Opinions on my cover designs...

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Richard W. Fairbairn

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
203
Reaction score
23
Location
Scotland
I'm wondering if anyone can give me opinions on my cover designs.

EDITED TO MAKE THE PICTURES A MORE REASONABLE SIZE!

Cover 1: Beyond the Starport Adventure
An action adventure story with a love twist.

smalle.jpg


Cover 2: Blacker
A dark scifi thriller.

blacker-2-401x640.png


Cover Three: Four Seasons of Summer
A post apocalyptic dark thriller.

FOUR-SEASONS-OF-SUMMER-422.jpg


The last one is my favorite.
 
Last edited:

veinglory

volitare nequeo
Staff member
Moderator
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
28,726
Reaction score
2,902
Location
right here
Website
www.veinglory.com
The covers would be easy to see a smaller size.

I thin Once looks like a comedy space adventure, two like a coming of age literary in a seaside town, and three like a collection of emo poetry. FWIW. None are terrible but are those the messages you are going for?

Also on three putting the cover designers name on the cover is somewhat bizarre. I think that cover is fairly ordinary and I have never in my life seens a cover designer just marquee credit.
 
Last edited:

Richard W. Fairbairn

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
203
Reaction score
23
Location
Scotland
Thanks. What do you think of this one?

Blacker1410x2250-1-401x640.jpg


The covers would be easy to see a smaller size.

I thin Once looks like a comedy space adventure, two like a coming of age literary in a seaside town, and three like a collection of emo poetry. FWIW. None are terrible but are those the messages you are going for?

Also on three putting the cover designers name on the cover is somewhat bizarre. I think that cover is fairly ordinary and I have never in my life seens a cover designer just marquee credit.
 

TStarnes

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 10, 2017
Messages
108
Reaction score
104
Location
Houston, TX
Website
tstarnes.com
The new one is a bit plain. You actually replaced what I though was the best of your original three covers (blacker).

1 the image isn't bad, but you need to do some work on the typography. It detracts from the image. 2 is not bad. 3 is...I don't know. Seems like something you might find with a cover generator more than anything else.

And I agree, cover artists name on the cover is weird. Also agree that 2 does not feel dark so much as moody, and doesn't feel sci-fi at all and 3 does not feel post apocalyptic, or really much of anything. 3 feels unremarkable and doesn't make me want to pick it up.
 

spottedgeckgo

Da Gecko
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 19, 2010
Messages
259
Reaction score
26
Location
Missouri
Website
www.spottedgeckgo.com
I liked the second one as a cover by itself, the other's I'm not crazy about. The only problem is that I don't see "thriller" when I look at it, and I definitely don't see "scifi." Possibly a dystopian theme, but it leaves a lot to the imagination. It definitely grabbed my attention though. The new version in post #3 I can't tell anything about at all. It's a nice looking cover but it doesn't tell my anything about the story at all, and it really doesn't jump out at me, specially with the title.
 

Richard W. Fairbairn

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
203
Reaction score
23
Location
Scotland
Thanks for the feedback. The one I replaced was one of my favorites too, but a friend who is a graphic designer produced the new one.


The new one is a bit plain. You actually replaced what I though was the best of your original three covers (blacker).

1 the image isn't bad, but you need to do some work on the typography. It detracts from the image. 2 is not bad. 3 is...I don't know. Seems like something you might find with a cover generator more than anything else.

And I agree, cover artists name on the cover is weird. Also agree that 2 does not feel dark so much as moody, and doesn't feel sci-fi at all and 3 does not feel post apocalyptic, or really much of anything. 3 feels unremarkable and doesn't make me want to pick it up.
 

Maggie Maxwell

Making Einstein cry since 1994
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 21, 2013
Messages
10,357
Reaction score
4,954
Location
In my head
Website
thewanderingquille.blogspot.com
I'm with Veinglory in that #3 looks like a book of poetry, and the cover is about a generic as can be, aside from the random credit to the artist. #2 was the strongest, and while the new #2 does nail the dark sci-fi vibe, my concern for you would be the thumbnail. Shrink it down to the size it would be on Amazon and make sure it'll still be legible and not just look like "maybe some text on a black picture?" #1, personal preference, but I'm not a fan of the faded face behind the main image, and the font doesn't feel adventurous. Study the covers of books like yours, pick out the elements that run between them that announce the book's genre and make it catchy at the same time.
 

Maggie Maxwell

Making Einstein cry since 1994
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 21, 2013
Messages
10,357
Reaction score
4,954
Location
In my head
Website
thewanderingquille.blogspot.com
I liked the second one as a cover by itself, the other's I'm not crazy about. The only problem is that I don't see "thriller" when I look at it, and I definitely don't see "scifi." Possibly a dystopian theme, but it leaves a lot to the imagination. It definitely grabbed my attention though.

Oh, there's a thought: the cover for Blacker in the original post might work for Four Seasons of Summer. Maybe.
 

Richard W. Fairbairn

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
203
Reaction score
23
Location
Scotland
As always, thanks for the feedback. I agree with most of the comments. Pic 1 in the original post was also created by my friend, a professional graphic designer. I did all the others except for the Blacker one without the girl.

I actually agree that the original Blacker cover would be good for Four Seasons of Summer, but only if I could make the light behind the title much more intense. In FSOS, its pretty bright all the time outside (as the sun has, technically speaking, gone bonkers).

warm regards

R
 

Richard W. Fairbairn

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
203
Reaction score
23
Location
Scotland
Finally, this is another one I did for Blacker. It was my favorite for a while, but keen to see what people think.

Another one :

20170413-Blacker.jpg


My Second Design for Blacker:

blacker-2-401x640.png


My designer's Blacker:

Blacker1410x2250-1-401x640.jpg


It was interesting to note that my friend who did the "big black Blacker" cover told me that her colleague prefers her cover and also stated that changing the cover is a mistake, as people lose track of the novel if the cover changes. I think that makes sense. For that reason I'm going to go with the big black one.
 
Last edited:

JulianneQJohnson

Ferret Herder
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 29, 2013
Messages
1,487
Reaction score
294
Location
Indiana
Website
julianneqjohnson.com
First off, this is all just my opinion, and I'm not a cover designer.

Folks rebrand their books and change covers all the time. Unless you are in the middle of a trend where you are selling thousands of copies, I wouldn't worry too much about changing covers. The designer's cover for Blacker is the least visually interesting of the bunch. In thumbnail the title cannot be seen and the cover doesn't look like anything. That's a problem. A graphics designer who is not a tried and true book cover designer might not realize that most folks are going to see the cover in thumbnail when they decide whether to click on it or not.

Of the Blacker covers, I much prefer the new one with the woman's face. It's visually interesting and the title is very clear and readable.

Unfortunately, with the exception of the art for Beyond, none of these covers is really suggesting genre and the typography is making all of them look a bit homemade. I suggest taking a look at the top selling books in each genre and pay attention not only to the graphic but also the typography.

I think your ideas are on the right track, but you aren't quite there yet. I'm speaking as someone who isn't making the bucks yet to pay for professional covers myself, and I made all the covers in my sig. Are they awesome? No, they aren't! But I am getting better with practice.
 
Last edited:

Richard W. Fairbairn

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
203
Reaction score
23
Location
Scotland
Julianne, I just wanted to say that I quite liked your covers. They all look professional to me, especially the first two. Teatime of the Living Dead and Nick of Time look like really interesting covers.

Thanks for sharing.

R
 

Curlz

cutsie-pie
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 5, 2016
Messages
2,208
Reaction score
378
Location
here
I like the first one ("Beyond...") but the text doesn't stand out enough (too slim).
The "black" Blacker version from #3 is too black and difficult to read, that's not professional. The first version with the woman also looks like a flawed photographic image (that white band behind the title) and doesn't look like a thriller at all (more like sad women's fiction about family loss). With the white-on-black version from #10 the font just doesn't make me expect an exciting book.
The "Four Seasons" type of cover and color scheme was in fashion about 70 years ago. So...
 

Richard W. Fairbairn

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
203
Reaction score
23
Location
Scotland
Nice, constructive, feedback. Interesting comment about the Blacker cover with the big face. I hadn't considered the font.

What about this?


20170414-Blacker-Revised2.jpg


or...

20170414-Blacker-Revised25.jpg




I like the first one ("Beyond...") but the text doesn't stand out enough (too slim).
The "black" Blacker version from #3 is too black and difficult to read, that's not professional. The first version with the woman also looks like a flawed photographic image (that white band behind the title) and doesn't look like a thriller at all (more like sad women's fiction about family loss). With the white-on-black version from #10 the font just doesn't make me expect an exciting book.
The "Four Seasons" type of cover and color scheme was in fashion about 70 years ago. So...
 
Last edited:

Stephen Palmer

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 6, 2017
Messages
145
Reaction score
6
Location
Shrewsbury, UK
I much preferred the original Blacker (cover 2) which is really good.
Agreed, the font was a bit bland, but that's easy to fix.
* edit - keep it a non-serif font.
 

Myrealana

I aim to misbehave
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 29, 2012
Messages
5,406
Reaction score
1,868
Location
Denver, CO
Website
www.badfoodie.com
Finally, this is another one I did for Blacker. It was my favorite for a while, but keen to see what people think.

Another one :

{Hair}

My Second Design for Blacker:
{Sunset}


My designer's Blacker:
{Black on Gray}
To me, the first one says "Horror."
The second says "Teen angst BS."
The third says "Dark SciFi."

I would be most likely to pick up the third one, though it is a bit dark on dark. With more contrast, I think it could work. But I'm not a designer, just a reader.

Of the versions with the horror feel, I like this one better than the two from the later post, except maybe a different font for the title. Still white type on a dark background, but a different typeface.
 

dpaterso

Also in our Discord and IRC chat channels
Staff member
Super Moderator
Moderator
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
18,779
Reaction score
4,560
Location
Caledonia
Website
derekpaterson.net
Larger, brighter, better positioned text for the win. Think how the thumbnails will look on Amazon.

-Derek (knows nothing, has opinions anyway)
 

JulianneQJohnson

Ferret Herder
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 29, 2013
Messages
1,487
Reaction score
294
Location
Indiana
Website
julianneqjohnson.com
Thank you, Richard! I have worked very hard on them, and each went through a herd of changes before being finalized. In a perfect world we would all hire cover designers who know the psychology of why a reader chooses a book, etc, but the truth is that those of us starting out cannot always afford it. If one has any artistic background at all, it is certainly possible to create decent covers. Like anything else, it takes some research and practice and a little trial and error. Someday I'll hire a professional book cover designer and be thrilled about it, but for now, I'm doing all right on my own.
 

Richard W. Fairbairn

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
203
Reaction score
23
Location
Scotland
I am fortunate enough to have a friend who is an artist, but I don't always agree with her designs. I can't afford to hire the kind of designer I would like to bring my visions to life, so I have to compromise. All the covers I've posted are a result of this.

I have a background in technical writing and have learned to use certain tools to good effect. The feedback I received on my cover designs is very useful and I am taking it very seriously.

Julianne, I thought that each of your covers looked unique with its own personality.

I wish you every success!

warm regards

Richard

Thank you, Richard! I have worked very hard on them, and each went through a herd of changes before being finalized. In a perfect world we would all hire cover designers who know the psychology of why a reader chooses a book, etc, but the truth is that those of us starting out cannot always afford it. If one has any artistic background at all, it is certainly possible to create decent covers. Like anything else, it takes some research and practice and a little trial and error. Someday I'll hire a professional book cover designer and be thrilled about it, but for now, I'm doing all right on my own.
 
Last edited:

gtbun

Professional Book Designer
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 4, 2016
Messages
67
Reaction score
15
Location
England
Website
geoffreybunting.co.uk
So, as a professional book designer, perfectly blunt: none of the covers you've shown here look professional and I have a hard time believing that any of them have had the input of a genuinely professional graphic designer. They look remarkably like most of the covers I have seen on this forum: homemade, without polish, and without any kind of care given to typography. While it is true that a designer that does not have a grounding in book design might struggle to develop a cover, any designer worth their salt will have a grounding in typography.

The most common mistake that people make when developing their covers is (apart from not budgeting for a genuine designer) affording undue importance to the imagery and forgetting the type. Then they go online and hear talk of "negative space" and make everything flippin' tiny. Julianne is so right, you're going to have to sell this in thumbnail first, before anyone sees the cover fully. That doesn't mean making everything huge, it just means keeping things simple. The best covers aren't the most elaborate with the most beautiful type, they are the ones that a fit for purpose. I always tell people to look at other covers, not in your genre - as you're more than likely to get Google screens full of similarly homemade covers or likely to follow useless trends - but at the great covers. Go to publisher's sites and find the artists they use, look at David Pearson and Jo Walker for some specific examples. Look at enough and you might be able to pick up patterns in how they present their covers. But remember: the content, not the picture, is the most important.

My advice to people is always to budget carefully and find a book designer, mostly because doing it yourself doesn't work - it may look good to you, but it doesn't look good - and the vast majority of ready-to-publish covers on sale online are just appalling and are really taking advantage of self-publishers (seriously, they'll charge $100 for something worse than what you've made, and complain that folks like me are charging $150 for professionally made pre-made covers). At the very least you could explore finding a real book designer, get some quotes, before you fall to DIY covers. The idea that you cannot afford it doesn't mean you can't speak to us. Many of us have low budget clients on the side or out main projects and we don't bite.

Otherwise, keep it simple, don't fall on cliches - especially in type - don't fall back on trends that will get tired one day, and don't shirk type as it is by far the most important thing you can put on your cover.

Edit: I came back in to this post due to a notification and saw something I hadn't the first time, first comment/third cover: why is the cover "designer" named on the cover? I'm hoping you don't use it because it's a pretty ugly thing, but any book designer who is trying to take the spotlight from the author is a charlatan. The credit for design belongs in the imprint - and wherever the author decides to sing their praises - their name should be nowhere near the cover. Even designers who write their own books - like Robin Kinross - don't state they designed the thing on the front, even they keep it in the imprint. Scrape that nonsense off, it makes the cover seem EVEN MORE unprofessional.
 
Last edited:

Famoustapu

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 19, 2017
Messages
67
Reaction score
1
Finally, this is another one I did for Blacker. It was my favorite for a while, but keen to see what people think.

Another one :

20170413-Blacker.jpg


My Second Design for Blacker:

blacker-2-401x640.png


My designer's Blacker:

Blacker1410x2250-1-401x640.jpg


It was interesting to note that my friend who did the "big black Blacker" cover told me that her colleague prefers her cover and also stated that changing the cover is a mistake, as people lose track of the novel if the cover changes. I think that makes sense. For that reason I'm going to go with the big black one.

I like the 1st one, Its title and image fits together :D
 

CathleenT

I write
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 6, 2014
Messages
5,095
Reaction score
1,976
Location
Northern California
My understanding of covers is that the most important thing they do is make a promise to the reader. The Blacker covers with a face promise horror but no sci-fi. The one with the dark planet or moon promises sci-fi but no horror.

To be fair, this is a tough combination to portray. So I went to Amazon and put in sci-fi horror. The result were uninspiring.

My faves were: The Man of Legends by Kenneth Johnson. Didn't promise horror, but it had a gritty dystopia feel.

Black Rain by Gene Penney actually did promise both genres.

The Best Horror of the Year volume 9 by Ellen Datlow promised both genres.

And Stephen King, The Dark Tower 1 looked like it promised both genres.

Other than that, there's an awful lot of pulpy art out there as a history for this sort of thing, which may not fit your story.

Concerning your other covers, the first one looked campy to me. I'd only use it if it was a comedy. It doesn't promise action and adventure. It was more Willy Wonka than Indiana Jones.

And The Four Seasons of Summer cover doesn't promise anything at all. Again going through Amazon I liked:

Dusk: Final Awakening book 2 by J Thorn, The Alpha Plague by Michael Robertson, and Phobia by Jack Hunt.

Where are you getting your images? Pixabay.com has some good ones. I put sci-fi into the search box and got 308 images, and some of them were creepy. Pixabay is all attribution-free, commercially licensed. Just a thought. :)
 

Happy Thanksgiving

Autumn image for Thanksgiving