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BrokenSword
02-09-2011, 03:42 AM
Following up from the original cover critique thread, I've been re-thinking my cover and have some further possibilities which I'd like any and all to weigh in on. I'm posting a compilation that is numbered, so please let me know which is your favorite and why if possible.

Thanks.


Michael aka BrokenSword


http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5096/5429597298_3bf05e4f2b_z.jpg

JerseyGirl1962
02-09-2011, 06:41 PM
Following up from the original cover critique thread, I've been re-thinking my cover and have some further possibilities which I'd like any and all to weigh in on. I'm posting a compilation that is numbered, so please let me know which is your favorite and why if possible.

Thanks.


Michael aka BrokenSword


http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5096/5429597298_3bf05e4f2b_z.jpg


I'm not a graphic designer, and I don't play one on TV :tongue, so take this FWIW...

#1 - I kind of like this one, but I think the train should be headed straight ahead instead of to the side (like it's headed straight at me). I like the background color but feel it should be a darker color (think: sinister). These two changes would make me think thriller/suspense, and that's what this is, right? I really like the font on this one, and altho the color on your name is a bit hard to read, if you decide to darken the background color like I suggested, this probably wouldn't be a problem.

I'll admit that I don't really care for the pic; the person is too far away. If there's some kind of significance, it's lost on me. (But then again, maybe it's just me, lol.)

With that being said, if you decide to go with the pic anyway, I don't think you should go with the skinny ones, #4 & #6; maybe because it makes the person look even more miniscule than the full-on shot. I do dig the dark marble effect on those covers, though.

If I were go with one of the pic covers, I'd go with either #3 or #5, with my preference being #5, despite the smallish font of your name (altho I do like that font). Hard to say why I don't prefer #3, but I don't care for those banner thingies (don't you love my technical terms? :tongue) on the top and bottom.

Hope I've been of some (limited) help.

Nancy

LfB
02-09-2011, 07:02 PM
I'm not a graphic designer, and I don't play one on TV :tongue, so take this FWIW...

Same here But I do like looking at covers, so what the hey. :D

I agree with JG re:1. I'd also think your name should be darker or be set on a band or something to make it 'pop' more.

I like 5 but was thinking the text could go vertical instead of horizontal, kinda like 4, but without so much empty/white space around the words. That said, I like 5, as-is though, maybe, bring the person in the back up just a bit?

From the choices given, number 3 is the winner. Everything's written out clearly and in a large enough print. It's simple and straight to the point.

BrokenSword
02-09-2011, 10:05 PM
I made comments to you inline, below, Nancy!
I'm not a graphic designer, and I don't play one on TV :tongue, so take this FWIW...



>>>heh, I think we'd all like to play that role! Part of why I like self-pubbing!




#1 - I kind of like this one, but I think the train should be headed straight ahead instead of to the side (like it's headed straight at me). I like the background color but feel it should be a darker color (think: sinister). These two changes would make me think thriller/suspense, and that's what this is, right? I really like the font on this one, and altho the color on your name is a bit hard to read, if you decide to darken the background color like I suggested, this probably wouldn't be a problem.



>>>The only problem I see with that is if you have the train straight on, it might look parked, no? I could cobble up a train which has it's tail curving, to show the movement aspect heading outward and straight on, but I'd have to cut the fade effect. Something to work on, though.


I'll admit that I don't really care for the pic; the person is too far away. If there's some kind of significance, it's lost on me. (But then again, maybe it's just me, lol.)



>>>no, it's not just you! There is a HUGE significance but I if I told you, I'd have to kill you, and well, can't do that when you're being so nice and reviewing my proto covers! (Actually, this cover shot is a direct scene in the book and is symbolic of what I was trying to accomplish.) Now, the reason the kid is far back is to create a tunnel effect, to draw the eye of the viewer in. As long as you can tell it's a kid and his blue, rubber ball, I think that part works.

With that being said, if you decide to go with the pic anyway, I don't think you should go with the skinny ones, #4 & #6; maybe because it makes the person look even more miniscule than the full-on shot. I do dig the dark marble effect on those covers, though.



>>>my son will love hearing that as the dark marble effect is actually darkened, scratched-up steel and that was his idea. He generally isn't liking the pic at all and the train cover + the two 'slice of pic' covers are his doing. That's partly why I'm asking for other opinions; so I don't get narrow-minded!



If I were go with one of the pic covers, I'd go with either #3 or #5, with my preference being #5, despite the smallish font of your name (altho I do like that font). Hard to say why I don't prefer #3, but I don't care for those banner thingies (don't you love my technical terms? :tongue) on the top and bottom.


>>>Number 5 is more or less the original with a font+font location change. A number of people thought the full-length pic worked better than having a dark border (which was done to pull out the text as I wanted the font color to be symmetrical and the light color of the pic at the top doesn't allow for this. Hence, the darkened marble/steel slice-pic covers. I wasn't sure I'd like the 'banner thingies' either (I think you coined a new term; we should adopt this when critiquing all covers on the forum, hey? ;) ) but thought I'd add them and see what others thought.




Hope I've been of some (limited) help.



>>>you've been of tremendous help, Nancy; I really appreciate your comments about each. Helps me zero in on effectiveness and bookshelf curb appeal. Thank you! Nancy

Jamiekswriter
02-09-2011, 10:08 PM
I like #1 and #3 the best.

For #1, though, I would make "a novel by Broken Sword" a darker color because it's kinda lost in the steam.

I like #3 because it has more color and appears to "pop" more and I like how the black borders on the top and bottom frame the picture.

BrokenSword
02-09-2011, 10:16 PM
Inlines below, Aud:



Same here But I do like looking at covers, so what the hey. :D


>>>yeah, so do I; got some sort of graphics bug inside me and the writing process is enhanced when I get to try and put images to my words! Thanks for helping this process!


I agree with JG re:1. I'd also think your name should be darker or be set on a band or something to make it 'pop' more.

>>>I can see that. I don't tend to see the author's name as important as the title, but that's just me. And I know that's not the best thinking for marketing!

I like 5 but was thinking the text could go vertical instead of horizontal, kinda like 4, but without so much empty/white space around the words. That said, I like 5, as-is though, maybe, bring the person in the back up just a bit?

>>>I can cobble up a 'closer view of the subject' and see how it looks. I explained my reasoning for putting the kid at the back, in my comments to JG (Nancy) above.

>>>I did try several vertical sets and some looked fine, some did not. I wasn't sure about doing this type of vertical, either, hence I'm getting other opinions. Using a vertical placement for the font in #5 might get introduce more confusion though as I don't have a great amount of 'text space' to work with where the background of the pic is dark. I'll think on this one and cobble something up, though.


From the choices given, number 3 is the winner. Everything's written out clearly and in a large enough print. It's simple and straight to the point.

>>>That's part of what I like about that cover choice too; it's clear and concise. I guess I'm trying to find the balance between art and function, so all factions will like it! My son is giving me input and he tends to like a more minimalist approach, some of which I concede would show the vitals better but some that are too sterile for my taste. I tell him; it doesn't really matter if it's a bad cover as long as it catches attention, though I'd still like to be proud of seeing my cover AND have some attention toward it, you know?

Thanks again, Aud, for helping out!

Michael

BrokenSword
02-10-2011, 01:49 AM
Thanks, Jamie! Duly noted. I've been fooling around with a darker cover version, so the steel text shows up more. Will post when I have a couple of variations. It's interesting to hear the 'whys' when comparing covers as I didn't expect some comments and others, were also thoughts I'd been considering. Michael
I like #1 and #3 the best.

For #1, though, I would make "a novel by Broken Sword" a darker color because it's kinda lost in the steam.

I like #3 because it has more color and appears to "pop" more and I like how the black borders on the top and bottom frame the picture.

DoctorMandaBenson
02-10-2011, 02:07 AM
I prefer 1 and 3. I think I would prefer 3 with the slightly translucent darker areas used on 2 and 1. Kind of like the grittiness of 1. Perhaps you could use transparency gradients to overlay the train and the image of the interior of the train, and having one focus above and one below with the text on a band in the middle?

Have you tried using different fonts? A sans-serif font I think would look more striking.

JerseyGirl1962
02-10-2011, 05:48 PM
>>>The only problem I see with that is if you have the train straight on, it might look parked, no? I could cobble up a train which has it's tail curving, to show the movement aspect heading outward and straight on, but I'd have to cut the fade effect. Something to work on, though.

Good point - hadnít thought of it that way. Still like the train, though.

>>>no, it's not just you! There is a HUGE significance but I if I told you, I'd have to kill you, and well, can't do that when you're being so nice and reviewing my proto covers! (Actually, this cover shot is a direct scene in the book and is symbolic of what I was trying to accomplish.) Now, the reason the kid is far back is to create a tunnel effect, to draw the eye of the viewer in. As long as you can tell it's a kid and his blue, rubber ball, I think that part works.

Hah! But I have to say one thing: heís holding a ball?

>>>Number 5 is more or less the original with a font+font location change. A number of people thought the full-length pic worked better than having a dark border (which was done to pull out the text as I wanted the font color to be symmetrical and the light color of the pic at the top doesn't allow for this. Hence, the darkened marble/steel slice-pic covers. I wasn't sure I'd like the 'banner thingies' either (I think you coined a new term; we should adopt this when critiquing all covers on the forum, hey? ) but thought I'd add them and see what others thought.

Hmm...guess Iíll have to trademark that term. Oh, wait, I think Iíve got it: Banner Thingiestm :tongue

>>>you've been of tremendous help, Nancy; I really appreciate your comments about each. Helps me zero in on effectiveness and bookshelf curb appeal. Thank you! Nancy

Youíre very welcome. I think theyíre all very well done covers; IMHO, very professional looking. :)

Nancy

smoothseas
02-10-2011, 06:15 PM
And yet another vote for #1.

LaceWing
02-10-2011, 06:53 PM
I like the white corner on #2. I also like that area of light is circular.

the bunny hugger
02-10-2011, 07:31 PM
I think #5 looks the most like a "real" book you would see in a bookstore. Based on it I would expect something dark with a literary tone.

CheyElizabeth
02-10-2011, 07:39 PM
1 and 2 are my favorites. The rest scream 'self published'.

BrokenSword
02-11-2011, 01:00 AM
Thanks, DoctorManda; Not sure of the text being in the center, but I'll cobble it up and take a look. That's the nice thing with layers (PS, etc) in that you can easily change without destroying. I have played with different fonts, thinking the 'block' type would sit better but I didn't like that effect. Some I've tried to use as an 'engraved' look, but the jury is out on whether I'll post that example up. Seeing as to how a few like the train aspect, I'm going to post up a darkened version; it did add imho, so we'll see. Thanks again for the looksee. Michael
I prefer 1 and 3. I think I would prefer 3 with the slightly translucent darker areas used on 2 and 1. Kind of like the grittiness of 1. Perhaps you could use transparency gradients to overlay the train and the image of the interior of the train, and having one focus above and one below with the text on a band in the middle?

Have you tried using different fonts? A sans-serif font I think would look more striking.

BrokenSword
02-11-2011, 01:03 AM
This one is getting more favor than I'd originally expected. I'm seeing that I have two basic themes in that one is more symbolic and gritty (both work for the actual story) and one that has shall we say a more emotional bent to it? That is, I think there's more 'passion' in the color and pic ones than in the train symbology. Both are true to the book, however, so I probably need to determine which effect is more suitable. Thanks smoothseas!
And yet another vote for #1.

BrokenSword
02-11-2011, 01:06 AM
Thanks for looking and recording your vote, LaceWing. This is another variation my son wanted to take a look at (though he hates the picture in general). I originally had a lighting effect through a PS filter that would make this scene of the interior of an L car more cavernous, to force the focus down toward the subject as well as add depth re the car an pic. So, that's where the circular lighting roof came into effect. This one is actually a desaturated version of the original pic, but I added color back for the boy and his ball. Not sure that is easy to see when the jpg is small. I must say, all the covers look much better full screen, but I had too many prototypes to post for feasibility, I think.
I like the white corner on #2. I also like that area of light is circular.

BrokenSword
02-11-2011, 01:12 AM
bunny: I think you're the first to nail the story's undertones correctly. Not exactly 'dark' but definitely on that track. The basic premise is supposed to be reminiscent of '12 Angry Men' in that there is minimal action and more dialog that shows a shift in attitudes and ideals. The L is the stage for all this, though there is the dark tone to which you alluded and a surface story to carry the dialog. My style is definitely literary, and your comment made me smile. Sometimes, you second guess yourself until another sees the painting the same way you do. When I was out at the drugstore the other day, I perused their books for sale and seriously; there was perhaps a handful that 'caught my eye' and didn't look either too confusing, complex, or just plain dull. I figure art is so subjective that you're never going to rope all the prospects in and you aim for a majority at best. Not even sure that is possible because of the subjectivity. Michael
I think #5 looks the most like a "real" book you would see in a bookstore. Based on it I would expect something dark with a literary tone.

BrokenSword
02-11-2011, 01:16 AM
As noted to bunny one post back, noting what is currently selling at my local drugstore re fiction, I'd have to say more than 60% of the covers would fall into the category of 'invisible'. Art is too subjective to get any consensus, imo. Just two posts back, we have a poster who thinks number 3 is what is typically seen in a bookstore (I agree) and then you feel the same screams self pubbed. I think that about sums up how difficult it is to pin down the buying public. But, that's why I posted; to get an idea of what people are thinking in this current time re book covers. You and my son would get along just fine, though! Thanks for the looksee, CheyE. Much appreciated. Michael
1 and 2 are my favorites. The rest scream 'self published'.

BrokenSword
02-11-2011, 01:50 AM
Thinking about the comment CheyE noted above, I thought to look at the current NYT bestsellers and see how a couple of my prototypes looked mixed in. Any comments welcome.

I think the thought that comes to mind is that my covers are not nearly busy enough nor trumpet my name loud enough! Then again, I never wanted to approach writing this way, though I know it's the norm. I guess I wanted the picture to say a thousand words...

Michael

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5054/5434094387_70ef2ac040_b.jpg

CheyElizabeth
02-11-2011, 01:59 AM
That's a great idea - comparing to best selling covers. In that example, I like the bottom right one the best.

I think the one thing I don't like about "typical" self-published books is how the title is in a separate block of a single color, and not printed on top of the picture. I was also going to say it looks more professional to have big thick fonts instead of the serif font you used, but that idea just got nixed when I see that several best selling titles also use serif font.

I guess it's really hard to pin down what makes a great cover.

BrokenSword
02-11-2011, 03:15 AM
I see now where you were coming form, CheyE; it's the block of text/color not on the graphic, hey? Seriously, it's as easy to do as any aspect of creating your own cover. I'll post a couple more prototypes, even do one that mirrors the one you like, and you can check back in and tell me what you think, okay? The thing I noticed is that my cover(s) seem to be less filled with text (except for the 'the help' one).


Thanks for a second look. Below, some further iterations. Any opinions? The first has the camera zooming in on the original pic that some can't see the kid at the back, the second has the kid actually moved to about mid-car and therefore closer/larger as a subject, the fourth is the 'slice pic' with different font styling, and the last is a new one based on the train idea.



Michael

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5300/5437654800_f113630b5f_b.jpg

valeriec80
02-12-2011, 02:26 AM
Okay, wow. Bringing the boy forward really works for me. But I'm still not crazy about the black blocks of text for your title. The problem really is that picture, because it's next to impossible to get a color that's readable over it. Since you were able to pull the boy forward, I'm assuming he's a separate piece than the train interior? What if you tried playing with the brightness/contrast of the interior piece? Maybe you could find a happy medium where the interior is still visible, but it's not making it impossible to read your title, and making the boy even more visible.

(Until now, I never noticed there was a boy in the picture at all.)

BrokenSword
02-12-2011, 05:19 AM
Thanks for coming back, Valerie. I've been playing with alternates and have one without the black bars. See what you think. I ended up making the vignette arc from the left (where it already was established) and over to the right. To help out the text, I also added an artistic underline. Tell me what you think.


The problem with having to reduce the graphics to less than printable size is that the full effect (including the objects within such as the boy in this case) aren't as easily identified. I have to take this into account though when I create as I'm working in a larger than life screen/canvas and using RGB instead of printing inks. I always hope to get a close approximation though. And I agree with the background/text problem; I originally had the text on the busy upper section and it was lost. That's why I added a border wherein the text sidled both edges. Then came the black bars per another poster's suggestion and in looking through some novels I have around here. Maybe this next iteration makes the grade?



Michael

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5020/5437032399_2e124488ce_z.jpg

Soccer Mom
02-12-2011, 05:36 AM
I like the progression here. The kid was really lost in the previous versions. Bringing him to the foreground really makes him the focus. We can see his bleak expression and the ball he's dropped. Before, all we could see was maybe kinda sorta a kid in the back of the train. Now we have a sense of who he is.

LfB
02-12-2011, 11:09 AM
If you do go with the train idea, I like the last one in post 21 with the city background, though I think the title should move up a teensy bit and be larger/thicker. It's the same font used in the other cover examples, but on this one, it looks kind of elongated and it doesn't work for me, personally.


I like the progression here. The kid was really lost in the previous versions. Bringing him to the foreground really makes him the focus. We can see his bleak expression and the ball he's dropped. Before, all we could see was maybe kinda sorta a kid in the back of the train. Now we have a sense of who he is.
Soccer Mom's said what I was thinking exactly.

BrokenSword
02-12-2011, 08:54 PM
Thanks Soccer Mom & Aud;

SoccerM:

I guess that's what happens when you're so close to your art (writing/graphics both); you can't see what everyone else can't. In letting my son help, I have to keep reminding him to stay open minded and listen for the reasons the art is seen/acceptable or not. I think that is the largest benefit of the public posting process. It does get hard when you feel you have a winner and no one else has the same perception as yourself, so I keep working on details and trying different things so I can get something that strikes hardest at the majority.

My son doesn't like this pic at all and I keep holding out, working it because it is a anchor point of the story. He likes the simpler styles and harder/more structured edges/patterns. Thanks for weighing in.



Aud:

thank you as well for working this through with me. I kind of like the Chicago skyline as a backdrop, hence the reason I went and cobbled something that would fill in more of the dead space of the previous train covers. I'm waiting to see if others notice it or if the 'train cover advocates' lean toward the other two versions.

Michael

valeriec80
02-13-2011, 07:35 AM
Looks good!

I'm not crazy about the little flourishes under the text, and I kind of like the text better in the grayer/whiter color, but that kind of stuff is just my opinion. I think what's important about the cover now is that the eye is drawn to the picture of the boy, and the image itself is intriguing. As long as everything else in the cover is working to support that image, I think it works well.

BrokenSword
02-13-2011, 12:05 PM
Valerie;

I cobbled up a version with the gray/chrome text and another with a single underline; which strikes you best? Thanks for continuing the process with me!

Michael


http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4135/5440481275_1cac959af6_b.jpg




Looks good!

I'm not crazy about the little flourishes under the text, and I kind of like the text better in the grayer/whiter color, but that kind of stuff is just my opinion. I think what's important about the cover now is that the eye is drawn to the picture of the boy, and the image itself is intriguing. As long as everything else in the cover is working to support that image, I think it works well.

valeriec80
02-13-2011, 06:30 PM
I like the center one the best. Anyone else?

JerseyGirl1962
02-14-2011, 11:13 PM
Wow, go away for a few days, and look what happens... :tongue

All of the covers look nice (esp. since I can now see the boy!).

To me, although the lines are cool to look at, they don't really add anything to cover; in fact, I think they make the covers look too busy.

Of course, that's me. :) I agree with Valerie - the middle one.

Nancy

Soccer Mom
02-14-2011, 11:53 PM
I like the middle too. Simple is good and the others draw your attention from the picture.

kalencap
02-18-2011, 08:10 PM
I like number one the best of the original 6.

vgunn
02-18-2011, 10:17 PM
Another vote for #1 from your original post.

Bookmama
02-19-2011, 02:16 AM
Of the original 6, #1 was the only one that held any appeal to me. The others looked like institutional hallways. I didn't realize that they had a kid in the picture at all. But then partway through the thread you show several with a boy who is visible and I like those. Maybe you want to post a new thread with just the covers that people have said they really liked -- but have all those together. It's hard to know at this point which ones we are supposed to choose between.

BrokenSword
02-19-2011, 08:17 PM
Valerie, SoccerM, Jersey, kalencap,vgunn & bookM:

thanks for helping with the cover art. As bookM asks, I've uploaded the two choices I'm leaning toward. The first is the boy and the interior of the L, the second is the L train motif set on a scratched steel background. I've uploaded the whole cover, for viewing sake.

The exterior view of the train version is my son's entry and he also thinks I should use a different (people-sounding!) byline, so that's why the name differs. I'm not sure on that score, but at the moment, this is the version I have easily handy to upload. You can give me an opinion re that, too, if you like.


Please feel free to let me know which you like and why.

Michael

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5097/5458321051_f250b95fdd_b.jpg

valeriec80
02-19-2011, 11:25 PM
I think you might need some fresh eyes on this, but I've got to go with number two here as a cohesive image.

I asked my boyfriend, and he said that the movement of the train forces you to look at the picture longer since it's off center.

I like the human element of the boy in the picture, but I squinted real hard and read the back cover blurb, and you don't mention a boy, so I assume he's not integral to the story. Overall, I guess I'd say two.

Go with your gut, though. It's your cover. Which one makes you the happiest.

leahzero
02-20-2011, 06:01 AM
Hi, Broken Sword. I just skimmed through this thread, so if there's been discussion of these points, forgive me for being redundant. Just offering another pair of fresh eyes.

The first cover makes me think it's a story about a missing/lost kid, or a dead kid's ghost, or something. A kid standing in an empty car staring at the camera is enormously creepy. I read the back blurb, and didn't see anything about this, so I'm thinking this image isn't very representative of the content.

The second cover makes me think the focus of the story is the el train itself. (BTW, as a Chicagoan, every time I see it abbreviated "L," it seems very outsider/non-native Chicagoan to me. "El" is short for "elevated." Spelling it "L" makes it seem like the person doesn't know the original term, and looks weird. Maybe it's just me, though.)

Also, you can't use the CTA logo without permission. Keep that in mind.

I think it's a good idea to connect "L" to the train, as this local term isn't going to be familiar to people who haven't been to Chicago. But it seems strange to dismember the train from the city it serves. I think a photo of an el train with its surrounding scenery, either from the outside or inside, would be more effective. Show some of the city. Give some local flavor. Otherwise it could be any train, anywhere--and then what's the point of specifying it's the Chicago el?

Here are some examples of stock photos you might consider instead:

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1188756
http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-7449750/stock-photo-el-steps
http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-1219046/stock-photo-train
http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-4131372/stock-photo-subway
http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-577517/stock-photo-green-line

Any of these could make a striking cover image, and convey both a story about traveling on the train as well as root it in geographical reality.

The back cover copy confuses me. Everything is vague and ambiguous until the ending bit about Michelle, who I assume is the main character. I know this is cover critique, not writing, but I'd suggest revising the blurb, too.

Hope this is helpful. I admit I'm intrigued, because I'm a Chicagoan, but I don't really get a good sense of what the story is about from either the cover or the blurb, except that it involves the el in some way.

BrokenSword
02-20-2011, 06:33 AM
Thanks, Valerie and leah;

Valerie; the boy is integral, a pivot point actually, and I guess I'm being driven between a rock and a hard place because typically, I don't give away the whole plot/premise ala either a blurb or cover graphic. Which I do know is going to make the potential reader wonder as you have. What to do...I grew up in an era where when you saw a movie blurb, you did not see all the key scenes. I like this approach a lot better (as you can tell) and think that modern movies shouldn't be capsulized in the way they are.

So, along with lean's comments, I'm going to see about working on the back blurb a bit. Of course, having written the story, all the words in the blurb mean something to me, but not to the potential reader. So, I'm going to look for a middle ground.


leah:

This story is actually from the basis of an old poem of mine and indeed, I DID have it titled 'On the El'. In working on a prose version, I wondered if anyone would know what an 'El' is. And here you are , a native, telling me I got the term correct the first time! So, my question would be; UNLESS you're from Chicago (I'm not, as you probably figured out but I didn't want to base this story in NY or Boston), would you KNOW what an 'El' is? Some might wonder if I forgot a letter and was trying to spell something else, so if any that are perusing this thread could chime in, I'd be appreciative because I lean toward the thought that using 'L' is going to convey the right image/scene in a potential reader's head and that 'El' is not.


As noted above to Val; I'm going to work on the back cover blurb a bit. The boy is integral but a lot of what you said about NOT knowing what the book is about, is making me think. I don't like to give away the reason for reading (one reason, at any rate; the surprise factor of how does it end or who is such and such?) so I'm erring on the more vague side, hoping the questions posed by the blurb make you want to find out. I might be on the 'too vague' side, though.

Btw, I DO have a version with Chicago's skyline behind it; I think it is post #21; see what you think.

Thanks also for the pic links!


Thank you both for chiming in. I hope others will give me some idea re the 'El'/'L' premise and if having the boy without being defined, is an intrigue or a confusion.



Michael

valeriec80
02-21-2011, 03:46 AM
In regards to the blurb, I think posting it on Query Letter Hell would really help you. If nothing else, you'll get a whole bunch of eyes looking at it. The forum is pretty active, and I've always gotten helpful responses there. In general, I think specific is better than vague in a blurb. Obviously, you don't want to give away your ending or anything. Instead, you want to give enough of your premise that you hook your reader.

Right now, this is what I understand specifically about your story from your blurb. There's a woman named Michelle, and she's gotten on a train to go see her sick father. She has a gun. I'm not sure if this is quite enough. What does Michelle want? What's in the way of her getting it? And what will happen if she doesn't get it?

Incidentally, I've still got a soft spot for the image of that boy on the front, and I do like the back cover train yard picture, but I'm not sure if I like them together. But again, I'm not sure if having seen the covers so many times, I'm too close to them. It may not be a big deal. After all, most of your points of sale will probably come online, so the harmony of the two images may not be much of a concern, since people probably won't see them together until they've already ordered the book.

MJNL
02-21-2011, 08:27 AM
Yeah, I'm voting for number 1 in your original post-- it looks the most professional and intriguing to me. But I like the way your name is displayed (design wise, not commenting on by-line) in the one with the boy in post 35. I also prefer the rear cover of that one.

BrokenSword
02-23-2011, 11:53 AM
Val:

Taking your thoughts (and the others) to task, I think I'm settling in on the train motif, but I think I've found a way to also include the boy. From your comments re the back cover blurb (you aren't as accurate as I'd like), I've revamped that too and would like feedback from those that have been following along with me during this process. I went and looked at Query Hell, but feel I'd rather have your opinion and those here, first.

So, three entire covers, subtle variations being

#1 has the original train racing right
#2 has the train turning out toward the reader (as asked by another poster in this thread) and
#3 has some track under the turning out train


The blurb should be more clear and precise; let me know what you think!

Also; (for everyone reading this): I asked if the title would be better interpreted as 'On the EL' or as I have it; 'On the L' ??? Any thoughts?

ShadowCat:

another vote for the train, so I'm turning my creative attention to mocking up something that still gets your vote. Seems the steel color works better with the train, but I could see about using the other cover's color for the font. Let me know your opinion on the three below (and about the blurb, too, if you will) Thanks for helping!

The underline graphic I got from a scrap kit but I don't know where. It's more or less a fancy line with a graphic in the middle; could create almost anything similar just by working a shape into the gap and I also beveled the graphic in Photoshop.


MJNL:

and another fan of the train, so look at the 3 choices below and let me know which you like best! And as noted, your impression of the back cover blurb, too, if you're interested.

btw, when you mention how my name is presented in the graphic of post #35, are you referring to the underline swatch?



Michael

first, the new blurb:

V6


The Chicago L train was supposed to be empty at 1 a.m.
but it wasn't. Instead, Matt finds himself surrounded by the those that usually
ride with him during his day trips to the city. Some know him, some don't care,
some have motives he can't understand, especially the 12 year old boy who
continually bounces a blue rubber ball in the back.

They know he had an abusive father, they know he was shunned after the
divorce, but worst of all, they know the hurt that came when his eldest
daughter left. They were there when he turned to writing because the feelings
would not be contained, and each is aware of the growing stack of rejection
letters on his desk. They know almost everything about him.

But what they don't know is, he's brought a gun onto the L.

Michelle just wants to be left alone and can't understand why it's she who
gets the late night call informing her that her father lies in a coma in the ICU,
a Chicago L train crash victim.

At the hospital, when she sees her name in a story her father is writing on his
laptop, she can't help but wonder if within his words is the key to why the L
train crashed. The more she reads, the more real the characters become until
finally, she can reach out and touch those that were there, including her father!

Michelle reads and is forced to face feelings she's buried deep while Matt must
confront his own demons before he can carry out his plan. Will she be able to
overcome the past and change the future? Does she even want to?

Will the story of the L be Matt's final words in his attempt to stop the pain?
Will the story of the L find Michelle’s heart and allow her stop the tragedy?

What Matt imagines is only the worst…what Michelle imagines, can only
happen On the L.



http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5257/5470084959_87a9e6794e_b.jpg

K. Taylor
02-23-2011, 01:45 PM
I live in CA and know what "the El" is.

BrokenSword
02-24-2011, 12:20 AM
THanks K, for the info. I got impatient and googled the issue. Seems even Wiki uses 'L', though they do show both forms as acceptable. So, since even Wiki abbreviates, I think I'll keep the title as I have it now.

Any thoughts about which cover you like better?


(Below, the two latest versions as I slimmed down the train and took out the tracks)

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5291/5472551542_dab26216b2_b.jpg


Michael

nikita88
02-25-2011, 02:13 AM
Those both look fantastic, BrokenSword! My only nitpick would be the embossing of the title/author. I think a partially transparent w/ hair-thin outline would look cleaner. Otherwise, wow!

valeriec80
02-25-2011, 03:56 AM
I really don't have a preference at this point. Sorry. Both look good! Do eenie meenie mini moe. :)

(I still suggest getting the query letter hell crowd to dissect your blurb, though. Or maybe even just make a separate thread in this forum.)

Noah Body
02-25-2011, 04:03 AM
I'd go with the second. And as a denizen of the NYC area, I of course echo what some others have said: it ain't an L, it's an El. :D

BrokenSword
02-25-2011, 08:48 AM
Nikita:

Thanks for the kind words! I can mock up something along the lines you suggest, but I'm leaning toward keeping all the text the same. Still, I'll see what I can do.


Val:

Glad both are shaping up; I'm leaning toward the second because I like the idea of having the train moving right at the reader--I think it makes for better drama. I think I might have to do that re the blurb; make a separate thread. I read some of the critiques and I wasn't that impressed; sorry. Seems it too often comes down to subjectivity. I think if the text is clear and provides a hook, it will work. I tried being too vague, hoping to save more of the story for actual reading, but from the comments, I was too vague by far. I hope the above is more intriguing.


Noah:

thanks for weighing in. Once again, I googled and the first book about the CTA has an excerpt. In the first couple of paragraphs, the author calls the transit system by 'the Chicago L' (http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0875802419/ref=sib_dp_ptu#reader-link) so I'm pretty convinced I'll be just fine.

And another link by people referring to the train system and even calling out the guy who mistakenly calls it the 'El'(http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/cta-tattler/2010/01/how-to-ride-every-cta-el-route-in-one-day.html). I have a feeling there is an accepted duality for those in cities with elevated train systems and for those without, the 'El/EL' is not definitive enough. Jmho.


Thanks everyone for helping me with this process. If there's any other thoughts, let me know. I still have a month or so before I get the graphic to the printer and even then, I'll be using the proof as a hard edit copy and changes can still be made.


Michael

JerseyGirl1962
02-25-2011, 08:40 PM
Ooo, me likes the train coming at the reader! :D That, and the dark background = something sinister about the story.

Excellent.

I also like the child on the back of the book, because I know that he's also important to the story; at the same time, you're not squeezing him into that front cover shot (where he looked too far away to convey much of an impact).

Don't have time to comment on the blurb, but the whole package looks awesome! :)

Good luck!!! :)

Nancy

Soccer Mom
02-26-2011, 06:09 AM
I like the second, where the train is sort of rushing at you. More ominious.