book may be near books younger (corruptible) kids could come across, so would want to keep the swear words tame. Just my 2 cents...
    the book is full of swearing. the intended audience is thirty-something year old former gamers who think of 3.5 as the golden age of D&D. hmm... that's a pretty specific demographic. maybe that's part of the reason i couldn't get any agent interest in it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    I've just realised what it is that I don't like about the image.

    The die isn't sitting flat on the ground, it's balancing on one edge. It looks wrong like that. I want it to be flat, for goodness' sake! (And yes, I am obsessive about having things straight and lined up and all that, so perhaps I'm not the best person to listen to here.)
    i appreciate your comment, but if i stick with this concept, i'm probably going to stick with this picture. i borrowed the die from a friend of mine, and have since returned it. my brother in law is korean (and doesn't speak any english), and i had a hell of a time trying to explain what i wanted to him the first time around. if i bother him with the task of taking another picture, and then photoshopping it, it's going to have to be for something a little more significant.

    the die was flat on the table when we took the picture. i think it looks like it's resting on an edge because the picture was taken from overhead, and that's just the way it looks when the "1" is right side up.


    Quote Originally Posted by SBibb View Post
    I think this cover's getting better, though I might suggest playing with the font and finding something that matches the tone of your book.
    Quote Originally Posted by fadeaccompli View Post
    Sadly, I'm an amateur as well. This is definitely one of those situations where I can see there is a problem, but not usefully explain how to fix it. I just know that when I look at that cover, the image is saying "Professional photography" and the text is saying "Amateur with basic image-editing software."

    Some of it is that you appear to be using a single font, all in a solid color, that looks to be a bog standard font packaged with any word processing program. If I could make a cover in Powerpoint, then it's probably not a professional-looking cover. And some of it is that you're using a very simple font on a very simple background, which makes it all look very...flat. A simple font on a complex background can work well (take a look at the cover for Range of Ghosts; now there's a super-simple, barely-serifed, all-white font that looks perfect on a very complex, dark background), but a simple font on a simple background ends up coming across as dull unless there's something else going on with it.

    i'll get to work playing with fonts and stuff when i get some time. hopefully i'll be able to come up with something that looks a little more professional. but i went bare bones basic the first time around because i don't trust myself to make it look not tacky.

    Quote Originally Posted by GingerGunlock View Post
    At our D&D (Pathfinder) game last Sunday, somebody rolled and their die in fact ended up balanced on a point. It wasn't leaned against anything; it just stopped that way.


    I'm not sure about the tagline, though using a "game quote" tagline could be a great deal of fun. Sometimes some of the best stuff gets said at the table!
    i'll see if i can come up with anything else.

    Quote Originally Posted by JSDR View Post
    Take the shot of the die (laying flat on it's side as if it's just landed with the one showing) on a grainy wooden top or some kind of map. Camera should be at about 45 degrees from the table so you have a horizon. Fade the table/map background into dark grey until you can just discern it. This could give your image more dimension.
    wow... that sounds like it could be really cool, if pulled off properly. but i don't think i could come anywhere close to pulling that off properly. i'll give it some more thought though. i like the idea.


    Quote Originally Posted by JSDR View Post
    Try offsetting the Title and taglines, and your name so they're not all centered, or some are, one isn't, whatev.
    now that i can do!

    Quote Originally Posted by JSDR View Post
    I do love "Shit just got real." Out of all the elements on that page, that would have had me going, WTF? and picking it up.
    thanks. like billtrumpet25 said before, though... it's not going to hurt to keep brainstorming.

    Quote Originally Posted by JSDR View Post
    Oh, were you going to include "Book One" somewhere or...?
    still thinking about that. "book one of the 'caverns and creatures' series."

    or should i just let people think it's a stand-alone until they get to the end and demand more?

    i know i put a smiley up there in post #33, but i'm actually thinking that it might be a neat idea. if i do that, i won't have to write anything like "book one" or "book two" or whatever.




    thanks for all the responses everyone!

  24. #49
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robertbevan View Post
    well, the source of the problem could be that i am an amateur. any suggestions?
    Just a thought: hire a professional?

    If you want professional results -- in any field of endeavor -- would you expect an amateur to produce them? If you hired an amateur mechanic to work on your car, would you expect professional results? If you hired an amateur joiner to replace a bannister in your house, would you expect professional results? If you hired an amateur garden landscaper, would you expect professional results? Sure, it's possible you might get them; there are amateurs in most any field who are as good as professionals. But you can't just assume that an amateur will produce professional-level work, that it's just a matter of getting some advice. Training and experience are what turn amateurs into professionals.

    You've decided to hire an amateur (yourself) to produce the cover of your book. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the results look amateur in comparison to professional covers. (This isn't an insult; it's just a statement of fact.)

    This is the thing about self-publishing. If you want professional results, and if you don't own the skills needed to produce those results, you have to hire someone with the expertise. If you aren't willing to make the investment, it's going to show.
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  25. #50
    practical experience, FTW robertbevan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    Just a thought: hire a professional?

    If you want professional results -- in any field of endeavor -- would you expect an amateur to produce them? If you hired an amateur mechanic to work on your car, would you expect professional results? If you hired an amateur joiner to replace a bannister in your house, would you expect professional results? If you hired an amateur garden landscaper, would you expect professional results? Sure, it's possible you might get them; there are amateurs in most any field who are as good as professionals. But you can't just assume that an amateur will produce professional-level work, that it's just a matter of getting some advice. Training and experience are what turn amateurs into professionals.

    You've decided to hire an amateur (yourself) to produce the cover of your book. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the results look amateur in comparison to professional covers. (This isn't an insult; it's just a statement of fact.)

    This is the thing about self-publishing. If you want professional results, and if you don't own the skills needed to produce those results, you have to hire someone with the expertise. If you aren't willing to make the investment, it's going to show.
    your point is a good one. but i don't think that the cover i've come up with so far completely reeks of suck.

    if, when the time rolls around when i finish my final draft of the novel, and i'm ready to release it on the world, and i am still unsatisfied with my cover, i'll certainly seek out a professional. but until then, i'm going to see what i'm able to do on my own. i've gotten a lot of good advice on this thread so far, and i'll see what fruits are born of following that advice.

    but yeah, in the end, i might just pass the reins on to a professional.

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