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View Full Version : Opinions wanted on my YA fantasy book cover!



jamesfinegan
12-14-2014, 02:23 AM
Hello there!

I have recently finished my manuscript, and I am currently drafting my synopsis, and query letter to send to my first literary agent. Exciting stuff!

However, as I have no idea how long it could take to be taken on by an agent, let alone published, I have hired an artist to create my book cover, so that I can print copies for friends, family and a few select others.

So here are the front and back covers.

I would like some feedback from unbiased people, like yourselves.

Does it stand out? Does it make you want to read it?

Covers posted on my blog:

http://jamesfineganauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/spirit-rider-royal-problem-cover-reveal.html

Thank you to anybody that can give some feedback! :)

James.

Undercover
12-14-2014, 02:27 AM
It's really artistic. Although I must say once you publish it, even if it's just to see it in print, it will be really difficult to get an agent and or publisher for it because it's already published by then.

alleycat
12-14-2014, 02:37 AM
If you get an agent and publisher they would probably want to do the cover.

However, if you're primarily using this cover for copies for friends and family (or if you decide to self-publish), that's fine. I think it's an interesting cover. If I wanted to nitpick I might have the background and some of the details on the front cover less cluttered or muted (somewhat similar to how the back cover is). At first I wasn't crazy about the title font, but I'm thinking people who would buy a book such as this would probably think the font is "cool."

Also, be sure to always look at how a cover will look as a thumbnail image. How would it look if it were on Amazon, for example (both the regular and smaller size).

jamesfinegan
12-14-2014, 02:38 AM
It's really artistic. Although I must say once you publish it, even if it's just to see it in print, it will be really difficult to get an agent and or publisher for it because it's already published by then.

Just to emphasise the point, it will be privately printed (less than 30 copies, no ISBN etc) for just people close to me. Not available to purchase anywhere online, or otherwise.

But thank you for your reply :) nice to meet you!

Layla Lawlor
12-14-2014, 04:35 AM
I think the cover looks very nice! Intriguing, professional, and it's got the right "look" for a middle-grade YA book (which I assume is what this is!).

The above commenters are right, though, that this cover will never see the light of day if you go through a publisher; they will want to do their own cover. So it really doesn't matter if this stands out or would be able to sell the book, since it will never have to. And the finished novel may be quite different from this version depending on how extensive the revision process is.

However, if you ended up self-publishing, I think this would be a nice cover for it. Certainly it would look nice on a printed book for a gift.

Technically, I think, you are publishing the novel even if only in a very limited format, whether or not it's more widely available for sale. This may or may not be a problem when you try to interest an agent/publisher in it. I don't think I would do it personally, to be on the safe side, but I do know people who've had a couple copies of their novel printed through POD places for their beta readers' convenience, and it doesn't seem to have been an issue for them.

Good luck with getting agented!

Toothpaste
12-14-2014, 08:50 AM
Quite honestly I also question why you would want to give away so many free copies. I mean, I get wanting your parents wanting to read it, your significant other. But 30 copies? That's a whole host of books your could otherwise sell at a book launch. I personally think you need to be a little more selfish and only give a couple copies away. People can buy it when it's published (whether by the trades or self published).

veinglory
12-14-2014, 10:02 AM
I love the cover but if even one of those copies ends up second hand on Amazon that might make it look "published"

jamesfinegan
12-14-2014, 11:52 AM
Quite honestly I also question why you would want to give away so many free copies. I mean, I get wanting your parents wanting to read it, your significant other. But 30 copies? That's a whole host of books your could otherwise sell at a book launch. I personally think you need to be a little more selfish and only give a couple copies away. People can buy it when it's published (whether by the trades or self published).

I said nowhere that they are free copies. I'm going to be paying roughly 6 each and selling them for 10 :)

jamesfinegan
12-14-2014, 11:54 AM
I love the cover but if even one of those copies ends up second hand on Amazon that might make it look "published"

I'm certain that it won't end up on sale :)

I'm only selling it to people that I know personally, none of which would put it on Amazon :)

Sam Argent
12-14-2014, 12:22 PM
1-2 copies are easy to keep track of. 30 just increases the odds of the dumb side of human nature popping its head up. It's a pretty and professional looking cover in answer to the topic question.

Toothpaste
12-14-2014, 06:26 PM
I said nowhere that they are free copies. I'm going to be paying roughly 6 each and selling them for 10 :)

Okay. I still don't get why you're doing it aside from the thrill of seeing your book in book form. And I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense to focus your energy on self publishing something you want to try to get representation and a publishing deal for. I think your energy might be better spent working on your query, submitting to agents, and starting on the next book. BUT I also think I'm getting off tangent. As for the cover, I'd say the font is a little tricky to read but the art is really really great. I'm sure folks will love it. :)

jamesfinegan
12-14-2014, 08:21 PM
Okay. I still don't get why you're doing it aside from the thrill of seeing your book in book form. And I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense to focus your energy on self publishing something you want to try to get representation and a publishing deal for. I think your energy might be better spent working on your query, submitting to agents, and starting on the next book. BUT I also think I'm getting off tangent. As for the cover, I'd say the font is a little tricky to read but the art is really really great. I'm sure folks will love it. :)

Thanks :)

Oh I'm definitely putting all my energy into my manuscript a d query. However everyone is really excited to read it, and I had some money left over from my editting budget, and so decided to get the cover. There's no telling how long it may be until I can be published, so I didn't want to make everybody close to me wait :)

SBibb
12-15-2014, 12:59 AM
I will say that the cover looks very nice, regardless of what you plan to do with the book. Good luck with both. :-)

Isobel Lindley
01-02-2015, 01:46 PM
Commenting purely on your cover, as someone who loves your genre. I think it's both beautiful and charming. I'd pick it up, I'd read the blurb, I would certainly be tempted to buy it.

jamesfinegan
01-04-2015, 12:37 AM
Commenting purely on your cover, as someone who loves your genre. I think it's both beautiful and charming. I'd pick it up, I'd read the blurb, I would certainly be tempted to buy it.

Thank you for your kind words. :D

Gale Haut
01-04-2015, 08:51 PM
It's really artistic. Although I must say once you publish it, even if it's just to see it in print, it will be really difficult to get an agent and or publisher for it because it's already published by then.

The cover looks really nice and this seems like a healthy outlet for playing the waiting game with the publishing process. You've extended work to a talented artist and you'll also be better prepared to self publish if it comes to that.

I'd love to know what kind of rights you gained in your negotiations with the artist. It could be an issue if your book cover is hosted online by this individual or by you while you are seeking a publisher. I'm pretty sure publishers will Google the title of your work at some point in the process and it could be confusing for a book cover to pop up in an image search.

Cheers!

marinapr9
01-05-2015, 01:44 AM
Hello there!

I have recently finished my manuscript, and I am currently drafting my synopsis, and query letter to send to my first literary agent. Exciting stuff!

However, as I have no idea how long it could take to be taken on by an agent, let alone published, I have hired an artist to create my book cover, so that I can print copies for friends, family and a few select others.

So here are the front and back covers.

I would like some feedback from unbiased people, like yourselves.

Does it stand out? Does it make you want to read it?

Covers posted on my blog:

http://jamesfineganauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/spirit-rider-royal-problem-cover-reveal.html

Thank you to anybody that can give some feedback! :)

James.

It's a good cover and attention catching. I like the font, and find it ok to read.

Calliea
01-05-2015, 04:50 AM
I like these a lot :) Finally something painted, not a photo manipulation! I'm really not a fan of those.

StephanieZie
01-05-2015, 11:13 PM
It looks really good. The only thing I'd say is it makes me think more MG than YA. But then, that monster on the back is downright frightening and might scare the kiddos. Or maybe it just scared me!

KTC
01-05-2015, 11:20 PM
Don't do this. If you want to go the self-publishing route, by all means do so. Don't make a book for something you're going to be submitting to agents. Red flags everywhere.

KTC
01-05-2015, 11:22 PM
Though the cover is quite lovely, I can't imagine why you would want feedback on it if you're simply making copies for friends and family. And I also can't imagine why you would pay an artist to do it. I do like it...but I hope you heed the cautions in this thread and back out of this idea.

Ravioli
01-29-2015, 12:45 AM
How can investing energy in the creation of ANY part of the book, ever be considered a waste? I like to have full control; as an artist, writing the text isn't enough. I want a say in the cover. The thing people see first. It's MY work.

Too many books are published with irrelevant stock photo covers - Bred Easton Ellis' "Less than zero" back then, sported a Bullterrier, and I bought it expecting a story about dogs. Waste of money. Yeah, yeah, dog's a metaphor, blah blah, I'm sorry but first impressions should be honest and free from "yay interpretation I'm so edgy".
Or that ever-same bare midsection in sexy/explicit romance. Sometimes it's gay, sometimes it's hetero, but there's always the perfect modelesque bare midsection. This could happen to my WIP despite the dystopian backdrop. Shudder-dee-dudder!
Childhood trauma books? Some random stock kid with a reasonably sad face, photoshopped to look different from the other book it graces.

Now, OP here, has a piece of art that is absolutely capable of competing with Harry Potter and whatever other big book has stunning cover ART (as opposed to "5 minutes on Shutterstuck, another 10 in Photoshop").

I'm no fan of how the dude in the back turned out, but all in all, I don't think anything was wasted here. If any publisher, agent, whatever, decides to go for something else - then they are wasting this gem.
And anyway, I don't get publishers'/agents' hatred for author-submitted cover designs. If it's decent? Why the arrogance of "We have our own designers, hence the author, who only knows how to write what with being the author, can't possibly know better than us what fits the author's story"?
They should at least have a serious, open, honest look before saying "Nope, our designers know better, in all cases without exception".

I'm a hell good artist. I get to have a say in what is put on the front of MY work. If not, I better like the proposal by the designer.

And even if the cover doesn't get picked - any part of creation that adds to the character of the story, including illustrations, is a contribution, not a waste. Ever.

veinglory
01-29-2015, 12:47 AM
I'm certain that it won't end up on sale :)

I'm only selling it to people that I know personally, none of which would put it on Amazon :)

All it would take it is it being stolen, left in an estate, forgotten on a bus, or being hand entered into Goodreads by an over-enthusiatic friend etc. The line between "looks published" and "is considered published" may be finer than you think.

Gale Haut
01-29-2015, 01:13 AM
How can investing energy in the creation of ANY part of the book, ever be considered a waste? I like to have full control; as an artist, writing the text isn't enough.

As a learning experience it could be useful I guess. But it isn't really an investment, is it? The author doesn't sound like he expects any return on the money and effort put into packaging the book.

Old Hack
01-29-2015, 07:02 PM
How can investing energy in the creation of ANY part of the book, ever be considered a waste? I like to have full control; as an artist, writing the text isn't enough. I want a say in the cover. The thing people see first. It's MY work.

I want a pony. It doesn't mean I get to have one.

Publishers know what sells. They know what books are likely to sell, which is why they only accept a tiny proportion of the books which are submitted to them; and they know how to publish them so that they sell as many copies as possible. A big part of this is knowing what sorts of covers are likely to sell well to a book's potential readers.

If you have that sort of expertise then they might well allow you input into the cover of your books. If you don't, why would they allow you to scupper the chances of a book they have a huge financial investment in?


And anyway, I don't get publishers'/agents' hatred for author-submitted cover designs. If it's decent? Why the arrogance of "We have our own designers, hence the author, who only knows how to write what with being the author, can't possibly know better than us what fits the author's story"?
They should at least have a serious, open, honest look before saying "Nope, our designers know better, in all cases without exception".

There are several reasons. One is that as I already said, writers know what they like but they don't always know what sells; another is that it's often complicated or expensive to acquire the rights required to use particular images and designs in a commercial setting, and most of the author-generated jacket designs I've seen over the years have not had those rights in place in place, or have only had them available at an unrealistic price.


I'm a hell good artist. I get to have a say in what is put on the front of MY work. If not, I better like the proposal by the designer.

Speaking with my editor hat on: if an author told me that when negotiating for a contract, in the way you've just expressed it, I would step back and rethink my decision to offer that author a publishing contract. If an author is going to be as confrontational and inflexible over a jacket design before we've even signed a contract (which is the point at which you would have such a conversation) then I would wonder how difficult they might be to edit. There are plenty of good books out there, looking for publishers: it's not as if I, as an editor, would find it difficult to find another title to fill that particular publication slot.


And even if the cover doesn't get picked - any part of creation that adds to the character of the story, including illustrations, is a contribution, not a waste. Ever.

I've seen lots of startlingly bad jacket designs which have been produced by amateurs. When writers pay for those jackets then yep, it's a huge waste of their money and their time.


All it would take it is it being stolen, left in an estate, forgotten on a bus, or being hand entered into Goodreads by an over-enthusiatic friend etc. The line between "looks published" and "is considered published" may be finer than you think.

You're completely right, veinglory. I would strongly advise the OP not to go ahead with this plan. That the books will be for sale suggests that they ARE being published, if only in a limited way: why risk fouling the market in such an easily-avoidable way?

KTC
01-29-2015, 07:10 PM
How can investing energy in the creation of ANY part of the book, ever be considered a waste? I like to have full control; as an artist, writing the text isn't enough. I want a say in the cover. The thing people see first. It's MY work.

Too many books are published with irrelevant stock photo covers - Bred Easton Ellis' "Less than zero" back then, sported a Bullterrier, and I bought it expecting a story about dogs. Waste of money. Yeah, yeah, dog's a metaphor, blah blah, I'm sorry but first impressions should be honest and free from "yay interpretation I'm so edgy".
Or that ever-same bare midsection in sexy/explicit romance. Sometimes it's gay, sometimes it's hetero, but there's always the perfect modelesque bare midsection. This could happen to my WIP despite the dystopian backdrop. Shudder-dee-dudder!
Childhood trauma books? Some random stock kid with a reasonably sad face, photoshopped to look different from the other book it graces.

Now, OP here, has a piece of art that is absolutely capable of competing with Harry Potter and whatever other big book has stunning cover ART (as opposed to "5 minutes on Shutterstuck, another 10 in Photoshop").

I'm no fan of how the dude in the back turned out, but all in all, I don't think anything was wasted here. If any publisher, agent, whatever, decides to go for something else - then they are wasting this gem.
And anyway, I don't get publishers'/agents' hatred for author-submitted cover designs. If it's decent? Why the arrogance of "We have our own designers, hence the author, who only knows how to write what with being the author, can't possibly know better than us what fits the author's story"?
They should at least have a serious, open, honest look before saying "Nope, our designers know better, in all cases without exception".

I'm a hell good artist. I get to have a say in what is put on the front of MY work. If not, I better like the proposal by the designer.

And even if the cover doesn't get picked - any part of creation that adds to the character of the story, including illustrations, is a contribution, not a waste. Ever.

No offense, but if I were an acquisitions editor your attitude would send up so many red flags I'd scurry away. The best artist in the world, btw, doesn't make a good book cover designer. Books are designed to appeal to the marketplace, not the author. I'm a great artist. I wouldn't even pretend to know anything about the cover of a book. FWIW, Tread lightly with megalomania when it comes to dealing with editors. They tend to separate the wheat from the chaff prior to signing.

Ravioli
01-30-2015, 12:12 AM
No offense, but if I were an acquisitions editor your attitude would send up so many red flags I'd scurry away. The best artist in the world, btw, doesn't make a good book cover designer. Books are designed to appeal to the marketplace, not the author. I'm a great artist. I wouldn't even pretend to know anything about the cover of a book. FWIW, Tread lightly with megalomania when it comes to dealing with editors. They tend to separate the wheat from the chaff prior to signing.
And an editor rejecting author-submitted covers up front without taking a good look because he assumes that the author "can't possibly", is not a red flag?

Sure, if the cover sucks, it should be rejected. But the author should have the possibility to have a say and at least present options to be seriously lookd at.
It's nothing to do with megalomania to want to have a degree of control over crucial aspects of YOUR hard work, not theirs. And authors can be just as knowledgeable and up to date on the market as editors. You think just because I'm no fashion agency, I don't know what insecure chicks are wearing for male attention these days and can design something appropriate?

Old Hack
01-30-2015, 01:21 AM
And an editor rejecting author-submitted covers up front without taking a good look because he assumes that the author "can't possibly", is not a red flag?

No, not at all.

Editors barely have time to keep up with the submissions they receive. If, as part of their slush-reading duties they also have to review potential jacket designs they wouldn't have time to edit the books under their care. And they're not experts in what constitutes a good jacket design: the design teams and the sales and marketing teams have that responsibility.


Sure, if the cover sucks, it should be rejected. But the author should have the possibility to have a say and at least present options to be seriously lookd at.

It's possible to get this written into your contract if you can put forward good enough reasons for it. And it's possible, if you're landed with a jacket design you don't like, to get your publisher to change it to something you think is better, or more appropriate. But it's just not possible to consult with the author on every stage of a jacket's design: there's not the time, it would be too expensive, and editors just don't have the resources to be able to do it. And if you did manage to squeeze this into the schedules, what would also have to be given to the author for approval? What about the book's interior design? Its typesetting? The marketing materials, like posters and ads?

If a writer requires this degree of control over his or her publication then perhaps self publishing would be more appropriate.


It's nothing to do with megalomania to want to have a degree of control over crucial aspects of YOUR hard work, not theirs. And authors can be just as knowledgeable and up to date on the market as editors. You think just because I'm no fashion agency, I don't know what insecure chicks are wearing for male attention these days and can design something appropriate?

Writers DO have a degree of control. They get to write their book; and they get to decide whether or not to sign the contracts they are offered. But there's little point in signing with a good publisher if you're then going to insist you know better than they do how to effectively publish a book. It's a path to disaster, I'm afraid.

Marian Perera
01-30-2015, 06:02 PM
And it's possible, if you're landed with a jacket design you don't like, to get your publisher to change it to something you think is better, or more appropriate.

That happened to me with a book that's coming out in May (it's the one beside my profile (https://www.samhainpublishing.com/author/1361/marian-perera)). After seeing the first version of the cover, my editor and I brainstormed ideas with the artist. I wanted the sheer size of the iceberg to be evident on the cover, so I was pleased when we got that in the second version, and I was also given a choice of six models for the heroine. Once we put my selection on the cover, I suggested the alteration to her eyes.

So publishers do take author input into consideration, when required.

Oh, and my book is a hot romance. Yet no nekkid torso.

KTC
01-30-2015, 06:12 PM
It's possible to get this written into your contract if you can put forward good enough reasons for it. And it's possible, if you're landed with a jacket design you don't like, to get your publisher to change it to something you think is better, or more appropriate.

I THINK this happened to me too. With Burn Baby Burn Baby I was okay with the original cover, but I didn't love it. Not by a long-shot. I said my piece and it looked like the cover was going to stay how it was. Everybody agreed that they liked it.

Then, about two weeks before its release, someone from the publisher sent me an email. "We've been working on a new cover and we're thinking this one would work better. What do you think?" I freaking love it! It is PERFECT, in my opinion. I think they change came about from my misgivings with the first cover. Everybody else involved in the conversation liked the first cover. So...they do listen to the author.