I really hope I do this right... Please note the blank red boxes are for the book desc and author info.
The size is just fine. Are you the author or the illustrator?
Don't be so proud of this teleological terror you've constructed.
Alessandra Kelley, Fine Art, Illustration, and Egg Tempera Instruction
"Confessions of a Postmodern Pre-Raphaelite" -- my blog
ETA: The photography is interesting! Good job.
There are some good decisions with this. I'm having difficulty reading the text because of the color, fx, shape, and placement of it.
Niy, do you have access to photoshop? There's a lot of neat formatting stuff you can do with the text to make it easier to read.
Or, if you don't, you can shoot it my way and I'd be more than glad to tinker with it for ya.
If you make the background less vibrant and reduce the contrast, a more vibrant font like the title will stand out against it. I'd also lose the embossing, since the font is so thin, it makes it look busy.
The spacing in the byline is not working for me either. You'll need to play around with it, and simplify it to make it pop better. I'm sure you'll get it working.
I think your photography is kickass. But yeah, like everyone else said, the text is really hard to read.
Also, and this is just my preference - I don't really think it looks bad - but I'd probably get rid of the red border and just go with the photo straight to the edge.
My 2 cents:
The photography is strong enough that I don't think you need a border. I'd also use a different color for the title than red. It fades too much into the picture.
[Future spot for a tasteful yet impressive listing of SF/Fantasy novels along with website and banner. In the meantime, enjoy this photo of a unimpressed Tibetan Fox.]
I'm still taking a lot of the same issues with it. The red frame is very distracting from your base design. The black gradients are not helping readability as much as you might think. And the color temperatures are competing for attention all over the place, resulting in a general lack of focus.
I think you're going to want to think more about your overall concept as well. You want to depict the idea of the novel. What's special about the characters on the cover that give the impression of "Immortal Warriors"? The image needs some tweaking and conceptualizing to convey that they are more than four grownups playing with sticks in the woods.
Like I said before, the photos are good, especially the back cover though it seems it might be a tad over exposed on the filter. But you need to do something with them in order to have a concept for the cover.
You should definitely take WritingDemons up on their offer for help.
Hey, not a problem. The amount of info needed to pull off a good cover can be overwhelming, and I do my best not to come off like a complete arse, but...
Just a wild thought... how would that back cover photo look on the front?
And seconding the "drop the border" -- it feels claustrophobic to me.
I'm going to be the voice of dissention. Yes your photos are good. But they really still look like photos. They don't look like cover images. And there's a difference. I also agree that the back photo is far more compelling than the front. Here's why. The woman looks interesting, the people on the front look very much like a group of stunt people hanging out during a rehearsal (would you believe I am very familiar with what that looks like ?). I don't see a group who battle together (I kind of assume that's what I'm looking at). I see people posing for a photo with props. Also the forest is overwhelming. It's too much to look at. See the tree/bush in the foreground, it's just as in focus as everything else. Our eye isn't being directed anywhere.
Second, you can cut out the woman on the back and superimpose her onto a more compelling background. Right now what you have is a photo with some words over it (I realise you've actually done some tweaking in photoshop, I can see that, but it's still not enough). This is what makes a book look like it didn't have a real designer work on it. A cover has multiple layers and elements to it, not just two. And our eye is used to seeing that. When we see something this straightforward, we immediately think "this isn't a professional cover".
Let's look at some covers that use photographs:
Here the focus is on the whole picture, on the location, the time period and the two kids have their backs to us. The whole thing has been given an oldy-timey treatment. The key is that the people aren't the focus of the cover. The setting is: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-T3XAXU5OiP...sarahs-key.jpg
Here we have a single woman on the cover in a setting - but the setting is simple and fades into the background, it is secondary to the person. Further we can't really see her face, and we have a sense of a misty wistful mood. You can see the saturation levels have been played with: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-imag...Kennedy460.jpg
Here you have a group of warriors (sort of, technically it's a painting but it looks pretty close to photographic). Note how in this case it's a composite. The people are placed onto a different background: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4Hx5yPK3PA.../Trickster.jpg
In fact I'd suggest you google fantasy book covers and see if any look like yours right now. None do. Even the photographic ones.
I hope this doesn't read harsh. This is no way is meant to put down the photographs themselves, which are well staged and well taken. But like I said above a photograph isn't automatically a cover. I realise you are probably very attached to the photographs (I know I am with ones I take), but I'd suggest possibly even going with an object on the cover, no people at all.
And look, ultimately my opinions are just that. Further if you keep the images as is, I think it will still convey what kind of book you have written which is the fundamental job of a cover. But you posted here for opinions, and those are mine. Oy. I really hope all this isn't too harsh. It's truly just meant to be constructive .
I have to second what Toothpaste said.
I have to admit I saw it and thought it was amateur. You might have better luck with either composing the photograph beforehand, as in thinking about the poses and expressions as they portray the characters. (including clothing) or shooting each other people separately on say a white background and then putting it together in Photoshop on separate layers. (You'll have to be careful about your lighting though) and find a background with similar lighting that would not be just "In the woods" but evoke the themes.
Also the author information usually doesn't go on the back cover. Once that box is filled, it's most likely to make the cover look busy.
You can fix this a bit by thumbnailing some ideas *first* and then putting the cover together around the best thumbnail.
Or you can go with the back cover /similar and do a wrap around cover (shoot a pano)
Rule of thirds is why the back cover image works and the other photo isn't as strong. (Plus the t-shirts are throwing me off)
As it stands you have too much competing against each other.
Despite this, and the filter problem with the back cover, the composition photography-wise isn't bad. It's just for a cover you need it to be a work horse rather than a retired riding horse.
So think through your themes in the book and the concepts you want to communicate through the cover. List them out, thumbnail and *then* tackle the images. It makes it a lot easier. Rather than in reverse order. Believe me. I've been there. It did not work and my professors chased me for not thumbnailing.
What's the book about? If it's people doing live-action roleplay, then I think the photos could work, if you go back to your originals and start again. The ones here have the saturation and contrast turned up to the max, and it's an odd look.
If it's not live-action roleplay, they don't work.
Some really good comments here. I thank you.
The book is YA Paranormal.
The characters are wearing their 'training' gear.
It is my intention for them to look 'real' not CG or other worldly.
They appear as 'normal' humans to the world.
Again, I really appreciate all the comments and help. My main issue with the cover was the title getting lost in the trees. I feel like I may have fixed that. The border is still in the air (so to speak).
You are welcome! Glad they were helpful. One further thought with the new information, your models don't look particularly YA. They look mid twenties at the youngest. I assumed this was adult fantasy looking at the cover, and that is a problem. You want your readers to instantly know what genre and market your story is. That is one of the main duties of a cover. I would recommend you google some YA paranormal covers and take your cues from that .
The female is a 16 yr old girl IRL
The males are two 17 yr old boys and a 16 yr old boy. IRL
They are all local kids from the town the book is set in.
Which is why they are on the cover.
The 'models' are going to be available at my signings etc for promotional stuff. Their friends will flock to get signed copies of a book with these teens on the cover. I know it is a small time marketing idea, but the kids were and are very excited to do this cover for me.
Fair enough. It sounds like you are absolutely going with this cover, so it's best I stop offering advice on the use of the photographs . I wish you well with the book!