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Book Cover Design. Practice What You Preach

Why does a professional writer who claims to have “a leg up on design when it comes to many of today’s struggling indie authors” turn out a cover like this?

And why does he show it in an article about how important cover design is, and how covers need to show well at very small sizes?

If you haven’t already figured out what’s wrong with the cover, look at it carefully. Can you read the text at the very top? Can you read the author’s name? Can you see the end of the title? Click on it to see how it looks at full size. Which size is going to be the one you see on Amazon or Smashwords or B & N? Leave a comment suggesting how it could be improved.

Here’s where to find the article. http://www.publetariat.com/design/cover-design-key

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9 Comments

  1. Points well taken, Catana. Thanks for pointing these out. I wouldn’t have thought of them, but you are right.

  2. Oooh, good catch. Yes, his name should be bigger and easier to read. And the title font stroke needs to be thicker, and needs a better halo to make it standout from the flames.

    I guess not everyone is perfect…

  3. If I were drawing this cover, I would make the title font a little smaller and a thicker type, as tmso suggested, and I would move it down so none of it would be blended into the chain. Then you could make the series title at the top bigger so it would be legible. And certainly there is plenty of room to make the author’s name bigger – I can’t imagine why anybody would make it so small. Furthermore, I wouldn’t put any shading on the type face; then it would stand out better. And the little logo is distracting. However, the publisher may insist it be displayed in this spot. In that case I would probably fit the chain in differently so it didn’t sit under the logo.

    I might experiment with making a border out of the chain with tendrils of chain curling around the printing instead of this diagonal slash.

    We’ll have to see how the cover for “TheTermite Queen” looks. The only problem I can see is the small size of the scene in the lower left (a necessary evil) and the color of typeface (a rather pale yellow – I did that to match the stars).

    • I agree that the text needs a stronger font and the chain has be be manipulated. I’ll wait until there are more suggestions before I offer my own.

      But your mention of Termite Queen gave me an idea. How would people feel about submitting their cover designs here and letting everybody have a go at them? I could make it a regular series if there was enough interest. After this post has gotten its comments, I’ll put up one with the suggestion.

      I’ll even do a post critiquing my own covers. It’s been a learning process, so it’s easy now for me to see what I did wrong.

  4. That sounds kind of like fun, she says with some trepidation! However, I don’t know why I should worry. My own two covers have been all over the place for some time and I’ve never gotten a howl that they were awful. I’ve gotten some favorable comments on Termite Queen, and not a single remark one way or the the other on the cover for “Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder” (my drawn cover, I mean, not the black-and-white CreateSpace-generic one that appears on the print version).

    • I’ve seen a lot of bad covers proudly displayed on people’s blogs and have resisted the urge to comment with a critique. If I didn’t know the person and they weren’t asking for a critique, I didn’t have any right to barge in. Besides, people tend to be polite about such things, no matter what they really think. Offering a place to request and receive critiques can change the reluctance to offer advice. But the recipient has to be prepared for whatever they get and take it as well-meant. Just like writing critiques.

  5. I’ve no idea how to fix it, Catana, I’m not up to that stage yet! Thank you, though, for your reminder that the cover must look good when it’s downsized.
    I had this experience in October ’11 when I started in social media and chose the photo that would define me on the web. While it looks good in the profile on Ecademy and WordPress, it fades into shadow when made small. I don’t intend to change it now, but it’s why I use the b & w icon when commenting, as it comes up better. Am seriously considering using a line drawing on my cover next year – I want a very simple, easily grasped cover. Tx for yet another great tip.

    • I like your icon because it’s clear and very distinctive. Most people don’t use line drawings, so it stands out.

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